: Once you reach the first floor, it’s pretty much a straight shot to where we entered the hospital from.
: Just like the mainline SMT games, if you run into an enemy you already have the spell card for and try to negotiate with them, they’ll just leave. Unlike SMT, this doesn’t fuck our alignment up.
: And here we are, back in the 1st floor lobby. That nurse there looks like she’s having a bad time.
: “We haven’t time to waste here, Jihei! It’s too late for her, but not for us!”
: It’s funny to me that Nanjo is positioning himself to be this game’s “chaos hero” while Yukino is the “law hero” when usually Atlus plays the whole “punk is chaos” thing straight.
: “Yo, Jihei! The monsters are just around the corner!”
: “Don’t give up! I could really use a hand, Jihei!”
: So, remember how I said that this game doesn’t have an alignment system? It doesn’t, but it has these choices instead. We want to answer all of these in a certain way for reasons that will become important later. For reference, we want to pick the top option.
: “It’s no good! They’re coming!”
: Oh no, it’s two zombies that the MC could actually get to fuck off just by talking to them because we have their spell card. Oh, and Elly is here.
: “Oh, my! There are demons here too?”
: There are two things I find incredibly funny about this. The first is that Elly has taken Nanjo’s position in the front row, and the second is that he’s telling her to get back when she has a weapon and he doesn’t.
: “No worries! I may not look it, but I’m a rather capable fencer.”
: “Eriko! This is no ordinary enemy!”
: “Sheesh! That girl’s crazy!”
: You have to love how in the manga, Elly is just straight up Sailor Jupiter. Nike is basically a straight-up better version of Aizen Myouou: she’s completely immune to all elemental attacks, and while weak to physical attacks takes less of a penalty than Aizen does. Nike also has a feature none of the other starter personas have (at least, from what I remember): if we somehow run into an angel-type persona while Elly still has Nike equipped, Nike will actually do the negotiations for us.
: “Eriko? Hey! Are you okay?”
: “Nike… the archetypal portrayal of Christian angels… it’s me… and I’m it…”
: Someday, I hope someone makes a Persona fan game where one of the characters just has Gritty as a persona and this fact renders them incapacitated for the rest of the game.
: “No good. She’s completely gone.”
: gasp “I-I’m sorry… I’m all right. I am an angelic bringer of victory! From now on, you have my protection!”
: “…You idiot. We can do it too.”
: “R-really? So I’m not the only one who was chosen…”
: “Eriko… you dreamt of the butterfly, didn’t you?”
: “How do you know about that? I’ve seen it quite often in my dreams… ever since I played the Persona game.”
: I don’t quite understand what she’s going on about here. As far as I can tell, this is still the same day: they summoned the ghost girl in the school, got zapped, and then went to the hospital.
: “Just as I thought. That dream must be the cause of the phenomenon.”
: “That aside, why’d you come here? Is it like this outside too?”
: “Yes… there are demons everywhere. And it’s impossible to leave town. I looked everywhere, but it seems that the school is the only safe place.”
: “Oh? The school’s safe? Let’s go back there, Jihei.”
: “What!? Dude, why didn’t you say so before!?”
: As you can see, the nurse presumably made it out. We also now have our fifth party member - this game gives you a total of five, though for some reason I swear I remember having six in the Snow Queen route. Whatever. Anyway, it just now occurred to me that I severely fucked something up and had to restart the game. Remember how we were recruiting Reiji? Yeah, turns out all that has to be done BEFORE you go to the hospital and I missed some steps.
: What you’re supposed to do is that once you’ve talked to Reiji’s mom in the convenience store, you go right to the casino because of course that’s a logical thing that people would do.
: We now get a clue as to where Reiji is, and this is the last time we have to talk to him before going to the hospital.
: Reiji is in an abandoned factory south of the Joy Street mall.
: “Hm…? Masao, is he one of your ‘crew’ as well?”
: “Say what!? Huh…? So you’re the dude with the scar on his head… what’re you doing here?”
: I should probably mention why we’re even bothering with this asshole, since we’re pretty close to the point where we decide what route we’re going on.
: The reason is that for the main route, we have a few possible party members. We’re required to take four: Jihei, Mark, Nanjo, and a fourth who we’ll meet shortly. The fifth character can be one of either Brown, Elly, Ayase, or Reiji.
: The Snow Queen route is a bit different. There, you’re required to take Jihei, Ayase and Yukino. The rest of your party is two of Brown, Elly, or Nanjo. Therefore, to see everyone, we’ll be taking Reiji on the first route and Brown and Elly for Snow Queen.
: I then remembered as I was recording the second run that I never showed off how combat actually works. Combat takes place on a grid, and each character can only hit certain spots depending on where they are in the formation.
: Yukino is our best attacker right now, because she attacks everything in the giant box that is her range.
: I also found this room, which is on the opposite side of the first floor from the entrance. The doctor here will heal the party for free, and the box contains a couple of healing items.
: We’re now out of the hospital and back on the world map, which has different music:
: My favorite part of Persona 1 is how all of the music is totally incomprehensible unless you’re looking at lyrics for it. Anyway, you’ll notice what appears to be a wall of vaporwave around the town, which keeps anyone from leaving.
: The first thing we want to do is go south to where the Joy Street mall and SEBEC building are. You’ll notice that there are two red icons near SEBEC. Against all logic, we need to go there.
: Naturally, Reiji is here. For some reason.
: “Huh? Oh, hey, yeah, it’s Reiji. What’s he doing here?”
: “That dumbass! He’s gonna get himself killed!”
: “Hahaha, sorry to butt in. This guy’s not all there upstairs, you know? C’mon, blockhead. Time to go.”
: “Sheesh, what is that dude up to?”
: “So even you’ll lend a hand to others… interesting. I wouldn’t have thought it.”
: “Idiot! Even guys like him have moms… she’d be sad if he got gunned down.”
: Thankfully, we’re now done with Reiji and Reiji-related bullshit for a while.
: There’s a few new enemy types out on the streets, where there are now random encounters. Unfortunately, due to the whole split level system, we can’t recruit some of them.
: We do, however, pick up a Nacht Kobold. Like most of the early Personas, they’re pretty much useless except as fusion fuel - their stats aren’t great and while they heal off any elemental magic they have a 2x weakness to physical.
: Elly told us that Maki’s mother was at the shrine, so let’s head there.
: Yes Elly, focus on the butterfly and ignore the woman bleeding out on the floor right next to you.
: “Hey… is it me, or is there something strange about this butterfly?”
: “Wh-what’s up with this thing?”
: Oh look, it’s our good buddy, Old Man with Keys. I’ll write out all his dialogue because yeah, white on white was not the best design decision Atlus ever made.
: “We meet again, my friends.”
: "Are you used to your personas now?’
: “As you have seen for yourselves, events are moving in an unexpected direction.”
: “Only those with a strong will are capable of stopping the flow that has gone awry.”
: “From here on, a number of paths will present themselves to you. Down each of them, you will witness the karma of those you meet.”
: “But whatever path you choose… remember that the choice was yours and no one else’s.”
: What he’s trying to do there, by the way, is give you a hint about the Snow Queen quest. You’ll see what the trigger for that is, and it is… another design decision that isn’t great.
: " ‘Truth is stranger than fiction’, evidently."
: “To be present for another once-in-a-lifetime event… how magnificent!”
: Maki’s mother looks a lot like Rachel Maddow.
: “H-Hey! Did you forget about Maki’s mom here?”
: “Lady? Are you okay?”
: “This is a gunshot wound. Who did this to you?”
: “Kandori!? The president of SEBEC?”
: “A device… and you’re saying this machine is causing the changes?”
: So yes, at its core, Persona 1 has essentially the same plot as Shin Megami Tensei 1. In that game, Stephen Hawking winds up summoning demons as part of a teleportation experiment.
: “Oh dear… the police station is already overrun with demons. I just came from there.”
: “…How did you escape, ma’am?”
: “Lady! Whew… she only passed out. We have to get her to the school, quick!”
: “You handle this, Jihei. I’ve got business to take care of.”
: “Wait, Masao. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I’ll come with you. Remember, you won’t be able to get near Kandori without this card.”
: “H-Hey! …Tch. Thanks, guys. C’mon, let’s go back to the school ourselves. Honestly! Men never think about how the ones they leave behind feel.”
: “Those two do have a similarly reckless temperament. Well, I’m sure they’ll give up and come back once they see the place.”
: Gotta love how Philemon will heal us for free, but not Maki’s mom. Anyway, the school’s right down the road. We want to head right there because with just Yukino and Elly, fights become much harder to win without devolving into a 10+ minute autobattle slugfest. I should mention by the way that SMT: Persona has probably the best autobattle system I’ve ever seen in a JRPG.
: “You’re all safe? Oh, I’m so glad…”
: “Oh? What happened to her…!?”
: “We’ll tell you later! We need to get her to the infirmary, quick!”
: “You’re right. Jihei, I want you to come with me to the infirmary! Yukino, Eriko, I want you to head to the passageway to the gym. Yuka and Yuko are there plugging up the hole in the wall. Please help them out!”
: “Right… gotta keep the demons from getting in. Will do!”
: “So that’s what SEBEC is up to, huh…? I can’t believe them!”
: “Hey, Jihei? Sorry to ask, but… could you go to the hole and ask Yukino and the others not to fill it up? Masao and Kei might have to come back through there.”
: The passage to the gym is at the corner just behind the infirmary.
: Now, we COULD talk to Ayase and her friend there… or alternatively, we could go to the gym where we’d have no reason to go unless we were doing Snow Queen. I should mention that rather than calling what we’re on the main route, I’m going to use the real name for it: the SEBEC route.
: Anyway, behind the gym are a bunch of club rooms.
: The club rooms have some equipment in them that we won’t be able to come back for, so I grabbed it.
: “I tried to stop her, but of course she doesn’t listen. Talk about trouble…”
: “Is there really a passage that leads outside of town?”
: Yuko’s portrait and character art look like they were done by someone making an RPG maker game. It feels like the kind of thing you’d see in Exit Fate.
: “Hey, if we block this thing up, is that really gonna make us safe? Huh? We’re not blocking it up anymore? Uh… is that okay?”
: The split between the SEBEC Route and the Snow Queen Quest is kind of poorly designed, in that it’s this one single choice. The top option puts us on the SEBEC route and will send us to the police station after Mark. The bottom option immediately puts us on the Snow Queen Quest without any possibility of going back to the SEBEC Route.
: “It’s like, impossible! Don’t do it!”
: Wait… what the shit?
: “Huh? Is… is that you, Maki?”
: I feel like this could absolutely be a line in the script for The Room.
: “What’s wrong, Yuka?”
: “Woah… like, something’s seriously wrong with her, Jihei! There’s no way Maki would be that cheerful!”
: “Huh? Yuka…? Hey, when did that hole show up? Ohhh, I get it. You made it, didn’t you Jihei?”
: “See? It’s totally not like her! I mean, wasn’t she in the hospital?”
: Oh, I get it. Johnny in The Room was like that because he had some kind of horrible anime disease, and now Maki has contracted the same thing. Also, what is it with characters named Maki and having the black/red color thing going on?
: “Yuka! I’m going to get teed off if you keep saying that. Do you WANT me to be hospitalized?”
: Actually, that’s kind of a good point. I’m pretty sure all of the mainline SMT games (I know SMT1 and Strange Journey do it) have a part where a human gets merged with a demon.
: “C’mon, Yuka, quit picking on her! Although… is something different about you today, Yuko…?”
: “Oh, come on! Don’t you start talking nonsense too, Nanjo! What’s wrong, anyway? Why are you so bent out of shape?”
: This right here is why Mark is only in the SEBEC route.
: “He mentioned getting weapons, so I went with him, and then…”
: “Normally, I’d leave him. Unfortunately, he has the security card… I’ll need your help to rescue him.”
: “Demons got Masao!? We need to save him, Jihei!”
: Ahh, here we are. Persona 1 and 2 have a system that Atlus dropped for the later games and only kind of brought back in Persona 5. If you’ve ever played any of the first three SMT games, you’ll know that physical attacks are fucking useless - they do no damage and need major stat investment to really begin to do anything. Guns, on the other hand, require no stat investment and often hit multiple enemies (or all of them) at once. This is still somewhat true in Persona 1.
: “It seems it can be quite draining to invoke one’s Persona. Masao became exhausted after repeated use. That’s how they caught him. But forewarned is forearmed. Don’t forget to equip these.”
: Here’s Jihei with all of our stuff equipped. Thankfully, the game automatically unequips people who leave the party, so we got Elly’s rapier to use instead of nothing. The rapier might look like it does more damage, but the Scorpion SMG hits up to three enemies to the rapier’s one. The only reason we don’t want to use the Scorpion on everything is because some enemies (particularly the zombies we’ve been fighting) are immune to gun damage. I also have to question why a police department in Japan would have a Czechoslovakian 9mm SMG sitting around.
: Nanjo gets an M16A2, which… is actually probably the least farfetched of all the guns we’ve gotten for a police department to have.
: Finally, Maki gets a Russian-made Tokarev pistol. If you’ve played Persona 5 (or Smash Ultimate), this is the same gun Joker starts out with.
: There’s also a bit of an oddity if we look at everyone’s Persona, in that Maki doesn’t have one. As soon as we step back out of the hole in the wall, though…
: I had horrible goddamn flashbacks to YIIK when I saw this.
: “…This is hardly the time for jokes.”
: “Excuse you! I wasn’t kidding.”
: “It’s… a public service that maintains societal order. In this case, it refers specifically to the service’s headquarters.”
: I feel like he’s giving her too much credit.
: “Oh… I think I kinda remember now?”
: “Whoa! What’s with the gym back there? When did they rebuild it?”
: “That happened while you were hospitalized. It’s been complete for roughly six months… you couldn’t have known.”
: And this is the part where we find out that Persona is actually a sequel to Harvester. You always were a kidder, Nanjo.
: “Jihei… does she seem to be suffering from amnesia to you? In her condition, she’ll only be a hindrance.”
: For once, I feel like Chaos Hero here is right and we should just dump her to be eaten by zombies.
: “Maki, don’t do anything foolish!”
: It’s blurry because of the motion, but Maki goes up to whip the demon and misses.
: Maki’s Persona is the closest thing to a Persona 4 or 5 starter Persona in this game. It’s weak only to fire (and even then just barely) and has resistance to all other elements.
: “Persona… the soul’s power. It’s another me, huh?”
: “It’s Latin for mask. It’s the root of the word Personality.”
: “So there are angels and demons within people’s souls? Is that it?”
: “That’s a poetic way of putting it, yes.”
: “As one fights fire with fire, it seems we’ll fight demons with demons. I don’t know the reasons for it, but it should certainly prove useful.”
: “Okay, if this is what we have to do, let’s do it! Let’s root out the source of these demons and get our town back!”
: As I was saying earlier, this game’s auto-battle system is kind of amazing. You’ve got a whole bunch of options here: the first one has the party repeat whatever their last action was, while “set actions” lets you set a specific thing for each character to do.
Next time, we’ll go into the police station and find Mark.