Part 4: Part Four: We Kill Stuff. And Talk To It Too.
Part Four: We Kill Stuff. And Talk To It Too.
On the last episode of Persona 2...
That happened. The asshole principal of Seven Sisters High School, Principal Harding, was messily killed, presumably right before our intrepid heroine/reporter Maya walked into his office.
Ulala eloquently expresses her thoughts on the situation, and...
Katsuya strolls on in.
As Ulala is stammering over Katsuya's interrogation, Anna happens to walk in...
She doesn't stick around long before heading straight back out, though.
Katsuya, Maya, and, moments later, Ulala chase after Annna. They don't get far, though...
...because they're cut off at the pass by a pissed-off demon dog.
"Someone" turns out to be someone I'm sure you've all been waiting to meet...
...and he happens to be one of the most memorable RPG villains ever, if only for his incredible voice acting.
Joker: I took a request. So I'm here to kill you. That's what the rumors say.
Joker: Maya Amano..I know you so ve---ry well...What you even did on the "Other Side".
Joker isn't joking at all - he summons some sort of hambeast monster to eat our favorite reporter and her buddies.
He's a sporting kind of guy, however - he throws a pair of handguns to Maya.
Katsuya, of course, is not about to take this crap. Having a gun pulled on him doesn't seem to dissuade Joker all that much, though...
...since he continues to taunt Maya and friends even as the hambeast goes on the attack.
Katsuya takes one for the team...
...and it's enough to awaken his Persona, Helios, a giant cat in 19th century dress. Go ahead and make your furry jokes, Katsuya is enough to take them.
Helios takes a chunk out of the hambeast with a fire blast in response.
Ulala gets it next...
...which awakens her Persona, Callisto. It's difficult to see - the Personas have an "ethereal" special effect that doesn't translate well to still images - but Callisto is a woman in a fancy dominatrix outfit with a high heel for a face.
Callisto dumps a rock on the hambeast as she's awakened.
Maya doesn't actually get hit at all; rather, Maia simply awakens on her own...
...and banishes the demon with a Holy spell. Maia is a woman in a kimono with a Geordi LaForge visor.
Joker isn't phased by this, either...
...since he's got a Persona of his own, which isn't named just yet. He proceeds to open a massive can of whoop-ass on our heroes.
Maya and friends are knocked out, and proceed to dream...
They wake up in the middle of a gazebo of sorts, with a single fluttering butterfly in the center.
The butterfly becomes a young man in a butterfly mask...
...and Katsuya strikes up a conversation with him.
Philemon: Your powers...are hidden deep within your heart...Like a god or devil, it is "another self"...Like a god...filled with love...Like a demon...merciless...Humans...go through life with many faces...Your current appearance is just another face...And so is your Persona, one of many.
Katsuya: Another you, with physical conflict...Like our original forms...? What is your purpose in giving us these?
Philemon seems to have trouble maintaing his form, however.
Philemon: They...made...tears of blood..."This Side"...Only you...can save...
Katsuya: What's wrong? I can't understand you.
Philemon: Warning...rumors will become reality...light...within hearts...of people...
The scene fades...
...and the group awakens back in the real world.
Katsuya calls back to HQ, and Maya and Ulala check up on each other. During the choice, I selected the first option - keep that in mind, as it'll be significant later on.
Ulala: Why her? The suspect is that "bag head"? Well, she did say she would kill him. Is this related to the dream? "Rumors become reality" is what he said...The Joker rumor IS true, then?
Katsuya: "It can't be" is what I'd like to say, but I can't...not after seeing all this. I accept the fact that he borrowed our consciousness to give us clues. We have to pursue whatever he gives us.
Ulala: So that's why you were so calm.
Katsuya: Come with me. I can't leave you alone.
Ulala: I, I'm going too...I'm her friend...I couldn't stand it if you left me here.
Katsuya hands both guns to Maya instead, right before Ms. Smith shows up.
We finally regain control after that huge chunk of plot exposition, so we do the usual and check the menu - lo and behold, we can finally check our characters' stats now!
Maya focuses on TEC (magic) and AGI (speed), however this doesn't mean all that much as we'll see in a bit. Also note her "Sexy Suit" armor. Rrrrow. Maia emphasizes Maya's strengths - a character's stats are calculated as the average between their personal stats and those of their Persona, so basically a Persona acts as another form of equipment. Maia is immune to Holy, Dark, Mind, and Nerve, which consist mostly of instant death and status attacks, and her spell, Hama, is an instant death attack in and of itself.
Ulala is a balanced physical fighter, and she's usually the fastest in the group aside from Maya. Callisto is strong to Earth, weak to Wind, and has the basic Earth spell, Magna.
Katsuya has high STR and decent TEC, but he's pretty slow, so he's more of a tank sort. Helios is strong to Fire, weak to Water, and has the basic Fire spell; he also gives Katsuya's STR a healthy boost.
Now that all that's taken care of, we can move on to OH GOD WHAT IS THAT.
Maya and friends are engaged in battle by a demon, in this case a...
...very talkative slime?
Well, yeah there is, there's a fucking booger trying to chat with me.
Do you know what demons are like? I bet you think they're scary...But that's not true! Squishy, squish, ooze! Demons are actually quite, squish, like you! Just like how you humans get happy, or angry, or scared, or interested...Feelings like that are also felt by demons! That's why we're the same as you! Squish? And so we get Happy, Sad, Angry, or Interested too! Squishy squish. I think you'd like to get along with us! So, you should try not to make us mad! Squishy squish squish. We show our feelings by words, sounds, actions, and aura. Watch carefully, squishy squish.
Joy causes demons to enter into Contracts with you when it's evoked three times while you're talking to them. When you've got a Contract with a demon, you've got one for all demons of that type - this is symbolized by a magic circle under the demon when you're in combat. Contracts don't do anything by themselves, but if you evoke Joy three times again while you have one, the demon will give you cash, goodies, or information at your request.
Anger is the "booby prize" of contact - evoke it three times and you've typically lost a combat round and earned an ass-kicking. It also breaks Contracts, if you're dumb enough to evoke it three times on a Contracted demon.
Fear is typically neither good nor bad - you'll either win a free combat round by paralyzing the enemy with fear, or simply scare them off altogether.
Interest is the good stuff. Evoking Interest three times on a demon will get you some Tarot cards of that demon's class; Slimes are Tower demons, for instance, and reward Tower cards. If you evoke Interest three times from a Contracted demon, you'll get some blank cards that can be changed to any class along with those you'd normally get. Tarot cards are used to summon better Personas, so it's important to take a break to talk to demons every once in awhile.
In all honesty, personalities aren't nearly as important as learning which contact option evokes what from each demon. They can come in handy at times, though.
Free stuff is always good, as well.
However, I know as well as anybody that Games goons are bloodthirsty, so let's take a look at combat before we do any negotiating.
Persona 2's combat is turn-based, but it's designed to flow very quickly in a sort of auto-battle system. Characters are given commands in the Strategy screen, then when Battle is selected, they act them out repeatedly until told to stop. The order in which characters act in combat can be rearranged as well - this is useful if you need that heal spell to go off right now - but you're not making your characters faster, you're just making the faster characters wait for the slower ones, so monsters may get free turns if you're too liberal with this.
Magic is performed by summoning a character's Persona - in this case, it's Ulala and Callisto. Spells consume SP, but it's a flat rate depending on the Persona rather than a varying cost for each spell; there are ways to abuse this fact that we'll go into later on.
Maia's Hama spell is Holy-element - basically it's insant death. Unlike most games, instant death tends to be extremely effective in the MegaTen games, so it's worth having around (and being protected from).
Characters get better with their Personas as they keep using them, and with enough practice, you get one of these:
Personas gain new spells and higher stats when they gain ranks, plus there's an additional benefit to levelling a Persona to the maximum rank - that's another thing we'll go into later on. Personas aren't the only thing that level up, though...
Upon levelling, a character gets three points to distribute amongst their stats as they please, along with an additional point to a particular stat based on the Persona they're using. There's a catch, however - you can only distribute Maya's stats yourself! The other characters will level on their own:
Ulala likes AGI, for instance...
...and Katsuya tends to put points in STR. You can influence the growth of the other characters by giving them particular Personas right before they level, however. Since you can distribute Maya's stats yourself, she makes a wonderful healer and mage - pumping her TEC and AGI sky-high allows her to throw off the big heals and nukes when necessary.
Oh, and there's Chrono Trigger-esque combo spells, as well. These are accomplished by casting spells in a particular order - this Stone Rise combo, for instance, is accomplished by casting a Water spell followed by a Fire spell followed by an Earth spell. Since this usually requires you to reorder your characters, it tends to be a lot more slow than casting individual spells, but...
...it definitely gets the job done.
COMING UP NEXT: We actually get back to the damn story!