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Atlus Persona 2: Eternal Punishment (Playstation) thoughts

Discussion in 'jRPG Weeaboo Discussion' started by Zerth, Mar 21, 2018.

  1. Zerth Savant

    Zerth
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    Shin Megami tensei, or Megaten in short, the Atlus signature franchise mostly acknowledged for spawning more spinoffs than mainline games, for its blatant display of animosity towards PC as a gaming platform, and of course, for its plethora of mythological creatures called demons.

    In the vast majority of spinoffs, Megaten's demon roster remains pretty much the same: a bunch of creatures loosely based upon folkloric and religious figures, which are physically manifested in the human world through manipulation of an enigmatic substance called magnetite (MAG).However, this is not the case for Persona series, since the Megaten entire demon mythos is given a psychological twist and essentially subverted: They become physical manifestations of a person's ego instead.

    [​IMG]
    Interestingly enough, Persona is not really into the subtle connotations of psychoanalysis. Instead, by taking most of
    its inspiration from jungian psychology, Persona creates its own archetypes (Arcana tarots), shadows, a physical space where the collective unconsciousness gathering takes place, and pretty much a character's wholeness fulfillment is roughly enacted by the awakening of a Kaneko's designed demon.

    [​IMG]
    Kaneko Artwork conveys all the symbolism of the source through his own style.
    (left) Apollo (right) Prometheus.

    Yet, Persona 2 Eternal punishment doesn't stop just there by only integrating the former mentioned. Because its fantasy setting takes suggestion to a whole new level, through materialization of rumors. Rumors are a core aspect of Persona 2 plot, widely spread around Sumaru city, feed upon collective awareness and eventually become part of reality. Their relevance to Sumaru is such , that there are people dedicated almost exclusively to spread rumors, known ingame as rumormongers.

    [​IMG]

    Through a rumor's suggestion and thus empowered by the popular belief, "alternative" medicine practices become legit treatments for every ailment known (or at least to heal your entire party), a jeweler is now secretly a blacksmith, a street vendor is into smuggling business, a genie finally is giving out accurate divination, etc. Although rumors are limited to pretty much unlock gameplay content, such as new items or rare demons, is pretty neat the idea of manipulating what people talk about around the streets to materialize a falsehood.

    Because of the power of rumors and popular belief, Megaten demons start to appear in Sumaru as standalone supernatural creatures, although this time they're somehow linked to their Persona versions, since befriending them is needed to earn a nifty amount of Tarot cards, which are required to perform a Persona awakening.


    Demon conversations in Persona 2 EP tend to be as whimsical as any regular mainline Megaten negotiation, but a bit more deterministic. The act of befriending demons is usually a nonsensical task; the negotiation boils down into erratically choosing a contact approach in order to find out a desirable reaction. Every kind of demon has a different set of 2 or 3 personality traits(foolish, wise, arrogant,joyful etc.), the combination will determine the type of contact used as well as the reaction of the demon to it. Appealing to demon joyful side may grant you the opportunity to forge a contract with the demon, which means, It now will give you extra stuff or perhaps tell you a rumor for free every time you trigger its good side during a contact session. For some reason you can only actively withhold 3 contracts, and the only way to break a contract is to either forfeit one after accepting another, or piss off a demon withholding a contract 3 times in a row.


    [​IMG]
    Demon conversations retain the same quirky tone as regular negotiations do from any mainline SMT game.

    In regards of the main characters. Eternal Punishment is the only Persona that sent High School shenanigans to the benches; and opted to feature a cast of characters predominantly represented by adults: Maya, Ulala, Katsuya and Baofu. Instead of Social links, outside of a dungeon, you can speak with every party member standing around the place you visit, they usually give their current opinion about the state of the situation they're going through, or just does small talk. This kind of exposure is not only there as minor dialogue snippets that contribute to understand their character as a whole, but also provides the hidden benefit of unlocking new contact interactions you can use during a negotiation.

    [​IMG]
    You start at Maya's workplace. Doing her regular routine, chit chatting with coworkers and being pushed around by her cranky boss.

    Every main character has a distinctive set of Arcana's compatibilities, most of these Arcanas are somewhat associated with their personality and backstory. E.g Baofu can be roughly depicted as chaotic neutral, therefore He has the highest compatibility with Hanged Man, Devil, Death and Emperor Arcana. This is translated into gameplay as a reduced consumption of Spiritual Power, faster leveling and better odds of triggering a Mutation (more of this later).

    Unlike modern persona games, characters are not fond of talking much about themselves (unless plot events impel them to open up) and They don't expect nor want that Maya derails from the main story-line pacing in order to sort out their own emotional baggage. Most dialogues are straightforward and are kept in topic. Is uncommon to find a dialogue exchange among major characters that doesn't provide interesting information.

    As a recurring practice in the series, sprite animations are used to express emotions and gestures, face expressions are depicted through some few char portraits. Albeit over the top and ludicrously animated, are more engaging than a redundant snippet of text containing verbose descriptive drivel. Although most of the voice acting I heard came from the cheesy battle quotes. There are very few cutscenes where voice acting is used, mostly during some key events and opening cut scenes of a major Boss fight, which I assume is conveyed like this to emphasize the fact your party is going to engage a key antagonist.

    Not all the interesting stuffs are monopolized by the main cast though. Minor characters and NPCs usually update their dialogue lines to also provide their own take of the current events and sometimes are a source of rumors. Coincidentally, since now some of it is becoming reality, talking with them reveals how much Sumaru inhabitants cling to superstitious beliefs, like the Wang Long fortune telling, as proverbial compasses for their major life's decisions, turns out this reliance ended up screwing them badly, but elaborating more about it without revealing heavy spoilers is nigh impossible.

    Without a doubt, writing is the strongest aspect of Persona 2 EP. Is noteworthy to mention consistency with its extremely linear narrative and the lingering tension of story progression; if you attempt to reenter a dungeon that isn't a place of interest anymore, some party member will call it off and rebuke you for wasting time, as well as attempting to visit some irrelevant unknown place. Not the most compelling way of storytelling but It's alright for a game that mostly just sit the player through cut-scenes when story's exposure kicks in.

    [​IMG]
    The only dungeon you're allowed to visit anytime is the Bomb shelter, which is just a spot destined for mandatory prepping purposes and with an obscure puzzle that I suppose can only be solved when you unlock all the 8 chambers. Chambers are gated content within story progression, and are place for previous regular random encounters and rare demons.

    For contrast, in terms of technical aspects, Persona 2 is somewhat flimsy. Starting with dungeons, which design couldn't be shittier than this. This doesn't come as a surprise to me, since Megaten devs often jeopardize fun with long empty hallways and rooms,dead ends and overly high random encounter rates (adding Estoma spell was an act of mercy now that I think of it).

    However, among all the annoying stuffs, by far, the invisible pitfall tiles are the most infuriating traps, usually distributed in a random pattern across a floor, and there are not means that helps to find out the location; you just inevitably stumble across a pitfall and fall down, their sole purpose is to induce pointless and arbitrary backtracking (have fun walking back to the floor you fell from).

    [​IMG]
    (left) The auto-map is ugly and disproportional in scale. Yet, is essential to get a sense of direction, also the trap tiles you already triggered are marked down.
    (right) Besides pitfall tiles, there are pointless trap tiles that drain HP/SP or induce some harmful status effect. These are always visible, most of times.

    The menu UI, unlike HUD, has the classic JRPG staple design, which is downright awful for a videogame where you have to save or access to a character's spell menu quite often, because you have to literally button press two to three times your way in to get there, add the fact on screen Menu takes about 3 seconds to show up after pressing square button. Shortcuts would've been a fine and simple solution for this, yet there are none. Another issue is that you can't switch between equipped personae, and that's quite annoying. In order to switch personae between characters, you need to swap one of them with another free persona from the stack, therefore, you swap back and forth 3 personae just to perform a simple exchange.

    [​IMG]
    If only I would have some kind of spell shortcut. Casting Estoma every few minutes wouldn't be as daunting as It is.
    TB Combat wise, Persona 2 is slightly better than most classic JRPGs, only beaten by Chrono Trigger, which shares certain similarity because you can also combine abilities or spells to either deal apeshit damage or buff/heal your entire party. You can cast any fusion spell right away as long as you meet the prerequisites, which is done after two or three party members cast their respective spells in certain order. If you finish off the battle with a fusion spell, there's a chance any of the personae involved in the fusion will trigger a mutation. Mutations can randomly grant any of the following bonuses: an extra spell, increase of all stats, unlock a passive unknown skill or the ability to change into a Minor Arcana persona (only possible to obtain by mutation).

    [​IMG]
    Arthur and Artemis team up to cast Frigid Wrath (Any Ice spell+Heat Wave) a Fusion Spell.

    It's a bit unfortunate that, considering mutation mechanics allows to make any persona viable through entire playthrough, you can't fully customize a persona skill pool. In order to keep a persona viable, you have to grind its ass off to randomly trigger mutations. Still, is a worthwhile investment on Minor, Joker Arcanas or greek gods personae (Apollo, Prometheus, Astria, Hyperion and Artemis).

    Sadly, your opponents (not even shadows of self) can't perform fusion spells, yet many battles remain challenging regardless how much you intent to abuse it. Mainly because there is a significant downside about casting fusion spells, and this can be appreciated understanding how turn order works, by illustrating the following scenario:​

    A combat encounter starts, and the turn order for the current round is about to be like this:

    1)Ulala-> Affectionate prayer
    2)Maya-> Freidyne
    3)Foe 1-> Deathbound
    4)Foe 2-> Megaton Press

    5)Katsuya-> Megido
    6)Foe 3-> Megaton Press
    7)Baofu-> Heat Kaiser

    Say, I want to cast Nuclear Burst, an insane all target fusion spell. Choosing it from the quick cast menu, will auto-sort my team party in this order, thus casting Nuclear Burst will take precedence over anything else:

    1) Maya->Freidyne (wait)
    2) Katsuya->Megido (wait)
    3) Baofu-> Heat Kaiser (cast Nuclear Burst)
    4) Ulala-> Affectionate prayer(next round)

    If I command the team to act according to this sequence, The current turn round is highly likely to end up like this:

    1) Foe 1-> Deathbound
    2) Foe 2-> Megaton Press
    3) Foe 3-> Megaton Press

    4) Maya->Freidyne (wait)
    5) Katsuya->Megido (wait)
    6) Baofu-> Heat Kaiser (cast Nuclear Burst)

    7) Ulala-> Affectionate prayer(wait and cast next round)

    What can be concluded from this round? First, that Ulala, the fastest character in this instance, gave up her turn, because I commanded that casting the fusion spell will take precedence over any other party action. Second, Nuclear Burst will not be casted until Baofu, the third one and slowest, takes his turn. Third, since everyone is waiting and Baofu is slower than the three foes, they'll act first and unleash their hard hitting phys bullshit.

    Now assume Maya, Katsuya and Baofu have low health or have equipped with Personae vulnerable to Physical damage. The outcome? A bunch of KO'd guys and no Fusion Spell casted at all. That's pretty much the consequences of casting powerful fusion spell, you have to give up one to two turns in order to perform one action, and will not happen until reach the last one's turn. Also, if you go full retardo and allow the system to auto arrange your team when, considering previous circumstances, is clearly a poor idea; you'll end up doing crap during the current round.

    I think this kind of synergy between fusion spells and turn order is pretty solid. Simple yet effective, it impels you to be mindful against a threatening enemy team, and to prepping a Persona party that not only is able to cast powerful fusion spells, but also to take countermeasures.

    Persona 2's soundtrack mostly consists in synthesizer arrangements that range from either upbeat, belligerent or ominous yet awe spiring (spoilers ahead) melodies. It has a style of music that was quite prevalent during the most prolific JRPG era, and that always seems to fit well on TB rpgs.

    To sum it up, as long as you have the will to stomach crappy dungeon design, high random encounter rates and clumsy UI, this is truly a Jrpg worth playing, hell, I think even more than modern persona games.
     
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  2. spekkio Arcane

    spekkio
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    I quit my 1st "playthrough" mostly due to total boredom during combat encounters and insane encounter rate. And I'm a fag who completed SMT 1 & 3, DDS 1 & 2 and is currently enjoying Raidou 1.

    IMO Persona is the cancer that is killing Megaten. :obviously:

    Not necessarily 100% Atlus' fault, tho, because other variants of the formula (DDS: more traditional, character-driven jrpg, with press-turn combat system; Raidou: story-driven game with RT combat) flopped.
     
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  3. Raghar Arcane

    Raghar
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    I didn't stomach the graphic and outdated stuff.
     
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  4. Zerth Savant

    Zerth
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    Early, low level personae are trash. There's not much you can do with them, even less decent fusion spells, and since from beginning one really can't tell which Arcana is more compatible than other on a character, the first hours are kinda boring since you have to spend time to figure out obscure stuff.

    I also played the raidou games, by far the worst thing was the fixed camera, specially on first game.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
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  5. Viata Arcane

    Viata
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    I loved Persona 1, mostly because it still had the first person view most of the time. 2 was okay, but that is because I'm used to insane encouter rate in JRPG. The rest is beyond salvation.
     
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  6. aweigh Arcane

    aweigh
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    Dungeon design was alright in EP but it was a huge step down from the memorable first-person mazes found in Persona 1. I wouldnt call pitfalls bad design since they are a common staple of dungeon design for dungeon crawlers which are the direct inspiration for MegaTen games...

    ...however not providing a way to avoid pitfalls is bad and tedious (most dungeon crawlers allow a spell to either view them beforehand or to float over them). Obviously it goes without saying that even the worst dungeon in Persona: EP is 1000 times better than the entirety of the shit found in P3 or P4.

    That said I think Persona 1 and EP (which features a continuation and a conclusion of a few character storylines from P1 such as Guido) are easily the best Persona games. P3 and P4 writing and lackluster gameplay cant compete. Even P1s hidden characters (Chris and Yuki) make appearances in P2: EP!

    ***Have not yet played Persona 5 so it is possible it is comparable in scenario and writing quality to P1 and P2: EP though I highly doubt it.

    EDIT: Also did you indulge in fighting the unique encounters available through rumor-mongering that you unlock by visiting previous dungeons

    I only ask because you seemed to stress the unimportance of visiting cleared dungeons when the games rumor system does actually give you reasons to do so a few times.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
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  7. Zerth Savant

    Zerth
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    At the very least, I was expecting some kind of puzzle in Sumaru Castle and Undersea ruins that would help me to reveal a safe path across a pair of floors (I suppose you know which ones) that consisted almost completely of pitfalls, but nope, trial and error all the way. Now consider my party was pretty much around the same lvl as regular encounters, so Estoma had not effect whatsoever. Go figure how much this tainted my patience.

    About the unique encounters unlocked through rumors. Some of them, yes. But I fought them before clearing the mandatory dungeon as far as I recall, at least that was the case for Blue Cape aboard the ship and the celebrity that appears during TV station dungeon. And as I already stated, the game pretty much doesn't allow you to revisit storyline cleared dungeons.

    Now, if you mean the likes of Kudan (room 5 of Bomb Shelter) and the first rumor unlocked unique demon (last floor of kasugayama High school). I've mentioned Bomb shelter can be visited anytime (I didn't visit the last room and finish the puzzle cuz I rushed towards endgame dungeon, what's in there?).The Seedy CD dungeon is also available, but I didn't bother much in exploring it since I found pretty annoying that you only can use the attack command (cuz demons spread the rumor that place banned personas) and items. Didn't touch Mu continent either.

    BTW, thanks for the recommendation. Now I have more disposition towards playing the first Persona. But after I beat a bunch of pending CRPGs first.
     
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  8. ghostdog Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron

    ghostdog
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    What about Persona 2: Innocent Sin? I started playing the psp version after finishing P1, but I was burned so I didn't go that far. Is it worth delving in?
     
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  9. Viata Arcane

    Viata
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    The psp version has its battle system based on the EP version, as far as I remember reading about. As for the PS1 version, it has the same boring shit as EP(insane random encounter rate, shit dungeons,...) , but is easier
     
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  10. aweigh Arcane

    aweigh
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    never play any of the PSP remakes

    butchered script and horrible new soundtracks
     
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  11. Gentle Player Arcane

    Gentle Player
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    Only Persona 1 PSP has the butchered soundtrack. P2 IS has the option to use the original music. And yes, IS (at least the PSP version) is a LOT easier than EP (which itself wasn't particularly tough).
     
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  12. Deflowerer Arcane

    Deflowerer
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    Persona 1 PSP has a fanmade patch that swaps the new music for the old, although because PSP version had maybe half less tracks in total, the fan patch omits a lot of original music.

    I mean, I think it's better to play that one rather than the shitty PS1 ENG version.
     
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  13. aweigh Arcane

    aweigh
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    psp version of persona 1 has a butchered script. google comparisons.

    only reason to even touch it is to play the Snow Queen content which isnt available on PS1 western release.
     
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  14. Deflowerer Arcane

    Deflowerer
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    What the shit are you smoking? I am pretty sure you're conflating it with P2.

    I mean, PSX ENG version was already butchered to begin with, so how the fuck do you know unless you know moonspeak?
     
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  15. aweigh Arcane

    aweigh
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    Deflowerer

    here is my 2016 post concerning persona 1 comparisons between ps1 and psp:

     
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  16. aweigh Arcane

    aweigh
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    man i remember when i cared enough about shit to actually write so much.... time sure does fly.

    EDIT: TLDR version is that the new PSP script is more accurate to the source (mark skin color being white) and it has less typos than the PS1 script but it has no personality as a lot of the dialog was truncated for ((reasons)).

    Truncated = shortened / edited / censored / etc.

    Ive played both versions and the PS1 script (while flawed and featuring changes such as marks skin color) is a much better piece of writing with better characterization and a more flat out better dialog. In the end though i think the switched OST is a much bigger deal and if you mod it with original OST (which I think is one of the best RPG OSTs from the era) you will still get a good experience.

    If you play both versions it becomes very evident though that the translation team for the PS1 release had a bigger budget to work with and did a better job overall. The PSP script is very rough and blunt and loses a lot of atmosphere and was clearly a budget translation.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
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  17. zwanzig_zwoelf Graverobber Foundation Developer

    zwanzig_zwoelf
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    Please do not confuse MegaTen (the whole shebang which includes DDS/SMT/Persona/Avatar Tuner/Majin Tensei/other stuff) w/ Shin Megami Tensei.
     
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  18. Viata Arcane

    Viata
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    Nigga, if you are not playing P1 for PS1 in Japanese, might as well play the shit psp version.
     
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  19. Malpercio Arcane

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    I prefer IS because the cast's interactions are better and plot gets crazier and crazier. EP is a solid continuation, but it felt... safer? than Innocent Sin. Also Maya being a mute MC was a dumb as hell choice.

    The PS1 version of P1 is one of the worst translations/adaptations ever, it completely rewrites the setting/story, changes the characters' names and turns the cast into a bunch of Americans, wtf.

    Not to mention they took out a whole route!
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2018
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  20. aweigh Arcane

    aweigh
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    oh god youre one of those weebs who thinks Tina is better than Terra right
     
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  21. Malpercio Arcane

    Malpercio
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    I dunno, but I think changing the whole setting, including the race of a character isn't a translation, it's a fuck-up.
     
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  22. aweigh Arcane

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    Im more interested in the quality of the writing than the accuracy. PSP script of P1 is more accurate but its dryer and lacks atmosphere and character thus I prefer the Playstation port.

    (I found the PSP script very terse as well in sentence composition due to a character limitation in the PSP versions font table).

    Only reason to play the PSP port is for Snow Queen quest which had to be cut out of Playstation release.
     
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  23. LJ40 Arbiter

    LJ40
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    :troll:

    Edit - Realized that even with the troll pic I sounded like I was disagreeing. In fact, I agree with everything Aweigh has said here, although I might not have the same amount of venom as him for the PSP remakes.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2018
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