Welcome to the first of the Megaten Mondays. Topiki, ColonelFancy, and I each picked a franchise of games to commence playing our ways through. Needless to say the games I picked are of the Shin Megami persuasion. My husband thinks I’ve completely lost my mind, which is fine with me, I probably will have by the time I’m done anyway. Picking a starting place was a bit hard, but I settled on something I hadn’t played before, so I picked up my faithful PSP and popped in Persona 1. Having had played both 3 and 4 previously I thought I was ready for anything. Oh how wrong I was.
So the game opened as all Persona games do, with a fun rap rock song like we’ve come to expect from them. As soon as you actually start the game (IE hit New Game) you get hit with something that may sound very familiar to a lot of people.
I dreamt I was a butterfly
I couldn’t tell if I was dreaming.
But when I awoke I was I and not a butterfly.
Was I dreaming that I was the butterfly?
Or was the butterfly dreaming it was me?
Even if there is a difference between the butterfly and I
The distinction isn’t absolute.
And there is no relationship in cause and effect.- Zhuangzi
This quote is used a lot in various forms of media, and the concept used abstractly even more often. Dream and reality get skewed together frequently in popular media, and it’s all thanks to this. Supernatural, the X Files, Doctor Who, Star Trek, XXX Holic, Getbackers, and most famous of all Alice in Wonderland have all used this particular theme before. How would they use it in a franchise like Shin Megami? The concept was already running circles in my brain. I had to know!
So right after that quote is done playing with your head you get introduced to the main cast. The nameless lead, Hidehiko Uesugi (Brown, Masao Inaba (Mark), Kei Nanjo, Yuka Ayase, Eriko Kirishima (Elly), and Yukino Mayazumi playing a “Bloody Mary esque game called “Persona”. when a small girl in a white dress appears in a ghost like manner the seven students begin collapsing one by one. Each of them has a dream about a man named Philemon awakening them to their other selves. Now here is where I must state that I learned one lesson from the manga Busou Renkin, butterfly masks are evil Therefore I will insist until I beat this game that this guy is freaking evil.
So you wake up in the nurse’s office and everyone seems just fine with the mass collapsing. Strange. Also there aren’t enough beds in there for all the students who did pass out, so where did they put everyone? And who took you to the nurse anyway? Ah well, they tell you to go visit your terminally ill classmate Maki at the hospital since your up and moving about again. As the characters where talking about this I noticed the strangest thing, a glowing pink tree in a back corner in a pot. Like glowing trees are common. So I did what any veteran gamer would do, when they gave me back control I walked over to the tree and tried talking to it. It talked back…….the pink tree talked back to me and asked if I wanted to inscribe my story on it. A glowing pink tree is my save point.
So you leave the nurses office and bam in the hallway you get hit with a headache. The in-game map movement is like that of a first person shooter. I think it’s meant to give you a seizure, I really do. Fortunately you only have to deal with this in dungeons and not while moving through the city map….of course dungeons are 85% of the game, but we’ll ignore that for the moment. So you trudge your way to the hospital and surprisingly there’s no backlash from your awakening yet. This is unusually nice of the Megaten games. In traditional RPG fashion you get to the hospital and they tell you Maki is in room 202, that’s fine, but of course none of the doors are marked….bastards.
So a small series of events leads to Maki ending up in the emergency room and then getting eaten by a wall after an earthquake. Awkward. Now zombies are also running rampant through the hospital. Before your first battle with record-breaking quickness Nanjo’s man-servant Yamoaka dies trying to protect your group. This made me really sad, I totally liked that guy. In game clock says 20 minutes and we’re already offing named characters. Moving kind of fast huh?
So as we cut into our first fight scene one thought runs rampant in my mind….where on earth did we get weapons from? Well whatever I’m pretty sure we aren’t supposed to think about these things.
So I started exploring this stupid hospital trying to find my way back out when I did something a little uncharacteristic of me. I started paying attention to monster names. Mr Zombie, Zombie Nurse, Zombie Boy, and Zombie girl where my primary enemies. At Mr Zombie I smacked my hand to my forehead, only Atlus would bother adding the Mr.
So as I was desperately trying to escape the hospital and fighting for my life Elly appears out of seemingly nowhere and tells the group that she’s our Goddess of Victory and that we should head for the school. Apparently that’s where everyone’s hiding out right now. Ok for starters how did she get through the zombie infested streets on her own? Four of us had trouble with our first few zombies and she’s like “oh those guys, piece of cake.” Well during her brief time in my party I stole her sword and equipped it on my lead character. Next in the middle of a Zombiepocalypse why would you hole yourself up in the school? I mean seriously there are doors and windows everywhere just waiting for creepy crawlies to come through. This was probably not the best plan ever. Regardless though Elly walks up to the gate and recites the password “roses are red, zombies are blue, I don’t want brains, so you know I’m true.” That has to be the coolest code ever. It beats the hell out of the owls are in the forest. But seriously if you’re looking out at one of your classmates and you think ‘wow Tom looks kind of green today, and look his arm just fell off’ you probably shouldn’t let him in. Did you really need an anti zombie password?
So after another series of long drawn out events some of your more foolhardy party members decide to go procure weapons from the police station so you can fight against the evil organization Sebec who caused this whole mess in the first place. So now we’re stealing weapons from the police. Well you can guess how this goes, you end up finding out that Mark got himself caught and is being held in the Police station. Guess we better go rescue him. Then Nanjo hands you a freaking machine gun and says that he managed to get that for you. They stole me a machine gun from the police, could a guy ask for better friends than that? So while all this mess is going on who should show up but Maki! Maki claims she was never sick and tells you to stop lying about it….she also doesn’t recognize key things about the school like the giant hole in the wall. Thus I choose to believe that this is not Maki. Nanjo explains the basis of Personas to Maki including something that every Japanese high schooler knows. Persona is the latin word for mask and is rooted in the word personality.
So now we have a party of Lead character hence forth referred to as Andou, Nanjo, and Maki(?). You head to the police station and they tell you to find the keys for the cells since that’s obviously where you’ll find Mark. So the Police leave the keys to the jail cell right out in the open. You don’t even have to walk around the counter . Just right there just like that. I didn’t really expect much more from this dungeon than the last one we did add Zombie Cop to the list of zombies though. Also as I was in the middle of a fight minding my own business an Ukobach pulled out a pair of pompoms and did a move called Hula of Misfortune. I was so distracted by the visuals that I don’t even know what the move did to me. And who hulas with pompoms anyway? So I finally make it down to the cells, which was a lot simpler than I expected and lo and behold it’s ot just Mark down there but Brown as well. They give you the option to fill out your party with these two knuckle heads which I did. Brown looked way fun after all.
Then bam, in the middle of trying to get away a monster known as ‘the demon lieutenant’ appears and I’m thinking ‘hell yeah a boss fight’ , but alas I was wrong. The brave lieutenant was not a boss fight, or a fight at all really, just another Persona get montage. I was little sad really, I’ve been itching for a good fight for about four hours now.
My next lesson came in the form of trying to get demons to give me there cards for fusion purposes. Don’t bother trying to use ‘pick up’ on angels. They’re all stuck up.
So I fought my way through the Police Station and made my way into the mall, I had a lot of money saved up for healing items. As I was walking along I saw something that made me stop and laugh. There like it was some normal store front was the Velvet Room. It even had a sign! Inside was a sight for sore eyes. Igor! I really missed this guy.
After the mall we headed to Sebec, but it’s being guarded, so you have to break in via an abandoned factory. Not a big deal or hard either. It is kind of funny though Mark grafittied the walls of this place, but never noticed the entrance to Sebec. How clueless can you get? So inside you find that Sebec has gotten just as screwed over as the hospital. The floors don’t make any sense at all, not that that’s ever stopped us before.
It has now been almost seven hours of game play and I’ve finally found my first boss fight! His name is Takeda and he’s the bodyguard of our evil mastermind Kandori. Of course said senior psychopath is not actually involved in this fight, just his bodyguards. Kandori himself ‘snuck’ out of the room using the secret passage behind a large moving slab of rock. Now Maki insists that we would have seen him leave if he’d taken the door, so there must be another way out of the room. In other words we all missed him walk over to not so well concealed button, press it, walk to the other side of the room where a giant slab of rock slid to the side, walk out, and then put the rock back. Couldn’t he have just gone out the door for all that?
So we take the secret passage and confront Kandori by this huge machine thing. Whatever the thing is Kandori ends up inside it with Dr Nicholai. the good doctor tells the party that he will pay the price for his part of this mess and that if we press the red button the machine will cool down and stop, but if we press the blue button the machine will overheat and kill both him and Kandori. Clearly he wants you to push the blue button. So since your party is divided as to what to do. Brown has an awesome line here: “Surrender now and we’ll let you off with a life sentence” (very much in the spirit of Persona 4). Some think the red button, some the blue. The choice naturally falls into your hands, I did the responsible thing and shifted the question to some other sap in the room with me at the time. “Hey Topiki, would you take the red pill or the blue pill?” She responded blue, so that’s the path I took.
In pressing the blue button I seem to have accidentally sent the entire group back in time, no wait it’s not it’s an alternate dimension. So the Maki we’ve been travelling with is in fact an alternate dimension Maki. This shows that I’m not a crazy paranoid freak and makes me feel a little better about the whole thing. We also find the missing Yosuke, so where’s Chisato then I wonder? Also does this mean our Maki is sill in the wall? Or maybe she’s the little girl dressed in black that appeared at Sebec. They both had red ribbons in their hair. Then there was the little girl in white at the beginning of the game, I think she had a red ribbon too. Good Maki, and bad Maki maybe? Perhaps she was spilt by the machine? Maybe I’m overanalyzing again.
So I ran into the little girl in black again, her name’s Mai. Maiko- Mai= Ko maybe….huh? Anyway took away all the damn exits in the school and restructured the building so here we have another wild goose chase.
If you ever decide to negotiate with a toilet spirit, they are almost as bad as angels. In other words don’t try to pick them up either.
Spirit: I’m only interested in toilets.
Brown: I’ll be a toilet too!
Ironically it was shortly after this that I got my first game over. It was against five toilet spirits….go figure. I will have my revenge!
The last thing I’m going to touch on right now is the boss fight for the school. It was a mouse mecha thing called Tesso. It was a pain in the ass. This guy kept casting Megido on me. I’m not joking he was hard, I did not however die in this fight so there! Now I just need to find a way to nullify nuclear damage and I should be ok…..
See ya next week!