Persona 2: Innocent Sin
(What the hell was I smoking when I made that banner?) Oh, right. That game's my entire reason for not only making the banner as crazy as it is, but also for vaguely (well, more certainly in the title) tying the entire blog to a Nazi blog. Yes, Hitler's totally in this game, and it is as confusingly strange as you think it is. But did you know that there's more to this game than a flying Hitler? No, seriously. You get an awesome story, a cool battle system, whatever the hell this is, and tons of other things I could list off until you decide to get the damn game already.
But there is one thing I have to acknowledge: this game is an uphill battle, and not just because one part of the game literally has you battling up a hill. You're gonna have to put in a lot of effort if you want anything out of this game, and nowhere is that more evident than the story. It all begins with Stalker Poetry Theater, and continues into a series of unexplained oddities. Remember how in Persona 4, the characters had to adjust to that whole "fighting purple blobs in the TV with our magic people" thing? Well, if all of that took place two games earlier, nobody would be batting a goddamn eye at it. People treat Persona summoning and Master Joekr and devil summoning in such a cavalier fashion that some of them qualify as actual jobs. Nothing is new to these characters. Unfortunately, this is all new information to you, so it only serves to confuse the player in oh so many ways.
Yet all that aside, the story is incredibly well done. As always, I must number my reasons, and reason #59 is the characters. Each one has some great chemistry going on that makes for a ton of funny moments. This includes the silent protagonist. Especially the silent protagonist, who not only has more to say than most other video game characters, but also a clearly defined personality. What? Hell, even disregarding the fun comical moments, they're all still memorable and compelling and well-rounded and etc. Which brings me to reason #25: the thematic depth. Now have you guys ever seen users like or claiming this to be the best Persona story in the series? Well, they're pretty justified, mainly because of how well the game handles its themes. Especially near Mt. Iwato, Innocent Sin (title explained at Mt. Iwato) goes to great lengths to explain to you specifically why handing your dreams over to other people is a bad idea, and how fragile reality is, and why Jungian psychology is balls-awesome. Yes, it's as blunt about all this as I am, but they're good themes that are masterfully handled. Why should you care? It's certainly enough to explain the weirder elements of the game, like the flower boner it has or why every dad is terrible, because everything else is done with such purpose that these things have to be, as well.
And then the Nazis come in. Whenever Nazis enter the scene, the game takes this as a blank check to be as mentally imbalanced as it possibly can. Trust me: when your game starts off with high schoolers dancing for demons to stop terrorist plots, and it gets crazier from there, you have accomplished the impossible. And don't think I'm just on-edge about Nazis simply being in the game. As soon as the Nazis enter the story (through Hitler coming back to life), Sarah Palin starts yelling about how ancient Mexican space aliens built a space-ship underneath Japan and how Nazis robots totally want to take it over. And then Hitler busts out his flying Nyarlathotep powers. All the while, he's speaking fluent Japanese, because why not? Just why not? Granted, this is the type of story that wouldn't do this without good reason (specifically, to show how fucked Utopian aspirations are and the consequences of handing your dreams over to one really shitty guy), but you're only going to figure out that reason after a lot of pensive thought. Until then, you've just gotta deal with the crazy.
Fortunately, dealing with the crazy is one of the more prevalent themes in the game, and it's largely what makes it so goddamn awesome. Case in point: the contact system. Now I could ramble on about how cool it is to figure out how the whole system works, but that's not what you want to hear about. No; the best part of the contacts is the actual dialogue. There are just so many weird options and trends and reactions that make the whole thing more fun than a lot of the actual battles. I'd say that the game sabotages this by corralling you into a couple of options at any given time (I never really used Ginko or Michelle in these things), but that's going against what the system is about: experimentation. The game wants you to experiment around with all your options and discover all this crazy shit, and damn if it's not rewarding. What more could you ask for?
Yet there is a downside to these awesome contacts: all the work you have to put in before they start paying off. At first, there's absolutely no goddamn logic to what each option does. How come that Ogre's happy I'm threatening him? Why doesn't Death by Flowers actually kill the opposition (spoilers in these links, by the way)? And why does music anger demons? And even ignoring that, the first few hours are incredibly grindy and unpleasant. Your only options in a fight are all experience (and no Tarot cards), all Tarot cards (and no experience), or a shitty compromise between the two. So prepare to spend all day collecting Tarot tickets until you have enough to win that Nannar prize on the top shelf. (A fitting analogy, given how much Igor resembles a methed out carny.) Fortunately, both of these issues get better with time. Soon, you discover the logic behind demon reactions (not that I can explain it), and everything becomes infinitely less grindy; partly because the summoning requirements become more reasonable, partly because I alternated between fighting and dancing from battle to battle.
Speaking of battles, the battles! I'm gonna try to keep this short, mainly because everything else I've said can apply to the battle system. Yes, it's got so much grinding action that it goes by the alias of Marukyu Striptease, especially when you realize that Personas only rank up when you bother to use them. But, again, it pays off in the end, especially with experimentation...largely in the form of Fusion spells. Think the Band Attacks from The After Years, only not total shit. See, while those were so obscure that they necessitated a FAQ, Fusion spells are a lot easier to discover. Part of this is because there's a logic behind them, and part of this is because there's just so many of them. Not that you'll know that going in; you're just gonna be mixing things up with some holy spells in a high pressure situation when OH MY GOD, WHAT THE CRAP!? THIS IS THE BEST THING OF EVER! And that's how Fusion spells work: you're fucking about and randomly get rewarded a big heaping fist of graphical greatness. And that's how contacts work, too, as I previously stated. The only major difference that comes to mind is that battles are slightly less interactive than contacts (think Phantasy Star II), oddly enough. But, as you should have learned by now, that's not to be taken as an insult.
Although if I were to insult the game, I'd come up pretty short, because have you seen this game? It looks amazing. So clean and smooth and striking! Hell, when it came time to port this game to the PSP, Atlus didn't change a damn thing, because that's how good it looks. But I said I was going to complain, so bitch I shall! The CGI, while well executed, is often jarringly introduced from a story perspective......OK, how about some substantial complaints instead? Well, the rumor sidequest stuff kinda fades out near the end of the game, but then comes back in full force for the legendary weapon sidequests. Shit! What else? Translation! That oughta work! It's got quite a few typos and likely leaves out a lot of relevant information (like why Jun is so aggressively considered a drag queen). But it's hard to hold that against the entire project because of the high quality exhibited everywhere else? To the point that it's better looking than what Atlus put out? Just...goddamn. I can't seem to find any major complaints with this game. Maybe you guys will?
- The Persona series has always been well known for its great stories, and this game is no different, expect that it's more of that.
- You better love the demon conversations, because you're going to be doing a lot of them over the course of the game.
- Battles: see contacts.
*sigh* I've really topped myself this time. I've taken far too many screenshots of this game. How many, you ask? Three hundred and fifty-five. To put that in perspective, that's 82 more than the nearest game after that. And just like with Katawa Shoujo, I'm going to
post a picture of Maya flatly saying what in every thread I can find analyze my addictive habits. For science!....Probably!
- As always, first up is the story, and, again, as always, this category constitutes most of my screenshots. 141 screenshots, or just about 40% of the screenshots I took. Highlights include Tatsuya refusing Ginko, a stealthy Romancing SaGa 3 reference, and...this. I'm not even gonna spoil that one because of how fucking crazy it is. Speaking of crazy...
- ...the Nazis! Not only are they every argument a misanthrope could ever need, but they're also the subject of 15 screenshots. This is mainly because I wanted to document specifically when the game decided to lose any and all pretenses of sanity. But on that subject:
- Next up, I have all the awesome battle dialogue I found throughout the game, numbering in at 74 shots (and two videos). I'd say it's tough to choose a favorite, but who am I kidding? It has to go to Jack Frost. And while I'm on the subject of battles...
- ...22 screenshots given to this game's spells. Why? Well, partly because they have funny names, but also because I wanted to pretend that I was taking screenshots people might be interested in. The only problem with this is that of those 22, only 10 of them are the super-cool fusion spells you discover over the course of the game.
- Lacking a proper transition into anything, really, let's tackle the translation! 7 screenshots in that regard. Some of them were pointing out generally odd translation choices, but really, most of them were me taking the role of angry proofreader. That's what the Internet is for, I guess. That, and posting GIFs in threads instead of words. That probably explains my next category.
- Portraits! 51, to be sort-of precise. By this, I mean that while I took 51 screenshots, several of them feature multiple portraits. The most I could ever amass was four, even though you have five party members at any given time. (I think the game was spiting me on this, because whenever it wanted to show five at once, it'd just flash all of them in succession.) But it wasn't all disappointment. Just look at this and tell me you're disappointed. Actually, the screenshot I wanted to link was this one, but that doesn't lead well into my next category:
- Flowers! What? Didn't I tell you that this game has a boner for flowers? (Maybe I didn't. Again, when you take over 350 screenshots of a game, your first priority is to explain why.) Well, it does, which is why I managed to grab 6 screenshots of the hot flower action this game lays on you. Somewhat surprisingly, this is one less than...
- The character bios! If you can math, you'll obviously math that I've 7 screenshots of the weird-ass character bios in this game.
- Finally (at least in terms of me listing the categories I used to organize these myself), 34 screenshots simply defy categorization. In a game that involves Japanese high schoolers boarding spaceships to kill a resurrected Hitler, that's saying something. Specifically, it's saying that you're hungry.
- Continuing a tradition I started just this year, 46 screenshots are in all caps. (Shockingly, quite a few are only halfies, like this was. Which ones? This, this, this, this, this, and this.) Yet this time, it wasn't simply because the main character's a dick. Instead, a lot of it was the game being hideously blunt about its own themes.
- And finally, I referenced Persona 4 eleven times throughout my screenshots. Trust me: when you see something like this, you HAVE to capture it for future generations.
And that's Persona 2 in a nutshell. A very tight, compressed nutshell. But rest assured that there's absolutely no chance that I'll do this sort of thing ever again. Wait...
How much money would I pay for a Fire Emblem crossover game? All the moneys. Or maybe just $55.
Capcom Classics Mini Mix
(Wait, how is THIS related to the Nazis?) It's simple, really: this is a compilation of three NES Capcom games: Strider, Mighty Final Fight, and Bionic Commando. (I guess they had trouble thinking of other Capcom classics.) Now I've already covered the first two games (summary: they're both monumental piles of ass), leaving us with the decidedly Nazi-filled Bionic Commando. Shockingly, given the trend set forth by the other games, Bionic Commando isn't a colossal piece of shit.
Now seeing that this is a Nazi blog, I feel it very appropriate to begin with the circumstances that bring Hitler into the mix. You're fighting an ambiguous war, and already this sounds preposterous, but bear with me. Your task in this war isn't to kill Hitler (at least at first), but to rescue your friend with the most Japanese name in the world: Super Joe. What else would you name a character in a Japanese game ported for an American audience? In fact, that's what I love so damn much about this game: how unabashedly video game it is. It's the poster child for NES games. In fact, let's count, shall we? A protagonist named "Rad"; catchy chiptunes (see the first sentence); a buff, electric Hitler; a bad translati-HEY! You gotta take the good with the bad, especially when there's so much good to be had.
Hell, even the gameplay is evocative of the era. Again, both for good and bad. The bad in the form of limitations. I'm sure you know this already, but no jumping. If you want to get around, you're gonna have to swing around on a bionic
arm gun that only fires at certain angles and only lets you off in limited instances. And then the enemies come on screen, and you realize just how limited you are in fighting them. The good....also in the form of limitations, confusingly enough. How the hell does that work? Well, it makes the game notably difficult, but it's a legitimate difficulty, since the game was upfront about the whole control scheme thing. Yes, this means you're gonna miss a lot of jumps, but eventually, you develop a pretty cool rhythm that leads to that exhilarating feeling of just blasting the sky in its smug goddamn face. Or something like that. Look, I'm saying that all this makes the game fun. What could be better than swinging around and punching the sky, apparently?
Certainly not anything following this sentence. That's for sure! Unfortunately, not everything in this game is Manly Umihara Kawase, and even more unfortunately, those other parts aren't even any good. Take, for instance, the world map. No level to level gameplay for you. If you want more of that sweet, sweet Capcom soundtrack, you gotta go hunt down the latest weapon or item or whatever. It sounds benign, but trust me: a lot of this is simply jumping from area to area, hoping that you've appeased the game enough and that you can move on with your life. In short, it's obtuse, very clumsy and detracts from the game's better aspects.
Like the overhead shooting. Now I said it was better; that doesn't necessarily mean it's any good. In fact, it's not anything. There's no substance to them. Here's how every overhead portion goes: you run into an enemy tank, land on the ground, shoot some dudes while moving up, and then end the level about three feet later. Does that sound like fun? Not really? Shit. You're not gonna like hearing that they show up a ton in this game. Granted, you could probably cut them out of the game by studying tank movement patterns and timing your run perfectly such that you don't ever cross their paths, but that sounds even worse! I'd say "fuck this game", but that would be forgetting the cool swinging mechanics at the heart of this game. So instead, I'll leave it with "slightly irritate this game until it becomes that Game Boy Color sequel with the strange sniping portions."
- Oh, de fuhrer, we explode his face. BUMM! BUMM!
- I repeat my comments about this being a manly Umihara Kawase.
- I also repeat the parts that aren't a manly Umihara Kawase generally being crap.