A Tale of Deadly Coins
Persona 2: Eternal Punishment as a whole is one of the few JRPGs I can say that I had fun playing. Sure there were problems here and there and the random difficulties highs and lows were frustrating to say the least, but when you play a game, you tend to do it to have an enjoyable time, and P2: EP has that in spades.
Persona 2's battle system is pretty standard fare for the most part; you can attack with your Persona(Costs SP, the game's magic), attack with your weapon, defend to reduce the damage you take, or run from battle, there's also the Contact system, but I'll talk about that later. When you fight, you're trying to find the demons' weakness, some hate fire, some hate water, but they can also absorb attacks and that restores their HP so once you figure out what they don't like, boy should you exploit it.
The Contact system is where Persona 2 really sets apart though. Here is where you'll try to get the demons to like you by talking to them and it's also where some pretty good dialogue is exchanged, my favorite being the demons who talk about the mysterious yellowish-blue. Depending on who you choose to talk with (You can choose up to three), they'll respond like this:
| Red: They're angry, don't want to talk to you anymore and I hope you're ready to fight them.|
| Blue: You scared them you jerk! The demon type you contacted runs from battle, leaving the other types still there.|
| Yellow: They like you, they really really like you! They'll give you Tarot cards and this gives you new Personae.|
| Green: They think you're interesting/weird and want to make a Contract, which allows you to choose a few goodies.|
Eternal Punishment starts you off as Maya, a magazine editor at Coolest which is a pretty awesome name for a magazine. Eventually you'll end up at a high school, nearly get killed by a serial killer named Joker, fight some demons, and be off on your not so merry way. What's interesting about the world of Persona 2 is that rumors become fact when they've gone through the right circles and that's how the story carries itself. Despite starting off with a cool premise however, it tends to drag during the middle, then come back pretty strong in the final few acts.
The characters are pretty important to a RPG, and while not terribly annoying to the point of where I hated having to have them in my party, few were special really. Maya's a normal person, except she keeps seeing visions of this mystery person, Ulala is Maya's friend who feels unloved due to past experiences, Kaysuya is a play it by the books cop but Baofu? Baofu is one bad ass mofo and easily stands out as my favorite character in the game. Whether he's flipping coins to hurt demons or spouting some kind of awesome dialogue, Baofu was a hell of a guy.
The production values on Persona 2 are actually better than some PS2 launch titles so for today's standards mean they look/sound passable. The character designs aren't anything you haven't seen before but they aren't embarrassingly bad either or anything. The few CG cutscenes also look fantastic and do a very good job of bringing out the physical details in the characters. Also, the demons designs look cool until you've ran into the third palette swap, luckily though, they start bringing in new designs around the time that this starts happening. The animations are also pretty nice though Atlus' idea of a good running animation is just the walking animations but you're leaping like, three more spaces than you normally would. The character's rarely actually voice their dialogue and when they do, it isn't very good so it's probably a good thing that it's so rare. The music however is fantastic, particularly when it's not hard rock-sounding and when it's peaceful, like at Aoba Park or Mount Iwato.
I have to point out the few yet more important issues that Persona 2 seems to suffer from. The game doesn't do a terribly good job of telling you anything but where you need to go to advance the plot. Whether it be why the demon got angry during your conversation or why this Persona will cost 61 SP every spell, Eternal Punishment expects you to just figure it out yourself instead of sitting you down and telling you why. While that might seem like a tiny thing, it sort of snowballs into something completely baffling and aggravating, bringing down a wonderful game into a great one.
Overall Persona 2 Eternal Punishment is a pretty great game that if explained a tiny bit more, it's still reasonable at $20 if you can find it around that price point. The storyline and gameplay are good enough to keep you playing through the entire time, maybe even a second time, just don't expect that first ride to be the smoothest thing since kittens. While this ended pretty split, I really did like the time I spent playing Persona 2, easily one of the best PS1 RPGs.