And so ... the week of Persona has come to a close. I have logged more hours playing the game this week than I care to admit to myself or anyone that might read this, but I'm glad I did it. After Persona 3, this game was a daunting challenge for me, and without doing something like this, it might have stayed in my back log forever. And taunted me. And lead to Leah and Elaine mocking me. And just generally been not good.
Now that I'm back into the swing of Persona, I'll be sticking with it to completion. I'm not sure that I'll continue blog entries for it or not (and certainly not on a daily basis) but I will keep the #EndureP4 tag alive when I see something especially ridiculous and/or Japanese (I know, redundant). Until then, keep using schizophrenia as a weapon, you crazy Japanese high schoolers.
Today was a mishmash of events in my P4 playthrough. I managed to clear the homoerotic bath house level, and revisited the previous princess' castle dungeon in order to pick up some quest items. The rest of my time was spent on quests outside the dungeon portion of the game, and of course social linking. I'm really making an effort to push some of my social links to completion, as I'm still upset I didn't max out more of them in P3. In this game, at least you get some guidance as to which of your stats ( Courage, Knowledge, Understanding, Expression, Diligence ) you need to advance in order to unlock certain social links or quests. I'm waiting for someone else to show up on the TV at midnight to give me another reason to go dungeon crawling, so I'm working on my other aspects in the meantime.
Unfortunately, I did not play nearly as much Persona today as I had planned on. A friend from my climbing gym called to see if I wanted to go rock climb outside, and me being a sucker for such pursuits, went outside and neglected my gaming. That said, I did still get a few hours of controller time in this evening, and the thing I want to address today is the battle system in P4. The major difference between Personas 3 and 4 in this regard is the ability to issue individual commands to your party members, instead of simply setting them to one of a few predefined activity classes. The Persona 4 battle system is much more efficient, and inherently less frustrating than 3 was. However, this is balanced a bit by the difficulty I mentioned in previous entries.
Gone in P4 is the fatigue condition that would set in after a long dungeon crawl in P3. At this point, you're only limited by the items and skills you can use to recover HP and SP. In addition, you have the fox in the TV world lobby to provide some restoration as well.
I'm of the opinion that the P4 battle system streamlines the process a bit, and makes the dungeon crawling parts of the game feel a bit less clunky than its predecessor. Now if only P4 had P3s story ... though I suppose that's what Atlus delivered in P3 Portable if what I've heard is correct. Oh well. Onward and upward.
Today involved two things in general: food and Persona. As far as the Persona playing goes, it's been a tale of two games. Outside the dungeons, I've fallen into the Persona rhythm of going to school, afternoon activities, and evening activities. Now that I'm a Persona veteran (and after almost 90 hours of Persona 3, I qualify) I've been trying to get as far into my social links as I can, while still bumping up my attributes in order to access additional quests and social links later in the game. The dungeons, however, have not been so kind to me thus far. This game seems to demand more grinding than I remember being necessary in Persona 3. As a result, I've had to replay a couple of different dungeon sections in order to clear them. This has also led to more dungeon sessions, which of course leaves me less time for social linking. A travesty, if ever there was one.
I spent most of my time today in what I'm calling the "Homoerotic Turkish Bath House Dungeon". Leave it to the Japanese to depict a teenager in a diaper running around a bath house with a lisp. As per usual, only in Japan.
Now that the bottle of wine is empty, I'm out. Tomorrow is a new day of almost certain insanity.
Despite some craziness today, I found yet more time to spend with Persona 4. My overriding thought today was weather I would end up hating Chie or Yukiko more over the course of the game. So far, I think Yukiko is in the lead, because her voice actress is more annoying. More to come on that topic in subsequent entries. Aside from being moderately annoyed by some characters, I've also noticed with appears to be a difference in difficulty from Persona 3. The first few bosses in this game seem harder than I remember them being int he previous entry. Beating one actually required a bit of grinding to accomplish, which I was not expecting so early in the game. It wasn't an unreasonable amount though. The highlight of today's play, however, was undoubtedly when I met the Fox, in all of his bib wearing glory. It seems I now have access to his secret stash of leaves, which have amazing healing properties. Hopefully, I'll be able to stock up on the Japanese equivalent of Funyuns in the shopping district, as I slowly lose my grip on reality.
Tomorrow, I have an extended play and drinking session to look forward too, followed by a vicious turkey coma. Life will be good.
And on the second day ... I played more Persona. I've basically gotten out of the "tutorial" phase at this point, and I have most of the game's main systems available to me, as well as the freedom to move around and do things in the order I wish to. First order of business for me, get to work on those social links. It's time for Yanick to start mackin' on some ladies, if you know what I'm saying. That and apparently I need to rescue a friend of mine from her alter ego in the world inside the TV before the weather turns foggy again, because otherwise she dies. So ... I'm now watching the weather channel daily, while trying to build up my connections with other characters in order to forge better and better personalities with super powers, that I can take on and off like a jacket. This game could only be Japanese. Also, Dojima might be the worst parent ever, as he leaves his young daughter home alone for days on end, and then expects her to do the laundry.
And on a Monday ... it was begun. Due to work being obnoxious (and by that, I mean demanding my time and energy for a large chunk of the day) I didn't get to play too much on the first day of my descent into madness. My character (the oh so Japanese-ly named Yanick Gaborik) has transferred to a new high school in the suburbs for reasons that are not at all clear to anyone. He is staying with his uncle Dojima, and his entirely too responsible for what looks to be a seven year old daughter, Nanako. Then I went to high school, tried to make friends with the locals, and got sucked into a television. Oh, and a couple of people got murdered. No really, this happens. Given my previous experience with Persona 3, and the liberal amounts of gin I was drinking while playing, this all seemed to make perfect sense at the time. Oh, and I have a Persona now, it shoots lightning. Apparently, however, I don't need to shoot myself in the head for it to come out, since it appeared out of what looked to be a playing card the first time. Who knows, there's still lots of time for it to get weirder.
Stay tuned, this could get really crazy by the middle of the week.
So ... I was joking around with a friend not too long ago, and the subject of Persona games arose. Now, I played through Persona 3 last fall / winter, finishing just before I left town for the Christmas holiday. I've been saying since that after a period of rest and reflection, I would make a run through Persona 4. As this will be the first year I'm not traveling to my family for Thanksgiving, I decided this week would make an excellent time to make good on that statement. So ... I'm playing Persona 4 all week, endurance style. I'm going to see how much I can complete in a weeks time ( Mon Nov 22 - Sun Nov 28 ) without losing my mind ... any more. So, if watching my descent into madness seems amusing to you, follow this space for daily blogs on the subject. I will also be tweeting a steady stream of [deranged] thoughts on the matter from my twitter account, @mumbobob. I'll be tagging the tweets with #EndureP4.
Wish me luck, I will almost certainly need it.
Also, Leah and Elaine, this is entirely your fault. You may both have to visit my podcast to discuss early next week.
So ... there's a space for a blog here. I suppose I should probably make use of this as an outlet for my thoughts and feelings on the world of video games. I would do that now, but it's closing in on 2 AM. Maybe next time.