I've been getting so worked up over this costume I've been making myself sick. I really hope in the end, it's worth it and it's well-received. When it comes down to it, no matter how much work I've put into it in tailoring, etc, if I don't wear it well the end result will look like crap any way you cut it. And I know it looks much better on the dressform than on me since the dressform is smaller than I am.
Anyway...when I'm waiting for paint to dry, etc, I've popped this game in and played a few days at a time. It's very different from the other megaten games I've played, but it definitely feels like a Persona game. You have common elements from previous games, like the velvet room and the general persona concept, as well as a school setting. They put even more emphasis on your character interactions now, though, with the SL system. The Soul Link system lets you create stronger personas in the velvet room by giving them EXP boosts depending on your relationship with other characters. It's all categorized via tarot cards, and after you grasp how it works, it's a pretty slick system.
New Personas are obtained through a random card game at the end of battles. I really have to admit I miss talking to the monsters like in the previous games. There's somthing strangely satisfying about going up to a random monster and intimidating it instead of fighting it. Or mugging it for money and letting it go. So I do miss that a little bit. It's easier to obtain new personas this way, but not as much fun. This system has you playing a game very similar to the pea-in-a-walnut-shell type game to find the persona card. You can also get money, exp, and items from it. (all represented as tarot cards) I'm eager to see how the bonuses scale at higher levels. As for the personas, you can expect certain mobs from certain levels. Like pixie cards available in the first few levels of the dungeon, then asparsas, then angel, etc. So if you decide you need a new one and you don't want to pay cash for it in the velvet room, they're easy to farm.
I really wasn't sure about how I felt about the dating-sim type features, as it really limited my ammount of time in the dungeons. You have to decide if you want to work on your social links, your character stats, or explore the dungeon. On top of that, your party members can get uncurably sick or tired, significantly lowering their performance in battle. It really paces your progress. I thought it was really annoying at first, but I noticed after a few in-game "days," it left me eager for more. The game puts too many linear obstacles to keep you from staying down there forever, though. It's not like say.. SMT Nocturne, where you could spend 72 hours straight killing monsters in the labyrinth if you were so inclined.
All in all, the fundamental game mechanics work pretty well for me. There's a large dose of Nocturne/Avatar Tuner pressturn crap in there, and things all megaten fans will find familiar. Even so, battles are a little disorienting at first. You're fighting "shadows" instead of the familiar pantheon of mythological creatures, so decades of memorized elemental weaknesses don't really do you any good in this game :( It has one other annying quirk that sometimes left me cursing the system in Nocturne: Party's over if your main character dies. Just like Nocturne, though, careful planning and strategy can help you avoid most all main character deaths in the beginning. Since I haven't logged too many hours in the game yet, I haven't had a chance to have my ass handed to me by optional bosses, but I'm sure there's more that will end up pissing me off down the road. (but in a good way)
Oh! I totally don't remember if it worked this way in the earlier persona games, but you can change the resistances and weaknesses of your main character by swapping your personas. This is essentially the magatama system from Nocturne, and it's helpful in keeping your poor emo main character alive XD
One of the things that REALLY annoyed me about the game, though, was the menu system. The game itself has some pretty hideous load times. It's not unbearable, but it's enough that you definitely notice it when coupled with the horrible menu system. Everything looks really slick, but you are not able to check the status of your other party members or change their equipment all from one screen. You have to go up and talk to them individually to fiddle with it. It's really maddening to pick up new gear and have to fuck around between 3 different characters all with their own menu load times to get your shit straightened out >:O
I could say more about dorking on the character interactions, but yeah. I'm helping my classmate get it on with his teacher. And you can spend the weekend working on your Hermit Tarot by playing the amazing MMO "Innocent Sin" online with your freind "Maya"
It's dorkishly awesome.
Don't forget the amazing Jamaican soda from the vending machines.. "Cielo Mist" XD haha
It's stupid shit like that that just keeps me coming back for more and giggling like a retard.
I really wish I could get farther in this stupid dungeon and see some of the harder bosses. From the looks of things, though, I'm not going to have the joy of battling a perverted King Jack Frost or fighting Lucifer or Beelzebub due to the fact that everything I'm fighting is an amorphous blob with a jaunty & colorful mask. :/
I really am enjoying the game so far, though XD I guess I focused a little too much on the negative aspects, but it's fun, and even with all the changes, it FEELS like a Persona game, so I'm happy. I'm probably going to want to pop in the old PSX games after a while since it's been so damn long I don't remember much about them other than harassing jack frosts for money on the street :X