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  -Part 1 :: [02.28.13]
  -Part 2 :: [07.05.13]
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"'You're not letting us go,' Tightass surmises. Whoa, wait a second -- when did Tightass grow half a brain? He actually...figured something out on his own? Holy crap."
     -Jeanne, Final Fantasy X Part 13




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Persona 4 : Part 2
By Ben
Posted 07.05.13
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7
After some back-and-forth on how best to transport their weapons and armour to Walmart without being picked up by the cops again (they ultimately decide on hiding them under their school uniforms), Chie and Yosuke leave, allowing Gary to acquaint himself with Mr Daidara, the proprietor. He's an intense-looking middle aged dude with bright red facial hair, which is enough to scare Gary even without him referring to the sharp instruments in the store as his "art". Gary hurriedly picks out some Hunting Nata for Yosuke, along with two suits of chainmail (Chie already chose her items before she left, which at least spares Gary from the minefield of guesstimating her measurements) and then gets out of the store like his life depends on it. Once outside, he barely has time to catch his breath before something perplexing happens--a luminescent blue door that only he can see suddenly materializes in midair between Daidara Metalworks and the Yomenaido Bookstore. "The Velvet Key in your pocket is shining..." the Invisible Narrator redundantly says as a bluish glow emanates from the region of Gary's crotch. It's fortunate that Yosuke isn't still here, because that would require a lot of explaining.

Before Gary can react he's engulfed in a white light, and it becomes clear that the mysterious door is in fact a portal to the very depths of hell--we're back in the fucking Velvet Limo. "We have been expecting you," Pedocchio creeps, then goes on to waffle about the "coming catastrophe" having already taken lives, like we'd somehow managed to forget the whole double murder issue. However, Gary is informed that now that he has the power to summon Personas, he can fight against the darkness. Well, that's just peachy. "My contribution...is to give birth to new Personas," Pedocchio horrifyingly reveals. I'll spare you the details, but my mind went to some pretty disturbing places when I read that. More to the point, it looks like Jeanne and Sam are no longer the only ones being forced to contemplate terrifying reproduction scenarios in their recaps. We're all about distributing the pain equally here at VGR!

Perhaps wisely, Pedocchio doesn't attempt to explain the biology behind his claim. Instead, he bullshits that he creates new Personas by magically fusing together two or more Persona cards. Because he's extra special and has the Wildcard ability, Gary can now take advantage of this function in order to compile a full deck of Personas. Hopefully they won't all have distracting groin cups like Izanagi. Margaret butts in to explain that the huge tome on her lap is called the Compendium (personally, I thought it was a photo album of Pedocchio's "babies") and that it records the details of all the Personas Gary has created or acquired during his inevitable dungeon-crawling. It's a good thing she's keeping hold of it for him--his book bag would probably split under the weight of that thing.

Not that I want to dwell on this, but how exactly does Pedocchio give birth to new Personas?
Gary isn't the only teenage male to be snatched into the Velvet Limo in his sleep. All the others are Pedocchio's unwilling partners in hideous mpreg encounters.
Since it looks like an engorged penis, new Personas are expelled from Pedocchio's nose. In giant snot bubbles.
Pedocchio actually has female reproductive organs, and Margaret's role is to extract sperm from the Personas in her Compendium.
Pedocchio actually has female reproductive organs, and Margaret's role is to extract sperm from Gary through his dreams.

 

Just before Gary escapes, Pedocchio informs him that his next visit to the Velvet Limo will be of his own free will. Firstly, I didn't know such a concept even existed to Pedocchio, and secondly, Gary's going to have to be pretty fucking desperate if he ever chooses to hitch another ride in this accursed vehicle. Once back outside in the relative safety of Inaba's shopping district, Gary accosts a few of the locals, thinking maybe one of them will have some invaluable words of wisdom to impart. If not, listening to their inane drivel will provide a welcome distraction from intrusive thoughts of Pedocchio giving birth, so it's a win-win. One innocuous-looking housewife starts excitedly babbling about a mysterious device known as "the Square button". According to this very uninhibited lady, one press of this button allows you to "come and go as you please." Well, Gary is very happy that this obviously frustrated woman has found an outlet for her sexual urges, but he really didn't need to know about it. As she practically moans "the ever-present, press-me-anytime, Square button!" he makes his excuses and high-tails it up the street.

 
Is this a technologically-advanced version of the Ben-Wa Ball?

The only place of interest up here is a store run by a kindly-looking old lady named Shiroku. Let's just say Gary doesn't hang around when he sees how much she's charging for a single Medicine. High school students aren't made of money, you know! Eventually arriving at the Walmart food court, he meets the others, who've magically changed into their school uniforms. Wait a second. Why is this, again? Granted, they mentioned hiding their new gear under their uniforms, but why couldn't their casual clothes serve the same purpose? Yosuke even points out how strange it's going to seem that they're wearing school clothes on a Sunday, so why risk drawing more attention to themselves? Not that this entire situation makes any kind of sense to begin with--we're somehow supposed to believe that Gary and Yosuke are wearing suits of chainmail under their lightweight school jackets without their mobility being affected whatsoever--but the game designers could have at least tried to provide a reason for it.

Yosuke yet again tries to persuade Chie to stay behind--at this point, even Gary wouldn't mind if she socked him in the jaw--and then the trio hops through the TV, primed for another face-clawing encounter with Teddie. The joy. They find the bane of my existence huddled in a corner, muttering that he's "thinking about stuff." I'm assuming he's referring to more awful bear-related puns, because he comes out with another one in his next breath, and then goes "Hey, that wasn't a bad joke!" Yes. Yes, it was. Chie tells him this isn't the time for jokes (especially jokes as bad as his), causing him to presumably notice her for the first time. "Wow! There's a girl with a better nose than me!?" he screeches, eyes like dinner plates. What the fuck? Luckily for what remains of my sanity, Chie ignores his comment and asks him if Yukiko is here. He replies that "someone" came in recently, but can't be any more specific than that. However, he does know roughly which direction this unidentified person is in, and agrees to show the group the way.

*stab*
 

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, we arrive outside the castle depicted in Not!Yukiko's midnight broadcast. There's some debate as to whether this is the same castle (no, somebody built an exact replica just to fuck with you guys) and then Chie mentions how odd it is that Yukiko's first appearance on the Midnight Channel occurred while she was still in the outside world. Because this poses a question of actual importance, nobody comments on it. Instead, Chie gets all indignant because Not!Yukiko was talking about "scoring a hot stud". To be fair, this would probably be Phoenix Wright's reaction if Edgeworth suddenly expressed desire for an icky lady, so I can understand her being pissed about it. Because Teddie has to turn even the most mundane exchanges into a test of my patience, he wonders aloud what all these complicated words like "score" and "stud" mean. Kill me.

 
We know, honey. You're the only stud she usually wants.

With the cogs of his brain suddenly whirring into action, Yosuke makes a connection between Not!Yukiko's out-of-character behaviour and his own encounter with a Shadow-self. Attempting to join in with the adult conversation, Teddie pulls the following out of his stuffed ass: "I think that 'program' happens because of the person who appears on it. Or something like that..." Thanks, Teddie! That explains everything!

Chie is so desperate to get away from Teddie that she runs off into the castle by herself as soon as he confirms he can feel a presence inside. Well, saving her girlfriend also has something to do with it, I guess. As soon as she's gone, Teddie decides to reveal a tiny little piece of information he'd been holding back for some reason: the castle's absolutely crawling with Shadows. So, not only was Gary arrested this morning, he's in for a night of sweaty exertion that doesn't involve fun times with Yosuke, and now he has TWO girls to save. This is the best day ever. Before allowing him to enter the castle, Teddie hands Gary a bunch of helpful healing items, including some Revival Beads. Naturally, I immediately start contemplating if these are actually anal beads and, if so, just where Teddie produced them from. I hate my brain sometimes.

Even inside the castle, Gary and Yosuke can't get away from Teddie--he somehow manages to communicate with them from outside, because that's just what they (and I) need. There goes Gary's plan to snatch a moment's privacy with Yosuke in one of the bedchambers. He's sure there must be a luxurious four-poster somewhere in here, but he isn't willing to risk the possibility of Teddie screeching down his ear at a critical moment--such an occurrence would indelibly stain their relationship, and quite possibly destroy his libido altogether. Better to wait until he's sure they won't be disturbed. Plus, there's the small matter of Chie and Yukiko being in danger, too--they are his friends, after all.

Just a few feet down the hallway, there's an enticing red treasure chest just begging to be opened. But before Gary can plunder that chest like it's never been plundered before, he runs smack-dab into a vaporous black blob with glowing eyes. On the battle screen, the Shadow in question looks considerably different--it seems to be some kind of airborne fish with gilded cerulean fins. Oh, and it's also wearing a pink masquerade mask, because why the hell not. Believe it or not, this is one of the more humdrum monster designs in the game, so Gary and Yosuke don't waste too much time staring at it. Wanting to get in the thick of the action for once, Yosuke commands Jiraiya to chuck a wind Garu spell at the fish--aka Calm Pesce--which instantly upends it. With the monster lying prone on the ground, Yosuke yells "Let's go, partner!" He doesn't need to ask Gary twice. A press of the X button initiates an All-Out Attack, which basically amounts to the two guys charging up to the defenceless monster and pulverizing it within a comic book-style dust cloud. Of course, if one were immature and filthy-minded, one might giggle behind their hand and point out that Gary and Yosuke could be taking advantage of the all-concealing dust cloud in order to indulge in a different kind of activity altogether. But because I'm totally not like that, allow me to categorically state that the two guys are certainly NOT engaging in a discreet bit of buggery (tm Olenna Tyrell).

The sound effects indicate what's really going on inside that dust cloud.
 

Gary needn't have gotten his hopes up about the contents of the well-guarded chest, since it only contains a Medicine. However, he did gain a level after the battle with the world's gaudiest fish, so it isn't a complete disappointment. A little further down the hall there's another crawling Shadow, but the duo manage to seize the advantage when Gary sneaks up behind it and whacks it with his imitation katana. I guess the force of the blow split the Shadow into three, because the battle screen sees Gary and Yosuke facing off against a trio of Lying Hableries--a palette swap of the Fleshlight Heads he encountered in his first real battle. These things go down just as easily as their pink and black counterparts, but before Gary and Yosuke can bask in their victory, the words "Shuffle Time" are plastered across the screen in 72pt font. I'll spare you the longwinded explanation I get (courtesy of Pedocchio, for added enjoyment), but the gist of this exciting minigame is that after certain battles Gary gets the option of picking out a card, which will either land him with a new Persona, nothing at all, or the removal of all EXP and yen he received from the fight. As the cards fly around the screen at the speed of light, this process is a little less straightforward than it sounds, but Gary somehow manages to choose the Persona card on his first attempt and acquires a...Pixie. Awesome. Now that he's caught the Persona equivalent of a Zubat, he moves on with renewed vigor. Nothing can stop him now!

 
Gary's Masculinity increases by 10!

It gets even better. Gary strikes lucky and gets another Shuffle Time after the next battle, this time ending up with a Slime. I think he would have preferred to draw the Penalty card. Actually, I'm being a little unfair here--if Gary takes the time to level it up a bit, Slime eventually learns the Resist Physical ability, which can be a literal lifesaver against some of the early bosses. However, this obviously requires patience, and as Gary takes after me in that regard it's safe to say he'll never get to know just how useful poor ol' Slime can be.

Gary is well on his way to building a winning Persona deck.
 

Once he's done collecting low-level Personas, Gary trawls the randomly-generated corridors until he finds the stairwell and ascends to the second floor, where he's greeted by a set of ornate double doors. Teddie decides this is the perfect time to Skype Gary and boosts his ego by telling him how great a fighter he is, which gets Yosuke's hackles up a little. He does concede that Teddie's right, however, and tells Gary "Don't hesitate to order me around." Damn, they're making this too easy. What this vaguely homoerotic exchange means is that Gary can now control Yosuke's actions in battle rather than having the AI do it for him. For me, this is one of this game's major improvements over its predecessor, in which every party member aside from the hero was controlled by the (idiotic) computer. All I'm willing to say on this matter is that the words "Marin Karin" still have the power to inspire rage in me--maybe one day I can rant in more depth if I ever hate myself enough to recap it.

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