Thoughts on the old Persona games.
My knowledge is limited to watching playthroughs, but I think I know enough to give my two cents.
-While still sticking to SMT roots in some aspects, it feels like they got to experiment a lot gameplay-wise and plot-wise here, especially with a modern setting (granted, mainline SMT has a modern setting too but this is less apocalyptic)
-My boi Philemon actually exists
-P2 is underrated
-Character development, not tied to social links, gets a chance to shine always
-Negotiation system is a bit weird, but we get *motorcycle noises* so it’s automatically amazing
-I’m in at least one of the games so im happy
The most annoying thing is that its hard to play these games. I know that Persona 1, 2 Innocent sin and 2 Eternal Punishment were ported over to the psp but the Eternal Punishment port is the only game that hasn't been localized. Even though Eternal Punishment was localized on the ps1, I still want to play it in English and I dont want to buy a copy of the game and a ps1 to play one game. I also find it weird that they localized half of Persona 2's storyline but not the other half.
People who've actually played them like them. I've played Persona 1 but only done a bit of 2 myself. Persona 1 is an intresting experience. Leans heavily into the more surrealist side of psychology and is in essence more of an smt game then what people would consider a Persona game.
Makes sense considering that Persona 1 was made when Persona was considered by Atlus to almost purely be a spin-off.
As for Persona 2, I've heard it has the best story in the series.
The real issue with these games and why more people don't talk about or play them is mostly that they're pretty old and have a very complicated combat system compared to modern games. Persona 1 actually had sub categories for diffrent elements and a damage type for every weapon in the game.
Played all of Innocent Sin and currently playing Eternal Punishment, all this after already playing Persona 4 and then 3 by the way, so it's been a while but...
P2IS has easily the best main cast of ANY Persona game to the date, it is a small 5 man, 6 man group which you get to know right from the get go, so you have ample chances to screw around with them, fight, get new Persona and see them react and develop all throughout the story. They are all SO full of personality it's ridiculous, it is often said as a joke you would need to combine Yukari with Chie, Rise and Ann just to equate to Lisa Silverman (They all are different characters of course with different points to them, but Lisa is something else in terms or quirks and character).
The stakes to the setting to the tone and music are great, so far, the Persona 2 duology is outright the best one, no contest. Although, it is an old game and also experimental, it is rather archaic and not as easy to get as the Neo-Persona games, and it can be a hassle to some. It wasn't to me but it's a thing that happens.
I personally love it, even more after experiencing mainline SMT.
When it comes to Persona 1... I only did play the intro right after coming from P4 and P3, and could not fully get into it, but I plan to try it once more soon. After going through SMT1, 2, If, 3 and then 4, I believe it should be a far less complicated experience. I heard good things about it, but as the others have said, it's complicated and I would say even intimidating.
I’ve only played Persona PSP out of the games mentioned, but I could never get into it because of the god damn random encounter rate. It’s ridiculous. And now the battle theme is permanently burned into the back of my brain.