Persona 2: Innocent Sin
- Spreading rumors is the bread and butter of advancement in this game. It's how you get weapon upgrades and how you unlock all the game's secrets. So make sure you spend a lot of time talking to the Rumormongers and spreading rumors in the Kuzunoha Agency.
- After the rooftop fight in Kasugayama High, the story only advances after you talk to everybody (all those green specks) on the overworld map, then go to the Kuzunoha Agency.
- In the basement dungeon, there are really just two rooms. You advance the story by going back and forth between them.
- Since Maya and Lisa will probably be your two big offensive mages, and coincidentally also your two big healers, they're going to need to switch back and forth frequently. It's better to set the turn mode to Single for bosses and Normal/Auto for regular enemies.
- Keep your starting Personae in your immediate queue, even in the endgame. Lower-level Personae have lower SP usage. During those trademark Shin Megami Tensei battles of attrition, every last SP can count, and if all your Personae have only high-level spells your ass is rape. (EDIT: Also, the starting Personae are probably going to have MAX rank by this point anyway, which means you'll have a big selection with them.)
- For the same reason, the worst thing you can do when creating a mid-level Persona is assign lower-level spells of an element it has. For instance, you don't want to give Agi to a creature who has Maragilao or Agidyne. The low-level spell will use the same amount of SP as your higher-level spells, so you're basically wasting SP.
- Whenever you get rumors about stores, the best one to spread is that they have a wide selection and low resale value. If you can't get that rumor, then spread the expensive, but good merchandise rumor. It does what it says. You'll have to do some wallet-grinding occasionally, but more often than not after selling your shit and some items you'll be able to cover your expenses with minimum grind.
- Always keep your current batch of Personae whenever you get a new batch. An old Persona of high rank is a lot more immediately useful than a new Persona of low rank.
- Walking around regenerates SP, but because the encounter rate is so high and the regeneration rate is so low you're better off stocking up on Chewing Souls and later Wondrous Eggs.
- When you get to the fifth floor of Xibalba, (This is really close to the end of the game.) you can do the Legendary Weapons quest. It's time consuming, but easier than it sounds.
- The easiest way to figure out Fusion Spell combinations is to equip everyone with Solving Orbs and go into the main menu, Analyze, and then Fusion Spells. You can get Solving Orbs at the Mu Continent, though it might be hard to get enough coins without cheesing saved states to win big at bingo.
- For each Persona, all its spells cost the same amount of MP, regardless of how powerful it is. Because so many battles in the game are battles of attrition, and because like all SMT games hitting a weakness is more important than having a powerful attack, you want to save your initial Personas all the way through the game. For me, they even came in handy against the final boss of Innocent Sin.
- For the same reason, when you're creating a Persona, never, ever waste a slot on a lower-level attack than it has. You'll just end up spending extra MP for no reward whatsoever.
- Levelling a persona up to rank 8 is pretty important, and tedious as fuck. Once you can get to the abandoned factory, see if you can shove a dia card or non-damaging offensive spell on a persona if you can spare the slot, and then sit in a low-level battle and just cycle through casting your spell on auto until the character runs out of SP, then pass the persona on to the other characters until everybody is out of SP. This isn't terribly fun, but you can read a book or something while you do it as long as you pay enough attention to switch it out before you default to attack and kill the thing by accident.
- The Maha-Kaja spells are just as amazing as they are in any other SMT game. They are fusions between the individual Kaja spell and Affectionate Prayer, which Seiobo and I think Izanami and a few others have.
Fighting / Contacting
I'm relatively new to Innocent Sin, but about 30 hours in I think I've found a pretty good balance of fighting/contacting in battles. As you probably realize, using Contact to talk to demons and get cards is a useful strategy whenever you're low on SP, as you get it back when you run around. I often find myself in an ideal situation where I'll fight with my personae for a while, and when I get low I switch to contacting to get some cards and some SP back.
The long and short of it is that you should only worry about getting cards and new pesonae whenever you start having trouble, and not sooner. Make sure you don't return any personae that aren't level 8, as that's when you get the best items back. I didn't really start worrying about keeping my personae up to date until around the park which was fairly deep into the game. It's probably a good idea to think about switching out your personae once they hit level 8, though you can still power them up through fusion spells with parameter increases and mutations.
Speaking of which, try your best to finish battles with fusion spells. Water-Earth-Water and Earth-Water-Earth are pretty good early on, as they hit all enemies. Finishing a battle with a fusion spell nets you a small chance to either have a character's persona get their final spells, parameters increased, a 2 rank increase, or a mutation into a different but stronger persona.
Contracts do exactly as you say, and are only useful as far as I know for getting Free Tarots. But Free Tarots are GREAT. I make the majority of my personae with them. It's always a good idea when you're grinding in an area to get a few contracts to get as much out of the process as possible.
You use a persona by going into "Strategy" and selecting a spell from the resulting menu. Fusion Spells occur when you have characters using certain kinds of spells in a certain order. For example:
Would result in a prompt for "Bane Splash," a water fusion spell that damages all enemies. More often than not you'll find that the order of your characters isn't ideal for this right off the bat in a battle, so you'll have to move them around with the "Change Order" option. There are of course many more fusion spells, though most of them are single enemy targeted.
For the most part enemies should respond to answers the same, though there does seem to be a small chance they'll respond differently. The way to know which ones to use in the first place are what their personality traits are. Like "Wise" demons seem to like or be interested in Maya's Advice. A lot of it is a crapshoot though, I'll admit. Since you're only going to be training area to area, and each area only has a handful of demons, it's usually not too hard to keep track of what works. Usually it doesn't change on you like it did apparently for you with that Pixie.
The most important stat in both games is Tech. Personae attacks are how you deal big damage in these games, and Tech controls both their strength and the amount of SP you have. Whenever possible, put at least 2 points per level up into Tech. You don't want to completely forget about some of the others (mostly Vitality, though Agility too isn't bad), but do everything you can to ensure you're putting the majority of your effort into Tech.
For example, in Innocent Sin, you can actually make it so that you can put ALL points into Tech by getting the Vit Sauce accessory, It will add a point to Vitality every level up no matter what. So you equip that on as many characters as possible, and for the Hero put all points into Tech. That way their HP/Defense increase a little, and their Tech will go through the roof. You can get these accessories in the casino place whose name escapes me at the moment.
After you've maxed out Tech, switch your efforts to Vitality. If you play your cards right you can have both totally maxed out by the end of the game for the Hero.
It will probably be harder to do this with the other characters, since you don't directly control their point allocation. If possible, equip Personae that give a Tech bonus for every level up, but don't try to compromise your team's battle skills too much.
Agility is also worth putting some points into occasionally, however Luck and Strength are pretty much useless. I went through the entire game of Eternal Punishment without putting a single point into Strength for my Hero.
Also don't worry too much about getting the super high level Personae in Innocent Sin. You won't need them. Once you get the second Greek set, just max them out and stick with them the rest of the way. It's a different story in Eternal Punishment because the bonus boss and level are really tough.