Discussing love with demons might sound fascinating, but Innocent Sin's battle system gets dull fast.
Of course, you don't want to talk your way out of every potential fight; you need to get experience killing things so that you can kill the tougher things you encounter later on. In battle, you can use physical attacks or call on your personas to cast spells that harm your enemies or benefit your party. As you use a persona, it gradually ranks up, giving you access to more spells. And some personas can work together to cast fusion spells, which, in addition to being powerful, are accompanied by attractive character portraits that depict the participating heroes with their hair blowing dramatically in the wind. But, like communicating with demons, battling them is generally a simple, repetitive matter of selecting the same effective options from menus again and again, and because these encounters happen with such frequency, this process quickly becomes a drag. You also have the option of triggering auto-battle, which makes the characters keep repeating your last selected actions until either the battle is over or you interrupt, but this option doesn't speed up the action. You still have to wait for every animation to play out, which is frustrating when you're tired of combat and just want to move on.
When you're not exploring one of the game's many dungeons, you move about the modern-day Japanese metropolis of Sumaru City on a map. Here, one of your most important occupations is gathering rumors from homeless people, fortune-tellers, and other rumormongers and employing the services of a detective agency to spread them, making them come true. But these aren't exciting rumors about buried treasure or even juicy high school gossip about who's dating whom; these are rumors about shops selling weapons and armor. You might get a hot tip that one shop sells poor weapons for cheap, for instance, or that another has high-quality armor, but the prices are high. Collecting and spreading these rumors is a dull process, and it's one you need to engage in repeatedly to have equipment that suits your party's level.
Cool story, bro.
The PSP version introduces a movie theater you can visit to play two new side quests, so those who imported the original PlayStation release will find some new content here. But Innocent Sin wasn't hurting for content to begin with. The main story lasts a few dozen hours on its own, and there's no shortage of side quests you can complete that offer significant rewards for your party. But despite its length, the $40 price for a 10-year-old game whose visuals and mechanics make it a relic of a bygone era is much too steep. Diehard fans of the Persona series who are eager to experience every chapter in the saga might find that their enthusiasm enables them to overlook Innocent Sin's dated design, but those who are just in the market for a fun and satisfying RPG are much better off going with one of the more recent entries in the series. Though we might sometimes yearn to turn back the clock, we can't relive our teenage years, and we can't go back to 1999, when Persona 2: Innocent Sin was an exciting example of what an RPG could be.