When Tatsuya is not spreading rumors or fighting demons at Seven Sisters High, he kicks back by watching movies. Films at the Climax Theater, one of the additions to the PSP version of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 2: Innocent Sin, *really* bring the audience into the show.
Players can visit the Climax Theater very early in the game by selecting theater on the main map. Mitsugi, an enthusiastic host welcomes the party, and explains the rules. Each film costs 1,000 yen (peanuts in Persona currency) and your rank rises from Black Raspberry to Platinum Lion by "watching" more films. Watching is in quotes because each film is actually a playable episode.
Two Atlus created stories are available from the beginning, School of the Heart: Part 1 and The Persona Thief. I tried playing The Persona Thief first, which brings the party to Karukozaka High from Shin Megami Tensei if…, but my group was torn to shreds after a single enemy encounter. I should have checked the "Max Enemy Level" parameter first because enemies in this episode were up to level 70. Not really the kind of creatures my level 9 party could face.
I restarted from a save and selected School of the Heart Part 1, which takes place in the high school from Shin Megami Tensei: Persona, St. Hermelin. This story begins with Maya reflecting on an article she wrote in Coolest about Naozumi Kariyazaki, a charismatic teacher with some extreme views. His students are at the head of the class because of Ambrosia, a program where students write about their ideal selves. Kariyazaki analyzes what they wrote and "guides" them to their goals. After talking with Kariyazaki, I talked to the students who started at their cell phones in a zombie-like trance.
School of the Heart starts as an event scene, but turns into a dungeon when the group senses something is up with their personas. Compared to the Persona Thief episode, demons, such as Jack Frosts and Mou Shuvuus, in School of the Heart were manageable. I wandered through a labyrinth of corridors and had to open doors to find a way out. Some of these were booby trapped and severely damaged my party. Good thing Maya learned Media, a spell that heals the entire party.
Persona 2: Innocent Sin has a rather high enemy encounter rate and the extra episodes in the Climax Theater are just as difficult. Perhaps, more so because you cannot save in the Climax Theater. If your party gets wiped out or you decide to leave you have to replay the entire episode. By the time I finished School of the Heart, my characters were overpowered for the main story with stronger skills and a stack of World tarot cards from demon negotiation. Completing this episode also unlocked a new "film", School of the Heart Part 2. I thought about playing this right away, but decided to go back to the main story. My characters were already too strong and I didn’t want battles to feel like a nuisance.