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Something rather funny about the Persona 3 video game is it's comparability to a dating sim with what they call a 'Social Link' system. Social links are basically what allow you to create bigger and better Personas as the game wears on, and gain items or interesting backstory information on many of the characters, based on the major Arcana (Chariot, Emperor, Empress, The Fool, etc). Throughout the entire game you establish and strengthen these links, 'unlocking' bigger and better Personas to create and fill your menagerie with. In the japanese version it is called Community Link
Establishing a Social LinkEdit
A Social Link is usually established when a storyline event is begun or looked into, such as when you join either Track and Field, Swim Team, or Kendo Club. Some of them are a little more difficult to begin, oftentimes involving talking to the same character more than once for a certain number of days to begin the Link, or obtaining a certain level in Academics, Courage, or Charm. Mitsuru is a good example of this, as her Social Link is only unlockable by maxing out your Academics.
The opportunity to go on a Social Link event is shown by a speech bubble above the Link's head with a ! in it no matter how close you are to them.
Leveling Social LinksEdit
When building these Social Links you grow based on a leveling system, which is increased or frozen by self-triggered (and sometimes storyline-activated) 'dates' with characters of noteworthy importance in the game. How much 'experience' you gain on one of these outings depends on how you answer questions (not always direct questions, some of them are 'How do you act now?') the character you're with presents to you. While it's usually appropriate to answer however YOU would answer, or however you're trying to shape the Other Self's personality, there are right and wrong answers. For example, when you're on a date with Fuuka and she asks you how her cooking is, telling her it's terrible versus telling her it's pretty good will have obviously different scoring. There are three levels on gaining exp from a question; Bad, Good, and Best. Only until after you've already picked your answer do you know the rating of your action; Bad results in a little frustration bubble above your heads and negative-sounding text usually ending in ' you decide to go back to the dorm '. Good gives you a musical note and a short chime. Best gives you a musical note and a slightly longer, happier chime. There are usually 2 - 4 Link-sensitive questions per date, and maybe 2 - 3 questions that are there to progress the interactions. The questions and answers actually do possess a point value, the highest chime equaling 30, middle 15, and lowest 0. The levels increase based on these points, and once they reach their highest level are considered 'maxed' and you are able to create, through fusion, the most powerful Persona of that Arcana.
Not every outing with a Social Link related character will result in questioning and leveling up. Sometimes it will end up in something like 'You spent the entire afternoon in the bookstore. It's getting late. You decide to head back to the dorm.'
Storyline Sensitive LinksEdit
There are only three Social Links that will automatically level up as you progress through the game. The first is The Fool, which represents the SEES Social Link between you and everyone that lives in the dorm. The Social Link goes up a level every time you and the party defeat a boss representing the major Arcana.
The second Social Link that is automatically leveled up is Judgement, which increases as you climb Tartarus for the final fight.
The third Social Link is Death, which advances every time you talk with Pharos except when rescuing Fuuka.
Date Sensitive LinksEdit
Some Social Links can only be formed after a certain date and/or event takes place, opening them up to you. Also Social Links can have calendar-dated events that you may attend with the subject in question.
Some calendar-specific dates can only be completed with one character. A good example is the Christmas event.
Pros / ConsEdit
As with most aspects of an RPG like this, there are pros and cons to leveling Social Links. Leveling one Social Link over another can cause you to miss date-specific events with another character, and if you level one girl's Social Link over another one or more of the characters you're leveling may get jealous, resulting in the Social Link reversing. On the positive side, leveling one over another can give you an advantage in Tartarus, since the level of the Social Link you're working on is tied to how much exp a Persona of the same Arcana will gain from the level of said link when you create it via fusion.
Reversing a Social LinkEdit
There are a few ways to reverse a social link. One is canceling plans with the character in question. Also, some questions presented have answers that will result in an immediate Social Link reversal. Then lastly not doing anything with them for 60 days will cause it to reverse.
Fixing a Reversed Social LinkEdit
When a Social Link is reversed, the character in question will be visible with a broken heart icon in a speech bubble above their head. When confronted, they'll ask you questions that are also point-valued. You must reach a certain number of points before the link is fixed.
Alternativly, you can visit the shrine and do a luck draw while thinking of said Social Link. This process will help repair it through getting a fortune you can feel your bond healing.
Social Links, the Characters, and the QuestionsEdit
The Fool -- SEES Social Link
The Magician -- Classmate Kenji Tomochika Social Link
The Priestess -- Fuuka Yamagishi Social Link
The Empress -- Mitsuru Kirijo Social Link
The Emperor -- Student Council Disciplinary Committee Head Hidetoshi Odagiri Social Link
The Hierophant -- Old Couple Social Link
The Lovers -- Yukari Takeba Social Link
The Chariot -- Sports Club Member Kazushi Miyamoto Social Link
Justice -- Student Council Treasurer Chihiro Fushimi Social Link
The Hermit -- MMORPG Maya Y-ko Social Link
Fortune -- Culture Club Keisuke Hiraga Social Link
Strength -- Team Manager Yuko Nishiwaki Social Link
The Hanged Man -- Young Girl Maiko Social Link
Death -- Mysterious Boy Pharos Social Link
Temperance -- Exchange Student Bebe Social Link
The Devil -- Business man Tanaka Social Link
The Tower -- Strange Monk Mutatsu Social Link
The Star -- Rival Mamoru Hayase Social Link
The Moon -- Gourmet King Nozomi Suemitsu Social Link
The Sun -- Dying Young Man Akinari Kamiki Social Link
Judgement -- Nyx Annihilation Team Social Link
Aeon -- Aigis Social Link