It's a big reason why Ultima IV isn't as accessible as Fallout 1, Ultima IV even straight up says stop playing and read the fucking books.
The only time you have to consult the manual in Ultima IV is for looking up spell formulas. The other reading material is just... supplemental stuff.
The only other times Ultima games generally have you consult the manual is for answering copy protection questions.
You never have to look up passages of text from the manuals in the older Ultima games, though, like you did in Wasteland or the old Goldbox games.
Except, again, the text-in-the-manuals was a copy protection thing, and NOT a hardware limitation or conscious gameplay choice by any means, which proves that there has never been a point at which DRM doesn't fuck everything up.
Seriously though I have no idea what you're talking about here. I checked the manual for Ultima 4 all of once and never had any issues with it.
The big problem I have with Persona 1's gameplay -- and I think this is the central governing Big Problem that makes all of the other possible problems relevant -- is the utter dearth of save points.
Sure, the battles are long, the encounter rate is highish even in the US version, and the dungeons are... a thing. But none of that really matters too much if you get to save frequently enough so that deaths, punishing though they may be, do not force a ton of backtracking. Add in a lot of backtracking when you die, though, and the smaller problems get huge.
I ended up save-stating through P1 and found it to be considerably more engaging than P2 from a gameplay standpoint, and P2 let you save anywhere anyway (for the most part).
I think the issue with a lack of save points was also the central problem with the SMTs on the SNES.
So I think there were three major improvements that Nocturne added to the formula that improved things. One was obviously Press Turn, and another was that the dungeons were just a LOT better than... a lot of other JRPGs, period. But the third really big thing, and it's a subset of the second, is that the pacing of the save points felt /really/ spot-on. Long enough apart to build tension, but close enough that you never got annoyed from backtracking.
Addressing the rose tinted lenses thing:
a. I've seen a lot of people complaining about the lack of alignment affecting what demons you get, lack of sword fusions, and simplified conversation mechanics in SMT: N, compared to 1 and 2. I don't really felt like the alignment added much in those games -- it was an overlap between gameplay and story, but a kind of arbitrary one, NOBODY CARES ABOUT SWORD FUSION, and... honestly, yeah, SMT: N's negotiation stuff WAS really simple -- just bribing the demons with stuff, and then a coin-toss question at the end.
I don't really think SMT1 had... particularly stellar conversations. They were branchy and felt more like a conversation tree, but the actual answers you needed to give always felt arbitrary, so it was pretty much guess work till you figured out what actually worked. It's more in-depth in some nominal sense, but it's not really DEEPER or something you can think through.
Also I think it was incredibly dumb that Atlus restored that Japanese encounter rate for the PSP port. It was high in the original US release, but not unmanageable wrt the battle lengths. Complain about the translation all you want, but rebalancing encounter rate and money/exp growth to be more reasonable was a GOOD thing.
Addressing fandoms specifically, within the SMT fanbase, I only found the Persona 2 fans -- specifically, the Innocent Sin fans -- to be really unbearably elitist. They basically had that attitude where they thought Innocent Sin was perfect, and it was too DARK and EDGY for american audiences and OH MY GOD HITLER (Remember, we live in a world where WW2 games never get released, ever, and wtf even is Wolfenstein 3D???). All hail glorious Japan master race.
Although I've HEARD that oldschool SMT fans thought the Persona games were dumbed down because they were less dark than normal SMT or something. I wasn't around when THAT storm was brewin', though. Personally, I'm of the mind that, in terms of /darkness/, the original Devil Children games take the cake for sheer WTFness, so what do I know?
I lost interest in Persona 3 shortly after getting Fuuka as a navigator because I really wasn't feeling much depth in the combat and the game seemed *really* easy.
The other thing is I... I don't think the life sim stuff was well implemented. You were scheduling time to make numbers increase, and I thought the interactions with the SLinks was staggeringly shallow (unless they started getting branchy or more involved later. I don't know).
There were actually a lot of reviews complaining about Raidou 2 and the Persona 1/2 remakes not having the social sim aspects. Specifically with the P1/2 remakes, I'm not saying there weren't issues there, but it's like the reviews were completely ignoring those in favor of "why isn't this a dating sim?"