Substories now also come much more naturally throughout the game, and in many of the beginning chapters are quite frequent. Protip: Always choose the longest session. Telephone clubs were a big deal in urban Japan, especially back in the 80's and 90's, prior to the Internet and chat rooms.
Part of it is that the series is so distinctively Japanese, the other being that the series has struggled to capture the hearts of Western gamers. New nightmares have emerged from the shadows of our Moon. While some of these mini-games are mandatory, they don't destroy the full experience and at worst are simply minor inconveniences. Again, it's not the worst thing to deal with, but it's not the definition of fun either. It fights like a brawler, collects and builds skills like a role-playing game, and unfolds a narrative with the length and depth of a visual novel.