Persona is the story of an average Japanese transfer student, and the pains that go with being in a new place and having to fight demons on a nightly basis. The half that takes place while the sun is up is about making friends and dealing with the pressures of living up to the expectations in a performance driven society of Japan. The other half is done fighting off demons that infest the city at a secret hour between days. To say that the game manages these two very different extremes well would be disregarding the subtle mixture that takes place between them.
During the school hours, it is important to make friends and even start dating. This has the effect of powering up the demons of the same alignment as that friend. If the player has a demon of the same alignment in the party while they are hanging out with that friend they will become closer while they are spending time together. The subtle back and forth between the two makes the experience feel more cohesive instead of two entirely different games: one dating sim and the other a dungeon crawler.
The portable at the end of the title refers to the fact that this is the port of Atlus’ amazingly successful PS2 game Persona 3. Although the game itself isn’t a direct port, as it takes some of the new features from FEZ (mainly the social links) as well as some of the combat improvements from Persona 4, it does follow the main story pretty directly. The only core difference is that the main character can be either male or female, female leading to different social links not seen in the PS2 game, as well as the choice for Igor’s assistant to be either male or female as well.
Persona 3 is kind of an interesting game, mainly because it is a title that came out a couple years ago for a more powerful system, but also because it feels like Atlus has learned so much about both storytelling and game design since this title came out. The friend story arches in most of Persona 3 end up feeling like they are taking a back seat to the main, and more interesting, story of the game –in P4 it felt more like every character had something important to say.
Although it really should be mentioned that the only major faults P3P has are those when compared to the newer titles in the series. P3P does manage to take a full console experience and shrink it down to a portable one. The only things that are really missing are the 3D environments, outside of the dungeon, the players could walk around in which has been replaced with an overhead still picture of the environment (which strangely makes the game entirely faster to play). Also missing is many of the anime cut scenes which have been replaced with less than interesting still images.
Gladly the game has an install feature which almost does away with any form of loading time, as during the dungeon hours the player is constantly in and out of battle and switching between large 3D environments. Although this is one of the only small nods that the game is on a portable system; Persona has always been a long console game that doesn’t really lend itself to being played for amounts of time less than hours at one go. Thankfully the PSP does have a sleep mode that lets the game be pause at any instance, this doesn’t really help the fact that the game is so story driven that it is easy to become confused with what is going on in the main thread, let alone with one of the dozens of friends that can be made.
It may sound like I am being overly negative on Persona 3, it shouldn’t. The game has some flaws that don’t lend itself perfectly well to a portable system and ones that haven’t aged well in light of recent sequels. These are minor compared to how thoroughly amazing the game really is from the moment it is turned on. The only flaws that can really be brought up are the nit-picky ones of a true fan. Besides that the game is a wonderful blending of Japanese culture and RPG goodness that should be experienced by anyone with the means to do so. It being on a portable system just means that it can be taken anywhere the player goes, and kill hours of time in the process.
Not As Good As: Persona 4
Also Try: Persona 4
Wait For It: Persona 4 Portable
Stay with MyGamer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mygamernews