Persona 3 Portable Reivew

Back in 2007 America was surprised by Atlus’s new title, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3. The game was highly rated by fans and websites.  In 2008 the expansion, Persona 3 Fes, was released. It included an upgraded version of the story with a few more personas to fuse and some added characters, but that wasn’t all the game had. Included was an extra story that takes place shortly after you beat Persona 3. The Fes story expanded the Persona 3 universe and really gave fans more closure which was considered the successful end of Persona 3. Or was it…..?

Atlus went back and re-did the original Persona, which to me was exciting to see the game how it really should have been. Last year it was announced that Persona 3 would be coming back in a new port for PSP!

My first thoughts were “Yay! I get to beat the same game for the 3rd time, hopefully something big and new will make me want to play this game again.” The biggest addition to this port was being able to choose your gender. Persona 3 Portable starts off allowing you to select your character which can be either male or female. The game begins with you walking off a train with something not feeling right. Walking through town, the streets are empty, there is no power, and random coffins are placed around the city. You finally make it to the dorms where a young boy asks you to sign a contract and after doing so you are greeted by, Yukari Takeba and Mitsuru Kirijo, who help you settle in; things seem normal until the full moon arrives. Yukari tries to help you escape as Shadows attack and in a last minute “intuition” you take the evoker gun and call out your Persona.

The game focuses on the “Apathy Syndrome,” a condition leaving a person almost mindless and sick, undenounced to normal people why the Apathy Syndrome exists. Creatures known as “shadows” attack people and the only way to fight the shadows are the special few who can control Personas. Your main character either male or female will get pulled into a story no one could ever imagine, and with Persona 3 Portable, 2 styles of game play exist to experience this:

1st. You are a student at Gekkoukan High, and you have to deal all the problems a teenager would go through, including your academics, courage and charm.  This will allow you to talk to different people to open social links which help you level your persona’s and when a Social Link is maxed the highest, you are given a chance to fuse the strongest level for the arcana you maxed.

At night, the game turns a 180 and becomes a Tim Burton-esque dungeon crawler. The biggest surprise is that Gekkoukan High, where you spent most of the day, turns into the gigantic maze called Tarturus. Being the leader of the S.E.E.S. group you lead the team through each floor taking on bosses to proceed. After each month a new section will unlock until you finally reach the top. You are given the ability to chose when you enter Tartarus with your hectic schedule of hanging out with friends, studying or even being lazy, and just sleeping. However, your teammates also must be able to go since even they want to rest or go out with friends.

Persona 3 Portable is unlike your typical RPG with tons of life simulation which is why it’s so popular. You are free to chose what you do in a normal day and who you hang out with and even who you will date, whereas in the original you only had your male hero who could date a girl, the female hero who can chose who your boyfriend will be. Since I have beaten the game twice, I decided to start as the female hero and see what changes were made in the story; the rest of the review will be based on the female protagonist point of view. A lot of events are replaced or slightly changed to transition better for the new female lead. Sadly playing the online game of “Innocent Sin Online” is gone, since I guess girls don’t play PC game.

2nd. The fighting system is an RPG style mixed with a dungeon crawler and a grindfest. You originally could only control your main character choices of attack, magic, and persona equipped in battle. Equipping the right Persona is essential in a battle because hitting an opponent with the correct weakness allows for an extra turn and critical damage. On the other hand, the same goes true for the enemy. Being hit with your Persona’s weakness does critical damage to you and allows for an extra turn for the enemy. Before in Persona 3 and P3:Fes, your teammates where all controlled by the AI and respond based on the command style you gave for each of them. This was often a great annoyance when you needed health or wanted them to use an enemies weakness.  They instead would use a random status effect skill which more than likely will miss, but in P3P you can toss those worries aside and control each character’s style of fighting. A warning to new players:, if your main character dies anytime in battle, it’s game over, you can resurrect your teammates but they can’t resurrect you!

You can customize your weapons and armor, but what is cool about Persona is your equipment does affect your look in the game so you can have your team in bathing suits, tuxedos, dresses, and other outfits hidden within the game. You can also have an army of Persona’s by gaining cards in battle, buying them after registering and fusing them to create even more powerful Persona’s that differ by type, and arcana. Persona’s can be created by meeting level requirements and job completions. To create the most powerful ones, like Thanatos, Odin, Orpheus Telos, Thor and Messiah, you will have to max the Social Links so your time must be used wisely.

Persona 3 Portable takes the original and expands it on a whole new level where fans will want to play this all over again by taking some of the popular add-ons from Persona 4. The new female character and allowing to chose between Elizabeth and the Theo as Igor’s helper in the velvet room add an immense new game play. The anime cut scenes and other scenes have been removed and changed to allow the new female protagonist to fit in the story easier. Everything has been changed to pictures and in game cut scenes, as well as removing the free roaming 3D town maps which have been hand drawn with a new menu for easy exploring.

Hardcore fans won’t be disappointed by this port, and fans that never touched Persona 3 or 4 will find a hardcore but silly RPG in Persona 3 that really gives you a bit of everything; giving plenty of replay value by being able to take on both stories.  With everything carrying over to your new game, plus and minus social links and levels (but save your money because you can buy all your Persona’s you registered in your last play), this truly has a some new light shined on it.

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