Persona 3 Portable doesn’t follow the 3 strikes rule

Overview
Usually, the general saying is three strike and you’re out right? Well fortunately for Atlus there are a lot of loyal Persona fanboys (and fanwomen respectively) that made it necessary for them to release yet another version of their popular Persona 3 game in North America (July 6, 2010) and Europe, since Japan got their greedy little hands on it first and things were looking prosperous.

The question is, how does the newest version of Persona 3 stand up to its past incarnations?

(Disclaimer: This info review is making the assumption that you the gamer is somewhat familiar with the Ps2 version of Persona 3: FES. Just a heads up.)

Well it all really depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a definitely new rendition of a great game then this might catch your fancy. If you’re a female gamer, and are tired of playing with male protagonists, then you might become a happy panda bear. But if you’re looking for the ability to have all of the new additions that were added to this game along with the Ps2 versions’ anime cutscenes/character models to explain a great deal of the storyline, then you had better look elsewhere.

It should be expected that the PsP definitely has its own limitations in regards to what it can and cannot do. And I’m pretty sure the little UMDs just could not hold the anime cutscenes with all of the extra stuff they added to the game. Is it a good trade-off? I think so to some degree. Granted this is the 3rd Persona 3 title to hit North American shelves, there is a whole slew of new things that I’ll be getting into later. So first off let’s take a look at what I think is important about this title shall we?

P3P Title Screen

Story

Story

If you’ve ever played any of the past Persona 3 titles then you are already pretty much familiar with the basics of the storyline, however if you’re a newcomer this is the gist of it all:

The Main Character who was orphaned as a young child returns to the city of his/her childhood to attend Gekkoukan High School. Shortly after transferring, the MC is attacked by monsters called Shadows, causing the MC to awaken his/her 1st Persona… Orpheus.

After the assault, the MC finds out that his new dormmates also share the same power to call forth their own Personas, and they have formed a club called SEES (the “Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad”). The main goals of SEES are to find out why the Shadows exist, and to combat the evil threat that they impose on victims of the “Dark Hour”.

Those are the basics, just keep in mind, even though the game has you playing as a teenager attending high school, this game does have a mature setting. Not counting the fake gun (Evoker) that the protagonist and party members use to call their Personas. This game has explicit language, references to alcohol/smoking, and people die. Oh and it also teaches you how to be a pimp and date multiple people!! (That last one was a joke, you do get to date multiple people though…)
The storyline itself is pretty well done when you actually see it in-between all of the Social Links you have to do, and exploring Tartarus. Which leads us onto the biggest portion of the game…

Gameplay

Gameplay

As far as gameplay is concerned, the two most important things about all of the current variations of Persona 3 are:

  1. Social Links/Persona Leveling
  2. and Exploring Tartarus

Persona 3 Portable is no different in that respect, and now with the addition of the new femMC your options for Social Links has increased a lot :D.

Social Links are a big deal in P3P just like past Persona 3 titles. They allow you a form of interesting conversation based sidequests from the main story, you get a lot of extra insight into party members/npcs, and they are just fun to do. While they are not necessarily required to finish the game you would have to be quite “silly” to not initiate any other ones besides the default story Social Links that are given to you.

Besides all of the above stated comments about Social Links they are mostly used to help you level your Personas faster. In a more detailed explanation: after you pass a certain part of the storyline you’ll find out that your MC has the ability to summon more than 1 Persona unlike his/her party members.

Once you start collecting a good majority of Personas, eventually you will be able to fuse multiple Personas to get even stronger ones earlier. Also when you fuse, you even get to sometimes keep your old favorite skills from the previous Persona and bring it to the new one! :D
There is of course always the chance of finding new Personas in Tartarus, but why do that when you can get them earlier?

Fusing Personas can be fun! :)

Social Links add extra experience for specific Persona types

You can always get old Personas back...for a price

Now as most of you guys/ladies may know the original male MC of Persona 3 could start Social Links with his female party members, try his hand at dating specific npcs, and befriend other npcs. Now with the inclusion of the fMC she can pretty much do the same thing.

She cannot however date another female, so you might as well get that idea out of your head (They can only become close friends). :D
But if you ever wanted to say date Akihiko, or even be really close friends with Junpei (for some weird reason) then you can. They also added the P4 option to date multiple people so you can have them all if you want! :O

Social Links will definitely keep you busy whether you’re a veteran or even a newcomer, and I suggest too try and get as many as you can to max level. :) Actually if you can find a way to max all of your Social Links you may even get something nice. Veterans of Persona 3: FES know what I’m talking about!
So what let’s chat a bit about Tartarus…

~I Hate Dungeon Crawling!!!~
Well first off why are you even playing a Persona title? Lol. Most (if not all) of the Shin Megami Tensei have some form of straight up dungeon crawling, however I can say that this particular game does it with style. Especially Tartarus (the alternate name given to Gekkoukan High during the Dark hour).

Tartarus is where you will do most of your dungeon crawling in P3P, but they have made at least some much needed changes…

Tartarus itself is still a long (very long) dungeon crawl, and it still holds weird monsters, and random floor designs. But what it also has now is the ability for you to:

  • Experience new tricks and hazards that will keep you guessing on random floors.
  • Never get tired again. (unless a party member dies, or you spend a lot of time in Tartarus then everyone will be tired the next day)
  • Directly control your party members Persona 4 style.
  • Rescue lost citizens who had the misfortune of wandering into Tartarus.

That’s just a small part of Tartarus itself though. As you explore you will be finishing story/side quests, grinding your heart out, and hitting shadows in the back of their heads. :)

Most of the other battle elements that were present in the original Persona 3 : FES are still present so fans will enjoy the game still. Team attacks, multiple attacks after criticals/elemental weaknesses, and Persona ownage. It’s all here! And if you don’t want to directly control your party members you don’t have to. You can actually leave them working on AI if you would like.

Team Attacks are still fun to watch

A dungeon crawler with style is one that most people should give a chance. I can however say with experience that Tartarus can become tiring if you do too much of it at once. It is a lot of floors so don’t try and go in there right before a big event in game or you will get burnt out.

That’s usually the case for most dungeon crawlers! So if you find yourself doing too much grinding too get that next skill for your underpowered Persona, then go do a Social Link or another sidequest. :p Then come back!

Noteworthy
Let me tell you my personal Pros & Cons…
Pros:

  • I really like that I don’t have to run everywhere I can just click through menus in school, and for the town map.
  • The addition of the fMC adds more Social Links, and new twists to specific Story events in game. So it makes the game that much longer if you decide to play both genders.
  • Portable Persona 3: FES w/ a lot of new stuff (yes please)
  • Music is still good.
  • I can date Mitsuru and Yukari?! Muwahaha

Cons:

  • Where the hell are my anime cutscenes/character models for scenes?! I actually liked watching the animations when they would get mad or get punched.
  • Some scenes are still made for the male MC even when you are playing with the fMC. :(
  • Sometimes even I hate dungeon crawling.

For all of you Persona 3 & FES veterans here is a list of the “new stuff” in P3P:

  • Social Link scenes and Story events now have a visual novel style.
  • Weapon types are now character specific. Meaning the main character cannot equip Mitsuru’s weapons and vice versa.
  • Daytime exploration is now all through a point and click interface for speedy movement!
  • After a certain point in the game you will now be able to save random people who wandered into Tartarus.
  • There is now a Boss Rush mode called Vision Quest.
  • You will see some Persona 4 cameos.
  • You can date as many guys/girls as you want just like Persona 4 with no penalty.
  • Some of the Social Links have voice overs.
  • You can now earn money at part time jobs around town, and these all give you a boost to certain stats :D.
  • At the bottom of Tartarus healing now costs money, but it’s not that expensive.
  • After a certain event in the story you will now have the option of doing Co-Op attacks with party members during battle when they ask.
  • There are 2 new difficulty settings: Hard and Maniac.
  • There are 4 new Personas.
  • Theodore is the other Velvet Room assistant, and Elizabeth’s younger brother. He is only available if you play as the fMC though.
  • There are new costumes & some new music.
  • New Social Links are available for the fMC.
  • Pink UI for fMC!! (yay?) :)
  • Entering your Dorm room does not cause time to jump ahead (Thank goodness… -_-).
  • The first version of Orpheus has a female look if you play with the fMC.
  • Now sometimes when you level up a Persona they will give you a skill card that can be used to teach other Personas that skill. You can also receive these skill cards in other parts of the game. :)

If you are looking for the US manual for P3P and didn’t bother to check for it at their official site you can find it here:
Persona 3 Portable-us manual

Image Gallery
This image gallery contains screenshots, art, and fan art for Persona 3 Portable on the Playstation Portable. Enjoy! :)

Videos

P3P First Impressions
P3P Music Videos

Words from Z
So in closing, would I recommend Persona 3 Portable to a newcomer? Oh hell yes. Actually I would even go so far as to recommend it to my future wife as well. They packed a lot of stuff into this game.

And while the game recommends that new players play as the guy first, I say fudge that. If you’re a newcomer to Persona 3 (Portable), and this is your first game play with whoever you want. Just make sure you come back and play the other one. Then you will be able to definitely get your money’s worth from this title.

As long as you can look past the removal of the anime cutscenes/character models and deal with the visual novel style then you will definitely enjoy this newest incarnation of Persona 3 from Atlus.

So if you’ve played it, let me know what you think of it so far. And if you haven’t yet…what are you waiting for?

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/UXDHFLUOF44KZIG4YDNEO4VE3E Kyouya

    I absolutely LOVE this game. I played Persona 3 FES and Persona 4 before it, and I just adored it. I don’t so much miss the cutscenes as much as I miss the models, but I understand limitations. I love playing as fMC, but I wish you could change the colors of the GUI because the pink gets a little annoying after awhile. I ADORE that you get to have an S.Link with everyone in SEES, especially Shinjiro, and how that even affects if he lives or dies. Overall, it’s hands-down my favorite game I’ve ever played. Maniac mode is freaking RIDICULOUS though…