Persona 3 Portable Review

Persona 3 Portable
Developer: Atlus
Price: $40.00
Platform: PSP

Persona 3 Portable is what happens when Persona 3 and Persona 3 FES decide to fuse together in one tiny handheld system. It basically contains all the improvements from FES and has a new female protagonist you can play as that adds new story options to the social links. My gut tells me to recommend this game to anyone with a PSP but I’m going to be honest and tell you this will be hit or miss with many people. You’ll either love wandering around in the Tartarus grinding up your party and building your social links or you’re going to hate how tedious it can all feel.

When you start the game you’re given the choice between a male or female protagonist. After you make that arduous choice(I’m just kidding, I know you all picked the girl) you’ll be heading to Japan as a transfer student to begin studying for exams, making friends, going on dates, and building up social links for the next 30 hours. Oh yea and there’s a turn-based RPG thrown in there if you really wanted to know. Each night at midnight the Dark Hour occurs. This happens every night for an hour and everybody in the city stays asleep within coffins during this time, but you and a select few have the rare ability to stay awake during the Dark Hour. This is when the school turns into the Tartarus and where you’ll spend your entire hour fighting Shadows if you choose. There are multiple levels in the Tartarus with a boss to fight at every few floors or so. You’ll take your party of 4 (including yourself) into this maze to level up and climb higher, and there to aid you are your Personas. These are manifestations of each member’s personality and are summoned by blowing your brains out. Each party member has their own specific Persona that doesn’t change, but this is an RPG so you are the unique one in a million who can use any Persona you want. You can collect multiple Persona and switch them on the fly but the real goal is to fuse multiple Persona together to form an even stronger one. One thing I feel I should mention is that you can acquire new equipment such as armor/weapons, but what I want to mention is that there’s quite bit of different kinds of equipment to collect and your characters change appearance depending on what’s equipped which is nice to see.Each battle is turn based and the graphics aren’t the greatest thing out there but they do have a distinct visual style that helps give P3P it’s charm. An improvement over the previous PS2 entires to the series is the ability to control your party members. Now you can decide whom you want to get healed or whether you want a specific ability used or not. There are also 2 new difficulty levels included for newcomers and veterans to the series.

Remember that awesome stuff I mentioned about building social links and studying for class? Yea forget the silly gameplay lets go talk about the life-sim part of the game. During the day you’ll spend your time going to class, hanging out with friends, and participating in clubs. You have 3 stats that will determine how the characters speak to you: Academics, Charm, & Courage. You’ll start the morning out in class for a moment but after that the game basically allows you to choose what you want to do with the rest of your day. Here is where you’ll decide whether you’ll build up your stats or work on your social links. Will you spend the day studying to raise your academics or possibly go to the karaoke to work on your charm? Social Links are the relationships you build with characters you meet in the game. Working on your social links works out for you in the end because they can help give you an XP boost with Personas of a certain type. Soon you’ll be trying to balance who you hang out with and when clubs are having meetings. I’m a complete sucker for games where you build relationships with your party members so I was instantly drawn into P3P. Eventually I was struggling whether to hang out with one of the many friends, go to the clubs, or work on my stats. I just didn’t have the heart to turn down most people. Eventually I just said ‘fuck you all I’m going to spend the night at karaoke’.

The anime cutscenes have been removed in favor of images of the character speaking with voice overs. The navigation has also been changed from being able to control the protagonist during the daytime segment to instead being more of a menu. You control a small circle and move that to where you want to go or talk with. I never played the first P3 for very long so I’m indifferent to these changes. I personally enjoy the menu-style movement since it gets me where I want to go quickly. You also have the ability to install data onto your PSP to shorten loading times.

The Final Word
If you’ve played any of the Persona games before you don’t need to read this to know that this is a great game. The addition of a female protagonist that adds new story elements, Maniac difficulty for veterans, and the ability to control your party members make this something players of the original game have to at the least check out. Newcomers to the series might be thrown a little off by the management of the life-sim elements and the grind in the Tartarus but if you enjoy RPG games then definitely give Persona a try.

– MonsterVine Rating: 4 out of 5 – Good

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