Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable
Persona 3 Portable – that’s this game, not the original version – originally came out in Japan in November of 2009. You’ll surely realise, if you’re paying attention, that this is a hell of a long time ago. Even the Yanks got the bloody thing in July of 2010.
It’s therefore a safe assumption to make that if you have any standing interest in the Shin Megami Tensei series at all you’ve already given this a look, if not bought it.
Which leaves us in an interesting position for these two pages of review right here – though at the same time it means we get the luxury of trying to lure in potential newcomers to the series with our delicious, sexy words. Or something.
An update to the original PS2 version of Persona 3, or a remake if you want, Persona 3 Portable sees a few changes to the original.
These are the kind of changes that make sense and make the whole experience a bit less of a chore – no aimless running around, instead with most exploration being simple and menu-based.
Smaller changes like additional save points and the ability to work part-time jobs, thus earning a bit more Yen and increasing social stats, have also been added.
There are a number of other differences that we’ve likely overlooked here, but they’re the kind of things only pertinent to fans of the original – and as we said, you’re the people who’ve probably bought the game already.
Persona 3 Portable distances itself from your more traditional JRPGs in a few ways. While battles are generally the turn-based, reasonably strategic affairs we know and love (or hate, if you’re like that) and the story is generally incomprehensible babble, there are some interesting elements that make the game stand out.
There’s an underlying life simulation aspect to the game, meaning players can build relationships with others, join school clubs, go shopping and a few other basic elements. Far from being pointless timesinks, they actually offer tangible in-game rewards in the shape of better abilities and access to more Personas (think Final Fantasy’s summons and you’re on the right track).
It takes a while to get to your first battle, and even longer to get to the first dungeon, but once it hits these areas P3P becomes far more recognisable to the JRPG faithful. Dungeon exploring is easy to dip in and out of, and progression rarely hits a brick wall – though grinding is sometimes required of the player, unfortunately.
Each floor of the dungeon is randomly-generated, though this doesn’t amount to much – more just slightly different searching for a staircase each time – but it does at least mean you’re less likely to get bored that quickly.
Combat is simple enough to get into and offers enough depth to keep you interested through the dozens of hours P3P takes to work through, and the ability to control your whole party (it was AI control only in Persona 3) is another small change that just makes sense.
Like we said earlier here, you’ve probably already picked up Persona 3 at some point if you have any interest in it. Those who are going in blind, though? Well you’ve got yourself a deep JRPG with a handful of elements that are actually a bit different from what you might be used to.
Combined with the solid foundation of a good battle system, the constant promise of new Personas to play about with and randomly-generated dungeons that can easily soak up hours you have yourself a game that’s easy enough to recommend. And not once have we made mention of ‘dusting off’ your PSP.