January 31, 2023

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Persona 3 Portable, a review of the RPG games that changed the Atlus series

Persona 3 Portable review, the RPG that changed the Atlus series and that returns in a totally remastered version in Italian.

Although Persona 5 is the most well-known title in the series, it’s the title that made Persona more visible worldwide than Episode IV – in our parts, the Italian translation of Persona 5 Royalalso recently available on Nintendo Switch – Chapter 3 is certainly the most important, because it was the turning point: in fact, Atlus introduced the component slice of life in its games, a feature that has come to set it apart from virtually every other Japanese RPG on the market and has inspired countless subsequent productions.

Persona 3, which came out in 2006 on the PlayStation 2, though, was only revived once on the PSP a few years later, and that was it. This is exactly the version that Atlus decided to bring to contemporary platforms, localizing it in our language for the occasion, but in this Persona 3 Portable review We’ll explain why we were expecting something more.

The first character of the new cycle


Persona 3 Portable, Hour of Darkness fills the high school with terrible monsters
Persona 3 Portable, Hour of Darkness fills the high school with terrible monsters

Persona 3 established the backbone of the series As everyone knows today, dungeon exploration and turn-based combat intersect with the component slice of life, which sees the player grapple with everyday life: lessons at school, part-time jobs, socializing with friends, acquaintances, and perfect strangers. So Persona 3 created what Persona 5 players call Confidants, but even Persona 4 called for Social Links, or relationships with secondary characters created over time, replicated in Moments of Freedom, that detail bonuses and benefits under play.

In the middle is precisely the file Tough fightsheavily inspired by the Shin Megami Tensei tradition, the main series that inspired Persona: is a turn-based game, in which the player controls up to four characters and is forced to choose the correct spells and attacks to hit enemy weaknesses and knock them down as quickly as possible.

When playing Persona 3, the last-minute fan will find more or less all the features they could possibly appreciate in the fifth iteration, including Italian LanguageWhich is the good news for us about this transition in particular. There is, too Narrative He served as a true pioneer, creating some of the cornerstones that would then return in subsequent episodes, starting with the Shadows, the shadowy creatures that appeared in our world during the Dark Hour, the time period between the end of one day and the beginning of the next. . While the vast majority of people enter a kind of stasis, some individuals manage to perceive the Dark Hour and fight off the shadows with the help of people: gathered in an almost headquarters-like dormitory, these Gekkoukan High School students welcome among the player ranks who, for some mysterious reason, can manifest several personalities.

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In the mobile version of Persona 3, the player can choose whether to play a male protagonist, as in the original PlayStation 2 version, or a female protagonist: the choice is not only aesthetic, as it changes some aspects of the narrative and gameplay. there the hero of the story He shows naturalness and irony in multiple-choice conversations and can relate to different supporting characters than his male counterpart. In short, it’s the kind of additional campaign worth playing, perhaps in New Game + mode to discover all the differences between the two stories.


Persona 3 Portable The setting can be deceiving, but the story is really dark
Persona 3 Portable The setting can be deceiving, but the story is really dark

there horror novel of Persona 3 is much closer to Shin Megami Tensei than later ones in terms of atmospheres and themes, but it also opens up the cycle that the first two – rarely mentioned, but equally important – at least hinted at: the game explores an almost obsessive psychology of its characters, who they encounter During the adventure their personal demons, which grow above all as individuals. But beyond the students of Gekkoukan, all of the supporting cast have something to tell and invite the player to frequent them, between poignant, mysterious, or simply funny events.

Persona 3 remains a well-written title to this day, with a file A carousel of memorable characters And it is no coincidence that we are found in a large number of later games, from the fighting game Persona 4 Arena Ultimax in the rhythm game Person 3: Dancing in the moonlightthrough Persona Q on Nintendo 3DS.

Play between the past and the present


Persona 3 Portable we will have to explore a procedural maze called Tartarus
Persona 3 Portable we will have to explore a procedural maze called Tartarus

If Persona 3’s story continues to impress us even after so many years, our problem with this conversion is precisely that portable sequel, which is a controversial choice in several respects. Given what it is, this version is pretty faithful to the iteration proposed on the PSP over ten years ago: Atlus has limited itself to adding a few convenient features like quick saves and tweaking. accuracy of 3D modelsAnd, in doing so, it inevitably flattened the final visual presentation, victim to that gap between the polygonal models and the more fuzzy 2D backgrounds we’ve become somewhat accustomed to in recent years, starting with those of Square’s Final Fantasy Enix. Then, if we exclude the aforementioned addition of the Italian language, The contents remained the sameso those who have already played Persona 3 on PSP can safely skip this version.

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However, it’s net the various additional content – such as the female heroine’s campaign, additional difficulty levels and a whole series of scales and quality of life improvements – that make this version, in a sense, the best in terms of gameplay, Persona 3 portable stay A kind of truncated version Compared to the original PlayStation 2 version, because it is deprived not only of the beautiful cinematic animations, which would also have been implemented in this version, but also of all the exploration part outside the dungeons, replaced by point-and-click screens that do a lot more. visual novels.


Persona 3 Portable, in this version you point and click to interact with scenarios and characters
Persona 3 Portable, in this version you point and click to interact with scenarios and characters

This solution definitely interrupts the player’s sense of immersion, even if exploration in the original wasn’t as structured as in later titles, and in the long run it was monotonous. However, the possibility of exploration in the third person is still there lime, the procedural maze that appears in Gekkoukan during the Dark Hour, which the player must climb throughout the school year to reach the end of the adventure. Here Persona 3 Portable, although already improved in gameplay compared to the first version of 2006 with the introduction of new mechanics and balances, shows the side and all the limitations of the old RPG. the combat system It’s practical, but also more bland than later titles, and Tartarus, with its weave of randomized lanes, isn’t exactly the most fun to navigate.

Persona 3 still has that strategic component Fans of the Atlus series should love it: we can beat new characters and then merge them into the Velvet Room in Igor’s usual presence, unlocking ever more powerful entities or in any case more suitable for our purposes. The Velvet Room’s features are obviously more limited than in later iterations of the series, but it still allows for a variety of strategies.


Persona 3 is a portable, strategic and challenging turn-based combat
Persona 3 is a portable, strategic and challenging turn-based combat

Persona 3 is still portable today Typical RPGbut the third time we play, even if many years have passed, we have to realize that it has aged badly compared to, say, always excellent and fresh Persona 4 Golden. We’re still dealing with a re-release, not a remake, but it’s a pity that Atlus didn’t take the opportunity to present a more complete title, adding, for example, the contents of Persona 3 FES.

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For those who don’t know, Person 3 EDF It was a kind of DLC – an add-on disc for the PlayStation 2, in fact – that was offered in the rest of the world in a sort of single package that included the original campaign, dubbed The Journey, and additional content: a real bonus campaign, The Answer, that completed the story. After the heartbreaking end of Persona 3, bringing it full circle on many characters. The Answer’s gameplay was objectionable in several ways, but the narrative was worthwhile; However, with the passage of time, Atlus seems to have confirmed canon of Persona 3 Portable, ignoring what was said in The Answer, and choosing to re-propose this version in 2023 seems to confirm the decision made at the time.

Suspension

Tested version Nintendo Switch

digital delivery

Nintendo eShop

price
19.99 euros

Persona 3 Portable is a simple remastered version of the title of the same name that was released on the PSP several years ago, and thus feels the full weight of its years: if the story holds up brilliantly, it can be difficult to adapt the gameplay to its limits, especially if you come Straight from Persona 5 Royal. It remains an essential title for understanding the evolution of the Atlus series, and it’s a pity that the Japanese company hasn’t committed itself a little more from an artistic and content point of view, perhaps by implementing kinetic animation or an additional Persona 3 EDF campaign. In short, we’re still dreaming about this remake that combines the best of both worlds into a definitive Persona 3.

forefront

  • The story is always exciting and full of memorable characters
  • Improved accuracy and some new easy-to-use features
  • It remains an essential title for those who love Japanese RPGs

Opposite

  • It is the PSP version of Persona 3 with its own strengths and weaknesses
  • The gap between the 3D models and the scene is an eyesore
  • It is unfortunate that no Persona 3 FES content has been added