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Gamertell Review: Persona 3 Portable for PSP

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Persona 3 Portable Box

Title: Persona 3 Portable
Price: $39.99
System(s): PSP
Release Date: July 6, 2010
Publisher (Developer): Atlus (Atlus)
ESRB Rating: “Mature” for Blood, Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes and Violence
Pros: Lots of wonderful voice acting, interesting story, lots of personas to accumulate and fuse, dungeon crawling is streamlined and enjoyable, visual novel elements are a welcome addition, nice blend of life-sim and RPG, engaging characters and social links, new part-time jobs, all new girl’s side storyline, lots of save point opportunities, fantastic soundtrack, great replay value, multiple difficulty levels, dungeon constantly changes, many side quests.
Cons: No animated sequences.
Overall Score: Two thumbs up, 99/100, A, * * * * 1/2 out of 5

Persona 3 for the PlayStation 2 was a phenomenon. It not only resurrected the Persona Shin Megami Tensei spin-off series when it was released in 2006 in Japan, which hadn’t seen an entry since Persona 2: Eternal Punishment in 2000, it also brought the series worldwide acclaim. It was so successful that it even spawned a revamped edition, Persona 3 FES, that included an additional epilogue game.

In 2009, Atlus decided to take Persona 3 one step further with Persona 3 Portable. The result is a fantastic RPG adventure with two separate storylines and the best possibly version of the original Persona 3 story. It makes its US debut on July 6, 2010, and is destined for greatness.

Persona 3 Portable

Manage school, a social life and shadow-busting to save the world.

An orphaned teenager is returning home, to the place where he (or she) spent his (her) youth, after spending many years traveling around and living in different places. Upon arriving, everything takes a supernatural turn. Once midnight strikes, coffins appear on the street instead of people, all power dies out and mysterious creatures known as shadow stalk any unfortunate, defenseless people still conscious.

The player quickly learns this time is called the Dark Hour, and any people awake during it without the ability called Persona, which allows them to summon a spirit to protect themselves, are Shadow fodder. They’re turned into victims of Apathy Syndrome. The only defense is a group of highschoolers called SEES, who explore the mysterious dungeon Tartarus during Dark Hour and defeat shadows hoping to find a way to save everyone.

There are two separate storylines in Persona 3 Portable, one with a hero and the other with a heroine. While there are many similarities between the two, there are also many differences. Experiencing the daily life and struggle against the shadows with both provides unique insight into this strange world.

Persona 3 Portable

A refined port that offers the best Persona 3 experience.

Persona 3 Portable is separated into two distinct parts. The first part is the hero or heroine’s daily life, which is a mixture of a simulation and visual novel. You’ll attend high school classes, take part in after school activities, make friends, work at part-time jobs, visit local hotspots to shop, mingle or entertain yourself, make friends, build up your character’s personality traits and perhaps even fall in love. You visit areas and do a lot of talking. The second part is good old-fashioned dungeon-crawling in Tartarus. You explore the many levels, attacking monsters (Shadows) in turn-based battles and looking for treasure or lost souls. Once a month, a boss battle shows up. All in all, you’re trying to solve a supernatural mystery and save the world while leading a normal life.

As always, Atlus’ translation is impeccable. The script is wonderful, and filled with the humorous nuances and wit that the company is famous for. I found myself enjoying the story more and growing more attached to the characters in Persona 3 Portable than I did in the original Persona 3. I think this is because of the visual novel presentation. You aren’t distracted by moving from different areas or 3D environments – the full character portraits accompanied by text and occasional voice acting force you to focus on what’s being said and happening. I think it makes you appreciate the game even more.

The only way Persona 3 Portable pales in compare to the PS2 release are a few graphic and gameplay changes, which were understandably removed due to the additional heroine storyline, space requirements and the sake of streamlining things. The most noticeable change is you no longer roam the “real” world the same way you do Tartarus – you guide a cursor along static pictures of each area, highlighting people to talk to them and doors or certain icons to move locations. Initially, it may feel a bit odd, but I found myself preferring this new navigation method, especially the square button shortcut to leap to different areas. It made the whole playing experience more comfortable.

The animated sequences were also cut, which is a shame but understandable since they would all have to be redone to accomodate the additional storyline. Once you become immersed in P3P, you don’t even realize the animated segments are missing.

Persona 3 Portable

Persona 3 Portable is a system seller.

Simply said, Persona 3 Portable is a system seller. If you own a PSP and can purchase “Mature” games, you should own it. If you don’t own a PSP, Persona 3 Portable is easily a game to inspire you to pick one up. It’s well written and engaging in a way few games manage to be and even better than the original PlayStation 2 Persona 3. Even if you already own either of the PS2 editions, P3P and it’s numerous additions and adjustments is a tempting prospect. The only thing that would have made it sublime would have been an additional UMD containing “The Answer,” the additional adventure included in Persona 3 FES.

Site [Persona 3 Portable]

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  • bleach1st

    I still haven't finished P3 for PS2 (but I'm so close to the end of the story though.. :D) but I tried P3P when my friend brought it back from Japan quite a while ago and instantly hated one thing; the fact that they changed real world movement to the dot on the screen.
    Maybe I didn't give it enough time but I thought it would kill the game for me and didn't take it any further… didn't seem to annoy you though. Maybe I should have given it a chance xD

  • Jenni Lada

    Honestly? I thought the dot would bother me too. Surprisingly, I forgot about it after about 1 hour of playing. I didn't even realizing anymore that I was using a dot and not actually controlling a character, running through the halls. It seemed to take a lot less time to get through classrooms and such, and I thought it actually made the game a little stronger because I was focusing on interactions between characters and getting to where I really wanted to be, rather than aimlessly wandering through halls trying to find the right location.