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Persona 3 Portable – Sony PSP

Persona 3 Portable – Sony PSP

I art thou, thou art I

p3port_esrb_psp

Platform: PSP

Developer: Atlus

Publisher: Ghostlight

Release Dates (NA): July 6th, 2010

Genre: RPG, Visual Novel

Nerd Rating: 7.5

A man walks alone, just beyond the edge of time. He is in an alley, surrounded by nothing and no one, but he is not alone and he knows it. Suddenly, he feels the grip of the shadows that surround him. They pour into him, blood pours from his eyes, and his last breath is issued in a scream that no one can hear.

Persona 3 Portable is a PSP adaptation and expansion of the PS2 game Persona 3 FES, which is itself an expansion of the original game, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 which, in addition to being a part of the Persona series, is also part of the much larger Shin Megami Tensei series. The original game was released on July 13, 2006 in Japan (August 14, 2007 in the US; February 29, 2008 in the EU; March 6 2008 in AU) to critical acclaim and a bit of controversy brought on by the rather unsettling way the characters in the game performed magic. More on that later, though.

That's what she said. Literally. As in, those were her exact words...

That’s what she said. Literally. As in, those were her exact words…

As the game begins, our hero is transferring into a new school as a second year student. Arriving late at the train station, our hero notices that it’s unusually quiet… and that there are coffins all about, but more or less gives that a pass (a coffin here, a coffin there… nothing to worry about). Upon arriving at their new dormitory, the hero is swept up into the fight against the shadows with a group of quirky dorm mates. The rest, as they say, is spoilers.

Early, early on in the game...

Most of your Quirky dorm mates getting ready for Tartarus

Persona 3 Portable follows the exploits of the protagonist – either a taciturn and angsty high school boy or an optimistic and occasionally cheerful high school girl – as they fight against the Shadows that seek to take souls during the 13th hour of night. During the missing hour of the day, hidden between midnight and one in the morning, most people are sealed in coffins, completely unaware that the passing hour even exists.

A select few, however, remain conscious. Of these few, some are victims to the shadows that lurk during the lost hour. Others can call upon the power of ancient spirits called Personas to do battle with the shadows and stand up on behalf of mankind. Guess which one your protagonist is?

Persona 3 Portable (following the conventions of the Persona series) is also a Visual Novel – that curious brand of Japanese game where the story advances by talking to people in static (albeit voiced) dialogue trees. Make the right choices, make a friend. You can even date some of these people if that interests you at all. Dateless and lonely or not, you need to pursue relationships because they increase your character’s ability to create new Personas (or, rather, pull them from the well of your soul by merging other Personas together… meaning the other Personas, occasionally in threesomes, are making Persona babies in your Soul… which is kinda a little nightmare fuelish).

ULUS10512_00002

Do battle with… er… flaming tables, using a glowing naginata, in front of a creepy face!

Locations outside of the main dungeon sections (where these relationships develop) are done with a static map and icon-based location system (think of Skyrim if the only way you could get anywhere – even from one shop to another in Whiterun – was by fast travel). This system is a godsend for anyone who has played the original, allowing for rapid navigation from points A through Z (or Zed, if you’re in any country other than the U.S.), since exploration isn’t a factor in the game outside of the main dungeon.

Most of the action takes place in a procedurally generated dungeon called Tartarus, using a turn based combat system. As in most RPGs, you and your team spend time there leveling up, collecting loot to buy better equipment, completing quests, and rescuing lost souls. You also level up your Personas, who are analogous to Final Fantasy VI’s Eidolons: they give you spells, alter your stats, and can be summoned to do battle for you.

In order to perform magic, the heroes (who are high school students, keep that in mind) use gun-shaped magic wands, point them at their heads, and then fire them? Yeah. SO… almost every battle looks like a teenage mass suicide pact in action. Uncomfortable…they don’t pull any punches with it, either. For instance:

Look at that, and tell me it doesn't creep you out at least a little.

Wait! Don’t do it! You have so much to live for!

The game itself covers a full year, during which time you delve deeply into interpersonal relationships, a Goldilocks combat system (not too complex, not to simple, not too hard, not too easy – you know, juuuuust right), and a horror story that would probably make a decent anime… which it did. There’s a good 30 to 50 hours of gameplay here (depending on how into Persona-making and relationship development you get), along with an epilogue game that I haven’t gotten to yet, but I’ve heard it quite good.

After all that is it any good? Well, yeah. Maybe not great, but definitely good. If you’ve got a PSP and you don’t have this one, you really should. If you like turn-based, story driven RPGs, that is. If you don’t, then this one won’t change you mind, and I’m a little confused as to why you read this whole review…

Written by Nerd Bacon

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2 Comments

  1. I am, in fact, excited about Persona 5, although I haven’t even played 4 yet (which is weird to admit). I’m actually new to the whole Persona/Shin Megami Tensei thing, and I’m intensely curious as to how the rest of the series holds up. Once I get my hands on 4 (and eventually 5), you can count on new reviews 🙂

     
  2. Thematically speaking, Persona is my shit. I’ve never played the PSP ports (PS2 all day) but I’ve heard great things. This franchises ability to meld style with dark overtones will always have my heart. (planning on getting the shin-megami-tensei logo tattooed into my sleeve)

    You excited for Persona 5? Catharsis is the main theme.

     

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