|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Atlus||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 6, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
February 26, 2010 - Persona 3, when it was released nearly four years ago for the PlayStation 2, was heralded as one of the best RPGs for the aging system. It featured an amazing story, and was one of the first JRPGs to use a social interaction system to determine the events of the story. Although the ending did cause some controversy, the game enjoyed great popularity, and even saw a special edition rerelease less than a year later. Still, despite its popularity, Persona 3 was definitely lacking in some areas. This was highlighted by the subsequent release of Persona 4, which shared thematic and story elements from its predecessor, but featured a new battle system that was lauded by fans. This battle system allowed players to have full control over their party and gave them the ability to have characters guard or run away during intense battles.
If you enjoyed the battle aspects of Persona 4, but can't get the haunting images of Persona 3 out of your head, then I have some good news for you: the two are being combined! Well, not officially, but Persona 3 Portable, which is being released later this year, will have the story from Persona 3, but feature a battle system that is nearly identical to the one in Persona 4. One of the major complaints from the original Persona 3 (as well as the FES rerelease) was that the battle system relied too heavily on AI-based characters. For example, in Persona 3 it was entirely possible to lose a battle based on your teammates' actions rather than your own. Fortunately, this issue is the first to be addressed by Persona 3 Portable, and the game will feature the same full control functionality of Persona 4. In addition to the full control option, the new battle system will feature some tweaks to make the system flow a little better. With smaller menus, easier shortcut commands, and new tactics options, Persona 3 Portable will definitely have a lot going for it in the battle department.
However, there is more to this remake than just the battle system. Although the new gameplay options may be the best reason to pick up this new Persona 3, there will also be some new story options. One of the hallmarks of Persona 3 was its "Social Link" system which allowed your character to develop relationships with NPCs based on social cues. Persona 3 Portable will include more social cues than previous editions, and will even let you play as a female protagonist. Although the story will remain the same with a female protagonist, more social links will open with the female main character, and you will have different romantic options.
Not all the new content will be tied to the female protagonist, however. No matter which gender you select, you will be able to use new Personae. The game will also offer more combination options, allowing you to create more creatures for your arsenal. If you've already played Persona 4, then you will likely recognize the new Personae, but they will be new to the Persona 3 universe. Personae will also all produce skill cards when they reach a certain level. This will allow the player to take a more directed approach when leveling up and creating new Personae.
However, there is one aspect of Persona 3 Portable that may be disappointing to fans. Unfortunately, the Episode Aegis mode that was added to the special edition of Persona 3 on the PlayStation 2 (FES) will not be making an appearance in the portable version. So much extra content is being added to the new game, that some concessions had to be made, and it looks like this mode was up for removal. Although Aegis was not available on the normal mode, it allowed those who completed the game on the most intense difficulty to play through a 30-hour epilogue story. Persona 3 Portable will retain some elements from this mode (such as the door of doors), but there will be no substantial post-game story content.
Though PSP ports of successful PlayStation 2 titles are nothing new, it is rare that a portable version of a game makes any substantial improvements to the original. Persona 3 Portable looks to change this trend. With an updated battle system, new story elements (which tie in to a new character) and some improvements to the Persona creature system, Persona 3 Portable looks like it will be a must-play game for fans of the franchise. If you missed Persona 3 the first time around on the PlayStation 2, this new portable version looks like it will be a great introduction to the magical world of Persona.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor