|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Atlus USA||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus USA||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: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
I'm no fan of game remakes. I figure, unless there is loads of extra content, or you need both hands to count the years between release dates, then remaking a game is unnecessary. However, Persona 3 has become my favorite exception to this rule.
When Persona 3 FES was released just one year after Persona 3, I was ready to grab my pitchfork and protest. However, the game ended up being really good, and the Abyss of Time dungeon as well as the new story elements were enough to win me over in the end. Similarly, when Persona 3 Portable was released a few weeks ago, I was geared up for anger. However, there was so much new content in Persona 3 Portable that I was won over almost instantly. Persona 3 Portable is not just a remake of the original PlayStation 2 title, it is the ultimate Persona 3 experience. If you are a fan of the original, a fan of the MegaTen series, or have even just a passing interest in JRPGs, you owe it to yourself to play this game.
From the game's first menu screen, the changes to the game are apparent. As soon as the game opens, you are able to choose a character to play as. If you have never played Persona 3, the game recommends you play as the male character, as his story is the "original" and will give you extra story details that are assumed as prior knowledge if you are playing as the female. If you have played Persona 3 though, playing as the female character is definitely a treat. Although the story elements are largely the same, playing as the female allows you to view crucial scenes from a different perspective and gain more insight into the world of Persona 3. The female character also has access to different Personas, and can form social links with different characters (which leads to an alternate Persona development path.)
However, the new female character and new story elements are not the only new things to experience in Persona 3 Portable, as the battle system has been changed as well. As much as I loved the classic RPG feel of the original Persona 3, I was slightly annoyed by having to rely on A.I.-controlled opponents to support me in battle. Even with the game's intelligent and tactics-based A.I., I was occasionally thrown for a loop when a character would heal me after just taking a few hits. However, Persona 3 Portable's battle system takes a note from Persona 4 and allows you to control your entire party. This is much more satisfying than the older battle system, and makes the game a bit easier since you don't have to over-compensate for occasionally incompetent A.I. teammates. In case you were thinking that you don't like your Persona games too easy, Atlus has you covered, as two new difficulty options have been added to the mix.
Persona 3 Portable also has a few Easter eggs for longtime fans of the franchise, including the first timeline appearance of the main character of Persona 4. Although interactions with this character are fleeting, it is a nice touch that rewards those that have stuck with the series throughout its linear entries, remakes, and re-releases.
All these enhancements and improvements make Persona 3 Portable feel like a brand new game. Despite being the third Persona 3 game to be released in three years, Persona 3 Portable 3 is the most complete entry to date. Even if you have played through the first Persona 3 remake (FES), Persona 3 Portable's improvements to the battle system and new female protagonist make it worth the price of entry. Playing through just the new story mode will net you at least fifty hours of new gameplay, and if you are the type to go for broke and want to unlock all of the social links and Personas between the two characters, you'll have a 100+ hour journey ahead of you. For a handheld title, that is phenomenal.