Repost: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable Review

While the Shin Megami Tensei series has been very popular in Japan, in the United States, it has much more of a cult following with players actively searching and playing each iteration of the series as it was released stateside. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 originally released on the PlayStation 2, expanding on the already recognizable mixture of RPG and social life elements.

Atlus USA rereleased the title for the PlayStation Portable, adapting the gameplay for the portable console while retaining the core of the title and adding another whole perspective to the title created a new experience rather than simply porting the title, which arguably would have been more than enough for how deep the title is.

Plot

The original release of the title featured a male protagonist, but Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable offers a new perspective with the option to choose a female protagonist. The story follows the path of the main character attending a new school and slowly discovering that they are able to experience the Dark Hour, the time in between reality and a new world. They are also able to control and bond with Personas, who are part of that character’s psyche.

Depending on which gender is chosen, players will experience and explore the Dark Hour as a member of SEES (Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad) while attending school and living the social bonds between students while empowering themselves for their next journey into the Dark Hour

The Look

Even though the original title released for PlayStation 2, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable on the PSP looks surprisingly sharp and detailed. While during the day, much of the title is seen through static conversations or moving through 3/4 overhead maps and choosing locations to visit, the visual style of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable is among the best. The characters are all highly detailed and even moving throughout the school is still enjoyable.

During the Dark Hour, the title uses a much more recognizable dungeon crawling style. While the day graphics are move text heavy, the combat during the Dark Hour is more recognizable by moving through corridors and finding enemies to attack. The visual flair of the title really shows during the combat and even features some tongue-in-cheek moments.

It’s among the higher tier titles regarding visuals, but the style overall is one of the best.

The Sound

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable features a recognizable Japanese soundtrack, changing depending on the situation that the character is in. During the day, the music is much more light and upbeat, but once entering the Dark Hour, the music is much more brooding and atmospheric.

The best part of the music is that it plays well with the situation that the player is currently in. Main characters also feature voice acting, and it is a lot more tolerable than other English dubbed anime or other dubbed video game titles.

Function

There are essentially two gameplay types that directly affect each other. During the day, players experience a high-speed version of school, meeting other students, joining clubs, and living the academic life of a student. The hours spent at school increase statistics and assist in creating stronger Personas and abilities. An important part of the day is creating social links, essentially meeting new people and maintaining relationships which allow for the upgrading of Personas.

At night, players enter the Dark Hour, the time where players will enter the dungeon crawling of the title and raise statistics as they ascend the many levels to the top of the tower. Along with sub-characters, players will attempt to reach the top of the tower and along the way create or modify new Personas.

Characters are also able to purchase and equip new gear from the local Police station which assists greatly in the higher levels. Combat is turn-based and sub-characters can attack on their own or be directly controlled by the player depending on the type of gameplay desired. While the title is turn-based, the time in the tower during the Dark Hour is quick, and everything feels very streamlined to provide little downtime.

Unlike other RPG titles, the combination of the day and night hours created an enjoyable experience with how each time directly effects one another. Spend too much time in the Dark Hour and the next day, players will be suffering, but not entering the Dark Hour will also be a detriment.

Decisions

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable is one of my favorite RPGs this year, combined with the ability to take it on the go, the title offers a lot to experience. For players who never tried the series, this is the perfect place to start because even though it has a dungeon crawler feel, the social relationships that are a big part of the title continue to create a different experience.

Even though Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable could be considered a JRPG title, it also shows that RPGs don’t need to continually be based in the past of the future. Changing the reality of the present is interesting enough.

RPG fans have probably already tired the series, but even casual RPG players will find a lot to enjoy.

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

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