Title: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable
Release Date: 6th July 2010
Genre: RPG, Adventure, Dungeon Crawler
– Addictive gameplay
– Great story
– Excellent character developments
– Heaps of diverse personas
– Addictiveness only last until the roadblock
– Average graphics
Reviewed by FrontalSpy
The Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series is one of my favorite RPG ever (not telling which is number 1), with their quirky ways of summoning your persona, great story and character interactions. The first in the series was ported on the PSP earlier this year, and now the third is going portable with the story from its original game and a new female story.
The game first starts by letting you choose to play as a boy- in which play the full story from Persona 3, or a girl- in which the story is altered to suit the new gender. The game then reveals to you a dark and scary time called the dark hour. Where ‘normal’ people are in coffins during this time and only ‘persona users’ can see and remember anything during this time. You play either a boy or girl who has been transferred to Gekkoukan High School and to live in a dorm. The Dorm at first is inhabited by 3 students who also attend the school: Mitsuru Kirijo, Yukari Takeba and Akihiko Sanada. More and more members move into the dorm as the story gets much deeper.
It goes like this: the Dark Hour is a dangerous time where all normal people are asleep and the persona users roam around. But humans aren’t the only ones that dwell in the dark hour, there are dark beings called Shadow who only appear during this time causing havoc. The Shadows only appear in a building called Tartarus which is the school during the dark hour. Only rarely, shadows escape, but they are much stronger and only appear during full moons. Only you and your team SEES (which are the people that live in your dorm) who are persona users can defeat them and eliminate the dark hour and Tartarus.
Of course the main idea of the game is Personas. Which has the weirdest way of you summoning it, grab a gun and shoot yourself in the head. It may all seem weird at first but you’ll never care less later on. All members of SEES (expect for the director) have Personas but can only have one, while you are special (of course) because you can have multiple Personas, you can carry up to 12 at any time. Personas are your guardians, they are your abilities to damage shadows with a large variety of attacks, buffs, support and other abilities. Your Persona can also have strengths nullifying attacks from shadows, and even weaknesses making shadows’ attacks more effective. The Personas are connected to the Social Links, maxing out the social links can grant you the ultimate personas.
One good nifty mechanic is the ability to fuse your personas to create even more powerful ones, you can fuse 2 or 3 but you get more options as you progress. But you can’t just make any personas; you need to be a high enough level to obtain the end product. The game has a large variety of customizable weapons, armors and accessories to equip. while most of these are bought, you can find them inside Tartarus. This makes customizing more crucial as wearing the wrong equipment can cost your dearly. Tartarus itself is made up of blocks and floors, connected by stairs. There are 6 blocks and about 40 floors in each block. On each floor there are shadows to defeat so you can level up, chest full of money and weapons, staircase to advance to the next floor and sometimes teleporters to return to the entrance where you can save, swap party members and heal.
The game takes place throughout the Japanese year, celebrating Japapenese culture. Each day is broken up into sections- Morning, Afternoon and Evening. While normal school takes up much of the time for 6 days of the week, you can spend your free time doing whatever you want. Like in previous Persona games you can create friendships with certain people, this is called Social Link. You can hang out with your new friends anytime you want, increasing your friendship and bond, but you can’t just be friends with everyone- you may need to increase your attributes such as Academics, Charm and courage. You can increase each by watching movies, working or even singing Karaoke.
The game does a great job in telling the story. You feel as you are actually part of the school and group. People will ask you questions, teachers will ask you questions and you will even have to sit through exams which makes me very nervous every time one pops up. The voice acting in this game is superb, showing every expression in their voice and fitting into their personalities. The game looks pretty good, monsters look alright and some personas look downright awkward- not the graphics but their looks and style… There are cutscenes but like most of the game it is talking, this isn’t a problem as the dialogue is interesting and new, nothing clichéd. The characters are very detailed showing all the emotion you can believe.
Persona 3 Portable may not get as much attention from next gen players- as of any PSP game, but for those who love a good RPG, great story, addictive gameplay only for a short bit- because each time you battle in Tartarus, there are blockages that stop you from advancing further until it is removed later in the story. The game constantly wants you to explore all of Tartarus and each time you say just one more floor. Persona 3 Portable is a game PSP owners can be proud of.