Time Never Waits.
It delivers all equally to the same end.
You, who wish to safeguard the future,
however limited it may be….
You will be given one year;
Go forth without falter,
with your heart as your guide….
Sounds familiar? Those lines were uttered in the famous Persona 3 game for the PS2 console and it was nostalgic seeing the same lines in the portable version of the said game. Atlus decided to port the game in the PSP and add interesting features that will entice more gamers, male and female alike.
Like the original game in PS2, the story starts with the nameless protagonist who arrived in Iwatodai station in the evening and experienced a different feel of the place. While walking on the street, coffin-like figures are erected in the street and blood is oozing from every crevice of the town.
Upon arriving to the dorm, an unnamed boy asked for a signature of a contract (which will ask for the name of the protagonist). The boy quickly disappears after signing the form and a girl about the age of the protagonist was about to pick a fight.
Eventually, the protagonist finally knew the mysterious feel was a result of the “Dark Hour” which occurs in between the end of the day and the next. Shadows appear in a form of black blobs and the Gekkoukan High School became the nesting ground of everything evil. In response to this, the dorm is composed of students from Gekkoukan High and created a group called S.E.E.S. (Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad) which eliminates shadows using their Persona. To be able to release their persona, members needs to use an Evoker (a gun shaped tool) and shoot their head.
Only one persona is usually available per person, but for some strange reason, the protagonist has the ability to summon different persona without harm. This leads Mitsuru to ask the protagonist to lead the team in exploring Tartarus.
In the P3P (Persona 3 Portable), players get to choose to play either the male protagonist or the female protagonist, which is a very ingenious way into asking old players to try the game again. It was a relief to female gamers as most, if not all, protagonists for Shin Megami Tensei franchise are male. Add to the fact the one of the male member in S.E.E.S. is really hot.*insert fan girl scream here*
With the change of characters, players get to experience different Social Links with different people like Akihiko Sanada (<3), Koromaru and Ken Amada. Most of the new social links are also entitled for a “lover” status when the links are maxed out.
A new social link is also included in response of the Persona 3 FES game in PS2, where Aeon Social Link can be initiated by talking and hanging out with Aigis.
The plot is also slightly tweaked to let Shinji Aragaki live despite being shot by Strega. Although this is only possible if the female protagonist had maxed out his social link.
P3P also integrated the Persona 4 battle strategy that allows players to directly control the team members. This however, does not eliminate the use of the game’s AI control when needed. In addition, members can use Defend command that prevents knocking them down whenever their weakness is used for attack by opponents. Allies will also take fatal attacks for the Protagonist, preventing his or her death
The Velvet Room is still present to accommodate persona fusion and request completion from Igor’s assistant. P3P introduces Theodore as one of the assistants that can be chosen by the female protagonist. New requests are also added which included going on a “date” with Theo.
In Tartarus, returning to the main lobby no longer automatically restores the HP and SP of party members. Healing can be availed via the Save Point, and now costs money. Also, when leaving a block via a one-time access point, the team can return to the last floor they escaped from by using the entrance.
The Desert of Doors will still appear however in an extra feature known as the “Vision Quest”. In this mode, the party can fight stronger incarnations of the Full Moon shadow bosses and get into special battles that test the party’s abilities. When all of the battles have been successfully met, a second optional boss can be fought.
One of the cool features that they added in the game is the characters use of costumes as their armor. These costumes ranges from the innocent tuxedos and santa suits; to the alluring bathing suits and battle panties. Unfortunately, most of the high defense and funny costumes are for the girls but this does not stop players in completing the costumes.
Unfortunately, in P3P the protagonist’s weapon usage is limited to the Naginata. In the PS2 version, he can use any weapons as long as it is available. Atlus must have decided to get the Persona 4 weapon usage as only one kind of weapon is usable per person in that series as well.
One of the disappointments while playing is that the status of members does not change from “Good” to “Tired” during exploration. Players can only learn that their stamina is in the limit when Fuuka mentions it. Members will also be “forced” to join the exploration regardless of their status unlike the original game. Players should check the members’ status manually instead of asking Fuuka for them. This removes the realistic possibility of the game where if a person is tried, he/she will go home and rest.
The shops in Paulownia Mall is also tweaked to include jobs for players for extra in-game money. Changes are as follows:
- Game Panic – Players can get a job here to earn money, spend the afternoon to increase the stats of their equipped persona or play the crane game to get the stuffed toy of the day.
- Power Records – A store that sells music albums. Protagonist can spend their social links there.
- Aohige Pharmacy – Sells recovery items. Gives discount on Saturday.
- Shinshoudo Antiques – An antique shop where the player can trade the gems found in Tartarus which includes items, cards for raising persona stats and weapon fusion.
- Mandragora – A Karaoke Bar, where the protagonist can increase his Courage stat.
- Police Station – The place that sells weapons and armors which does not close on evenings anymore. This is also the place to get the rewards of people the protagonist found in Tartarus while exploration.
- Be Blue V – Players can get a job here to earn money. Closes on Evenings.
- Chagall Cafe – Sells Pheromone Coffee for 500 Yen that increases Charisma. Players can get a job here to earn money.
- Club Escapade – Opens during Evenings.
Additional storylines and music is added to accommodate the female protagonist’s POV. These includes romantic scenarios and social links scenarios that are not available when using the male protagonist.
Another addition is the ability to pick whom the protagonist dies with in the final scene. This feature is only accessible on a New Cycle, and you can only select members of SEES with whom you have maxed social links and are romantically involved with.
Equipments, money and persona compendium are retained for the new cycle of the game.
In conclusion, Persona 3 Portable does not only brings the beautiful game to a portable console but also gives a different look of things with the female’s POV. Despite the minor setbacks, this is a very enjoyable game and can be re-played again and again in different levels. If you are a player who loves the Shin Megami Tensei franchise or the Persona series, you might want to play this and complete it at least once.