Persona 3 Portable Review

Make friends, tame demons, and fall in love.

JRPGs have always been a genre that focuses on groups of people coming together in friendship and rivalry to overcome odds and save the world from giant tentacled monstrosities. Persona 3 Portable for the PSP, a remake of Persona 3 for PS2, takes this idea to the next level incorporating these social interactions as a measurable game mechanic. This is the third time thatAltushas released this game and it is slightly different every time.

Persona 3 Portable puts you in control of a main character – either male or female – that moves to a new town and dorm to go to high school. His normal high school life is shifted on its head when he finds out he has the ability to summon personas, and that their town is overrun by shadows that appear during a magical time called the dark hour which occurs each night. You must make friends and go out and collect demons called persona in order to defeat these shadows and free your town from the horrors of the dark hour and maybe eventually save the world.

Gameplay combines RPG style battle and dungeon crawling with visual novel style interactions between characters and dating. The game has a character for almost every type of persona. Your relationship with these characters affects persona fusion of personas of that arcana – giving bonus experience and sometimes moves. The gameplay is kind of repetitive but the PSP version allows a bit more freedom in controlling your party fully whereas both console versions had NPC controlled party mates.

This PSP version of the game cuts out much of the walking around and interface of the game making a game that is already very much like the Japanese visual novel/dating Sim style of game even more like its roots. All of the walking is replaced by little circles on map that are easily navigated. I don’t hate this but it does lose a bit of charm in return giving you a lot more streamlined gameplay.

The most lauded new feature of this version is the female main character option. It does feel like a different story slightly when playing as the female MC. Many of the social links are switched around and even the battle music changes up. I still prefer the male MC because it is supposedly the only canon story mode, and also I prefer the characters you meet around the school as a male more than the ones as a female.

Graphics for the game are comparable to the PS2 version and look great on the PSP. The game’s stylistically anime aesthetic fits the setting and themes. Enemies are one problem with art however. Recolorings of older character models are pretty much standard for most levels of this game. Environments are a tiny bit repetitive but change depending on what level of Tartarus (the dungeon you go to during the dark hour) you are on.

Music and voicing is great. Although the soundtrack is mostly J-Pop style music, it is all good despite the rampant Engrish in most of the songs. The voice actors all fit their roles well, although battle voices can get a bit repetitive.

This is not a game for people who do not enjoy grinding. If you do not want to have to level up in order to advance or collect personas, I suggest just picking up a visual novel and playing through that instead. For the rest of JRPG fans, you will love Persona 3 if you do not already. It is definitely one of the better PSP RPGs.

Pros:

  • Interesting story and characters that you can interact and form bonds with.
  • Music and voice acting is great.
  • Streamlined menus allow for much easier navigation and control. Also, the ability to control all three characters is welcome.

Cons:

  • Lacks bonus mode from PS2 versionFES
  • Repetitive character models and gameplay

Score: 4/5

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About Sean Talarico

Sean Talarico is an avid fan of Japanese Animation and Manga. His favorite games are Rpgs, Battlefield style shooters, and niche sandbox games.