Finish your homework then go get those nasty ghouls! That’s right, Persona 3 is back, this time it’s been ported from the last-gen powerhouse that is the PS2 and is now kicking monster butt on Sony’s ageing portable.
Persona 3 Portable is more or less a direct port of the Japanese RPG that many enjoyed three years ago, but this shiny new version packs a little more punch, boasting new improvements and tweaks, plus some pretty funky graphics.
Persona 3 is the kind of game that could only have been created in Japan. You lead a group of worthy school children who, after 3pm when their daily studies are done, equipped themselves with some funky summonable daemons and other powers to battle through hordes of evil monsters in towers and underground lairs and save the day in a game that stays very faithful to the JRPG genre and the series’ roots. Although this time, you can now choose either a male or female protagonist.
The most notable changes from the PS2 to this portable version of Persona 3 are the way movement in the game has now been made menu-based rather than free roaming to better suit the PSP setup, and the fact that the game’s revised battle system is more similar to that found in Persona 3’s successor, the aptly named Persona 4. In combat, the player is able to directly control every character and your character can now guard him or herself, which is another welcome new addition. Also, if your main character looks to be on the verge of death, your band of friends will intervene and happily take the final blow in order to save your life, how sweet. The social interaction elements of the game stay true to the PS2 version, allowing you to make social links and gather valuable information, this feature is probably the most impressive thing about Persona 3 Portable, helping to set it aside from the rest of the JRPG genre.
The game retains a very Anime/graphic novel style, much like the original version, which fits in with the PSP’s small screen quite well. The voice acting in the game is exactly the same as on the PS2, although the characters are represented by on-screen portraits, unlike the original. The game’s in-game music has also been changed, although it’s still pretty catchy and quite typical of a game of this genre.
One of the biggest problems I have with this new reincarnation is the fact that developers Atlus have thrown away the visually stunning Anime cut scenes, replacing them with mediocre in-game scenes, bah. My theory behind the change is that the game was too slow or took up too much valuable memory when the cut scenes were activated, not surprising really.
Persona 3 is pretty brilliant at times, so don’t be put off by its Japanese RPG label, the game offers an expansive role-playing experience with a combat system similar to that found in the Pokemon series of games. Atlus have done well to pack this much punch into a PSP title, if you weren’t familiar with the original you’d think the game was designed from the ground up for Sony’s portable device.
So if you fancy some oriental RPG action in the palm of your hand this summer, look no further than Persona 3 Portable, the £34.99 price tag is worth it.
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