Persona 3 Portable Hands-On Preview

The list of RPGs that I can truly say I love is a very short one, but on that list, the Shin Megami Tensei games would be included, with the Persona series in particular ranking even higher. Persona games have always successfully merged modern settings with a familiar JRPG battle system to create games that live outside of the clichéd JRPG universe and transcend the genre. 

Atlus seems to want to draw us all back in to the world of Persona 3, which took the series to new heights, with the newest edition of the monster RPG, Persona 3 Portable. Not content to rest on their heels and produce a straight port, Persona 3 Portable (P3P) has been retooled and expanded to fit the PSP system. I was allowed to spend a few hours with the game and was able to experience many of the changes coming with this new version, which make this version feel almost completely new.

 The new world map

First off, Atlus has streamlined a lot of Persona 3 to make the portable experience much more manageable. Instead of running around a 3D game world, much of the world map and many of the game’s areas are presented as 2D landscapes. All of your favorite stores are still featured and have artwork to accompany them, but you’ll navigate around these spaces with a cursor instead of 3D controls. You can also press the square button to bring up a list of areas to fast travel to, so you can quickly get to where you are going. Characters are displayed as 2D sprites and will have little text balloons to indicate if they have something important to say. You won’t have to waste time trekking through countless areas or talking to random NPCs — it’s all there communicated to you.

While areas on the world map are displayed in 2D, the Tartarus, the main dungeon tower you climb in the game, is still intact as a 3D space. Here, the game hasn’t changed much from Persona 3, and why should it? The gameplay is still as tight and addictive as it was on the PS2 and works just as well on the PSP. What has changed, though, is the battle system, which has been tweaked to bring in some changes from the Persona 4 system. You can now directly control your party members instead of the computer doing it. A guard command has also been added and characters will take the fatal blow for the protagonist as in Persona 4.


Speaking of the protagonist, P3P adds a new female character that players can choose to control instead of the standard male hero from the PS2 version. This is much more than a standard graphic swap. The story changes slightly and your perspective on events is altered a bit. You can also explore different relationships with the game’s male character to boost your social links, which are used to create more powerful Persona. It felt like an almost different game as I played as the female. Character dialogue changed and events I was familiar with from Persona 3 were viewed in a different light. It remains to be seen if the change in gender will affect the story more dramatically, but it’s a great way for Persona 3 fans to experience the game in a different light.

Aside from that, the Persona 3 you know and love is fully in tact here in the portable version and the game is still just as fun and amazing as it was on PS2. P3P is shaping up to be the best version of Persona 3 and you can take it on the go with you. Part dating sim, part dungeon crawler, always enjoyable, P3P should keep RPG fans glued to their PSP when the game releases on July 6.


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Author: Matt Erazo View all posts by

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