Following my recent completion of Persona 4 Golden I had thought I was going to be done with Persona games for awhile. Well, after I completed that review, I decided to start up a monthly Viewer’s Choice poll where you, the viewers, decide one game I’ll be reviewing for that month. Of course, silly me decided to put Persona 3 Portable on that list. Fast forward to the start of July and here you have it.. my review for the game you the viewers decided for me, Persona 3 Portable!
Going into Persona 3 Portable, I only had my past experience with Persona 3 FES – which I still have yet to complete – and Persona 4 Golden. It was mainly thanks to Persona 4 Golden than I actually had any idea as to what to actually do. Well, sort of. I will be comparing Persona 3 Portable to Persona 4 Golden a lot, but that is simply due to it being my only previously completed Persona game.
In comparison, the start up to Persona 3 Portable is definitely much for friendly. Instead of the three hour intro with hardly any control that Persona 4 Golden got, Persona 3 Portable had me into the action within only an hour and a half. It didn’t try and throw a ton of new plot elements at me constantly, and while there was definitely new characters being introduced, it didn’t feel as if there was as many being introduced. Overall, the story of Persona 3 Portable felt much easier to get into than Persona 4 Golden’s did.
While Persona 4 Golden saw multiple dungeons – albeit similarly laid out ones that still felt repetitive – Persona 3 Portable had just one dungeon. The catch here is that it’s one dungeon with way too many floors. It really didn’t take me long at all to get sick of exploring and just wanting to get through. This did lead to some… interesting… fights later on as I ended up a bit under leveled, I just couldn’t bring myself to fight the same battles over and over again.
Combat between the two stayed largely the same, though after having played Persona 4 Golden, Persona 3 Portable definitely had some major elements just missing or added too late. One key thing I felt was missing was the ability to scan for an enemy’s weak point. The lack of this meant that even if you knew “Oh hey, don’t use fire,” the game wouldn’t give you the visual indication yet of “Hey, don’t use fire.” This is just one of the things I felt was introduced a bit too late. One thing I learned a bit too late – see final battle late – was about turning my allies onto manual control. I would’ve had some serious issues in the already extremely long final battle were it not for discovering this.
Controls are about as good as you can expect for a PSP title. That being said, it is a PSP title… meaning the controls aren’t very great. This is more an issue with a system than with the game though. While I did have the option of playing it on my Vita I chose not to do so for other reasons. Was sure a nice reminder of how much better the control layout on the Vita is though!
At first, the graphic style was a bit off putting since I had played a bit of Persona 3 FES. It felt really dumbed down to work on the PSP. By the end, it did end up growing on me and I came to appreciate the simplicity and somewhat ease of map movement. Well, as much “ease” as you can find on a PSP title.
I really was not overly impressed by the soundtrack of Persona 3 Portable. My entire time play – nearly 54 hours – I was just thinking about how much better Persona 4 Golden’s was. Yes, even the tracks I disliked in Persona 4 Golden.
It feels somewhat hard to really fairly judge this with keeping in mind the fact that Persona 3 Portable was made before Persona 4 Golden. However, I do feel that even if I hadn’t played Persona 4 Golden, I’d still have the issues I had with Persona 3 Portable. I felt extremely lost at times, especially with how overwhelming the social link system is for new players. The dungeon floor layout was extremely similar through the entire place. None of the music really stood out to me as being memorable. On the bright side though, I was able to actually play as a female character! Probably one of the best additions over what I had played of Persona 3 FES overall.
In the end, I feel like on it’s own Persona 3 Portable may just be a bit overwhelming for new players. Even with it being my second full Persona game, I felt very overwhelmed at times. I would definitely suggest that if you were wanting to get into the series to go with Persona 4 Golden first, if you can. Why then is the score you see below the same as the one I gave Persona 4 Golden? Because I do feel for what the game lacks compared to what was fixed in Persona 4 (and in Golden), it makes up for in the easier to get into story and the graphics that do grow on you.
Persona 3 Portable Review Score
This review was chosen to be done thanks to you, the viewers. Want to help decide the Viewers Choice review for August? The poll is open now until July 31st!