A young woman sits curled up on the floor of her apartment kitchen. She holds a gun to her temple. Her hands are trembling as she prepares to pull the trigger. This is not how a typical JRPG begins. Persona 3 for the PlayStation was one of the most unique and engaging role-playing games of all time with a powerful story, engaging characters and amazing artwork that carried you through 100 hours of awesomeness. We’ve been playing the heck out of Persona 3 Portable (P3P) for the PSP, so we decided to pick it apart to find out how it compares to the original.
You play an orphaned student who has just transferred to Gekkoukan High School. On your way to your new dorm, you encounter the Dark Hour, a hidden slice of time that occurs each night at midnight. During the Dark Hour everyone except for a special few are transmogrified into coffins; dark spirits called Shadows roam the streets, preying on those who find themselves awake and trapped in the Dark Hour. Those who fall victim to Shadows during the Dark Hour awaken the next day as brain dead zombies. The media wrongly identifies the condition as a case of mental illness and calls it Apathy Syndrome.
After discovering that you have the power to interact with the Dark Hour and can summon Persona, a powerful manifestation of your inner psyche, you join the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad (SEES) to investigate the mysteries of the Dark Hour in order to put a stop to the spread of Apathy Syndrome caused by nightly Shadow attacks during the Dark Hour.
Above: Every night there is a hidden hour, known as the Dark Hour, which only a few are aware of. Everyone else slumbers in the form of a coffin
Every great anime has a great opening title sequence. But few JRPGs have an opening title sequence as impressive as the ones featured in Persona 3 and Persona 3 FES. The game’s brilliant art work has always been one of its most overlooked features. So we were pleased to see a brand new opening title sequence for P3P that introduces the new female protagonist. Check them out below – and remember that these epic videos roll before the title screen even pops up.
Above: The original opening for Persona 3
Above: The opening for Persona 3 FES
Unfortunately, it looks like the awesome animated cutscenes from Persona 3 have been cut from the portable version. Instead, P3P pans over pulled frames from Persona 3’s cutscenes while narrating the story with text and voiceover clips from the original. These new versions of the old cutscenes definitely feel like they’ve been declawed and aren’t nearly as engaging. But Persona 3’s artwork and excellent story is its saving grace, and as far as cutscenes go, they still get the job done and keep your interest despite the lack of animation.
Above: Yukari’s hands tremble as she attempts to pull the trigger. Without the animation, P3P’s cutscenes just aren’t as gripping
Above: Every time your characters summon a Persona, they need to shoot themselves in the head with an Evoker, making for some of the most unnerving and unforgettable battle animations in JRPG history
Above: The first animated cutscene from the original Persona 3. In P3P, the game just pans over stills from this scene