Persona 3 Portable’s modern remaster shows how far the series has come

In 2006, developer Atlus would pave its future with an important game announcement: Persona 3 for the PlayStation 2. It was a huge hit, finally becoming a mainstream JRPG series in a way that the first two games hadn’t. Persona 3 laid the foundation for what would eventually be Persona 5a monumental mainstream success and Atlus’ crown jewel.

Now fans have the chance to return to the groundbreaking RPG with its latest remaster, which brings its PlayStation Portable version, Persona 3 Portable, to modern platforms including Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox and PC. The re-release allows new fans to experience the genesis of now-iconic gameplay systems like its influential social component and “One More” combat system.

For those new to Persona 3 here, the trip down memory lane might seem a little unnerving at first. Persona 5 would expand its gameplay significantly a decade later, leaving the re-release retro in comparison. Despite this, those who met through the series Persona 5 they will still find many reasons to immerse themselves in them Persona 3, thanks to a fantastic story and characters that aged more gracefully than its systems.


On first sight, Persona 3 Portable it can feel like a relic, something that’s accentuated by the way Atlus chose to compress the game onto the PSP. One of its biggest concessions is that it’s presented in a point-and-click visual novel format instead of having a 3D character model that can roam around like in Persona 4 Gold or Persona 5. As such, static sprites are placed in background areas, and characters are interacted with using cursors.

The point-and-click presentation can be jarring to newcomers, but I find it imbues the game with a charming, retro feel. And while it may be dated, the 3D models and environments have been kept where it really matters: in the battles and exploration of Tartarus.

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Image used with permission of the copyright holder

Sometimes, certain scenes in the story don’t fall so hard because of it Portablelimited presentation. In the PS2 version, you can see the entire main cast gathered around a table while one character portrays the main antagonist of the story. You can feel the urgency and fear in the room as the actors focus intensely on their words. That tension is lost Portablewhere character cutouts only appear on screen for those currently speaking and the rest of the cast is out of sight.

Since this is a remaster and hardware limitations weren’t a factor here, I wished Atlus had made the extra effort to give players the option to play in 3D or a point-and-click presentation. Be limited to Portable version makes the remaster a bit dated.

It’s about the journey, not the destination

Any complaints about the Portable’s presentation are outweighed by parts of the package that have aged nicely. Persona 3 the story still holds up after all these years because of the way it ties its themes into the background of each of the main characters. The game follows a group of schoolchildren who form the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad, or SEES. On the surface, they are just an ordinary after school club. In reality, the group is tasked with investigating a strange tower called Tartarus that appears on the site of the school during the “Dark Hour”, the mysterious 25th hour that occurs after midnight. All SEES members are Persona users, meaning they have special powers to fight the Shadows that appear during the Dark Hour as they progress towards Tartarus.

Death serves as the main theme here, making the tone of the game darker and more somber Persona 4 and 5. This is shown through the many characters that appear in the game. For example, one of Persona 3User’s social connections (Persona 5‘s equivalent of Confidants) is about a young author with an incurable disease. Another social connection revolves around an old couple grieving the death of their son in an accident.

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Persona 3 TartarusImage used with permission of the copyright holder

While Persona 5Similar social connections rewarded players with great benefits, Persona 3they don’t have such a strong incentive. Instead, they’re more worth experiencing just for the stories they reveal, which bring emotional depth to the RPG. For those who love Persona 4 and 5 more for the storytelling than the RPG system, P3P still has a special (and at times sickening) place in the series.

I’m also impressed with the huge amount of new content this version has to offer. Contains new scripts and episodic roles from Persona 4 (which would be launched only two years later 3), as well as another boss. Portable it is also the only version Persona 3 which allows players to choose a female protagonist. Playing as a female protagonist opens up exclusive social connections that the original male protagonist doesn’t have and provides even more replay value in future playthroughs. She is more bubbly than her male counterpart, acting as a very welcome counterbalance to the depressing storyline.

Persona 3 portable presentationImage used with permission of the copyright holder

Although there is a lot of content here, it is not definitive because it is missing Persona 3 FES: The Answer epilogue. FEZ, an improved version of the original Persona 3, contains a playable expansion that explores the events following the conclusion of the main game’s story. Answer it wasn’t as critically acclaimed as the main story because it didn’t include the Social Link mechanic, but it fleshed out the main cast more and even pitted the characters against each other in battle, as opposed to the constant friendship seen in the game’s main story. Answer also introduced a brand new character, Metis, who is completely absent in Portable.

The inclusion of an epilogue and the fun factor are divisive among Persona fans, but the omission still does Portable feel somewhat incomplete, even if it is widely considered the final version Persona 3.

A definite experience

While I’m happy to see the RPG available on modern platforms, it left me yearning for some sort of proper remake that includes its entire story as well as updated quality-of-life elements from Persona 5. Although Persona 3 is not as visually elegant as 5, still has traces of personality. The combat UI is made to look like the barrel of a revolver, fitting the game’s death theme and referencing the grim way characters summon their Personas: by headshots.

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Persona 3 Yukari EvokerImage used with permission of the copyright holder

Fans Persona 5They will probably also enjoy the amazing music Persona 3a musical record steeped in rap and hip-hop. Both the male and female protagonists have different musical themes, with the new protagonist having some more rock’n’roll-type songs that sound like they could have been in Persona 4.

While Persona 3 is not as mechanically elaborate as Persona 5, it’s still a strong RPG and retains many of the key gameplay elements that newer fans have come to expect from a modern Persona game. If players come in with the right expectations, accepting that this is an older game, it will be another 100 hours worth of time invested.

Persona 3 Portable is available for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One.

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