Persona 3 Transportable Overview (Swap eShop)

Persona 3 Portable Review (Switch eShop)

Captured on Nintendo Swap (Docked)

Although Persona 3 was really the fourth mainline launch within the collection, the meme goes that it was actually the primary as a result of Atlus simply refuses to acknowledge the earlier video games. As a contemporary begin for the collection, Persona 3 was ultimately adopted up with not one, however two ‘ultimate’ variations that every had essential new options which didn’t seem within the different model. The model that was chosen for the fashionable remaster was Persona 3 Transportable, which initially noticed launch on the PSP within the late 2000s. Although it definitely feels like an getting old moveable sport, P3P exhibits that it’s nonetheless received it the place it counts; regardless of some drawbacks, this stays an pleasurable and fascinating RPG.

Very like different releases within the collection, P3P follows an ensemble forged of highschool characters led by your silent protagonist, who on this case is a switch pupil who returns to their hometown ten years after the dying of each their dad and mom. Issues rapidly take a darker flip once you expertise the mysterious Darkish Hour, a hidden, liminal time simply after midnight when a creepy moon shines brightly and all people briefly flip into standing coffins.

Persona 3 Portable Review - Screenshot 2 of 7
Captured on Nintendo Swap (Handheld/Undocked)

Those that have the facility to summon Personas, nevertheless, retain their humanity throughout this time, and it’s not lengthy earlier than you get roped into becoming a member of an after-school membership of different Persona customers who’ve banded collectively to combat again the Shadows that emerge throughout the Darkish Hour and are attempting to research what’s occurring. Collectively, you slowly discover and battle by way of an unlimited tower known as Tartarus at night time, hoping to seek out solutions at its summit.

We appreciated the general darker tone of this narrative, as dying is a frequent theme that informs the occasions and choices that happen over this 60+ hour story. That’s to not say P3P is lacking its moments of levity—there’s definitely loads of the lighthearted highschool antics many followers of the later video games might be accustomed to—however there’s a a lot heavier and extra menacing vibe to the plot right here. This doesn’t essentially make it higher or worse than the later releases within the collection, however we did admire the way it offers P3P its personal distinct type of identification.

The one shortcoming right here is that the pacing can really feel a little bit off in some locations. Your progress by way of Tartarus is usually gated at key factors till you go a sure date in-game, and there are occasions when it feels just like the story is a little bit too ‘stop-start’. For instance, you’ll defeat a boss, uncover or progress a number of attention-grabbing threads associated to the primary plot, then be caught for a number of in-game weeks spinning your wheels and feasting on breadcrumbs whereas ready for the following main plot improvement to happen. Fortunately, the gameplay is partaking sufficient that these gradual intervals are nonetheless pleasurable, however we might’ve appreciated extra evenly balanced plot improvement.

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Captured on Nintendo Swap (Docked)

Gameplay follows the tried-and-true system of blending collectively life-sim components with extra conventional dungeon crawling. By day, you go to high school, hang around with pals, and work part-time jobs. By night time, you step into Tartarus with your mates and filter flooring after flooring of Shadows, all whereas choosing up cash and gear alongside the way in which. Although it will probably take just a few hours out of the gate for this gameplay loop to seek out its footing, issues match collectively impressively nicely when you get right into a routine along with your character and start to pursue varied objectives for them.

In your daytime life, for instance, time is your most treasured and restricted useful resource. You’ll construct up a steady of pals and allies by way of Social Hyperlinks, and strengthening your relationships with every particular person will see your character obtain some essential advantages when fusing new Personas. The issue is, you often solely have time to hang around with one particular person after faculty every day, and that’s in case you select to not work certainly one of your jobs or take part in different actions. Worse but, not spending sufficient time with a given Social Hyperlink, or saying the improper factor once you’re with them, can result in your Hyperlink with them declining or breaking fully. How you propose out your days and weeks can thus be a precarious balancing act as you try to maximise your character’s talents whereas mitigating any losses.

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Captured on Nintendo Swap (Docked)

Correctly managing your daytime life is essential for fulfillment in your nighttime exploits, because it’s the easiest way to obtain funds for kitting your group out in higher gear and for making certain you’ll be able to have the very best Personas out there in fight. You often have the choice of visiting the Velvet Room everytime you please and it’s right here the place you’ll be able to take present Personas and fuse them into new ones with higher stats. Each Persona corresponds to an Arcana which is in flip represented in certainly one of your Social Hyperlinks; elevating a given Social Hyperlink thus has the impact of making certain any fused Personas that match its Arcana will get a giant expertise and stat increase.

Although Persona fusion will be rewarding, that is one space wherein P3P feels probably the most dated. You may’t manually select which of a Persona’s abilities might be inherited within the fusion, which may make it far more tough to construct your group precisely the way in which you need it. We encountered many cases the place we needed to fuse two Personas on our group that have been getting too lengthy within the tooth, however couldn’t pull the set off as a result of the ensuing Persona wouldn’t inherit any of their helpful talents. After a Persona has reached a sure stage, it does offer you a talent card that permits you to give that one talent to any Persona you select, however this seems like a time-consuming, roundabout, and incomplete means to make sure that every Persona fills the function you want it to. Plus, the shortage of guide talent inheritance feels particularly egregious provided that Atlus managed so as to add the function to the latest re-release of Shin Megami Tensei III; if it may very well be added to that sport, why couldn’t the identical be achieved right here?

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Captured on Nintendo Swap (Handheld/Undocked)

Upon getting a superb Persona lineup in place, you’ll be able to then run into Tartarus with your mates, the place there are actually a whole bunch of procedurally generated flooring awaiting you. Tartarus is organized into ‘blocks’ of some dozen flooring every, and your objective is just to succeed in the tip of your present block earlier than the following main boss combat. Every flooring solely takes a couple of minutes to filter, and you may make certain that you’ll run right into a handful of Shadows alongside the way in which and discover just a few treasure chests to make exploring value your whereas.

The design of Tartarus is maybe one of the crucial divisive points of P3P, as issues can get monotonous and repetitive fairly rapidly. Each flooring inside a block appears precisely just like the one that you simply simply completed, whereas there’s a whole lack of hazards or puzzles to interrupt up continuously mapping out flooring layouts. You run round, kill shadows, scoop just a few collectibles, then go up a flooring and do the very same factor. After doing this dozens of instances, it’s laborious to not want that there was one thing extra to flesh out this a part of the gameplay loop, particularly given that you simply spend a lot of your complete sport time exploring flooring.

Whereas in fight, issues comply with the collection staple “One Extra” turn-based system. The objective is to determine a Shadow’s elemental weaknesses and forged a capability that exploits them, which can then internet you another flip with that character to behave once more. In the event you can handle to flooring all of the enemies earlier than certainly one of them will get an opportunity to rise up, you’ll be able to then set off an All-Out Assault the place the entire group jumps in for a giant tremendous strike that hits all enemies directly. Although the fight right here is sorely lacking some options that later arrived within the sequels, such because the Baton Go, it’s pleasurable sufficient for what it’s and manages to remain persistently partaking all through.

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Captured on Nintendo Swap (Docked)

Now, to deal with the elephant within the room, keep in mind that this launch of Persona 3 is predicated on the PSP launch from 2009, which needed to be considerably streamlined to make sure that every part might match on a UMD. Which means that the assorted enhancements and additions added in Persona 3 FES didn’t make it over, and the 3D overworld itself needed to be reduce, too. As a substitute of watching cutscenes and navigating city just like the console launch, the P3P expertise as a substitute is extra of a visible novel with dungeon-crawling sections. Suffice it to say, this feels fairly dated in 2023 when enjoying on considerably extra succesful {hardware}, and we are able to’t assist however surprise why Atlus selected to not launch a model of Persona 3 that built-in the options of each P3P and FES.

P3P is tremendous, but it surely seems like ‘Weight loss plan Persona’—it’s tough to expertise it after having performed its successors with out feeling such as you’re getting a distinctly lesser expertise. As a substitute of roaming the streets of a Tokyo or Inaba whereas occurring outings and dates with pals, you navigate menus and information a easy blue circle over static photos with issues to click on on. As a substitute of the memorable handcrafted dungeons of Persona 5, you navigate randomly generated and fully unremarkable dungeon flooring which might be every principally indistinguishable from the final. This isn’t to say that P3P is a dangerous expertise, removed from it, however you actually have to succeed in to think about something it does that its sequels didn’t do larger and higher. It seems like going again to play Metroid after having performed Tremendous Metroid—every part is simply less complicated, extra archaic, and fewer enjoyable in lots of circumstances.

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Captured on Nintendo Swap (Docked)

The presentation, for its half, not less than does a good job of sticking to the visible novel aesthetic. Many of the static photos you information your cursor over have a pleasant painterly look to them, whereas the character portraits in dialogue sequences seem pleasingly sharp. The 3D fashions of characters and enemies in Tartarus could have a derpy and considerably chibi look, however that is considerably forgivable given the age of {hardware} they have been designed for. Fortunately, these easy graphics imply that every part runs at a quick, rock-solid 60FPS on Swap, which helps preserve P3P feeling easy all through.

As for its soundtrack, P3P mixes collectively pop, hip-hop, rock, and a few jazz to make for an general bouncy and upbeat observe that contrasts properly with the darkish themes of the story. After all, there are heavier tracks in there for fight and exploration to match the temper, however we’d say that soundtrack general feels far more optimistic and chipper than you’d count on. It doesn’t essentially really feel incongruent with the narrative, nevertheless. What’s right here enhances the heaviness with some wanted carefree vim.


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