Persona 3 Portable – How Does it Looks on Modern Platforms?

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Before Persona 5 shot Atlus to stardom, the Persona franchise had a bit of a cult following. The company recently released a bundle for both Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden on PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S, allowing these older masterpieces to reach a wider audience. Notably, Persona 3 introduced the Social Link system to the series, which helped to breathe life into every character that you meet. 

This game may not have the flashy visuals, slick combat animations, and snappy one-liners that Persona 5 has in spades, but Persona 3 has its own merits that shouldn’t be underestimated. Being able to choose your protagonist is a bit strange given the history of the series, but this title gives both characters the opportunity to shine.

Before digging into how Persona 3 Portable performs on modern platforms, don’t forget to join our giveaway campaigns as we’re giving away five sets of PS4 codes for the Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Goldern Bundle to randomly selected participants! All you need to do is follow our official Twitter, Retweet & Like the specific posts! The campaign will be held until January 30! Don’t miss the chance! 

Do I Need to Play Previous Games to Play Persona 3?

The short answer is no, you don’t need prior experience with other games in the series to pick up Persona 3 Portable as each story is separate from one another. Terminology is relatively the same, though this game doesn’t feature the earth element spells from its predecessor, nor the psy or nuclear elements from Persona 5.

A warning to players if you’re used to the newer games in the series; you’ll find some of this game’s mechanics to be a bit annoying or frustrating. If you’re still willing to give the game a try, then you’ll find yourself delving into a complex and unforgettable journey.

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A Fresh Perspective on a Somber Story

Like most JRPGs, the beginning of Persona 3 is spent building the world. We’re quickly introduced to the ‘Dark Hour’ and our character’s Persona; however, it’s clear there’s something going on behind the scenes when a monstrous entity tears itself out of Orpheus.

With the mysterious illness known as Apathy Syndrome taking the lives of its victims, the protagonist bands together with the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad (SEES for short) to explore the enigmatic Tartarus and learn its connection with the Dark Hour and the Shadows themselves.

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Notably, Atlus has gone out of its way to solidifying each protagonist as more than an aesthetic choice. One example comes from the dialogue choices in the story; the female protagonist is much more upbeat in her interactions with others compared to her male counterpart, which is a breath of fresh air in a story with such a heavy atmosphere. 

Each protagonist has their own set of Social Links, spurring you to replay the game if you want to learn more about your team and the people around you.

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It’s unfortunate that the PS4 port is mostly unchanged from the Portable version. The art style and UI show their age, as character portraits appear a bit faded and simplistic compared to later releases in the Persona franchise. The voice acting is slightly muffled in some lines, implying that they were simply grabbed from its PSP version without being cleaned up.

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My biggest gripe about the port is that very little was done to improve the game’s presentation. Some cutscenes have a resolution that would be perfect for a Playstation Portable but create black bars on a TV screen, thankfully, these instances are few and far between.

Simple to Learn Combat Mechanics

If you’re familiar with the series, you’ll have no trouble picking up Persona 3 Portable. The turn-based combat system is the same; aim for enemy weaknesses to gain extra turns, knock down all enemies to initiate an All-Out Attack, and so forth. Of course, enemies can also take advantage of the system and defeat your party with a well-aimed attack if you’re not careful.

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Your team fights against Shadows inside Tartarus in order to level up, obtain equipment, and complete Requests. By clearing battles quickly, you’ll have the opportunity to pick a reward from a set of shuffled cards, known as Shuffle Time. 

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Dungeon Crawling Is Monotonous But Well-Paced

Most floors in Tartarus are randomly generated, and Shadows respawn endlessly. You’ll be able to teleport to certain floors after activating checkpoints but be prepared for a slog as you progress further up the tower. The floors aren’t very visually different from each other, at least until you make significant progress into the tower.

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A good chunk of Persona 3’s strategy comes from how you choose to tackle exploration; do you keep the party together and take the slow and steady approach? Or do you risk splitting your team up to try to level up quickly and cover more ground? 

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It’s tempting to stay on a single floor to grind out levels, but don’t! The Reaper acts as an incentive to keep the player moving, and there’s no flu season to net an easy win against this powerful foe.

Though you won’t be able to get through the entire Tower through the whole night, the game comfortably raises the difficulty without being overwhelming. By increasing the distance between checkpoints, players are taught to budget their resources if they can’t find an access point. 

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Enemies are never too hard to take on as you progress through different sections of Tartarus, and even on higher difficulties, you can take on enemies above your team’s current strength with proper planning.  

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Barring the player from exploring all the floors of Tartarus can come off as unreasonable gatekeeping, but it helps to prevent boss battles from being a curb stomp and taking away the narrative significance of the event. For all of Tartarus’ flaws, its design helps to support the narrative that Persona 3 is telling; the journey won’t be easy, but victory lies at the end of the tunnel.

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Early-Day Fusion Mechanics Return For The Worse

For a game that was released over 15 years ago, I prayed that Atlus would have at least allowed the player to select what skills to transfer during Fusion like the Nocturne rerelease; my hopes were dashed when it took me over 20 attempts to transfer Rakunda and Sukunda to Narcissus. 

Unfortunately, if you want certain skills on your Persona, you’ll either have to use a Skill Card or keep generating the fusion confirmation screen until you get your desired result. 

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Duplicating Skill Cards in Persona 3 Portable is a bit tedious compared to the game’s sequels, as you’re never directly told that you can do so at Naganaki Shrine unless you interact with it first. Though the cost to do so is free and doesn’t have any requirements attached, you’ll have to wait five in-game days to receive your second copy and you can copy only one card at a time.

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The Compendium is also available to use for fusion and is extremely useful when trying to fuse Personas with certain skills. You’ll have to beat the first major boss in order to unlock it, which can take several hours.

Persona 3: Portable Is a Gem Despite Its Age

Can you believe that the original release of Persona 3 was back in 2006? I certainly couldn’t until I checked my calendar, but I can confidently say that the game has withstood the test of time despite its flaws. 

Without going into much detail, this JRPG shines through its story by seriously tackling its themes and heavy concepts. You’ll consider each and every character you meet as more than just a fast-pass to make your Personas stronger, and watch as your allies genuinely grow as you progress through the game. Persona 3 Portable is a must-try for JRPG fans, as the game is one of Atlus’s shining examples of a beloved, memorable journey.

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Persona 3 Portable is a must-try for JRPG fans, as the game is one of Atlus’s shining examples of a beloved, memorable journey. This JRPG shines through its story by seriously tackling its themes and heavy concepts.

Operating System: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Application Category: Game

Editor's Rating:
4.1