The increasing popularity of the Persona series in the West is a beautiful, if slow-burning thing to watch, and has increased to such an extent over the last decade that Person 5 was a very large video game release, and re-releases of older games are now headline news.
So it’s easy to find people to talk to Person 5 and to watch videos about it, and read articles about the. The same applies to Person 4, which has now been ported enough times (I first played it on Vita!) that it’s in pretty much the same room. Basically, when people talk about modern Persona games, they usually talk about those two games.
Person 3a little less, so in honor of the re-release this week, I want to talk about it tonight and see if I can add it to your list of games you really should be playing.
Sure, it came out in 2006 on the PS2, but this is one Persona game. We are not here for the latest images (though we are Surely here for the art style). We’re here for the friendships, the conversations, the haunted school island, the wandering around like a retarded teenager at the end of class. It’s a game, like Personas 4 & 5about time.
Being the first “modern”. Persona game though – it broke from its predecessors and established the basic template that the series has followed ever since – does mean Person 3 has its rough edges. For example, the single huge dungeon is hell, and for those who have only experienced it Person 5’s beautifully coordinated social links and subplots, you might find Person 3 somewhat more creaky and scarce when it comes to after-school activities. It also lacks some of the vibrancy and exuberance of the more recent games when it comes to the cast.
Not that this last point is a bad thing! There’s a lot to love about this more serious story, which has a nice tight focus, and it also has a dog, which is great.
Now that we’ve established how much I love Person 3I’ll tell you now that I love deciding which version of the game to play Person 3 handheld port – which happens to be the version re-released this week – even more so. Persona 3 wearable was first released in 2009 on the PSP, and I think it’s a modern marvel of game(re)design. It takes the heart of the Persona experience and recreates it for a portable platform in a way that Persona 4 gold couldn’t get close to matching.
Because the PSP has the fully 3D overworld of Person 3or place its lavish animated cutscenes in its limited storage space, both mainstays of the Person 3 experience on PS2 are gone. While the loss of the anime-esque sequences was unfortunate and the 3D gameplay was retained for the dungeon and combat, what Atlus did to replace the 3D exploration was a stroke of genius. Instead of stripping back the 3D sections with low-resolution textures and simpler models, they ditched it and replaced it entirely with a static, isometric version of Person 3 world.
This was and remains the superior way to play Persona. The series’ overworlds may have started to look busier in recent entries, but they’re still incredibly sparse in terms of what you can actually interact with. Lumbering around them looking for a conversation or story sequence can be a drag. Persona 3 wearable devices system is a faster, cleaner way to spend your downtime, and has the added benefit of looking astonishing. I’ve held out hope for that for years Person 4 could get a mobile port that looked like this, and a small part of me wishes the same from Person 5.
And we’re not even talking about the best! No, the best part of it Person 3 Portable was that in addition to the change of perspective and some other administrative cleanup (like new difficulty settings), the handheld port was a entire second protagonistmeaning if you had already played the main game, well, surprise, you could play it all over again and get a completely different experience.
WHAT I DISCOVERED GAMING AS A GIRL
“When I got the chance to play a favorite game from scratch with Persona 3 Portable, I jumped at it. I didn’t realize that a virtual gender change would make the experience anything but the same as before.”
READ MORE HERE
With the original protagonist a boy, portable adding a girl meant your romantic options were completely reversed, and it also added new social links and dialogue options. Imagine being able to keep playing Personas 4 & 5 similar! Romanticizing Yusuke would be worth the price of admission alone.
Have been all hard to get your hands on for years – at least in an official capacity – Persona 3 Portable is out now on PC, Switch, Xbox, and PlayStation.
This post was originally published in 2021 as part of our special Backlog Month series of features. It has been updated and republished for the upcoming Persona 3 Portable re-release.