This year 2023 begins under the best patronage for J-RPG fans. Remaster versions of Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden will come to our modern consoles from January 19. The icing on the cake for Green Flag players is that the latter directly integrates Xbox Game Pass on release day. Enough to immerse yourself in great games in the best conditions.
It was first released in Europe in 2008 only on the PlayStation 2 (and only in English), then in 2011 on the PlayStation Portable in a remastered version that added many new features. J-RPG series from Atlus.
Now that we have a full test of this latest version, fully localized in French for the first time, it’s time to delve into the depths of the human soul.
As the saga has accustomed us to since then, we play the role of an anonymous hero (or for the first time in the series, which we will return to later). The latter is transferred to Gekkoukan High School, located somewhere on the coast in a city in Japan.
Little did he get there, he met a strange guy who asked him to sign a contract, then his first friends. Before long, his dorm is attacked by evil beings who are able to fight back thanks to a strange power: the Persona.
He then joined the SEES (French for Special Extrascolaire Execution Squad), a group of people who can only control Personae to fight these Shadows, which are invisible to most people and only appear during the twenty-fifth hour. of the day.
Out of respect for the readers of this review, and especially those interested in this important J-RPG, we won’t go any further in explaining the story. As with Persona 5 (and in addition, the vast majority of games are signed by Atlus), the latter should be fully discovered, appreciated like a good vintage wine.
- The Eternal Velvet Room is available
We’ll be happy to say that Persona 3’s script is dark, devilishly well-written, powerful and effective. Can it be compared to 5? Of course yes.
The summoning of the aforementioned Personae through the Evoker, a type of weapon that the user must wield in his temple, is a marvel of ingenuity and allusion: as with all Persona 5 masks, it is a great sacrifice for our Heroes to transcend their mortal limits and truly develop their potential ( note: suicide) costs.
With as many rich and addictive hints as possible, this Persona 3 cannot leave anyone indifferent to the writing quality. Fans of badass J-RPGs will rejoice, and neophytes certainly won’t come out unscathed.
The origin of success
To put the game in the context of the time, it is necessary to remember that Persona 3 was a small revolution in the saga in its time. The transition to the PlayStation 2 generation was smooth and added a rare dose of quality.
Partially adopting the ideas already developed in the second work, the latter offers for the first time a truly free adventure in its design. This means that we can freely use the day/night cycle for our daily activities, strengthen our relationships with other heroes, equip ourselves, or simply learn more about general lore by visiting various unlocked locations.
A huge “Visual Novel” section has also been added to the game, making it even more impressive than its predecessor. There is no sequence of dungeons here, but each element is a real story told to us through dialogues that are very well constructed and enjoyable to watch.
- The female character is entitled to a pink interface
Of course, this insistence on the relationships between the main characters has the effect of making them more likable, more concrete and more involving the player in the tragic events that take place.
On the playing side, fans will find themselves in familiar ground. Be it magic, enemy resistance/weakness system, labyrinthine dungeon progression, fusion, etc. in terms of… The remake of Persona 3 reminds us how much the Atlus formula has been tested and little improved over time.
It is precisely in the dungeon that the heroes appear and follow each other, which allows us to communicate with them at our leisure. The level design of the latter is quite anecdotal and captures the structure of all the firm’s games. Fans will be won over, detractors will be disappointed.
- The twenty-fifth hour is coming
Yes, we show “dungeon” in singular. Unlike the later games, Persona 3 centers all of its exploration around a single dungeon: Tartarus, a giant tower that you climb all the way to the end.
Divided into levels that bring slightly different scenery, each level is completely refreshed with each visit. In other words, like a cheater, each new entry brings its share of enemies and objects to restore.
Of course, regular teleportation points allow us not to start our entire ascent each trip.
If the choice to adapt Persona 3’s “Portable” version can make neophytes smile, fanboys will win.
Indeed, as with most episodes of the series, Persona 3 was released in three different versions: initial, FES and P3P. The latter offered here is certainly the most complete and brings a lot of innovation to the title’s credit (a bit like Persona 3’s “King” version).
Therefore, in the program, in addition to the main adventure, we find notable improvements of FES: new Personae, adjustments to skills, new treasures and objects, videos, additional playable character, deepening of social relations , several new guests, costumes , as well as an additional difficulty mode.
- Even the hero’s Persona has been customized
From the portable version comes a new female protagonist. Therefore, we have enough time to choose it as soon as the game starts. A choice that we do not recommend, but the young lady has more difficulties than her counterpart, the branches of the new plot line, as well as the links that cannot connect with the plot. can really only be appreciated from the perspective of the first reading.
The latest version … really?
Now that we’ve given the game the praise it deserves, it’s time to look at this adaptation for modern consoles. Is it really worth it? Well… the answer is all in the nuance.
Let us return the church to the middle of the village: here we are in front of a portage. This is neither a remake nor a remaster. The version we have is identical in every way to the version released on the PlayStation Portable, with a few very significant additions… and some notable omissions.
Let’s start with the most visible (and important): location. For the first time, we can discover Persona 3 in French. And this translation deserves the title. Very well done, it manages to keep the essence of the original game while adapting it to our language. However, some problems mar our enjoyment: quite a few anecdotes and a few spelling mistakes, but above all the big problems of gender conventions. To clarify this last point, it is not uncommon for female protagonists to have texts in the masculine gender. Including heroin.
- Movements are made on fixed images
The size of the subtitles, then, is really remarkable. At this level, it’s completely flawless, which should be a lesson for many modern games.
Several gameplay improvements have also been included. So the characters’ movements and navigation are optimized for our utmost satisfaction. Likewise, it is now possible to choose between English or Japanese dubbing.
Unfortunately, these innovations are also mixed. For example, the fluidity improvement is a simple increase in overall speed… including the speed of enemies. Therefore, they can rush you like lightning even when you open your attack, preventing you from gaining priority in confrontations. Likewise, when the latter run, their animation appears epileptic…
- Tartarus follows its own rules
Finally, this version has a quick save option, which is very important during our explorations, save points are quite low.
In short, everything is perfect? Well…not really. Persona 3 Portable is a game that is showing its age. Visually it’s completely dated, technically it’s very late, plus it’s literally a port of a PSP game as we mentioned before.
By this, it means that the Portable version of Persona 3 at that time will undoubtedly remove a lot of videos, compress images and cinematics, amputate the content of a huge DLC that suffers from widespread aliasing and is only available in the FES version. was the most successful version of the three. (and to subscribers who are not here yet).
- The symbolism is still strong
The improvements in this version are remarkable, no doubt about it. We are far from the porridge offered at that time. However, the title still suffers from severe visual issues, especially in cutscenes. Many textures are pixelated and upscaling is sometimes difficult.
While far from surprising, its “old school” side and graphical concerns are sure to prevent many players from discovering this title.
Tested on Xbox One X