Test – Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden: minimalist remasters

After the release of Persona 5 Royal on all current machines a few months ago, Atlus offers us new versions of Persona 3 and Persona 4. Two titles originally released on the Playstation 2 are in enhanced editions.

After the huge success of Persona 5 and its “King” version, it makes sense to see new versions of the previous games to introduce them to this emerging audience. For the past few days, Persona 3 and 4 have been available on all current consoles and PCs. To be precise, these are the “Portable” and “Gold” versions of the two titles, the enhanced versions released on the PSP and PSVita respectively.

Persona 3 and 4 are long, talking JRPGs.

Persona 3 is set in a fictional place called Tatsumi Port Island in Japan. We then take custody of a high school student who will discover that this place hides some very heavy secrets. Indeed, every night there is a paranormal event. The “dark hour” starts at midnight and takes place between two days. During this period, people turn into coffins and “shadows” (creatures that attack the souls of living beings) roam the whole city. Our hero has the ability to sustain himself in the dark hours and will then join a group that fights the shadows through beings they can summon: the Personæ.

For its part, Persona 4 immerses us in the daily life of a high school student in the small fictional town of Inaba. A series of unexplained murders and strange events force our protagonist and his new classmates to investigate. The hero then becomes aware of his strange power, which allows him to enter the television. This ability allows him to enter a strange other world modeled after human emotions. Here too, this reality is filled with shadows that our characters can fight using their Persona.

The combat system is simple but very effective.

Both titles tell pretty dark stories with heavy themes, but know how to bring in some lightness when needed. Atlus brings us two very successful and interesting stories to read. Still, both games have art directions that are very much at odds with these more serious themes. Persona 3 and 4 have many colorful touches that seem to be the first steps of what will be done with Persona 5 today. Both titles have unique and very memorable soundtracks. Unfortunately, the sets and 3D models remain the same as their latest versions on portable consoles.

On the gameplay side, the two games are very similar and offer very impressive mechanics. The titles vary between more story stages (which involve managing our character’s activities and the relationships he builds with other members of the group) and also dungeon exploration stages. The latter obviously leads to turn-based battles. Both titles offer a classic gameplay system, but with some good ideas. It allows you to use the weaknesses of various enemies to stun them and gain extra movement, a tool that should be considered when dealing with two games that sometimes turn into full bodies. We also need to use different Personæ, creatures with different skills to use in battle.

Persona 3 Portable is presented as a point and click.

While it’s nice to review these two great titles that weren’t very accessible before, it’s worth noting that these new versions offer almost no new features. Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden don’t have any major graphical retouching, except for a high definition switch, staying very true to their PSP and PSVita versions. However, both titles have several difficulty modes that can be adjusted at any time, as well as significant additions, as they are offered for the first time with a French translation of the texts. A much appreciated innovation, as these two episodes can be conversational.

The games obviously retain a slightly outdated structure. Persona 3 Portable particularly suffers from this aspect, as it alternates between story stages presented as a visual novel and poorly detailed dungeon exploration. However, both ports are clean on all media and compatible with their previous versions. In both cases, we are talking about particularly long names with high repeatability. They’re priced at a reasonable €19.99 each, but they’re also available via game pass.

The result

After the success of Persona 5 and its version “The King”, Atlus invites us to rediscover the previous two episodes of the Shin Megami Tensei spin-offs. Both Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden are available on all current machines. These two new versions are more or less re-releases of the upgraded versions already published on the PSP and PSVita. In Persona 3, we embody Tatsumi, a high school student who goes to study on Port Island. Our character will quickly discover that a paranormal phenomenon affects this place every night and will have to fight using Personæ. Similarly, Persona 4’s protagonist will land in the small town of Inaba, where mysterious murders and disappearances are taking place. The hero will discover that he can enter another world connected to all these dramas. The two titles are similar in terms of gameplay and structure, offering story stages and controlling our character, as well as exploration stages in dungeons. With a very successful art direction, it’s still a shame to see the graphics almost untouched and therefore quite dated. These two new versions still include some improvements, such as the ability to change the difficulty at any time, as well as a nice French translation. The titles would still deserve a bit more work to make them more relevant (especially Persona 3). They are offered for €19.99 each, a reasonable price for two great titles.

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Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden

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