The Visual Novel – RPG

Persona 3 Portable is currently the only game I own on my year old PSP. While I have played several games on the handheld, none of them had such replay value where I felt the need to keep them. Persona 3 Portable is a port of the Playstation 2 RPG with a few tweaks, integrating battle elements from Persona 4, such as granting the user another turn if he/she hits one of the enemies weakness.

At first, I was hesitant to buy the title since I thought I would get bored of a game I played a mere six months ago. However, I found myself enthralled, yet again, of a story about the dark hour, a time between midnight and 1 A.M., where being called shadows wreak havoc upon the world.

I started a file on the hardest difficulty called maniac and chose the female protagonist, both of which are exclusive features to P3P. Although the underlying story remained the same, I cannot see myself ever playing the PS2 version again. From the ease of transportation, to the more user friendly battle system, I cannot believed such a text- heavy RPG has become so portable friendly.

While some may argue how the experience has become down graded since exploration has become limited to Tartarus, I would want future RPGs to utilize such a system. While running around towns can immerse the player, several rpgs depict them in such an unrealistic way, whether the construction looks absolutely absurd (eg. Grandia 2) or have several screens inhabited by two to three people (eg. Wild Arms 3). Persona 3 has several locations, but each serves a distinct purpose. Furthermore, each of these locations are inhabited by people whose speech will change depending how far the player is in the story.

All of the exposition is through a character portrait with text underneath, although most of it is voiced. The portraits facial expressions will change depending on the text so the exposition does not feel so static. A problem with several 3D RPGs is what I like to call the “moving hand syndrome,” where the character model has the hand moving while speaking to show the player who is speaking (eg. Tales of Abyss). While this may be a limitation of the system, I thought the up close portraits in P3P were more immersive. Final Fantasy 13 may have been an exception to this problem, but let’s be frank: most RPGs don’t have such high production values.

Playing through P3P has made me realize that I would like RPGs that are much more straightforward while providing immersion. From being able to quickly travel from location in Port Island City to watching single character portraits react based off of the text, I believe RPGs without the production values of Final Fantasy 13 could take a note or two from P3P.

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