Personas 3-5 just broke free of the Playstation and landed on Xbox, and fans across the internet have been shooting their own heads off with questions: primarily if the games will also come to Switch (well possibly) but also “why Persona 3 Portable” and not the graphically superior Persona 3 FES.
Well, there are actually quite a few reasons. Persona 3 Portable may not have all the content of FES but it does have the right content to bring the game to a new audience.
What’s The Difference
So what’s the big deal with Persona 3? Why does it matter that Portable is ported? Well, Atlus has a habit of re-releasing their games with some expanded features. For Persona 4 and Persona 5, this was P4 Golden and P5 Royal. They’re the same game but with extra stuff, so there’s no real point in porting the older original versions since everything they have is included in the new version.
Persona 3 however has two enhanced rereleases: Persona 3 FES (P3 FES) and Persona 3 Portable (P3P). Persona 3 FES released in 2007 for the PS2. It’s more or less the same game as the original but added a new epilogue chapter for the game called ‘The Answer’. This added a new dungeon, a new playable character, and a more thorough conclusion to the events of Persona 3. Also, you can date the robot now.
Persona 3 Portable was released in 2009 for the less powerful PSP handheld. This version seemed more focused on simply adapting the game to the PSP. In an effort to squash all of Tartarus into one tiny PSP UMD, The Answer was removed and the 3D explorable overworld was replaced with a 2D point-and-click visual novel style. Even the anime cutscenes that were included in the original game were also replaced with still pictures. As such graphically P3P can be considered a downgrade from FES and even the original Persona 3. You can still date the robot though.
Both games have new features that the other doesn’t. This means there’s no “definitive” version of Persona 3 the same way there is for its sequels.
But before you write P3P off, it makes up for its lack of 3D models with a number of quality-of-life features. Most importantly: you can manually control your party members.
If you’ve only played Persona 5, you may be surprised to know that the original Persona 3 only let you control the main character with the other three-quarters of the team being AI, and they weren’t exactly smart AI. The many accounts about Mitsuru’s unhealthy love of casting Marin Karin can attest to that.
Thankfully P3P fixes this. You can now control each character the way you do in P4 and P5. Players can also guard against enemies and party members will block the main character from fatal blows. There are also two new difficulties added to the game.
Speaking of Persona 5, did you hate how Morgana constantly told you to go to bed in that game? Well P3 FES does that as well but even worse. If you stay up too late, you get tired and if you get tired, you can’t go to Tartarus or work on certain social links. You’ve gotta put a lot more work into your time management skills in FES but all of this is gone with Portable which gives you far more freedom and flexibility.
The biggest difference to P3P however is that the game gives you the option to play as a Female Main Character. While this may not seem like much, playing as a girl creates a ton of new replay value for the game with different character interactions, exclusive social links, and even a new handsome Velvet Room Attendant.
Why Persona 3 Portable Over FES
While there’s no proper evidence yet, I’d say Atlus chose to remaster Persona 3 Portable simply because it’s more accessible and dare I say, more casual friendly.
It needs to be repeated, but the fact that you can control each of your party members makes Portable far less frustrating than playing through FES. Combine that with less stress over time management and more difficulty options, and it’s easy to see why Atlus would want this to be people’s introduction to P3.
We need to keep in mind, that this is going to be the first time that Persona is coming to Xbox consoles. Many people will be playing Persona 3 for the first time and as much as I love the game, it is over 15 years old and parts of it haven’t aged well. Porting the version with the most up-to-date gameplay is probably the best way to bring the game to modern audiences even with the downgraded visuals and presentation.
The other elephant in The Velvet Room is The Answer not being included in P3P. To be honest, while The Answer provides a decent epilogue to Persona 3, I wouldn’t say it’s really that necessary to the overall experience.
In fact, I would go as far as to say that The Answer’s dungeon crawling was really repetitive and could get incredibly tedious after a while. The Answer also doesn’t let you use the Persona Compendium meaning you have to make use of whatever Personas you find. Did you enjoy experimenting with fusing different Personas? Too bad: that’s your Answer.
By comparison, I’d actually say the female main character adds a lot more replayability to the game as it allows players to experience the far better main Persona 3 campaign with a huge amount of new content. You can now have social links with your individual male party members, even Koromaru! I think this gives the game far more room to learn about the game’s world and characters.
A Fool’s Potential
In an ideal world, Atlus would release a full remake of Persona 3 with content from both Portable and FES but alas, that world is not reality. That being said, I’m happy that Persona 3 is coming to newer consoles for new gamers to play in some capacity, and given the different options, I can understand why Persona 3 Portable was chosen.
Persona 3 Portable is coming to Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, and PC in 2023. The game is currently available for PSP and PS Vita if you have one of those lying around.
Update: Persona 3 Portable has since been announced and released for Nintendo Switch as well.