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I'm in my thirties. I've spent an entire slice of life playing computer/console role playing games. Final Fantasy, Everquest, Dragon Quest, you name it... if there was a way for me to kill a goblin and steal his loot, I was in the line to do it.

Even so, I'm totally burned out on them. Just the mere mention of a vorpal blade which would grant me 10+ attack and 4.5+ critical chance makes me want to turn off the game and never come back. For years, I've been trying to find that spark again, to come upon a game that would make me feel like when I was a kid. And, through an emulated version of a PS2 game, available over the playstation network, I found it.

Persona 3 is not the prettiest of games, not even by its prime time. But even so, the game brings a freshness to the table that I haven't seen in a long, long time. I know a lot of you have played the game a great number of times, but I'm really grateful I never had any contact with it until now; this is exactly what allows me to really appreciate it. I'm going to try to summarize why I think the game is worth a shot, even though it is a little old. Maybe, I can convince some of you to give it a try.

Dating simulation

I assumed the dating simulation aspects of the game would turn me off, but I was really wrong. The insane number of things you can do, and the short time in which you have to do them, really adds flavor and depth. The different life stories of each one of your Social Links (people with whom you have social contact over the in-game months) are fun and unexpected. All your choices in the dating simulation are relevant, since they impact your performance in the dungeon crawling part, so you need to make the best of it.

Pokemon-like

Probably because of my age (and the fact that I don't have kids yet), I never really got into the Pokemon fever. I always heard stories about kids almost crying when they got their hands on some really rare pokemons, but I never felt the same way.

I'm not saying that Persona 3 had the same effect in me, but I think it scratches the same itch - being able to acquire and evolve dozens of mythological creatures (the 'Personas', who give the game its title) is really fun.

Even on the collectible side, the decisions you make in the dating simulation matter; each Persona is influenced by a Tarot card, and each of your Social Links give a bonus to a specific card.

Not Fantasy or 40k

I think that was one of the biggest motives to why I found the game so refreshing. I'm sick of rehashed fantasy / sci-fi games. For each Skyrim, there are dozens of half-baked fantasy simulators, with their own versions of elves, dwarves, orcs, and goblins. When it's not fantasy, it's the classic Warhammer 40k setting, with machine guns and freaking alien clones.

Persona 3 setting have things from both of these settings, but they are just a small part of a overall picture. For anyone who watched a least a bit of japanese anime, the world portrayed in the game is both familiar and strange at the same time. The mix of school-life and occult/horror is well executed and vibrant.

Hardcore, but with a heart

Various small quirks that I see in classic RPG games are solved in an elegant way in Persona 3. Not being able to save often, for example - if you are outside a battle, you can usually find yourself back to a save point really quickly. The game is still pretty unforgiving, so be prepared to die a lot. Even so, it never becomes dull; there's always something about to happen, and always a carrot for your to follow.

In conclusion

If you like role playing video games, but are tired of play variations of the same game, do yourself a favor and find a way to play Persona 3, or even Persona 4.

These two games are available for various consoles, and an extended and remastered version of Persona 4 was just released for Vita, with glowing reviews.

Don't even think twice about it, just play the freaking game.

Travis   Admin wrote on 04/18/2013 at 03:05am

Perhaps I should try this. I've found myself in the same boat as you lately. JRPG's (though that genre is getting harder to define) just don't hold my interest the way they should. I tried to replay one recently and some of the core mechanics just annoyed me to no end.

I've heard some good things about the series, and that it really kinda creates its own genre, and based on what you're saying that's true.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/18/2013 at 08:41am

While I've never completed a Persona game (or any of the Shin Megami games, for that matter), I'm a huge fan of the gameplay and style. I think I've started Persona 3 five different times, just to revisit the soundtrack! That and the artwork; I love, love, love Soejima's artwork. I agree with caffo, these are great games, and worth your time. The combat can be a little repetitive; fairly standard turn-based attacks, spells are cast through your Persona, but gathering and "upgrading" the Personas (almost like spell forging) can be quite fun. Building Social Links is more than just dating simulation, but it has some of those aspects (when communicating with certain characters).

I'd personally recommend Persona 3 FES for Ps2 rather than the portable version for PSP/Vita, as the mobile version doesn't have the beautifully animated cut-scenes or the freedom of movement around the environments.

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