Persona 3 Portable To Redefine PSP Ports

By Shawn Collier on January 23, 2010, 11:56PM EDT

Anyone that has played Persona 3 can attest to the sheer length of the game, it's certainly not something that can be faulted as there is plenty of action, which is complimented by numerous cutscenes that come in both an animated and in-game format.

However, as details of Persona 3 Portable emerged, one key change was the complete removal of all animated cutscenes and the re-working of the in-game cutscenes into a graphical novel style. Other changes include a new female character and gameplay refinements seen in the most recent iteration, Persona 4.

For those who are not aware of this relatively unknown genre, it consists artwork of the characters placed onto a static background with a text box at the bottom of the screen. The visual part of the name comes from the ability for the character artwork to dynamically change as you advance through the text.

Some fans believe that the cutscene changes have been made because Atlus didn't wish to spend time recreating all of the scenes, but upon deeper analysis, this couldn't be further from the truth. In the console version of Persona 3, the player would spend most of their time outside of dungeons walking from area to area, randomly talking to people in hopes that it would advance the story or unlock new Social Links and sidequests. On a console, where one has hours available to play, this is no issue, but on a handheld where one might only have 15 or 20 minutes to play, this becomes a major issue since it will either have to be shut off (causing the player to lose their progress) or put in standby (using up the battery life).

This issue also cropped up during Persona 3's cutscenes, which while comical and amusing at times, occasionally dragged on longer than they should due to the character animations. This also increased the load times for each scene and since the game would have to load all of these scenes up it would cause longer load times for the longer scenes.

Persona 3 Portable rectifies both of these issues. Instead of running around aimlessly, the game uses a point-and-click interface from a bird's-eye view. This fixes the loading issue by removing the need to have the characters move across the map, as well as the issue of having to run from one end of the map to another just to talk to a character. Combined with the ability to jump from area to area using the Square button, this altogether makes what used to be a 15 minute procedure only take five minutes.

Using a visual novel approach for the cutscenes allows players who wish to skip over the text to do it much faster than in the console versions due to the removal of the character animations, and lets players who haven't played the game going through these scenes faster without waiting for the longer animations to end before the next line of text appears.

Atlus could have easily produced a quick port of the original game due to Persona 3's immense popularity both in Japan and North America, but instead retooled the game to make a version which improves on the original and feels like it was made for the system. Other publishers porting PS2 titles to the PSP should take a lesson from Atlus --- this is how it should be done.

blog comments powered by Disqus