Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but since I'm currently in the middle of Persona 3 FES after playing Persona 4 I will give my opinion as well as what I think will clarify things for newcomers to the series. I think it's because these games are so different, they get a rep for being "hard".
Persona 4 is really easy, super easy compared to Persona 3. The reason being they added elements to make it easier to survive and helped make grinding easier in the dungeons. For instance Teddie will always remember what floor you were on last, so saving isn't such a necessity.
Persona 3 is unforgiving and I think in a good way. It forces the player to adopt a strategy and actually use what is given to them in the way they seem fit. In Persona 4 I would blaze through every dungeon in a couple of days, or one if I was really determined.
You simply can't do that in Persona 3, and it's not really because of your characters getting tired either. It's because each floor in Tarturus is randomly generated, it can be a regular floor, or a trap floor and if you forgot to save in the last hour and by chance make it to a trap floor...you get the idea. I admit this is annoying, but I found out early on that if I died often without saving it was usually because I wasn't taking advantage of all the options I was given. It took a while to get a hang of it.
Here are some tips that I found make a HUGE difference to a P3 gaming experience:
1. When you are a higher level your characters don't get tired very often, but until you are level 30 at least, going to Tarturus every night is a bad idea. You need to keep an eye on your status, if you are grinding for hours you WILL be sick the next day and you will die a lot faster. The blocks are NOT designed to be completed in one night.
2. All those restaurants and stat boosting activities? Use them. Focus on the ones that will help you with certain social links, or will make your Personae more powerful.
3. USE your items. Especially the ones that keep you alive.
4. Don't use only one Persona. Don't use only the same team members either. The game is designed in a way you will need to switch between characters and Persona with different abilities, and their levels need to be somewhat balanced.
5. FUSE when you can, and always register Personae in the compendium.
6. Traesto gems are a godsend. Trafuri skill is a godsend. If you think the enemies are too tough ESCAPE.
7. The point is to move up never down. Always sprint to the boss floors if you can afford to. If you can afford to split up then split up your team, it makes getting up to the saving floors a lot faster.
8. If you stand too long in one spot or more than 15 minutes on a floor, you will die. I learned that the hard way. If you go to a floor in which the enemies are lower levels than you it will happen faster. If your support member says she senses Death head for the stairs and you should be okay. But if you find an access point and escape to the first floor just return to the dorm and stop climbing Tartarus for that night.
9. Scan every enemy, to exploit their weaknesses. Guardians cannot be scanned.
10. Tarukaja, Sukukaja, Tarunda, Sukunda etc....use them, you need them.
11. Some floors have access points to get to the 1st floor and more often than not that is the best idea. It's a lot less annoying to backtrack a few floors than to die and lose all your experience.
12. Spend money on armor and accessories to minimize character weaknesses, you can get weapons in Tartarus that are usually better than what's for sale.
13. DON'T go to Tarturus every night, and only go when you are feeling good or great. You can improve your status by visiting the restroom or sleeping earlier.
14. Finally, and most importantly, don't get OCD about completing everything, and maxing out S-links on the first playthrough, the game is HUGE and it can get overwhelming quickly. Instead just focus on the focus on the S-links that you think will help the Personae you want to fuse, and focus on getting the skills and quests you need, otherwise you burn out quickly.
As many comments that said JRPGs especially Atlus games are a lot different from the straightforward games we are used to. There are time constraints and physical constraints like in the real world. The way to beat them is to learn puzzle solving and time management skills, and not necessarily to overpower the characters. I suppose in that sense they could be called hard, but as with anything it's possible to get over the learning curve it is a very different and fun gaming experience.
the "message" and theme of P4 was about pursuing the truth. Weather its the truth about your self, or about the world around you and accepting it rather then living in a lie. Which came across rather fine and clear to me.
I personally liked both the games, with only P4 a little ahead because the social links where more enjoyable. That and that all my party members where s.links. Some of the s.links in P3 where rather boring/annoying, i kept thinking that i'd rather hangout with my supposed best friend Junpei then lame ass Kenji. Which i know you can in P3P, but that wasn't the one i had. Gotta make time to get it off of PSN...*sigh*
I really do love Persona 3 a lot and should be trying to aggressively defend it, but yeah, Tartarus sucks and is a lazy ass dungeon design. I can't count how many times I've put down the game just because I got bored of grinding, even while playing on easy. I love the story, music, as well as some characters a lot but I really can't get past how repetitive Tartarus holy crap it sucks so much fun out of the game
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The posts from Lord of Spirits on this website talking about how much Cross failed sums up the game pretty nicely.
Because you didn't like P3 you've sworn off an entire genre that you claim you you've enjoyed since the 80's? I'm sorry, but that doesn't make any sense. If you saw a bad action movie would you swear off action movies as well? If someone got you an action movie DVD would you drop-kick it?
P3 and P4 are genius, btw
I feel this still has the great game play and attractiveness as in the past. A bit of a no no-brainer but best as such.
I am a hardcore rpg fan. I have been gaming since the 80's and have ejoyed most all games that ever get decent ratings. I skipped this series on the ps2 originally but decided to give it a try this week because of all the raving reviews people give it. Holy crap you are all raving lunatics. I wouldn't force that game on my worst enemy. Cheesy dialoge, cheesy characters..emo schoolkids really?. The music..omg the music is sooo bad. The story seemed decent but I can't look past the gameplay. No world to explore. No new towns or any of the cool things in traditional jrpg's. I plough through to the barricade and now I have to build social links until the full moon? And basically you get 1 thing to do per day..wtf. You never get any feeling of freedom in this game. There is never a feeling of open world. The battle system is fine but the enemies are terribly dull. Like the OP i forced this game on myself because of the reviews..and I hated it the whole time. I finally asked myself why am I doing this to myself..I can be playing tales or dq8 or any of the many great rpg's on the system. The main feeling I got playing this game is wtf im trapped..do 1 thing and its time for bed. I drove me freaking insane. If you enjoyed this hot mess..hey good for you. Different strokes for different folks. But if you like traditional rpg's and are looking for something new to play..skip this series, it's complete trash
I have to agree mostly with your article related to P3. I started off playing Persona 3 Portable within a month after finishing P2:Innocent Sins. P2:Innocent Sin was my first exposure to the Persona series and I fucking love it every bit of it, considering myself not a JRPG fan. I started off really excited for P3 since many people were praising it for its excellency.
The first months was rather boring but I accepted it because it was just the beginning, but as I progress through the game from one level to another the game slowly kills my interest. The main problem here was the repetitive+boring pacing. Tartarus just bores you to DEATH. It was so BORING till I found myself grinding and reaching its peak within 2 nights and I never bothered to explore it until the next full moon. I only visit Tartarus in between just to complete the sidequest. Even if the Tartarus bosses were challenging, I was so disappointed with lazy and recycled designs. It wouldn't have been so bad if Tartarus had a more interesting level of design to keep you occupied and wanting to come back for more. In other words, a purpose to grind and explore. It doesn't. Once your are done reaching its peak for that floor, come back after 28 days for more of the same shit over.
Although I only played P3P, but I can understand how dreadful it feels if you were your remaining 3 characters are controlled by AI. My question is WHY? P1 and P2 gave you the complete freedom to take control of all your characters. What gives for FES in PS2? Thankfully P3P rectified that problem or else more hate from me.
Another important thing I would like to point out is the plot pacing and progression. The story isn't bad and there were plenty of surprises as the game progresses but the plot pacing is AWFUL. It's so unnecessarily SLOW and this 30 days calender system is to be blame. I really hate the idea of getting a small part of the plot progression only during the FULL MOON. After that, you will have wait for the next 30 days to see another plot progression and within that 30 days, expect nothing but shallow progression of the story.
Despite all these rants, I don't entirely hate the game. The fusion of Persona's are addicting as hell and it encourages a lot of experimentation. The social link was definitely enjoyable but there were some characters that were less memorable. The story like I said earlier, it isn't bad. I do like the dark and supernatural atmosphere. As the end game draws closer, I was really pulled in, but the slow plot pacing really ruined the experience. The full moon event and Arcana bosses were always exciting to look forward too and I think that was the only time I truly enjoyed the battle gameplay. I have to say the ending gameplay was pretty epic. Last but not least, the soundtrack is simply awesome.
Overall, Persona 3 in my opinion is just not hype I was expecting it to be as it was claimed by many. Although the I did had my enjoyable moments, the core gameplay mainly the grinding in Tartarus was extremely disappointing and unacceptable. It's not bad or excellent. Just above average for my standard. Newcomers to the Persona series might enjoy this game a lot more since it's more accessible with the current JRPG target audience. It isn't the same for me since I am already spoiled with Persona 2: Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment therefore I am expecting a lot more.
A lot of your comments reference features that were later added in the re-release for the PSP, such as direct control over all the characters. This did not exist the original or FES release on the PS2.
No comment on the rest of your comment, I wrote this review three years ago today, it is as it is.
Persona 3 and 4 are good games by many standards (popular opinion and reviews) but the thing about Shin Megami Tesai is..
That its its own deal, especially persona. Containing Many adult themes and generally Dark (persons is a little lighter) and often SMT games can be very challenging. Rated M to boot. SMT is not for everybody. If you don't Like it, play something else.
In response to some of your comments-
Confusing anime cutscenes - I didn't find them too confusing... and when I did, It was a plot device (i.e. - intentionally confusing so the the details could be revealed later.)
a crappy mute hero - Link was mute, Pokemon main char always mute, mario was mute, Early Final fantasy Chars were mute - Its purposeful. because it is a heavy choice oriented game, the decision to make the main character mute was to allow the player to imbue the character with their own personality (via choices)
I really should have listened to my heart and not kept playing, but the promise of a great game made me go on - yup
This has got to be the most lazy dungeon design I've ever seen - ....the game is basically a glorified dungeon crawler... I mean... That is not at all surprising... Its like say, I'm not a big fan of shooters... when I DO play one, I don't complain about having to shoot things. And If I don't like shooters, I just don't play them.
Not able to beat it? Grind some more. Grind, grind, grind.. - .... that's why there are difficulty levels... if you don't want to grind that is.. you really don't have to
The lack of direct control over the other three characters in battle can lead to some huge issues, mainly that the A.I. can be dumb. - ... set battle strategy to direct command, there you go, control of all 4 characters.
Beating the current Tartarus boss is never enough to know either because the bosses have totally different tactics with different strengths and weaknesses. - ... then whats the point of a boss? Zelda bosses have strategies. Its meant to be challenging, that's what adds to the enjoyment.
I eventually hated playing Persona 3, and now I hate the entire Japanese RPG genre - I don't even know how to respond to this.. no one is making you play these games, RPGs, or Games at all, go play tennis if you don't like games. No one is forcing you to like P3 or JRPGs
Persona Games have got wonderful reviews and are commonly refereed to as great games...While I can sympathize with your situation, your comments indicate that you just don't like video games period... Repetitiveness, Challenge, Strategy, Interaction, Artistic Decisions - these form the basis of pretty much all games.. your complaints were pretty much "I don't Like Repetitiveness, I don't like challenge, I don't like having to devise a strategy, I don't like interaction" ... you don't like games man, here is some advice... take up a new hobby
Thank you. I love What you just said. Chrono Cross is my favorite rpg
I haven't played the rest of them but did play Persona 3.
Agree with the author.
This game is good for those that just play turn-based rpgs for the sake of just completing one with little care to the design, gp, story etc. Just want to run through one with plenty of hours.
But for those that pay serious attention to storyline, character development, plot, gameplay, this game was a bore IMHO.
You only have one dungeon with repetitive looking floors. You have to grind for a tedious amount of hours (grinding is okay but for extensive period of time it becomes repetitious and annoying). The main protagonist is an emo looking douchebag. No access to a shop during the full moon period.
Overall the game was repetitive. Very linear.
Suidoken 2, Xenogears, FF6, FF7, FFX, Chronotrigger, Valkyrie Profile, Breath of Fire 3, Star Ocean 2, are worth playing not this garbage.
There's a first person mode when you look through cracks in the walls that can respond to the accelerometer to swing the camera, and also when you're using your flashlight and/or vacuuming, but it's not necessary to use at all, from what I could tell. I could still move Luigi's eyes around with the circle pad.
I also didn't use the 3D much because it made me a tad sick. I was playing on my brother in-law's 3DS so I'm not totally used to the system and experience yet.
Such a long opening sequence is annoying on a console or PC game, and downright inexcusable on a handheld game, especially if you can't save mid-mission. This seems like a first play session would need a minimum of a half-hour in order to not be forced through the opening again, and for many people's morning bus rides, that's just too long.
I've heard that the game relies on accelerometer controls to the point that it's pretty much unplayable with 3D on (the two features never did play nice together). Is this, in fact, a problem?
Have you acctually played themthrough and through? I love the social links in persona, they give an interesting way of gaining more power, with out the social links in p3 what would you do after school? study, eat, go to the arcade? I believe THAT would be more boring.
I'm at the second mansion now, and it's still very enjoyable. I do agree with you on Professor E. Gadd, as he is very tiresome and too talky, and I dislike that he literally warps you back to his HQ when he says so, and sometimes I haven't finished exploring a room fully. Sucking up ghosts is fun, especially when you have to attack multiple ones. I played a game of online multiplayer, too, which works surprisingly well. It's basically horde mode with ghosts broken up into levels of a tower.
Why do games just force game over when the main character dies? Is everyone just that stupid and hopeless that they give up?
"Senpai, Nooooo! We don't have a clue!!"
Use a skill or item to bring them back! (Guessing this wouldn't work with Shining Force, but still)
Are the Protagonists in 3 and 4 done for if they're knocked out once? So they can summon a shit ton of different Personas but if they get smacked too hard they die? Wouldn't being able to be brought back countless times be a better ability to have?
This game is also a fan of cutscene deaths, I can tell because they did it twice <_<
These games are overrated and I'm not afraid to say it. Not bad, just overrated.
I don't want Persona 5 to be a Persona 3 Clone.
Let's ditch the Social Links, ease up on the Jpop, toss the high school setting and do something new.
You make a very good point!
Lol you fucking retard if you want your 5 minutes back then why waste another 5 minutes to post this shit?
Aside of this i appreciate your opinion and i hated tartarus too, but the game itself is awesome.
By the way i like your 1 hour idea. Its a good one and intresting too read. Keep up the great work and dont get fucked by those fucking fanboys. Fuck
I can see why some people wouldn't like it though. At times it was overwhelming for me, also thanks to my brilliant idea to max out every social link in my first play-through of FES. There were so many things to take into account, I didn't organize my time well and halfway through I had to restart because I got OCD about it. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the game for the most part. The characters grew on me, the story is interesting, the MC is your cliche quiet but cool protagonist and I'm fine with that too. I couldn't stand the battle system at first but it got better as more persona were added. What I like about the game is how many different elements are incorporated into it, with the social links and relationships, the anime and manga style, organization of time and decision making, only being able to control the MC which Imo gave the game a more strategic feeling, etc. I've never played anything like it before, so it struck me as something pretty unique. I'm also a tragedy fanatic so it works out overall.
I have only one major issue with this game. Skill inheriting should be much easier. At least, for the mentally challenged individuals like myself. Even though it's not necessary to do in order to complete the game it would have been even more enjoyable to go through a moderate amount of work to get a persona with a skillset that you really wanted. (It's just personal satisfaction in my case). I've spent hours in fusion hell trying to create a usable Thanatos for my end game final months, and I wish I wouldn't have attempted anything like that until after I had completed my first play-through. Even then, getting what I had in mind was still just wishful thinking. Anyways, good game. But if you don't have patience and a tolerance for repetition I wouldn't suggest it.
I FAKKING LOVE YOU, DUDE! i was just finishing playing and now i've reached jan. 31. persona 3 is truly a masterpiece. i am definitely going to replay when i win in a bit. :D
I want this game