How Persona 3 destroyed my love for Japanese RPGs

Persona 3 FES
Persona 3 FES Cover
Platforms PlayStation 2, PSP
Genre Soul crushing Japanese RPG
Buy from Amazon

Update: I like Japanese RPGs again.

It was just a few years ago that I was a Japanese RPG freak.  In just one holiday, I asked for and received Persona 3 FES, Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria, and Rogue Galaxy.  Three of the biggest JRPGs to land at the end of the PS2 lifespan.  You know how much of those games I've played since?  About 30 hours of Persona 3, the first hour of Rogue Galaxy, and I haven't even touched Valkyrie Profile 2; I blame it all on the games themselves.

If I were to make an exhaustive list of my all-time favorite games, it would undoubtedly be topped by Chrono Trigger, closely followed by Suikoden II and Final Fantasy VI, with Final Fantasy X somewhere up there too.  All Japanese RPGs, and all very good games for varying reasons.  I spent my college years playing more from what used to be my favorite genre, and watched my roommate play a ton of them including the original Valkyrie Profile, Shadow Hearts: Covenant, my copy of Xenogears, and pretty much the entire Xenosaga trilogy.

Maybe I was already burned out on the genre when I heard about how great Persona 3 was; how it was the ultimate JRPG and that a re-release of the game was going to put it into my budget again.  By the time I started playing it, I even had Persona 4 in my possession already (which I also haven't touched).  I knew without a doubt I was going to love this game.

Note: This post evolved from a rant on Persona 3 into a rant review on Persona 3, so while it's designated as a full review, I have not beaten either Persona 3 FES or Odin Sphere.  No final scores will be given for obvious reasons.

Odin Sphere CoverRunning in circles

Maybe we should start where the downward spiral began: Odin Sphere.  If there's something I hate about video games, it's repetition, and Odin Sphere has it in spades.  While the game is undeniably gorgeous with some of the best sprite animations ever, the gameplay is just the same freaking thing over and over again.  Enter a stage, fight some bad guys for five minutes while frantically trying to plant and harvest seeds for alchemy purposes, beat the stage, collect a crapload of treasure, and repeat.  Sometimes there will be an extremely tough and unbalanced boss fight that will have you kiting it for 10 minutes followed by a 20 minute cutscene about characters you stopped caring about hours ago. Sigh.

I don't mean to hate on the game a ton, but even after devoting something like 15-20 hours, the game simply wasn't changing at all.  Every five hours or so you'd get to play as a new character and get to try out their move set while seeing their side of the same story, but it was still the same 2D hack and slash that I'd already been stressing over.  The game even makes you fight most of the same boss battles over because now you're playing as a different character, oooh.

And while the alchemy system was kind of cool, the limited inventory space made it a huge pain and the constant necessity of planting seeds just irritated me.  And when it was essentially the choice between leveling up and growing your plants to make potions to stay alive, I wanted to pull my hair out!

Everything about Odin Sphere felt like molasses. Oh, you want to go to Rabbit Town to spend your three coins on some food?  First spend 60 seconds loading the entrance to the town and then another 60 seconds loading the building you want to go into (and finally another two minutes to actually get back to some gameplay).  The town consists of two doors, both lead to a shop, why can't they streamline this?  Not to mention the talky cutscenes that go on forever with awful voice acting. Ugh.

By the time mid-2008 rolled around I was already on the verge of wanting to drop kick the next Japanese RPG that came into sight, but then of course, Persona 3 came along with all the fanboy hype to go with it.

F.E.S. = Frakking Endless Story?

Persona 3 fes ClassroomEnter Persona 3 FES, another Atlus published game on the PS2 and the enhanced director's cut of Persona 3 (FES actually stand for "festival," I guess...).  I never wrote a first hour review on the game, and it's probably a good thing I didn't because it would have bored you all to tears.  Confusing anime cutscenes, a crappy mute hero, and walls and walls of text.  Man, I really should have listened to my heart and not kept playing, but the promise of a great game made me go on, plus the first hours of JRPGs just tend to suck anyway (Final Fantasy VII excluded).

So once the game actually got rolling, it was pretty cool.  You play as some emo with spiky hair (redundant?) who just moved to a new town and is immediately caught up in its weird, paranormal activity.  Every night at midnight, time essentially stops for most residents as they enter the Dark Hour.  Evil stuff happens during this time and it's up to our band of depressed teenage heroes to figure out WTF is going on (also my own goal).  The Dark Hour is the only time when you actually fight during the game, the rest is spent socializing with schoolmates and an old couple who own the bookstore.

Let's talk about the non-gameplay part first, mainly Social Links.  Social Links are the bonds of friendship you make with other individuals.  There's a bunch of people you can interact with after school, but it's just a bunch of talking and you hopefully picking the correct answer to their problem.  I generally enjoyed this stuff, even if it felt like every day was on rails (wake up, go to school, maybe answer one question during class, finish school, do a social link, go and fight).  There were some interesting characters to befriend, until they started getting obnoxious.

One loser I befriended early on kept calling my cell phone at night wanting to make plans.  I wanted nothing to do with this guy because I was trying to get with the girl with the glasses, so I kept shutting him down.  His text response was always so sad, get the message, dude.  Tangent: why are games doing this so much lately?  Take Grand Theft Auto IV, I'm playing a game about shooting people and running down hookers, why do I have to maintain in-game friendships with people around me?  This trend needs to stop.

So every day is basically spent increasing your friend points with one other person, and then it's off to fight in Tartarus during the Dark Hour.  Tartarus is this magical tower that somehow holds the secrets to everything.  How anyone knew this, I can not remember, but it was probably just assumed that since this tower only appears during the bad time, we might as well climb it.

Tartarus sucks

Persona 3 fes TartarusThis has got to be the most lazy dungeon design I've ever seen.  The point is to keep climbing higher and higher in the tower and reaching these mid-points where you can resume from the next night.  Every single floor in a section of Tartarus looks exactly the same.  They use the same texture in every corner and if there wasn't a mini-map, you'd be lost immediately.  Thankfully, Persona 3 doesn't feature random battles, instead, enemies appear as a black blob on the dungeon floor: the bigger the blob, the more enemies to fight.

The problem with the purple blob is you have no idea what enemy lies within.  Is it a crappy bat you can kill in one hit?  Or could it be some giant snake that will kill your entire group in one hit?  You don't know until you fight it, meaning sometimes you will get your butt kicked and you just lost the last half hour of your life.  I hate you, game. The instant wipe isn't all that common, but it happened to me a few times and was pretty much the last straw that did me in.  I made it to like floor 80 or something and just couldn't take the monotony anymore.

I took two approaches to climbing Tartarus: when a new block would open up, I would try to rush up all the floors as quickly as possible so that I could guarantee I at least made it to the boss in time.  In time for what you might ask? Well, since Persona 3 follows a real calendar, days go by in the game and you have to complete a certain block of Tartarus before the full moon comes around again.  At the full moon you finally get to do something interesting and fight outside Tartarus, but because that only happens once out of 28 playable days, you've pretty much already gone insane by the time that rolls around.

The second way to climb Tartarus was to grind.  When that full moon day came by and you had to participate in the special mission, you had better be leveled high enough to beat the full moon boss.  Not able to beat it?  Grind some more. Grind, grind, grind.  I hate grinding more than I hate shimmying.  The reason I love Chrono Trigger is because you never have to grind.  It doesn't help that the battle system sucks.

Another bad thing about Tartarus: randomized floors means you're running around aimlessly even if you're in a level you've traveled through dozens of times.

Worst thing about Tartarus: if you don't hit the enemy with your sword while running around, the enemy will get the first round of attacks in.  If they're decently strong at all, you will wipe.

Battle system sucks

Persona 3 fes BattleI tried to think of a clever heading to put there, but that seems to sum it up pretty well.  The battle system of Persona 3 progresses very slowly and has the great feature of only letting you control the main character.  I understand that more and more games are doing this now including Final Fantasy XIII, but I like being in control of everyone on the battlefield.  I'm playing the game here, let me control what I would expect to control.

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.  You can actually influence your friends by setting what mode they should be in, but it still isn't fine grained enough not to be yelling at them when they ignorantly use some crappy power instead of just killing them with a sword slash.  Most enemies in Persona 3 have a weakness, and exploiting this weakness knocks that enemy out for a turn (and you get an extra turn with the attacker).  If you knock all the enemies on the battlefield out, you can do a team rush attack and everyone jumps in and performs a beat down for a few seconds.  This is actually a cool tactic and entertaining even after the 100th time, but it's pretty much up to you to knock them all out as they just fail to make the connection.

So even though you've got three other combatants hanging out with you that you can't directly control, it still felt like I had to do everything in the battle.  Grinding in Tartarus made me want to chuck my PS2 through my window.

I mentioned the battles are slow, that's because whenever you perform a magic attack you have to watch your character put a gun (excuse me, Evoker) to their head and pull the trigger.  Each animation takes a few seconds, and is the same thing over and over again.  I get the point, you're being edgy with the suicide thing, I don't need to keep seeing it!  What should be a simple battle that takes seconds in games like Suikoden II or Final Fantasy X takes over a minute or longer in Persona 3.  Feels like Skies of Arcadia all over again.

Boss battles suck

Persona 3 fes Battle all out AttackOkay, this is hopefully my last sucks headline, but it's true.  If it's a full moon boss, you never know if you're going to be powerful enough to take it down.  Did I do enough grinding in Tartarus?  Beating the current Tartarus boss is never enough to know either because the bosses have totally different tactics with different strengths and weaknesses.  It pretty much requires FAQ reading if you don't want to spend hours overleveling.

Every time I beat a boss, it felt like total luck.  Bosses in Persona 3 come in two flavors: either you'll be able to whoop down on them in a few turns as you continually exploit their simple weakness, or it's a war of attrition and the battle lasts an hour as you each perform the exact same moves on each other over and over again and you just hope your calculations are correct and their health bar will diminish faster than your own.  Both kinds of bosses suck.

And if you happen to die? Prepare to face a multi-minute game over and loading screen as you try to get back into your game.  That's the worst punishment, having to experience the title screen all over again just because you died.  I heard Final Fantasy XIII just sort of plops you right back in front of the guy you just lost to, while that sounds like total Easy Mode it at least sounds better than the torture Persona 3 puts you through.

Oh yeah, somes bosses come in pairs, and unless you kill both within one turn of each other, the living boss will revive and FULLY HEAL the dead boss.  I hate you, game.

Conclusion

I eventually hated playing Persona 3, and now I hate the entire Japanese RPG genre.  I really wanted to like the game, I played it off and on over an entire year and put a ton of time into the game, but I had to stop.  The game was driving me slowly insane and I needed to move on to greener pastures.  Greener pastures obviously don't include other JRPGs, because I don't even want to look at the cover art of another one.

I should note that at one point, I really was enjoying the game.  For my 2008 Game of the Year Awards, I named Persona 3 FES "Game I'm in the middle of that could have been a contender" and actually said "I definitely plan to finish this game unless the daily routine becomes way too repetitive, but I think I'll stick it out."  I was both right and wrong: the daily routine (plus the grinding) did me in, but I didn't stick it out.

What I need is to find something that will snap me out of it and I have an idea what it is:

Play Suikoden II again.  I might just do that.  Now there's a fine game.

Comments

>don't gravity works? Stopped

>don't gravity works?

Stopped reading.

Please enlightened me about

Please enlightened me about this. How does the Planes and animals stays in midair?

Brush up on your english

Brush up on your english grammar and maybe people will start taking you seriously.

You forgot to capitalize

You forgot to capitalize "English" LOL.

And in the time where things

And in the time where things are no electricity or inside a coffin?

It's a game it's not supposed

It's a game it's not supposed to be that realalistic do you expect every game to be that realalistic

I expect them to follow the

I expect them to follow the rules they set up.

That's why.

I respect your opinion and I am not gonna bitch about it. People like P3 because of the dialogues and long story. BUt one thing you're correct about is the friggin' grinding. I don't mind the gameplay as I am a real fan of Turn-Based games and I like the animation as well. They could've made Tartarus like the ones in P4 as I think P4 is superior in every aspect of this game.

But u cant say tht p3 was

But u cant say tht p3 was made 2 YRs ago!!!

yeah yeah if Persona 3 is bad

yeah yeah if Persona 3 is bad so what is good?!
well some people just cant stand mature stories ya know

lol

so in conclusion you're just a little babby who can't take REEL jrpgs like atlus games and stuff
kk

Idiot Greg Noe!!!

You idiot,your stupidity dont appreciate RPG games. I you want easy games, you better play your a** . Think of it, P3P is Atlus's best selling game in 2009, the game got also awards. Therefore, majority wins, gamers love P3P and "SOME" are not. Those gamers who dont love this game and not appreciate it, you guys are the true sucks.

Holy hot damn...

I can't believe there are still so many comments on this game about how dysfunctional Greg must be for not loving this game.

Let me enlighten everyone that is complaining: This is an opinion piece.

So, don't be childish, and scream "your opinions are WRONG!" because this is ONE MAN's views of the game.

It is also a logical fallacy to call someone "Butt hurt" or anything else that is completely meant to be insulting. Let me show you:

"Persona 3 sucks."
"You're an assmunch!"
"...but Person 3 still sucks."

- What did we accomplish there? Nothing.

Also, even it went this way:

"Persona 3 sucks."
"Persona 3 does not suck, because of (reasons)."

- Neither of these points are true. They are only thoughts, opinions; aka, NOT facts.

Thnak you.

Well said... (slow clap)

No opinion is a fact so that anyone of them could be considered fact. Just one of the paradoxes that comes with being human.

Its a good thing there are

Its a good thing there are SOME intelligent people here. Personally, I love Persona 3. I named my character randomly after the mc in FF Tactics A2 and Death Note ; Luso Yagami. I also think his blue hair is awesome. I'm in love. I think Persona 4 did it better fighting/grinding/dungeon-wise, but I liked 3's Social Links and story more. 4's bores me with its constant "I gotta face myself and be who I am!"

Interestingly enough I have

Interestingly enough I have the opposite response. I loved the persona 4 characters and story but I hated the actual fighting. While in persona 3 I enjoyed the fighting more but besides a small handful of characters I couldn't careless about the social links and the story just wasn't all that interesting to me in comparison with the fourth one. But opinion is like beauty and its different from person to person.

I must disaggree.

One of your main complaints is about the game being hard and requiring grinding. When do you ever have to grind, really? I usually only explore the floors while I'm climbing to the next boss and the fights I get into are usually enough. I'm playing on normal difficulty and I don't find it to be punishing at all. Sure, sometimes you die, but that's normal. After I died to a boss I usually figured out a strategy to beat him. SMT games are more about strategy than grinding really, some people don't seem to understand that. Fuse better personas or figure out the boss' pattern/weaknesses and you should be fine. Buff skills(for your party) and debuff skills(against the enemy) are also there for a reason, it WILL help you in battles, but people are usually just too lazy with things like that since most popular rpgs around here only require you to attack like mad, which certainly isn't the case with SMT games. Also use your good items, you know, the ones that recovers your whole party's hp/sp or reflects magics/attacks. You don't need them later, you need them NOW. This isn't like Final Fantasy where you stock up megaelixirs and never use them in the entire game because of everything being too easy.

And the game over screen, seriously? Ever tried hitting the start button? You can skip it. What the hell was that complaint for?
Otherwise, yeah, the game can get repetitive. Even I, being a big fan of the franchise as a whole, found it to be tiring sometimes. I usually do something different and come back to it later, because it's worth it in my opinion. Of course you will find the story confusing in the beginning, it's supposed to be clarified as the game progresses towards the end. That's what I and many people like about these stories, the mystery behind them.
Anyway, I can see how this isn't a rpg for everybody, and the complaints about the lenght and repetitiveness are legitimate, but the rest of the complaints are nonsense imo. I didn't find it hard, in my opinion the difficulty is ideal. Not too easy, not too punishing. I love Chrono Trigger too, also one of my favorite games of all times, but I always wished it was a bit more challenging.

I agree with you.. I always

I agree with you..
I always wanted to play this game but i never had the time to download it
i checked out game rankings and this game ranked 3rd...
then i decided to give it a shot, and wow.! this game rocks!
what i loved the most about this game is the storyline, though some dialogues are repetitive (p-3 portable only). this is the very first game i ever played with an entertainingly long story. ( Oh I love the Plot! )

now to battle.
i like it, it's a lot like final fantasy XIII ( which i totally loved ) i don't have experiences with P3 on PS2 even though i have that console...
and wait.! did the author just say the battle "sucks"!? wew... the in game battle is designed for the players to have a more strategic feel of the game... if he likes hack and slash , rpg , MOBA. (whatever) then why play this game??...

I agree with this. P3 is even

I agree with this. P3 is even easier than Nocturne. The game is hard, so what? It shows that JRPGs are not only heal and attack. It lets the player think before making you a move as mentioned by above commentator. Tartarus is not a big deal. If the wandering around is quite irritating for some of you, you can just hurry to the stairs. The shadows are small enough to quickly evade them. As for grinding, you can grind after reaching a sub-boss floor. The teleporter at the entrance is your best friend at this case. As for the non-gameplay issue a.k.a the Social Links, you do know you can just skip the non-important parts if you don't like talking to people, as this game is a mix of REAL LIFE simulation and dungeon-crawling RPG. That much said, since the reviewer has a Persona 4. I advise that you play the game. It's battle system is improved with teammates able to be commanded and the dungeon floors are not changing though the map is not recorded when you switch to another dungeon. I hope you give P4 sometime and you might as well like it.

Persona 3: well worth the slow beginning

Yes, the game begins cryptic and slow, but once you reach the end, there are a myriad of plot clarifications. I am currently on a new save file in the game. 80 hours or so, and going to face 5th full moon boss soon. I do not get what you mean by boring. I have extreme ADHD, but have not been bored for a second. After playing it for 5 hours in a row, I tend to get antsy, but the same can be said of any other activity I invest in, or anyone invests in. At that point I switch to reading or some other activity that cqn hold my interest. Text-heavy games are fine by me. One of the best aspects of the game for me is the social links. To successfully be good at this, you have to constantly psychanalyze. I have never gotten a negative response from one of my social links, and I don't see how you could produce many negative results from them, because their personalities are as easy to read as a dick and jane story. Just sayin.

It's half Visual Novel and

It's half Visual Novel and half JRPG. It's supposed to have a lot of story.

So...Lemmeget this straight...

you hate this game for being hard, like a real JRPG, you hate it because the characters "emo", even though he is your typical JRPG protagonist, you hate it because there are walls of text, like a real JRPG, you hate it because your character acts like a human (I.E. going to class, having friends, ect.), you hate it because you have a realistically small inventory space, just like a real JRPG, you hate the magic attacks because they take so long (but love final Fantasy VII :D), just like they are in real JRPGs, you hate that you can't control the A.I, just like you can't in areal JRPG, and hate the boss battles because they are too hard, just like in real JRPGs...

Hypocrisy in its finest form. You don't love JRPGs, in their true form, you love RPGs. You complain that the character is "emo", then complain because part of the game is making friends, not being a shut in that never makes friends. Persona 3 didn't make you hate playing JRPGs, you were never a fan in the first place. You love Final Fantasy, Golden Sun, those are, technically, made in Japan, but they are not of the JRPG genre. RPGs are RPGs anyone can pick up and play, JRPGs are harder, more tedious, and usually have a "wall of text"

Atleast you aren't a "shooter" gamer, the people who call themselves hardcore gamers but hate everything that doesn't have guns and explosions in it, and I'm not trying to be an ass (Though I am usually a snarky asshole) I'm just saying, it's a JRPG in its truest form, if you hate it, you just hate JRPGs in general.

Thanks for the reply! Some clarification:

Hey Somedude, let's clarify a few things. Do I hate this game for being hard? Maybe, I think I more hated it for being unfair, all those one hit snakes and stuff who pop out after an hour of not saving, those annoy me.

The only time I mention "emo" in my review is in neither a positive or negative context.

"So once the game actually got rolling, it was pretty cool. You play as some emo with spiky hair (redundant?) who just moved to a new town and is immediately caught up in its weird, paranormal activity."

So no, I have nothing against emo people.

Oh yeah, there are definitely walls of text in this game, and most of them aren't even remotely interesting. That's one of my issues with it, sure.

My complaint about the "realistic inventory space" was in my Odin Sphere review, I don't remember how the inventory works in Persona 3 very well, but I think it was pretty big. And yeah, I hate limited inventories, just because they're small doesn't mean they're realistic. Or fun.

Magic attacks do take too long, how does that make it a "real JRPG"? Why should I have to sit through the same animations hundreds and hundreds of times? And no, I don't love Final Fantasy VII, I don't hate it but I think it's highly overrated. I do love Final Fantasy VI and Final Fantasy X, and I only praised Final Fantasy VII for its great first hour.

You keep spouting off the phrase "real JRPG", I don't really understand what you mean by this. According to your definition of a "real JRPG", they have limited inventories, magic attacks take really long to animate, you can't control your teammates, boss battles are really hard, they are hard, they are tedious, and they usually have walls of text? Yeah, that sounds awful.

Oh, I also don't love Golden Sun, meh.

And to me, a JRPG is a Japanese RPG. Made in Japan, or at least has the trappings of an RPG made in Japan (see Black Sigil).

Anyways, thanks for responding, I don't mind asses or snarky assholes, and you actually had a civil response to my review, which I appreciate.

Persona 3 FES

So far I'm enjoying it. The dungeons have a different feel to them than most games of the genre. It's a randomly generated deathtrap that feels more like a survival horror game than a grind-happy RPG. The teammates getting tired are what annoy me the most about the system, as they start missing more attacks which can be fatal on the higher difficulties. There's a reason I play this game on Beginner and still feel proud when I beat the game.

On that note, play Persona 4. It fixes a lot of what you have problems with- the plot is much more of a coherent story, the combat gets balanced better, characters can guard to reduce damage on an inactive turn, and most importantly you get direct teammate control. Persona 3 Portable adds these to the game, so if you have a PSP and you're hell bent on finishing P3 then that's your best bet.

But back to Persona 4. Social links with your teammates (the "Investigation Team") serve a higher purpose than just adding XP to persona fusions- as you get to know them they get additional "automatic actions" during combat- for instance, the first ability unlocked through a Social Link for characters is the ability to take a mortal blow for you in battle. So instead of being treated to a torturous lecture on why failing is bad and a kick back to the main screen, your teammate will jump in front of the attack and take the damage for you. A real lifesaver, if I say so myself.

Additional actions also include "follow up attacks," which are used sometimes when the MC knocks down an opponent, the partner will offer to knock down another opponent, or, in the case of Chie Satonaka, kick them into the stratosphere and out of play entirely. They can also help the MC or other characters up when knocked down if they successfully knock down or take out an opponent in combat, and even survive ordinarily mortal damage at the higher S. Link ranks.

The story is also a major improvement, centering on a murder mystery connected to an urban legend about the "Midnight Channel," a mysterious television program that airs on turned-off TVs on rainy nights. The characters are generally well written and interesting as well, and the story has a lot of interesting twists, like a murder mystery should. It kept me guessing and I was brought up on years of crime drama, so this should serve as a testament to either the quality of the writing or my overconfidence in my detective abilities. Also, there's a bundle of separate dungeons for each sequence of the game, with varied and colorful visual styles to mix things up. Sadly, the layouts are still randomly generated, but one of the character's Persona can detect enemies and treasure chests for you, and if you load up a save file that was saved in the TV world rather than outside I think it keeps the previous layout if you've explored a floor. Not sure about this last one though.

Admittedly our tastes in games may differ- a big part of your argument against P3 was the predominance of the writing getting in the way of the gameplay. I started gaming on the Genesis and a big part of my youth was playing games with little in the way of story. But after I started having lots of time for single player games I started to realize how spartan stories were killing my involvement with games. Games with highly non-linear structure also felt "too big to finish" - to this day, I can't finish Fallout 3. I like the core gameplay, but the story just lacked any kind of gravitas, and even though the game boasts hundreds of hours of side-quests I just couldn't get involved with any of the characters I met. No time was spent developing them over time, and they bowed out when their functions as quest-givers were complete. I didn't feel like the game had "real characters" in it. Games like Metal Gear Solid, Persona 4, and other such games spend a huge amount of time with the stories and characters in their respective games. Some may argue that breaking for gigantic cutscenes breaks game flow, but I can tolerate it if the story is compelling. And with Kojima's works at least, the cutscenes actually have the feel of a film, making great use of tight focus, zooms, and NPC choreography.

Persona 4 has similar cutscenes to 3- a mix of anime and in-game graphics, so sadly it doesn't boast Metal Gear production values in it's storytelling, but Persona 4 has a lot of genuinely funny writing- scenes from the school's summer camp trip and a drinking game in a bar come to mind. Many of the game's bosses are hugely important to the development of the game's characters, and I refuse to spoil any of it, but these encounters help you get to know the characters that much more and make them seem more like rounded characters, with a past and with a future in the Investigation Team. It's all very well put-together and I highly recommend that you at least give it a shot. The reason I've been taking this much time on making a case for P4 is that it's one of the very best games I've played in recent years, and is a very long and fulfilling single player experience. I logged 137 hours in the game on the way to the "True" ending, and though sometimes the battles got tedious, the questions in class perplexing, and the game itself necessitating at least two strategy guides to assist me, the narrative and the characters kept me in touch with the game far more than many games I've played- and I've played a rather inordinately large amount of video games.

So I implore you- please, give Persona 4 a shot. If you hate it, then you can post why and I'll understand.

ARRRGH!

Dude, I totally agree with you. I just died on the same block twice now by these stupid-ass monsters that can kill you in one hit, and, as you know, if you're PC dies, it's game over, even if your other 3 characters are alive. That in itself is absolutely ridiculous, not to mention extremely frustrating when you've just put in a good 25 minutes or so into it and ONE HIT sends you back to the title screen. (Which yes, takes FORVER to load.)

I think describing the Tartarus as a "lazy dungeon" is spot-on. It gets so boring to look at, and NOTHING changes throughout, not even the music. (Oooh, that's right, the scenery changes a little. However, it's so ridculously similar, they may as well have just not changed it at all.) The battle system is crappy, and the AI NEVER seems to make a decent choice. (I hate how they knock an enemy down, and then, instead of hitting another one, they hit the same one, which allows it to get back on its feet. ARGH! So frustrating!)

Anyway, like I said, I just died for the second time because of the same stupid enemies. This is my third or fourth time playing the game - I've never come close to beating it because I always become so bored with the Tartarus. Which sucks because I really enjoy building up the social links and trying to balance your time with school/skills, friends, and leveling up. I was so frustrated from dying, I came online to see if anyone else was as frustrated with the game as I was. (Somebody who really WANTED to like it too, like me.) I really appreciate the review, it helped calm me down. I agreed with everything you said (other than what you said about the social links and a couple other things), and it's nice to know someone else out there agrees with me.

Seriously, the second time I died, I threw my PS2 controller down hard, and spilled the contents of my trash can everywhere. I don't think I've thrown a controller since I was in like middle school, maybe even elemetary. That's how frustrating this game gets.

O RLY? Well...

Grind more, Miss. In 73h of gameplay I'm still lvl 66 but I'm already at the 236th floor. Tartarus is not that hard.
The music does change - just ask Fuuka to "Change BGM" with the square button.

HEY

Look at me im on block 6 and my player level is 99 the problem is your lvl

lol

thats true my level 99 on block 5 last play through i spent to much time on the story so it was only 36

SHUT UP

You are only one hit because of your level! c'mon think men think!

Not true

Nope, I was referring to those instant kill spells that some enemies have.

I just have one word

Homonculus.

...AND it just happened

...AND it just happened again. Forget it, I can't play anymore tonight. It's not worth being in a terrible mood over some game. Makes me wanna break something, lol.

An honest attempt to be polite...

A lot of your problems are actually easily remedied in-game. I'm not going to be an ass and call you an idiot. If you hate the game that's fine. But I think you should try a few things before you give up.

1. Save often. There's usually only about 10-20 floors between guardians (which are the floors you can teleport to from the ground floor.) I learned that the hard way. Don't be afraid of going back to the ground floor and losing progress. Your party's HP/SP is completely replenished whenever you go back.

2. With those one shot snakes, whatever attack is one-shotting you, find a persona that can block that. I used the MegaTen wiki and some online persona fusion guides religiously. The game is about strategy. There is a way to counter everything. If it's light/dark attacks, there's plenty of personas that can counter those effectively, and you come across party members that can do that a bit later on.

3. If I'm not mistaken, you seem to be on the cusp of having Mitsuru in your party, which means two things (aside from Mitsuru making a great supplementary healer). First, you get someone who is way better at scanning targets. Second, you get the "knock down" command in the tactics menu. That command is the single most useful tactic in the game (aside from Heal/Support, depending on the situation.). When you set a party member to "Knock Down", if they knock an enemy down, rather than trying to plaster the same enemy with hits, they'll try and knock over an enemy that is standing, and so on, until all the enemies are down. I don't know why it wasn't included in the beginning of the game, but it shows up very early on, so whatever (Trust me, I have my fair share of complaints about this game, despite my absolute adoration for it as a whole.). Basically, if you can manage your tactics menu effectively, you're set for life, and after a while, it can become second nature. I had a hard time transitioning to P4 because I had gotten so used to just giving my comrades vague orders and let them think for themselves.

4. Scan every enemy the first chance you get. If you don't scan, you can't strategize. And that's what the game is all about. Like I said before, I made liberal use of the MegaTen wiki, and it has every tartarus guardian there is, their abilities, strengths and weaknesses. That helps a lot.

I can understand the complaint about the level design. There's only so much you can do with randomly generated dungeons. But the environments get a lot more colorful immediately after the 2nd block. It gets slightly less old. But it is still repetitive as fuck. I still think tartarus was bland as shit (though still brilliant in some aspects, like the final block that opens up with level 90+ enemies so you can break the hell out of your party). What I loved is once you get the hang of the combat, the game starts testing your limits. all the boss battles feel like puzzles, and I thought that was awesome. The game was about strategy, and it made sure you mastered it in order to progress.

I know plenty of people who hate this game. The battle music is more obnoxious than a four year old screaming into a hearing aid at full volume. This game was not the best game ever made. It's just actually pretty okay. But if you know where to look, it can be an extremely rewarding experience. So I hope you will keep this all in mind and give the game another shot. If not, whatever. I just want people to share the enjoyment you can get out of this game. Because it's there.

But don't go into a MegaTen game expecting a typical JRPG. Because that's far from what you'll get. They're pretty crazy and complex.

P.S. If you make it far enough, watch out for the Natural Dancer guardian. Only enemy in the game who made me stop playing for an extended period. He's some bullshit. Look for some advice on him on gamefaqs or something. He drove me nuts. But with help, he isn't much of a problem.

Sprite animation = The best?

You lost all credibility when you said "some of the best sprite animations ever". I've seen better.

Um...really?

You're seriously gonna discount the entire article just because you have a different opinion as to what constitutes good animation? Really?

Geez, glad I'm not that close-minded.

Thanks

Good thing you didn't read the rest of the article then.

On The Bright Side

Least Igor doesn't have the boner phone in this game like he did in P1 and P2.

In all seriousness I liked P3 for what it was. Sure I didn't enjoy the grinding but I just did 1 level a day until I thought I was good enough and then wasted the last 20 days of the month doing social links. Also I played the game on hard mode so trust me I've experienced a bunch of bullshit. However the final battle with Nyx was the saving grace of this game for me. I really loved how the the story concluded and overall it was a great RPG experience for me. I prefer P3's story and P4's combat system because I agree that P3's was really limiting in the actions you could perform.

rage

I DESPISE this game. I had enough of doing the same boring thing over and over, at least other RPGs mix things up with different locations as opposed to making you listen to the SAME DAMN SONG AND GO THROUGH THAT PATHETIC DUNGEON. The storytelling is atrocious, why does it take 3 mother f#cking hours to get started? why does it take so damn long for something i should care about to happen? its hardly even a game, socialising and levelling up is go from x to y and press X or select the right answer for some whiny prick to be happy..this game is nothing more than a cheaply made grind and fetch quest fest

Gotta bite my tongue

Um I loved Persona3 a lot, I found it repetitive, yes, but truthfully I kinda liked that. Graphics are by far not the best, but should that really matter? Social links was honestly a rather fun part of the game, helping you level up your personas with it was great help. But in all it's a game for people who has the patients for such a deep game. I found parts boring, but all games got those times. Persona3 just might not be for everyone. It's much better to say it that way, cause this review is dreadfully aweful. We all have different taste right?

Grinding?

I haven't beaten Tartarus yet, but I'm nearly there. On my climb up 160 floors, I've never had to grind. If you want to beat the shadow bosses, you just fight your way up to the top in a day, or extend your Tartarus visits to every few days and do a bit each day. The only time I was ever grinding in this game was to get Alice and for the floors above 160. I totally respect your choice for dis-liking the game; I'm just giving my opinion on grinding.

Terrible Damn Music?

Dude, Go Kill Yourself The music of persona 3 is the god damn best music ever,the ones in P4 are good to,

I would agree with your

I would agree with your hater, the music was shit. Jpop's annoying enough, but its not even good jpop its like asian Britney Spears. Its like listening to the Marvel vs Capcom 2 character select music for 70 hours. "Memorable" sure, for all the wrong reasons. I'd rather listen to Apple II "bleep" music.

When did I mention music?

You just made me re-read my review because I don't remember mentioning the music anywhere... and I couldn't find anything. I'd say the music is probably the most memorable part of the game, besides that awful summer camp sequence at the beach with the robot.

Yeah, there were some great J-Pop tracks in Persona 3, I will admit that, I can still hear them now. Probably why P4 came with a music CD.

It Wasn't For You

some guy write on the last comments some shit about p3 music,dude thats just bad

Music

Ah, yeah I see that now. The music of Persona 3 had a really great energy to it.

Great Music But There Is Always A Flipside

Yeah the music is truly awesome and all, but is true that the game isn't perfect
You should try P4 They enhanced the fight system and you can control the team

Great Music But There Is Always A Flipside

Yeah The Game Has An Awesome Music And All But I Admit it isn't perfect
But P4 Improved The Fight System Making It Faster And You Can Fully Control The Team(The Music Is Still Awesome

Yeah i'm not trying to be

Yeah i'm not trying to be mean but could you beat the game first before reviewing it and saying its bad?

not to say you don't have a valid opinion or something. and not to say i agree with you either. but this what thing.

first of all most JRPG's are structured to be repetitive and if you don't like that maybe your in the wrong genre its not like games like say action titles who purposely get you going by never getting repetitive and always haveing new challenges for you. second you shoudn't blame the games for you not playing them enough. thats just not right. its like saying you blame the teachers becuse you didn't so the homework or something. third you should feel lucky that not to many people have found this...can you say cyber bullying? i hope your not the type to take things personally....

fourth, you really need to give P4 a chance dood. its like the PS2's swansong.

Lots of games are repetitive

Lots of games are repetitive in many ways. However, many of them do a good job of hiding/obscuring that boredom from the player with other things. Failing to do that in this day and age with the current competition is just poor development. I haven't played this game, nor have I even completed a jrpg in years (after once being my favorite genre), and I'm fairly sure that there's a reason for that. You can't keep things so stagnant forever if you want people to keep caring.

Update

Your reply reminded me that I should update the world that I like JRPGs again (due to Radiant Historia).

When I wrote this, I also didn't really know how to classify what I wanted to write, so I filed it under a Full Review because while I hadn't beaten the game, I had invested over 30 hours and had experienced a substantial amount of the game. For similar situations, I'm just writing blog entries like this now:

http://firsthour.net/blog/i-didnt-beat-this-game-dragon-quest-ix-sentine...

And thanks for your input, I still own Persona 4 and would like to get around to it someday.

it wasnt that bad

p3 wasnt hard at all and fes was a good addition to it. it is a grind game it did get a lil boring at times but most games do if u put alot of time in them and some social links were agravating. u made the game sound horible but in general it is a well polished game with a great story and a good battle system and the ai isnt that dumb if u knew how to control it. the dungeon bosses could be hard but the moon bosses were usually simple. i would still recomend this game to any jrpg fan

Whaaaambulance...

Game's fine. Suck it up and L2P princess ;)

Sounds Like a Personal Problem

Dude I easily found several problems with your "review" and gaming of P3P.
It all comes from your obvious deep issues with games(and life).

I'm not going to waste my time with you so I'll put it simply.

1)You CAN control the AI characters in battle(its a feature) if you want to.
2) They make social networking part of the game to make it smarter and less hostile, if you dont like it in the game so much maybe cuz you have issues with people in Real Time?

And on a personal note, I suspect you have ADHD, just a suspicion...Am I right??
TAKE some responsibility for yourself instead of pushing your issues on others(and games).

Rebuttal

1. It's a feature only in the PSP version of the Persona 3, the PS2 version did not allow you to directly control your A.I. friends. You could, of course, use tactics to hint at what they should do, but I found that lacking.
2. If real life was as repetitive and mind-numbing as Persona 3's social interaction, I definitely would have issues with it. However, selecting one friend a day to hang out with and then hopefully pick the right response to their problem so I can increase our friendship points is just lame. Also, I have no idea what you mean by "make it smarter and less hostile." Could you elaborate?

And on the personal note, no, I don't have ADHD or any other similar disorder. I'm just a father of one plus one on the way who doesn't have time for games like Persona 3.

I will, however, note that I am currently turning back around on my love for JRPGs as I'm playing a brilliant game at the moment: Infinite Space.

My interest

I have been interested in playing a Persona game since I picked up Ogre Battle 64's Strategy Guide in 5th grade. I can't remember which persona it was, but it was almost like an off-brand, kind of like Final Fantasy's crystal chronicles.

I thought I was the only one ...

I am tired of everybody saying Persona 3 is an awesome RPG. I don't see anything great about it. The story was okay, but it was Tartarus that killed it for me. I LIKE GRINDING, BUT TARTARUS IS TOO MUCH. Heck, I would love this game if they remove Tartarus. I'm around the 60+ hour mark and I'm only halfway done with the game? I'm only in October. The battle system is the same throughout the game. It was fun the first 30 hours of the game, but it got tiring afterwards. I found myself unable to keep my eyes open due to the repetitiveness of this game. (I actually feel asleep a couple of times while playing) It's only a bit challenging the first 15mins of a section. Once you know all the weakness, the monsters with weaknesses are a cakewalk. However, it still takes you forever to climb all the way to the top floor. You can train for hours, then have a monster cast hama/mudo on you and you will immediately get a game over. Heck, I trained so much that I ran out of homunculus and I still have problems with the full moon boss. This is one of the worst games I have ever played. It isn't fun at all.

I agree, the reason way i

I agree, the reason way i hate this game is Tartarus is quite possibly the most boring thing i have ever seen in a game with the fact that it is 70+ hours game that doesn't have the kind of plot or gameplay to justify a game of that length. i really can't blame you for hating RPGs now, Stuff like item synthesis/creation/Offensively useless items and treasures/walking simulators are such a terrible game mechanics IMO and all modern RPGs seem to utilize it to pad game length. I miss old RPGs where it is all about adventuring in new world , simple variety and economic sized like FF6, FF7, terranigma, chrono and Suikoden 2.

If you don't liked the game,

If you don't liked the game, why'd make such a large review for it? I mean, there are a lot of game that I don't like, but I don't keep telling people that they suck, I can't change people's opinion. If you don't like, all you have to do is not play it. It's simple.
Now go get a life instead of saying shit about things you think is right.

Yeah...uh...

What you are saying is a total fallacy; this isn't like saying "This game sucks" over and over. He wrote the review, now it's up for everyone to read and he moves on. Over and Out.

This review helped me.

After putting in about 30 hours into this game, I was thoroughly wasted by a boss. It was floor 37 and it a good amount of grinding. I find I just want to find a way to enjoy this game, but really this review has convinced there are better ways to spend my time. Maybe I'll try Ar Tonelico 2 again. Just like the reviewer said, I haven't even opened my Persona 4 and probably never will.
What a shame.

This is the same ANON from

This is the same ANON from before.

I'm going to yell at you because it seems like you didn't even finish it! I misread your last line. BOO @ YOU.

Oh wow... I am surprised

Oh wow...

I am surprised someone could dislike this game. I could see them going out and saying a different persona game was better, but it's hard to argue with how everything was put together.

Tartaurus is grind, but aren't all RPG dungeons? At least it's not masked grind. There is a lot going on it it, and it's meant to separate real life from the dungeon, per se. There is a lot of symbolism in P3, and I'd go as far as to say it is the best and deepest RPG on PS2, no doubt, and maybe one of the best of all time. I haven't had that much fun with a game since I was very young. The dating-sim aspect was 'the missing link' that made the already amazing Persona concept more playable. I don't know about you, but P1 made me nauseous with all of the random battles and p2, well... I'm not too hot on that one, either. But then along came P3! I hated everyone who said Final Fantasy 7 was the best game ever when FF4j and even FF6 were superior, and I understand the wrath of P1 and P2 lovers at the influx of new fans from P3, but I believe P3 is deserving. FF7 added graphics where as P3 went much deeper and put the cherry on top of the system.

You need to suck it up and go back and try it again! Or try P4. Even though P3 is way better...

But you were right about Odin Sphere...

Persona 4

I actually do own Persona 4, and I will play it eventually.

I would probably agree with your assessment that P3 is the deepest RPG on the PS2, I guess deep isn't what I was looking for though. I play games to have fun and after a certain point it wasn't doing it for me, I tried to go...

Persona 4

Well, I'm about two thirds through Persona 4 right now, and let me tell you, I absolutely love it. I haven't played P3, or any other Shin Megami Tensei game aside from the spectacular Strange Story (though I intend to.) The consensus on the internet seems to be that it's Persona 3 with every single flaw in the game fixed.

The dungeon design is much better, for one, and some of the most creative concepts I've seen in a game. So far I've fought my way through a mad scientist dungeon, a gay bathhouse dungeon, a strip club dungeon, and an 8-bit dungeon, each complete with an anime style super-villain boss, a roses encrusted muscle man equipped with male signs (o->) as swords boss, a technicolored pole-dancer boss, and the hero from Dragon Quest, respectively. The social links are much better to, and there isn't a single character that makes me want to wring their necks (see the entire cast of FFXIII). The characters and social links are all genuinely likable, and the whole system is streamlined and improved. Boss battles are much better balanced as well, with much, much less monotonous grinding. Another thing is that the plot picks up right away, rather than P3 that waits half the game to get up and running. It still takes a few hours to get rolling, but once it does, you're in for a ride.

I'm having the best time on the PS2 I've ever had, apart from maybe Silent Hill 2, and once I finish, I fully intend to go out and pick up Digital Devil Saga, or maybe Nocturne. I might even get Persona 3 Portable, since its essentially Persona 3 with all the improvements from Persona 4. Bottom line, you owe it to yourself to see the peak of the Persona line. Its legions ahead of anything else on the PS2, RPG wise, and I've played Final Fantasy X and Xenosaga. Check it out.

This, Completely

This, Completely. I played Persona 3 FES and thought it was one of the best RPGs ever. Then I played Persona 4 and saw that it topped 3 completely.

I wouldn't say that the Social Links are more indepth, because most of the time they level up over random things instead of an actual event, but the characters are definitely more likeable and more realistic. A pale man who writes about Pink Alligators? Not so believable. A little girl who has self-confidence issues? Definitely more realistic, even if I don't like her.
The dungeons are much more streamlined- instead of a bunch of rooms connected, it's basically hallways with rooms off the sides, usually. It depends on the dungeon. That means, it's a lot easier to be running and actually see a shadow, and there's a lot less of them on a given floor. They also come in the form of floating spheres. You can also control your characters' movements individually, which fits in the RPG category, and there aren't as many Personas so if you're a person that likes filling the Compendium, it's much easier. I got up to 83% in the first playthrough.
The plot? It's a lot more light-hearted, even if the main concept is a murder spree. There isn't as much angst over random things, or drama- humor's much more abundant. Instead of the occasional humorous scene that usually involves Junpei being an idiot, there's a lot more sarcasm and happiness. The characters still manage to live their lives, instead of having their whole world revolving around the problem.
The plot does take about 3 hours before you actually get to do anything, but those three hours aren't full of pointless talk about contracts. And there's humor and garbage cans.
Overall, Persona 4 IS much better and an easier play. I saw that you already have gotten back into JRPGs, so this might be redundant(along with restating a bunch of stuff above), but it's the greatest RPG I've ever played.

And while the only good characters(IMHO) in P3 were the three senpai, P4's main characters have depth, and feeling, and the game's got Brosuke. It wins.

You hit it right on the spot!

p3 is one of the worst games I've ever played. I love Final Fantasy VII, but, the begining is a little slow and boring (the Barret/reactor part) so I kept that in mind while playing p3 and it never changed. The Social Link's part sucked and so did the battles. And I thought this game was supposed to be good. Anyway, Final Fantasy X is the best game for the playstation 2. The problem with that is no game comes close to it so it ruined my ps2 outlook.

Butthurt?

Do you want some lube? Because you sound that your butt hurts from being so anal. Sheesh, P3 is so easy, doesn't even reaches the difficulty of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne

Oh God, you are right.

Oh God, you are right. Nocturne is one of the hardest games I've ever played. Persona 3 is cakewalk compared to it. Persona 3 is like, the preliminary stage for SMT; if you find it too hard, don't even touch any of the other ones. Persona 3 is still one of the best games ever made. This guy shouldn't bash on it for being unique and a little challenging.

I must've missed the part

I must've missed the part where he said the game was hard... and it must written in white as well. He said the game is only hard to tolerate, and I fully agree. His story reflects mine... I played it, was enjoying it somewhat for a bit, gradually got annoyed by its work-like repetitive structure (and terrible damn music), tried to keep pushing trying to find what everyone loves so much about it.... ended up losing my mind before games end (watched ending(s) on youtube, which was good, but still melted game with a lighter), but rather than hating jRPG's, I ended up hating "the internet" (you) for lying to me and I still do to this day. Childish? Maybe, but its worked out for me.

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