Prologue to Persona Series (Skip If you don’t care)
Shin Megami Tensei is one of the longest running JRPG franchises that the popular game developer Atlus has in its arsenal; spawning many spin-offs that end up becoming their own true series, which rivals the greatness of the original. One such example is Shin Megami Tensei: Persona. The Persona games usually revolve around the lives of a group of teenagers in Japan who through a series of events (different in each game) gain the ability to summon Personas.
Personas are other versions of an individual that resides within them, everyone has it, but very few have what is called “The Potential” to summon forth their other selves. In the earliest games in the Shin Megami Tensei series, dungeon crawling was displayed in a first person view with random encounters which then brought the player to the traditional turn based rpg set up. It was in Persona 2 that the dungeon crawling changed from first person to an aerial shot of the protagonist walking with full 360 camera angles for a 3D feel. Persona 2, also gave way to a new feature during battles, you could see your team move up close and hit the enemies, and of course you had the option to turn that feature off because the animations took forever to go through. Both Persona 1 and 2 had different protagonist, but their stories occurred in the same universe since some of the main characters from the first game make cameo appearances in the second, and some even help you during the main story. Both games feature an interesting system which allows you to talk to the monsters or demons that you’re fighting, depending on what you say to the creatures you can get potions from them, money, or even an offer for them to become one of your personas so you can summon them to help you in further battles, it all depends on the monster’s personality and how you talk to it.
Persona 3: FES
Persona 3 did away with the conversing with demons and the absolute control of your team. Where in the other games you decide what your other team mates are going to do in battle, in this one you can only control the main character and the others act as they want, until you can give them orders such as conserve sp, act freely, heal/support, attack target, and so on. At first I thought it was going to be more difficult to fight when I can only control the leader, but the Ai in this game is amazing. They seemingly learn as the game progresses to be more tactical and many times during the game I thought to myself, “That’s exactly what I would have told you to do!”
Unlike its predecessors Persona 3 isn’t only dungeon crawling with bits of story in between, there are many sub-plots that are optional but help strengthen your different Personas; these sub-plots are called Social Links. All of the main characters attend school when they aren’t fighting monsters, and your academics, charm, and courage are developed during the day, where you can develop your social life. Those 3 attributes can help you get stronger persona further down the line. Making friends with class mates, joining a club, and doing things at the mall, all have importance in this game, it’s like The Sims meets Pokemon, except instead of creatures inspired by elements and earthly animals, its demons, angels, and mythical beings/deities. Every friend you can make has an Arcana, a tarot card that represents them in some way depending on what’s going on in their lives. Fully helping a friend to the maximum level will grant you the ability to summon the strongest persona that their Arcana has. So even when you’re seemingly goofing off with friends in the game, you’re still helping yourself get closer to a more powerful team. The stronger personas need to be unlocked by fusing other persona together; you’re always shown the end results so there won’t be any surprises.
Like in the previous games, you play as the silent protagonist (Insert Name Here), whose transferring to a new high school, and on his way to the dorms he experiences the Dark Hour; an extra hour in the day that takes place in between 12am and 1am, only Persona users can experiences this, and everyone else turns into coffins where they stand. Naturally (Insert Name Here) shrugs it off and continues to listen to his MP3 player as he gets to the Dorms, and the strange events continue to escalate. He later signs a contract which says that he agrees to accept the fate that destiny has for him, and a few days later he summons his Persona and realizes that he has the ability to summon multiple persona, unlike his dorm mates who can only summon one per person.
Each persona user on your team has his/her own back story and a reason why they received “The Potential” which is made entirely clear once you play The Answer. The story spans over an entire year, you meet new people and the characters go through changes, all leading up to an epic climax. Given its anime style, the story makes you care about what happens to these characters, none of them are two-dimensional, even when it seems like they really are.
The graphics are nothing to gawk at, they are simple and stylized, and is always viewed from a partially aerial view. All important cut scenes are in anime form, giving the characters more emotion than the still images above a text box you get during in-game cut scenes.
The Answer (Spoilers):
The first part of Persona 3 FES is called The Journey, once you’ve beaten it, you’ll want to play The Answer. You play as Aigis this time around, and after the death of the main character, all the persona users start to drift apart, they’re all moving out of the dorms, and Aigis isn’t returning to school next semester. On the last day of moving out, most of the characters meet up one last time to give back their envokers, when suddenly time seems to have stopped. The TV says its March 31st, when it should be April 1st, Then a hidden door opens up from the ground in the lobby, and everyone is attacked by an android claiming to be Aigis’s sister. Soon after that, you must dungeon crawl through several levels under the dorms to uncover the secrets behind this strange occurrence that seems connected to Aigis, given that she suddenly has the ability to use several different persona at once just like the main character in The Journey.
There is an event you can do that gives you a reward, you must perform Jack Bros; it’s an attack that can only be used when you have both Pyro Jack and Jack Frost on your team of persona. You might be thinking, oh they both have jack in their name, big deal… WELL! If you’ve never heard of the Virtual Boy, Click Here. Not many games were published for it, given its failure as a console, but one of the games that some people didn’t entirely hate, and probably would have been better on the SNES, was a game developed by Atlus called Jack Bros, You play as one of three Jack brothers which includes Jack Frost, Jack Lantern(Pyro Jack), and Jack the Ripper. So that special Event and Attack just pays tribute to the past of Atlus, they’re not ashamed!
One of the Social links in the game is with a girl on the computer, you play an MMO with her called Innocent Sin Online, your character is called Tatsuya, and she calls herself Maya. This is a direct allusion to Persona 2: Innocent Sin. Maya asks you if you played the first game, partially making a crack in the 4th wall, referring to the previous Persona Games.
Persona 3 FES is a great JRPG and known to be a milestone in the persona series. It’s fighting system is fantastic, and you can really get attached to the characters. The cliché of saving the world isn’t so bad when you’ve got other things to focus on than just fighting.
Persona 3: FES Gets
Out of Five
… Voice Acting?…
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