Persona 3 Portable (PSP) primarily engages in the role of a high-school transfer student who journeys through another realm of the world at the hour of midnight. Available on the Playstation Portable, PS2 and Xbox 360, the game spans across the streets of Tokyo, focusing on the ‘Dark Hour’. The ‘Dark Hour is the time of the night when a world, which exists outside the boundaries of 24 hours of time, named Tartarus, comes to life.
Only the chosen few constituting an organization going by the name of SEES, each processing unique abilities remain intact during this hour of the night. As for the rest, they transform into coffins shrouded in an aura of mystery. The shadows attack anyone outside the coffins.
The game’s main protagonists are the player – the main protagonist and those belonging to the SEES group.
The game features 5 difficulty modes – Beginner, Easy, Normal, Hard, and Maniac. The main aim of the game is time management. During the daytime, you play out the role of a normal academic student which includes tasks like exploring the city, attending classes, working on your personal characteristics and taking them up a notch but only during the time of the night do you get to officially fight.[gallery ids="111,108,116" type="slideshow"]
The daytime is played out in a visual novel gaming style and the night in a more 3D RPG mode.
A special item known as the Plume Dust initially comes in a pack of 30 if you start out as a beginner in the game. The numbers reduce as you proceed to the Easy and Normal mode and diminish completely beyond that level of difficulty. This item is not available for purchase as it is a unique revival item in the game, which loads you up with a continue option in case of defeat. Normally, it’s game over when you die without the Plume Dust.
Also, special events are triggered on certain days of the month. Therefore, counting your days and planning out your strategic level ups is crucial. Every monster in the game is crammed up with special abilities and unique weaknesses, which, of course you can analyze and figure out, unless a boss battle lands up on you. You can also choose the gender of your character. Playing as a female protagonist offers a new perspective and brings forth more content in the game.[gallery ids="124,125,127,129,130,114" type="rectangular"]
The game also features Personas which are a manifestation of your inner subconscious thoughts and feelings and this requires you to establish Social Links, which is basically forming emotional bonds with people, to strengthen the power of your Personas of type Arcana. Arcanas come in different types – Death, Emperor, Chariot, Justice, Lovers, Devil and many more. Making progress can at times seem endless in the game and can thus can keep you engaged for hours.
Another noteworthy feature worth a mention is the ability to form parties with select players during the time of the Dark Hour and to combine Personas of different Arcana types to give rise to new Personas. Combining personas is referred to as fusion in a place called the Velvet room in the game and this accompanies different kinds of combinations. A shop is also available in the game from where you can purchase special items and equipment and raise up your physical stats according to your needs.
Each shadow has a unique set of attacks, both physical and magical. Shadows can come in parties as well. An array of magical attacks can range from an assortment of fire, hama, ice and so on. During battles, your player can perform team attacks as well as attacks in a duo.
The boss battles in the game are very unique. Certain bosses can create multiple shadows and make the battles more challenging. Usually they come in a trio as you progress across the floors and at times, in a stand-alone fashion.
Special bosses usually pop up during a full moon which means stronger forms of shadows.
Now for the juicy bit. As you battle out monsters, at the end of the battles pops up a special feature called the Shuffle Time where a handful of cards are shuffled around and you get to pick one out at random. Each card comes in different types such as – Experience, Weapon, Cursed, Money and Persona. Upon obtaining a cursed card and remaining on the same floor for a certain amount of time, players get to fight the shadow known as Death, which will, of course, obliterate you unless your party is of a high level. Again, if you stay on the same floor for over 30 mins, Death will approach you and you will eventually have to escape unless you want some whopped ass with whipped cream.
The story progresses in the form of cut scenes and can really nab your attention with the mix of 3D rendered environments coupled along with cel-shaded characters. The battles however are completely 3D. The soundtracks are really well composed which you can of course change during the battles within Tartarus when you climb up various floors.
There are over a 100 floors in Tartarus and the game is jam-packed with battles even outside of Tartarus and special triggers as well. Honestly speaking, you won’t be left disappointed.[caption id="attachment_152" align="aligncenter" width="387"] Persona 3 Portable Box/Cover Art (PSP)[/caption]