It took a while, but I finally finished Persona 3: FES. What I found while listening to the end credits song was how fantastic the game is. The first JRPG game I ever played was Final Fantasy VII when it was first released for the PlayStation in 1997. I didn't like the random encounters or the turn based nature of the battles. There has been a few Turn Based Games I played long the way as The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age and South Park: The Stick of Truth, the latter being an excellent game, but a couple of years ago I decided to download Persona 3: FES to check it out. It was always something I heard great things about, and I felt like I should at least try it. I got around 30 hours where I became stuck on a boss, and one thing let to another Persona 3: FES was something in my backlog for nearly 2 years. Now, a few weeks ago I finally finished the game and I can't sing praises enough about it. It really deserves its place as one of the best PlayStation 2 games.
Then there was news that Persona 4 was coming to the PlayStation Store as PlayStation Classics. I was close to beating Persona 3 when the news hit, but I knew that I would want to play it as soon as possible. When I finished Persona 3 I found myself watching Persona 4: The Animation. I did this because I didn't think that I would play Persona 4 anytime soon. I am not a big fan of anime that much, I'll watch it, but only if someone tells me it's worth watching. Persona 4: The Animation turned out to be something I didn't expect. Hilarous. I was expecting a great story and characters, because that was what Persona 3 had, but I wasn't expecting something so funny. While I would prefer people to play Persona 4, I can say that if you can't play the game, at least watch Persona 4: The Animation. It's a common question among Persona fans, which is better, Persona 3 or Persona 4? At almost 140 hours between them, I will tell you what I think is the best one.
The characters of Persona 3 starts off as genaric, as you continue your school year at Gekkoukan High. You will know each character fairly well. Once the main characters arrive at the dorm at the start the game he, or she if you play Persona 3 Portable, meets two characters that you will spend a lot of time with. Yukari Takeba and Mitsuru Kirijo. Yukari is the same grade as you and Mitsuru Kirijo is a senior. You would have never known that Mitsuru was a student by the way she carries herself. She's confident, kind, and at times authoritative. Yukari is almost the same way, but she can lose her temper sometimes, but at the end of the day, she means well. There are other characters like Akihiko Sanada who is confident and always striving for better. Junpei Iori, the comic-relief, is kind, funny, but can't always think ahead. That nearly gets him killed a couple of times. There are other characters in Persona 3, but I won't delve into anymore due to the fact that the story helps bring these characters together.
The characters of Persona 4 are fantastic. By the end of both game and The Animation, it felt like I know these people as they were my friends. Chie Satanaka is strong, stubborn, and quick in her feet. Yosuke Hanamura is clumsy but caring. Yukiko Amagi is fair, silent, and kind hearted. Nanako Dojima is the heart of Persona 4. Much like Persona 3, the other characters in Persona 4 are drawn into the story. If I would have to say, Persona 4 has the better characters.
The Story of Persona 3 follows the main character as he tries to fight shadows along with some of his classmates. The shadows come out every night at midnight, and at midnight there is a hidden hour. SEES, Special Extracurricular Extermination Squad, calls this The Dark Hour. Most of Persona 3 has its story beats in every full moon. There are times where life outside the Dark Hour will take center stage as the game allows for character development. You learn about the accident that started in 1999 and how to defeat shadows. Persona 3 has a much darker storyline instead of the lighter tones of Persona 4. You do have to grind and create social links, and that is where most of the story takes place. Once you notice that a full moon is coming, it's a race to see what happens next.
Once again, Persona 4 wins this round just simply by having more school events. While Persona 3 had a few events, they are nothing compared to the events in Persona 4. This makes the character development feel more natural and real. The story of Persona 4 starts with a murder of a local newscaster and from then on, it delves into a new place called The TV World. It doesn't have a name like as the Tartarus in Persona 3, but since you can enter the world through a TV, the characters just call it the TV world. Game game is not afraid to stop the main thread altogether and allow you to visit the city for a couple of days. The main story is you, the new transfer student, tries to solve the murder of the newscaster. Like Persona 3, the game takes place a whole year, but not like Persona 3, the time is better developed.
They both feature turn based combat, but I would have to give this one a tie because the Tartarus is a much interesting place than The TV World. The TV world manifests into whoever goes inside. This does allow for some great dungeons, but you would need to grind your characters much more in Persona 4 unlike in Persona 3. In Persona 3 when you were inside Tartarus it always felt that you were always moving forward, even when you hit a gate that blocks your path. You were always moving. In Persona 4, that feeling is barely there. Most dungeons have about 6 to 10 levels, but they feel more narrow in Persona 4 while Persona 3 is more open.
In Persona 3, you only control your character and no one else. You can assign commands to your members, but whatever they do after that is all on them. This does get frustrating at times, but for the most part the AI does a pretty good job on doing what they are told and handling their own. In Persona 4, you have complete control over the characters. When controlling them it feels more impactful when they are down. When Persona 3 Portable for the PlayStation Portable, they used the same combat as they did in Persona 4. When it comes to the gameplay for both games, they have positives and negatives. What matters is that no matter what you choose, you will get a great game out of them.
There is a reason why Persona 3 and Persona 4 has a strong cult following. With great gameplay, characters, story, and stupidly addicting music, the Persona series is a game that I wish that I played sooner. It may take a little bit longer for Persona 5 comes out, but once it does, I'll be there waiting to grabbing my copy. Persona, you had made me a small fan of turn based JRPGs.