Alright, alright. Everybody is excited about a third edition of Persona 3 coming out. Everyone is ecstatic to spend more money on what is essentially the same exact game they've probably already bought twice. Whatever. That's not what this blog is about. As a person who played both releases of the game extensively, and as somebody who loves the games mostly for the ideas and symbology contained within the game, P3P worries me. A lot of the changes being made (And a lot of the "expectations" of the fans) are affecting this part of the game, arguably the very things that made P3 so special in the first place, and nobody cares because OMG THERE MIGHT BE LESBIANS. I just want to get some of my feelings on the matter out into the open. So here we go.
Also, it should go without saying that this is going to contain VERY heavy spoilers for P3, so don't read ahead if you're still playing through.
Now, my major beef with P3P stems from one rather drastic change, and it's the one that's getting the most talk around the internet. It's the one that's getting advertised the most as well. If you haven't guessed, the change I'm talking about is the ability to play through the game as a female character.
IT'S HER FAULT!
Now before you start calling me a filthy sexist, let me say that objectively I have no problem with a girl protagonist. I played P2, and Maya was awesome. I respect that some people would rather play as a girl instead of a guy. In fact, on the surface level I'm intrigued by how they plan to implement a girl into the game as it stands, and in fact I hope I'm jumping the gun on this and everything is going to work out fine with her.
If they can make it work.
That's the part I'm a little worried about. A lot of the major themes presented in Persona 3 require the main character to be male to make their impact. Even without delving deeply into the background themes present in the game, a lot of characters and a lot of scenes are going to need to receive massive overhauls for them to even make sense. Pharos and Ryoji as characters can't exist as they are in the game anymore. They were designed the way they are because Minato had held them inside his body for 10 years, and their physical shadow bodies had adapted pieces of his humanity, which is why they look like Minato and why they're male. Removing Minato and putting a girl in his place would change their entire characters, and not just physically. We have to remember that the mother of the shadows, Nyx, is a female. And the role reversal of a Male carrying a female around inside him for 10 years and then "birthing" her as a male child has implications that don't exist when you reverse the roles. Nyx's entire design changes, and a large part of the meaning behind the battle changes too.
These three were designed with each other in mind. It doesn't work when you remove any one of them!
And let's not even start with how so much of the story hinges on how the SEES team interacts with Minato. As a retelling of the Fool's tale interpretation of the Tarot deck, changing the male lead for a female lead destroys most of the themes that were so masterfully woven into the original script, not to mention all the events that hinge on the guys vs. the girls or simply how the characters react to one another as friends and classmates. I can't go into every single instance used in the game, because that would take about 100 blogs more then I have time to write, but a good example that jumps to mind is the scene of meeting Aigis on the beach. A lot of people have suggested that, oh, well instead of going on operation Babe hunt, as a female protag you would simply go on the nature walk with the girls instead. Which is fine, but it means that ultimately she wouldn't even MEET Aigis, because it was through going to the beach that day that Aigis even sensed Minstao's presence. The scene would have to be changed dramatically for the event to take place, and it wouldn't be nearly as powerful as it was in the original script. In fact, the interactions with Aigis in general would be much more strange and forced unless they were completely revamped, but as I said before, I don't even begin to ahve enough time to delve into all THAT.
With Junpei and Akihiko as the only guys, this scene would have never taken place. Remember, it was Minato who ultimately got Akihiko involved.
And while we're on the subject, most of the S.Links don't make sense if Minato isn't present. The most obvious change is in the romances, which really don't make sense with a female lead. And I know, I know, HURF DURF THEY CAN MAKE HER LESBIAN, but again, what kind of effect would that have on the outcome of things or the very characters themselves? That kind of change would have drastic effects on how the characters would have to act, as well as on the references made to the Fool's Journey. A lot of people have also suggested that they could just "switch the S.Links around", which again doesn't work! Junpei can't become a datable character because a HUGE part of his story is the fact that he falls in love with Chidori. And besides, he's the Magician link, which Kenji already fills. Akihiko's spot is already covered by Hidoshi(Besides there not being enough extra story to cover him on an S.Link path), Ken is covered by Chihiro(See Akihiko), and a Koromaru S.Link would just be silly(Despite how awesome and amazing Koromaru is). Besides that, the current roster of S.Links already makes sense in terms of the Fool's Journey; altering them in any way would destroy that part of the meaning behind the experience. Even if nothing is swapped around or altered, we're also presented with impossible situations, like the Chariot S.Link which involves the -BOYS- sports teams. Kazushi can no longer be the Chariot, Mamoru can't be the Star, Kenji isn't interested in girls his own age, Nozomi's using you to emotionally replace his dead younger brother doesn't work, Chihiro can't overcome her fear of boys if she's hanging out with a girl, and so much more. In fact, nly a small handful of S.Links actually still work properly with a girl MC. The entire system would be turned on it's ear and wouldn't make sense.
Anyway, I've rambled on for long enough, and I think I've made my point. I know it sounds awful, I really do, but unless Atlus plans to load two completely different scripts and event trees onto that tiny UMD, inserting a girl MC option into the game is going to damage what the game stands for, and a good part of what made the game special. I love Atlus, and I love P3, and if they somehow manage to pull this off, I'll eat my words. But until I see otherwise, I have a problem with this version of the game.
Oh, and while I have everybody's attention, I'd really wish people would stop complaining about not being able to control your party members in P3. You have perfectly solid control over them, it's called the commands tab. When you set a command, you prioritize your character's AI settings, and for everybody but Mitsuru this means that they 90% prioritize a single specific spell. If you don't want Akihiko to use debuffs, set him to All-Out attack and he'll spam Zio spells or Phys attacks. Alternately, if you want him to debuff or use healing spells, set him to Heal/Support. The ONLY character that is difficult to control is Mitsuru because the game prioritizes Tentarafoo as a powerful spell(which it was in all the previous games where enemies could be weak to Nerve), so you can only guarantee her to use Bufu spells if you set her to Knock Down, which is a strategy you have to unlock through the game.
If you use the command tab properly, you can get every character to do exactly what you want every single time. In before somebody responds with "But I hate setting commands, I'd rather just select the spells myself" without realizing that both take exactly the same amount of button presses to do.