Now, don't get me wrong. I love Atlus' Persona 3 just the way it is and I wouldn't change a thing, but check out this posting from game director Katsura Hoshino from back in 2007. Its two videos show off a prototype of Persona 3's battle system. Fights take place on the field themselves in the first video. Notice how shadows just seem to pop up from out of the ground. That's so cool. You also have to love the victory dances.
The other video shows a battle start a bit closer to what we're used to, though with a pretty slick visual style that I wouldn't mind seeing in another Shin Megami Tensei game. It seems that memory limitations had them using this second method over the first one.
This old posting was shared by a Japanese-English translator that I follow. If you're interested (and you should be!), this blog has translated another one of Hoshino's postings on Persona 3's development, showing a tool that they used to make social links. It's some pretty interesting stuff that any Persona fan would enjoy.