Atlus' portable version of one of their most popular games of all time is coming to the PSP very soon: July 6th. You don't have to ask me twice to play the game I've already played a couple of times again -- I love Persona 3. But if you were on the fence for this PSP port, maybe this list of changes in this new version will help you decide.
I had the privilege of seeing more of Persona 3 Portable in action again this week. I was quite surprised to see how many changes were to the game when I put them all down in my notes. Sure, there's the obvious change: that you can play the game as a female now. But there's so much more, and I feel like all of the changes are for the better, minus the removal of some cutscenes. This means that if you liked Persona 3, you're probably going to like P3P even more.
Hit the jump to see our list of changes to Persona 3 Portable.
You can play as a girl
It's worth repeating again. While you could play P3P with the male protagonist as you did the last couple of times, you'd be missing out on a whole bunch of new story changes that you'd see playing as the new female lead. Plus, she's really cute. Everything changes, especially the relationships you have with others in Persona 3's world. Speaking of...
Your social link interactions are different (you'll date the boys)
When you played it the first time as a male, it was easy to notice that there were plenty of girls to send your affections to in Persona 3. But look at it again: there's plenty of guys too. That's who you'll be courting as the female, obviously. All the main cast can be dated in social link interactions. Junpei? Sure, if he's your type. I'm more of an Akihiko kind of girl.
There are also new social links for friends
Outside of dating, you'll have the opportunity to join clubs after school, just like in the original game. But, as the female lead, they're different. The three clubs you can join as a female are tennis, volleyball, and archery. I saw a bit of the volleyball club, which is linked to the Chariot arcana. In this one, schoolmate Rio is your friend and Ms. Kanou is your coach. Both have new portraits in P3P, and both are attractive. Too bad you're a girl.
Everything outside of Tartarus is in 2D
I guess I never really paid attention to the fact that everything is in 2D until now. While this cuts back on the exploration you'll do, it's really neat to see how they've recreated the world in 2D. Thankfully Atlus' artist did a great job, and everything looks fantastic. Iwatodai strip mall looks even more inviting. Duck Burger is now fleshed out in full detail. Somehow the mall looks better than it did in 3D, and the phermone-tastic Chagall Cafe has awesome lighting that I never noticed before.
Navigation is easier, faster
Because of this change to 2D, you're able to navigate the game's world much faster than before. Instead of trolling school hallways, you'll just point your cursor at where you want to go. It's instant. Pulling in the R triger brings up a hotspot menu that lets you instantly jump to a completely different location. Little talk, save, and action/interaction icons pop up over interest points - all you need to do is point and click.
Your desk at school is a save point
This is a little one. It's exactly as it sounds: you can save in your seat in class.
Cutscenes are out
The only negative change I can think of is that the animated cutscenes (other than the introduction) have been cut. Think about it: Atlus would to have had recreated all the scenes with a female lead now. The game does not need cutscenes, but they were nice.
The battle system takes from Persona 4
No more stupid AI! I remember screaming at my television for some of the stupid mistakes the AI made for your party members in the original Persona 3. When you could control your full party in Persona 4 -- well, that was like a dream! In P3P you'll have that same control over each party member, letting you dig deeper into the game's tactics system and scream at the TV a bit less.
Two new difficulty levels
Adding to the three existing difficulty levels are two more, Beginner and Ultra-Hard. The main difference between all levels is the change in balance between the damage your characters put out and the damage you'll receive from enemies. Story elements are the same across all levels.
There are part-time jobs now
Just like in Persona 4, P3P has part-time jobs. While they're not full-on social links, you'll be able to work to make money and increase traits like charm, academics and courage.
New dialogue added
While all the original Persona 3 dialogue is in the game, the voice cast was brought back to add voicings for all the new story elements that come with the female lead's story and social links. That means new dialogue from all the cast.
Data install feature, downloadable version
If you want to avoid switching UMDs, you can opt to install P3P onto a Memory Stick. Atlus says that the install weighs in at about 300mb. You could also just buy the downloadable version of the game and skip the UMD completely. The install helps with load times, but I'm glad to say that the game doesn't really need the help.
Awesome loading times even with out install
The load times straight off the UMD are very fast! Going from area to area is barely noticeable. The only real load time I noticed was going into Tartarus. Because they've used a lot of 2D, P3P's load times are significantly faster than the PS2 versions of the game.
There's a Junpei hat
If you pre-order the game at GameStop or Amazon.com, you'll get a sweet pre-order bonus: a hat just like in-game character Junpei.