Wumbo Wonders is series of blog posts in which I talk about my feelings and general thoughts about a video game I’ve recently completed. These are just random musings about the game, so I may be jumping all over the place. There will definitely be spoilers so read at your own risk!
I was first introduced to the world of Shin Megami Tensei by Jeff and Vinny’s Persona 4 Endurance Run. When I finished all those videos back in 2009, I really wanted to play Persona 3. I knew that Persona 3 and 4 were both pretty similar, so I knew I would have a great time with the third installment in the franchise. However, back in 2009, I didn’t have a PS3, and I really didn’t want to have to drag my PS2 out of my closet, so I never got around to playing it. But finally, I eventually got a PS3 and Persona 3: FES arrived on PSN. After nearly 90 hours, I am confident in saying Persona 3 is an amazing game that changes the way I will look at JRPGS from now on.
It’s the characters and story that make the Persona games so unique and fresh. I don’t consider myself some JRPG nut, but I’ve played enough of them to know that I’m sick to death of princesses (aka manic pixie dream girls), castles, weird hair and clothing, and protagonists that have no parents and whine constantly. Actually, both main characters of Persona 3 and 4 are orphans, but you catch my drift. Persona 3 completely breaks that mold and puts you in setting that’s somewhat believable. You’re not searching the world for light crystals; you’re simply a high school student living in modern day Japan. And having a JRPG break that convention really goes a long way for me. The biggest contribution to the great premise is the voice acting. Persona 4 had fantastic English dubs, and Persona 3 again nails it. The humor also would not be so effective if not for the superb voice actors. Humor is difficult to execute in video games, but Persona games always manage to make me laugh, mainly through the use of putting the player in hilariously awkward situations.
The combat, however, is not really up to par with the rest of the game. After watching 99 hours and 59 minutes of Jeff and Vinny storm through Persona 4, it was a little weird playing through Persona 3. Little things are absent, such as pressing square to be able to go anywhere you want, or not having a full map of a level in a dungeon. But the AI controlled party members was definitely the most jarring change. The tactics option does a sufficient job in dictating your team’s choices, but not having that micro management really bummed me out. This inability to choose your party’s actions really sucked every time Mitsuru would cast Bufu instead of Mabufu. At the end of the day, it’s not really a huge deal because there are plenty of SP recovery items, but it’s just something that bugged me constantly. These annoyances probably would not have been as apparent and bothersome if you played the Persona games sequentially, but for me personally, these are things that I noticed. Also, every time Mitsuru cast Marin Karin, I died a little inside.
But all that is really a minor gripe in what is a fantastic game. The Persona series is quickly becoming one of my favorite franchises, and the wait for Persona 5 is slowly picking away at my brain. I know Jeff has often mentioned that he loves the setting and characters of the world of Persona 4 and would love to see a Persona 4-2 rather than a Persona 5, but with Atlus’ creativity and ingenuity, I am more excited for what new stories and characters they can conjure up.