Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3

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Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3
PlayStation 2 box art displaying silhouettes of three of the main characters of Persona 3. The top of the box displays the name of the series, "Shin Megami Tensei". Below the series name, the characters "P3" are displayed in a large, blocky font. Below this is the name of the game, "Persona 3", in a smaller font.
The North American cover art for Persona 3, which displays silhouettes of three characters with their respective Personas in the background. From left to right: the Protagonist (and Orpheus), Yukari (and Io), and Junpei (and Hermes).
Developer(s) Atlus
Publisher(s)
Director(s) Katsura Hashino[1]
Producer(s) Kozo Itagaki (Executive Producer)
Katsura Hashino[1]
Artist(s) Shigenori Soejima[1]
Composer(s) Shoji Meguro[2][3]
Series Megami Tensei (Main)
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona (Sub-series)
Platform(s) PlayStation 2
PlayStation Portable
PlayStation Network
Release date(s) Persona 3[4]
  • JP July 13, 2006
  • NA August 14, 2007
  • EU February 29, 2008
  • AUS March 6, 2008

Persona 3 FES[5]

  • JP April 19, 2007
  • NA April 22, 2008
  • EU October 17, 2008
  • AUS November 18, 2008
  • NA April 10, 2012 (PSN)[6]
  • EU February 12, 2014 (PSN)

Persona 3 Portable[7]

  • JP November 1, 2009
  • NA July 6, 2010
  • EU April 29, 2011[8]
  • UK April 28, 2011
Genre(s) Console role-playing, social simulation
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution DVD-ROM (PS2)
UMD, Digital Download (PSP)

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3, originally released in Japan as simply Persona 3 (ペルソナ3 Perusona Surī?), is the third video game in the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series of role-playing video games developed by Atlus, which is part of the larger Megami Tensei series of video games. Persona 3 was originally published in 2006 on the PlayStation 2 by Atlus in Japan; the North American release of the game was delayed due to issues with the publication of the official art book. An add-on disc entitled Persona 3 FES, containing a "director's cut" of the original game, as well as a new epilogue, was released alongside Persona 3 in Japan in 2007, and in 2008 in other territories, with a 2012 re-release on the PlayStation Network.

In Persona 3, the player takes the role of a male high-school student who joins the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad (SEES), a group of students investigating the Dark Hour, a time period between one day and the next that few people are aware of. During the Dark Hour, the player enters Tartarus, a large tower containing Shadows, creatures that feed on the minds of humans. To fight the Shadows, each member of SEES is able to summon a Persona, a manifestation of a person's inner self. The game's most iconic feature is the method by which the members of SEES release their Personas: by firing a gun-like object called an Evoker at their head. In addition to the standard elements of role-playing games, Persona 3 includes elements of simulation games, as the game's protagonist progresses day by day through a school year, making friends and forming relationships that improve the strength of his Personas in battle.

There are official soundtracks for Persona 3, Persona 3 FES, and Persona 3 Portable, as well as an arrangement album containing music from multiple games in the Persona series. Music from the game has also been performed live at two concerts dedicated to the Persona series. Persona 3 has seen a manga adaption, multiple radio dramas. Critical reception of Persona 3 was mainly positive; reviewers enjoyed the game's social elements, while some found its combat and environments repetitive. Persona 3 FES's epilogue was said to give narrative closure to the original game, although it was criticized for not featuring the simulation aspect of Persona 3.

A PlayStation Portable version of Persona 3, titled Persona 3 Portable was released in Japan on November 1, 2009, and in North America on July 6, 2010. The remake adds the ability to play as a female protagonist, new story elements and music, and a new interface designed for the PSP. In 2008, an original non-canon anime set 10 years after the events of Persona 3, entitled Persona: Trinity Soul, was released in Japan and later in North America. Two fighting games that continued the storyline of select members of S.E.E.S., Persona 4 Arena and the upcoming Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, were released in 2012 and 2014 respectively.

Gameplay[edit]

A teenage boy with blue hair sits at a desk in his school's library, studying. The dialogue box in the lower-third of the screen reads "You managed to solve a difficult problem!" The top-right area of the screen denotes that the date is June 8, the current time period is "After School", and the moon is full.
The Protagonist gains academic skills by studying in the school library. The upper-right area of the screen indicates the current date, time period, and phase of the moon.

Combining elements of traditional role-playing video games and simulation games, the gameplay of Persona 3 involves following the day-to-day life of the game's protagonist, as he attends school and works to build relationships with other people.[9] Each day is broken up into several periods of time, such as "Morning", "After School", or "Evening"; certain activities are restricted to certain times of the day. Free time can be spent engaging in a number of activities, including participating in a sports team or club meeting, seeing a movie, eating at a restaurant, or spending time with someone to improve a Social Link.[10]

A new feature to the series, Social Links are formed by the friendship between the protagonist and other characters, and are associated with different Major Arcana of the Tarot deck.[11] Each Link has its own narrative arc, starting at Rank 1; spending time with a Social Link character progresses their story, and increases the Rank of the Link. Increasing Social Links usually needs certain conditions - attributes, friendship points, or require other Social Links or items. Bringing the Persona with the same Arcanum to the Social Links will increase friendship level better, although it is not a must to achieve the Social Link. Certain negative actions, such as leaving a Social Link unattended for too long, dating multiple women, or choosing the wrong choices in dialog can result in a Reversed Social Link which prevents you from summoning that Arcana's Personas until fixed. In the worst case, a Reversed Social Link can Break, effectively removing all Personas of that Arcana from the game.

The Protagonist has three social attributes—Academics, Charm, and Courage—which can be improved by engaging in specific activities. For example, studying after school or at night will increase Academics, correctly answering a question during a class increases Charm, and singing karaoke at night will increase Courage.[12] Some Social Links cannot be started unless a specific attribute is at a certain level.[13]

At night, the player may enter Tartarus, the primary dungeon of Persona 3.[14] Tartarus is a tower containing over 250 floors, divided into several "blocks" . The floors of Tartarus are randomly generated, each containing chests with money or items inside, enemies to fight, and a stairway to the next level.[15] Certain floors contain mini-bosses that must be defeated before moving on, or having road-blocks that is inaccessible without certain movements in story, along with a teleport point which allows the player to return to the entrance of Tartarus (or returning from the entrance to that point).[16] To fight Shadows, the player may bring into Tartarus up to three members of SEES, in addition to the Protagonist and the supporting-member (which is fixed and only changed once as story's movement) who did not engage in battles; these five characters comprise the player's "party". The condition of members of the player's party will worsen as they continue to participate in battles. A "tired" or "sick" character will perform worse in battle, and must be given time outside of Tartarus to recover.[16] Every full-moon day's midnight the story's plot will have a big movement, which are usually accompanied with boss battles, and may or may not happen in Tartarus.

Combat[edit]

Four of the game's playable characters surround a group of three enemies. The camera is centered behind the Protagonist, who is wielding a sword. A wheel-shaped menu of icons in the lower-left corner of the screen indicate available battle commands.
A typical battle in Persona 3. The portraits on the right-hand side of the screen indicate the status of the player's party.

While in Tartarus, the player will encounter numerous Shadows roaming each floor. When the player's character comes into contact with a Shadow, or strikes it with his weapon, the game switches to a battle screen where combat takes place.[17] Battles are turn-based, meaning the player's characters and enemies wait their turn to attack. In original and FES version, the player only directly controls the actions of the Protagonist, but the actions of other party members may be guided via a "Tactics" menu.[18] Each character can perform a basic attack using an equipped weapon, summon their Persona to use a special ability, or use recovery and battle items.[11] Offensive abilities are classified by type of damage done, such as "Slash", "Fire", "Ice", or "Darkness". Enemies, as well as members of the player's party, have a set of strengths and weaknesses to these attack types; striking a foe with an attack it is weak against will knock it down. This allows the attacker to act again, and requires that the knocked-down combatant use its next turn to stand up.[14] If all on-screen enemies are knocked down at once, the player may commence an "All-Out Attack", in which the party rushes the knocked-down enemies, creating a large cloud of cartoon-like smoke and inflicting a high amount of damage.[11]

Persona[edit]

Each member of SEES has a Persona they can summon during battle. Each character's Persona has its own set of strengths and weaknesses, as well as its own unique set of abilities. It also identifies with one of the Major Arcana.[19] When a battle is won, each Persona gains experience points, eventually causing it to level up, increasing its strength in battle and granting it new abilities.[19] The Protagonist is unique among the members of SEES, as he is able to carry multiple Personas. By switching between them during battle, he has access to a wider variety of skills than any other character.[19] In addition, he is the only character who has access to the Velvet Room, in which the player is able to fuse multiple Personas together to create a new, more powerful one.[20] A new Persona inherits several abilities from the Personas used to create it; in addition, it can gain an experience point bonus, based on the rank of the Social Link that matches the Arcana of the Persona being fused.[20] The player is limited by the level of his character when fusing a Persona; the level of the Protagonist must be at least equal to the level of the Persona to be fused.[19] There is also a Persona Compendium which contains all previously owned Personas; this allows the player to retrieve, for a price, an older Persona to be used.[20]

Plot[edit]

Setting[edit]

The story of Persona 3 takes place in a 2009 CE Japanese city called Iwatodai (巖戸台?), built and funded by the Kirijo Corporation. Experiments carried out ten years ago created the Dark Hour, a period of time that exists between one day and the next.[21] During this time, most people are transmogrified into coffins and are not aware of the Dark Hour; however, there is a select group of people who aren't.[21] The Dark Hour bends reality; Gekkoukan High School, where most of the characters attend school during the day, becomes a huge labyrinthine tower called Tartarus, and beasts known as Shadows roam the area, preying on the minds of those still conscious.[14] The Shadows leave their victims in near-catatonic states outside of the Dark Hour.[22] To investigate and learn about the Dark Hour, Shadows, and Tartarus, the "Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad", or SEES, was created. SEES is a group of high-schoolers capable of summoning beings known as Personas to combat Shadows.[14] The Persona 3 instruction manual describes Personas as being "a second soul that dwells deep within a person's heart. It is an entirely different personality that emerges when a person is confronted with something from outside his world."[21] Persona-users usually summon their Persona by firing a gun-like object called an Evoker at their head.[9]

Characters[edit]

The main character of Persona 3 is a silent protagonist, named by the player at the start of the game.[23] He is a teenage boy, orphaned as a child, returning to the city he grew up in ten years prior to attend Gekkoukan High School.[21] After learning of his ability to summon a Persona, he joins SEES, which is composed mostly of students at his school. He is named Minato Arisato in the manga, and Makoto Yuuki in the movie adaptation. The other students are Yukari Takeba, a popular, cheerful girl; Akihiko Sanada, a calm and collected senior who leads the school's boxing team; and Mitsuru Kirijo, the Student Council President and daughter of the head of the Kirijo Group, who provides backup during battle.[24] As the game progresses, SEES gains several new members: Junpei Iori, a class clown and the protagonist's best friend;[24] Fuuka Yamagishi, a shy girl who replaces Mitsuru as a support character; Aigis, a female android designed by the Kirijo Group to fight Shadows;[25] Ken Amada, an elementary schooler whose mother was killed by a Persona-user;[26] Shinjiro Aragaki, a former member of SEES who left the group due to prior events;[27] and Koromaru, a dog capable of summoning a Persona.[28]

Story[edit]

Persona 3 begins with the Protagonist transferring to Gekkoukan High School, and moving into a dorm in the city, meeting classmates Yukari Takeba and Junpei Iori, chairman of the club SEES Shuji Ikutsuki, and third-year Mitsuru Kirijo. SEES carries out strange operations at night, and one night, third-year Akihiko Sanada bursts in, saying that he is fleeing from a monster. Yukari goes to awaken the Protagonist, and the two flee to the roof, where they are attacked by the Magician Arcana Shadow. The Protagonist awakens a Persona known as Orpheus to defeat it, but it turns into Thanatos, which destroys the Magician. The Protagonist passes out and awakens in a room known as the Velvet Room, where it's proprietor Igor says that the room is between consciousness and unconsciousness, and that he and his assistant Elizabeth will create new Personas for the Protagonist.

The Protagonist is asked by Mitsuru to join SEES, which destroys Shadows under the guise of an after-school club, during the Dark Hour, an hour between one day and the next, when Shadows roam free and people without "the potential" are trapped inside coffins to protect them. After Junpei, classmate of the Protagonist and his best friend, joins, she takes SEES to Tartarus, a gigantic tower full of Shadows that Gekkoukan High transforms into during the Dark Hour, and the Protagonist is appointed leader. During the next Full Moon, the party defeats the Priestess Shadow as she tries to crash a monorail car. A bullying victim named Fuuka Yamagishi is later locked in Gekkoukan's gym and is trapped there when it becomes Tartarus. The party goes to rescue her, and discovers that the Empress and Emperor Shadows have been spiriting away anyone who bullied Fuuka. The party manages to save them, with Fuuka awakening a Persona and joining SEES, taking over the support role from Mitsuru.

During the next Full Moon, the Hierophant and Lovers try to mind control the party, but they break free and defeat them both. During summer break, Mitsuru takes SEES to stay in her family's holiday house, as she is the heiress to the famous Kirijo Group. Takeharu Kirijo, Mitsuru's father and current head of the Kirijo Group, shows the party a video of Yukari's father, Eiichiro Takeba, saying that the twelve Shadows must be defeated. Yukari runs down to the beach, and the Protagonist goes to look for her, and the two discuss the Protagonists' deceased parents. Junpei arrives as they embrace and tells them that they must get back before the Dark Hour.

On the second day of the vacation, Junpei takes Akihiko and the Protagonist to find girls on the beach, but they fail each time. Fuuka, Mitsuru and Yukari go on a walk into the forest, and are told by Ikutsuki about an anti-Shadow weapon escaping from the Kirijo Group. They then encounter a girl named Aigis in a blue dress, who rejects Akihiko and Junpei but claims that her top priority is to be by on the Protagonists side. She runs off to the forest and the Protagonist follows her. The party meets up again and Ikutsuki reveals that Aigis is the weapon, and her human shape allows her mind to recognize itself as human, and thus be able to summon a Persona. Meanwhile, Akihiko's friend Shinjiro Aragaki, a former SEES member, receives drugs from a group known as Strega, who oppose SEES' desire to eliminate the Dark Hour.

When they go home, Aigis joins SEES and becomes obsessed with the Protagonist, even breaking into his room to monitor him. During the next Full Moon, the party meets Takaya Sasaki and Jin Shirato, the members of Strega. They run a website called "Revenge Request", which takes requests for murders that Strega carry out during the Dark Hour, by removing the victims from the protective coffins. The party defeats Chariot and Justice Shadows appearing in an underground World War II facility. A little later, the party finds a dog named Koromaru, who awakens a Persona protecting his owner's shrine from Shadows. The party learns that his owner died going to work, and Koromaru waited at his shrine for him.

During the Film Festival, the Protagonist meets a grade schooler named Ken, who can summon a Persona. He later officially joins SEES, along with Shinjiro. The party head for Club Escapade during the next Full Moon and defeat the Hermit Shadow after he causes a power outage. Strega takes Junpei hostage, but he convinces Chidori Yoshino, the third Strega member, to let her guard down. SEES saves Junpei and takes Chidori hostage. The next Full Moon sees Ken and Shinjiro elsewhere, and the party defeating the Strength and Fortune Shadows. Ken confronts Shinjiro about his mother's death, and it is revealed that Shinjiro's Persona went out of control and killed Ken's mother, causing him to leave SEES. Since then, he has been given Persona suppressants by Strega, who were part of the Kirijo Group's experiments for artificial Personae that could kill the user if they did not take Persona suppressants.

Ken tries to kill Shinjiro, but Takaya arrives and shoots Shinjiro, killing him. At the funeral, Akihiko's Persona evolves from Polydeuces to Caesar, as Akihiko reveals that he and Shinjiro grew up in the same orphanage along with Akihiko's sister Miki. Miki died in a fire in the orphanage, causing Akihiko to try and become strong to prevent any more death. Ken's Persona later evolves from Nemesis to Kala-Nemi, as he resolves to live for his mother and Shinjiro. Fuuka's Persona Lucia evolves to Juno when her new friend Natsuki Moriyama moved away. The next Full Moon has SEES battling Jin and Takaya, who dive off the Moonlight Bridge and seemingly die. The final Shadow, the Hanged Man, is defeated, and Mitsuru promises a feast for the party. And the little boy, known as Pharos, who has been communicating with the Protagonist at night, disappears for good.

Takeharu shows up to congratulate SEES. However, the Dark Hour still occurs. Confused, the party goes to Tartarus, where they discover Aigis with Ikutsuki, who reveals that he manipulated SEES into killing all the Shadows. In truth, this will cause them to reunite with the Shadow they originally came from, Death. Aigis, having been reprogrammed by Ikutsuki, takes out SEES, allowing Ikutsuki to crucify them on Tartarus. However, Aigis refuses to sacrifice them for The Fall to occur as Ikutsuki wishes, freeing them and a tied up Takeharu. Ikutsuki and Takeharu shoot each other, and Takeharu is killed.

Ikutsuki tries to kill them anyway, but he forgot to crucify Koromaru, who stops him. Ikutsuki dives off Tartarus to his death, and the party do not know what to do next. Fuuka gives Yukari a file she found on Ikutsuki's computer, and it is revealed to be the original tape from her father (Ikutsuki doctored the one shown at Yakushima). The tape talks of Mitsuru's grandfather wanting to bring about The Fall by experimenting with Death and the Shadows. Yukari's Persona evolves from Io to Isis. A new student named Ryoji Mochizuki joins the Protagonists' class, and Aigis takes an immediate inexplicable dislike to him.

Yukari and Ryoji convince Mitsuru to authorize the school trip to Kyoto, as she is the Student Council President (because the Kirijo Group built the school over the site of their experiments, explaining why it becomes Tartarus every night). During the school trip to Kyoto, Yukari says that she used to live here, and she and her mother moved after her mother desperately tried to find a new boyfriend. Mitsuru's Persona evolves from Penthesilea to Artemisia, and Junpei, Ryoji, Akihiko and the protagonist are nearly caught in the Hot Springs trying to spy on the girls. When they return to Tatsumi Port Island, Takaya and Jin are revealed to be still alive and they take Chidori back.

On the steps to Tartarus, Chidori goes mad and starts to attack the party. Takaya shoots Junpei, killing him, but Chidori comes to her senses and uses her healing powers to revive him, at the cost of her own life. In a fit of rage, Junpei's Persona evolves from Hermes to Trismegistus, and he attacks Jin. Strega escapes with a smoke bomb. Ten days later, during the Full Moon, Ryoji and Aigis are standing on the Moonlight Bridge, having regained their memories. The rest of SEES comes down to the Bridge, and Ryoji reveals everything - ten years ago, after the twelve Arcana Shadows were separated from him, he fought Aigis and was sealed inside the Protagonist, leading to the accident which killed his parents.

Ryoji had appeared to the Protagonist as Pharos, but was allowed to escape and receive his current form when he united with the Arcana Shadows. Death/Ryoji is the herald of Nyx, the being who will bring about The Fall, the end of the world, heralded by cases of Apathy Syndrome, which removes a person's self. Ryoji gives SEES the option to kill him, making their deaths painless, as Nyx cannot be beaten. SEES is given time until the next Full Moon to make their decision. Aigis is put out of commission, and returns with her Persona Palladion having evolved into Pallas Athena. When time comes for SEES to make their decision, the Protagonist refuses to kill Ryoji, despite Ryoji's transformation into Thanatos, and the party decides to find a way to fight Nyx.

Akihiko takes everyone for ramen after losing a bet, and they examine a newspaper headline relating to an end-of-the-world-cult. It turns out to be headed by Takaya. On January 31, the day of Nyx's arrival, the party climbs Tartarus, defeating Jin, who sacrifices himself to fight the Shadows invading from lower floors, and Takaya. On the top floor, they meet Ryoji, who has become Nyx Avatar. He says that he enjoyed his time with them, but he must end the world now. The party defeats Nyx Avatar, but Nyx defeats the Protagonist, who awakens in the Velvet Room. The Social Links Igor told him to form over the year now call out to him, allowing Igor to form the Universe Arcana. However, it is too weak to destroy Nyx (the green moon seen in the Dark Hour). The Protagonist uses his Ultimate Persona Messiah to form the Great Seal on Nyx.

Life returns to normal, but everyone has lost their memories of the events of the past year, and Junpei does not recognize Aigis. The Protagonist fulfills his promise to meet with everyone on Graduation Day, and Aigis comes knocking on his door, claiming that she remembers everything. On Graduation Day, Mitsuru tells everyone that her father died from sudden illness, but does not believe it herself. Aigis and the Protagonist sneak up the roof, where Aigis becomes more human and promises to live, even crying. As everyone comes up onto the roof, regaining their memories, the Protagonists' soul slips away to close the Great Seal, killing him.

Development and design[edit]

Two male and one female student stand in a classroom.  Behind and above the Protagonist, who stands at the center, is the Persona Thantos, a humanoid demon with eight coffins attached to its body via chains.
A Japanese ad for Persona 3, created by the game's art director, Shigenori Soejima. The ad "contains three important game elements: school, Persona, and friendship."[29]

In March 2006, the first details on Persona 3 were unveiled in the Japanese gaming magazine Famitsū.[30] In addition to announcing the game's Japanese release date of July 13, the three-page article detailed the game's premise, combat systems, and the Social Link system (known as Community in the Japanese version). It also profiled three characters—the Protagonist, Junpei, and Yukari—as well as their respective Personas: Orpheus, Hermes and Io.[31]

While localizing Persona 3 for English-speaking countries, the honorifics used by the characters in the original Japanese script were retained. According to Atlus script editor and localizer Nich Maragos, their use "adds so much more meaning to the text." [32] In an interview with RPGamer, project editor Yu Namba explained that during the process of translation, some of the Japanese humor, "things that made absolutely no sense in western culture…were replaced with jokes that at least somewhat parallel the originals."[33] In an interview with the magazine Play, lead director for Persona 3 Katsura Hashino discussed why the decision was made to have party members be directed by an artificial intelligence: "I think it's more fun to have the party members controlled by their AI, so each member's characteristics and personality are on vivid display. There were no objections raised among the Persona 3 development team, either." He also notes that the system "wasn't well received" by players of the game.[34] Persona 3 does not include the negotiation elements of previous Persona or Megami Tensei games, which allowed players to talk to enemies during a battle to recruit them, earn money, or obtain items. However, the social elements of Persona 3 (and its successor, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4) are considered the equivalent of the negotiation system by the development team. Maragos said in a 1UP.com interview that "negotiation isn't gone…And [it] still factors into Persona Fusion; it's still a big part of the game. I feel like it's disguised, but it's there."[32]

The animated cutscenes were animated by Sunrise (codenamed Point Pictures), the studio that had made popular anime like Gundam, Gintama, Kekkaishi, Inuyasha, Sgt.Frog, and Cowboy Bebop.[citation needed]

Music[edit]

The soundtrack for Persona 3 was composed entirely by Shoji Meguro, with the sole exception of "Adventured Act", which was composed by Yosuke Uda.[35] It was released as two discs on July 19, 2006, by Aniplex in Japan. A selection of tracks from the original soundtrack was bundled with the North American release of Persona 3.[36] An arranged album titled Burn My Dread -Reincarnation: Persona 3- was released in Japan on April 18, 2007, by Aniplex. It contains eleven arrangements of tracks from Persona 3, as well as an extended version of the song "Burn My Dread."[37] Meguro has said that the development of Persona 3 was one of his first opportunities to fully realize his music in video games. In the past, the hardware limitations of the original PlayStation required him to compose music in 100-200 kilobyte samples, which he felt made the music sound "pretty cheap". The move to the PlayStation 2 allowed for real-time streaming of music. Meguro considers this "the point at which I was finally able to express my music without making any compromises".[38]

Meguro returned to compose new music for Persona 3: FES. Released in Japan on May 2, 2007, by Aniplex, the soundtrack contained the original score for FES, as well as arrangements of music from earlier games in the Persona series.[39] "The Snow Queen", composed by Kenichi Tsuchiya, is a remix of the theme to Revelations: Persona. "Maya's Theme", composed by Kenichi Tsuchiya, and "Time Castle", composed by Toshiko Tasaki, are remixes of tracks from Persona 2.[40] Persona 3 Portable contains new background music, which can be heard if the player chooses to control the game's new female protagonist.[41] The game's official soundtrack was released by Aniplex in Japan on November 25, 2009.[42]

Music from the Persona series has been performed at two live concerts presented by Aniplex. The first, Persona Music Live: Velvet Room in Akasaka Blitz, was held in Akasaka, Tokyo on August 22, 2008, and featured music from Persona 3, Persona 3: FES, Persona 4, and the anime series Persona: Trinity Soul.[43] The setlist was mainly composed of tracks from Persona 4, however, which was a recent release in Japan.[44] Aniplex released a DVD of the event in September 2009.[45] The second, Live in Velvet Room, was held at the Wel City Hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo in September 2009. The concert featured music from Persona 3, Persona 4, and two PlayStation Portable remakes in the series: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona—a remake of Revelations: Persona, the first game in the Persona series—and Persona 3 Portable[44]

Remakes[edit]

Persona 3 FES[edit]

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES (ペルソナ3フェス?) is an add-on disc for Persona 3 containing updates to the original game, as well as a new epilogue in which the player controls Aigis. FES was released in Japan on April 19, 2007, as both a stand-alone game, and with the "director's cut" version of Persona 3. Overseas, the combined edition was published in North America by Atlus U.S.A. on April 22, 2008, and in Europe by Koei on October 17, 2008.[5] According to the game's director, Katsura Hashino, the subtitle "Fes" is derived from the word "festival".[46] Players of the original Persona 3 are given the option of transferring certain data from the original version's save file, such as the player's compendium, social-related stats, and maxed Social Link items.

The expansion to Persona 3, in addition to adding new content to the main game (referred to as "The Journey", or "Episode Yourself" in the Japanese version), includes an epilogue to the original story entitled "The Answer" ("Episode Aegis" in the Japanese version). The core gameplay of The Answer is similar to that of The Journey, although the Social Link system has been removed, and the player does not attend school.[47]

The Answer[edit]

The events of The Answer begin on March 31, shortly after the end of the original game. During the opening sequence, it is revealed that the Protagonist has died;[48] the other characters speculate that his death is related to his defeating Nyx.[49] The school year has ended, and the dorm is to be closed down soon. Aigis reveals to the group that she will not be attending school next year.[50] During their last dinner party, the SEES members discover that they are trapped in their dorm, and that the day March 31 is repeating itself.[47] Later, a large door-like hole opens in the floor of the dorm, and SEES is attacked by Metis, an anti-shadow weapon similar to Aigis. In the midst of fighting Metis to protect her friends, Aigis's Persona, Athena, transforms into Orpheus, the original Persona of the Protagonist. She also gains the Protagonist's Wild Card ability.[51] Aigis is able to subdue Metis, whose actions were an attempt to end the time skip and save Aigis, who she calls her "sister".[52][53]

Underneath the dorm is the Abyss of Time, the cause of the time skip. The Abyss contains seven doors, the insides of which contain multi-floor dungeons, similar in design to Tartarus; it is in these areas that the game's combat takes place.[54] At the top of each dungeon, the characters witness an event from the past of a member of SEES. After seeing several of these flashbacks, the characters discern that the event shown in each door relates to how that person had awakened to their Persona.[55] At the top of the seventh and final door, SEES fights a Shadow-like version of the Protagonist. After defeating it, each of them obtain a key. By combining the keys, they would be able to end the time skip and leave the dorm.[56] However, Metis presents SEES with an alternative: instead of unlocking the front door of the dorm, they may also use the keys to travel back in time, to before the fight against Nyx and the death of the Protagonist.[57] Now unable to agree on how to use the keys, the characters determine that they must fight each other to decide.[58] Aigis, Fuuka and Metis claim all eight keys, which fuse into the Final Key. After debating on what to do now, they discover a third, new door in the Abyss of Time, which the group uses (without the Final Key) to travel to the moment the Protagonist sealed Nyx from the world.[59]

Metis explains that the purpose of the seal created by the Protagonist was not to seal away Nyx herself (who is not inherently evil), but to prevent humanity's despair from calling out to Nyx and bringing about the Fall once more. The subconscious will of mankind to despair and wish for death constantly rebirths a monster called Erebus that summons Nyx to destroy the world; Metis implies that Erebus's contact with Nyx is what caused the Fall (that was prevented by SEES).[60] SEES realizes that the wishes that created Erebus also came from them, and so they fight it, and are able to defeat it.[61] Mitsuru points out that Erebus will return, as humans will never stop wishing for death.[62] After breaking the time skip and exiting through the front door of the dorm with the Final Key, Metis, Aigis, and the rest of SEES are summoned to the Velvet Room, much to Igor's (pleasant) surprise.[63] It is here they learn of Metis's true origins: that she is a manifestation of a part of Aigis's personality. Distraught over the death of the Protagonist, she no longer wanted to live like a human, and wished to return to being a machine.[64] However, after being set free from the Abyss of Time, Aigis changes her mind, deciding to continue to attend school, something she had chosen not to do earlier.[65]

Persona 3 Portable[edit]

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable (ペルソナ3 ポータブル?), an enhanced remake of Persona 3 for the PlayStation Portable, was released in Japan on November 1, 2009,[7] and released in North America on July 6, 2010.[66] It came to most of Europe on 29 April 2011 and the UK on 28 April 2011. The announcement in Famitsū revealed that the player would have the option to play as a female character. This selection alters some aspects of the story: the first Persona gained by the Protagonist, Orpheus, has a different appearance; Igor's assistant in the Velvet Room, Elizabeth, can be replaced with a male equivalent named Theodore.[67] The gender choice also alters some aspects of the Social Link stories. In addition to the new playable character, there are two new difficulty levels to select from alongside the original game's three. Persona 3 Portable only includes the story of the original Persona 3;[68] however, general changes have been made to the plot, regardless of character choice.[7]

The game's revised battle system draws on elements added in Persona 3's successor, Persona 4. In combat, the player is able to directly control every character, as an alternative to utilizing the game's artificial intelligence. The ability to guard has been added, and allies will take fatal attacks for the Protagonist, preventing his or her death.[67] Outside of Tartarus, instead of navigating the game world by directly controlling the Protagonist, the player guides an on-screen cursor around an area, allowing interaction with characters and objects. The game includes the voice acting of the original game, although characters are not shown in the world, instead being represented by on-screen portraits. In addition, the anime cutscenes seen in the original Persona 3 have been replaced to feature in-game graphics.[41] Shoji Meguro composed new music for Persona 3 Portable; some of the game's music is different if the female protagonist is selected.[41] Several cameos of characters from Persona 4 have been added to Persona 3 Portable, including Yukiko Amagi, a playable character from Persona 4.[69] It also features a cameo from Vincent Brooks, the star of Catherine (another game by the Persona development team).[70]

Release[edit]

When the original PlayStation 2 version of Persona 3 was first released in Japan, it sold 127,472 copies in its first week and 210,319 copies overall in Japan by 2008.[71][72] The North American release of Persona 3 shipped as a collector's edition box, containing the game, a soundtrack disc, and a 52-page art book. The game's original release date was July 24, 2007. However, Atlus encountered a problem with the manufacturing of the art book several days before the intended ship date. Instead of shipping the game without the book, the company decided to push its release back three weeks, to August 14. Atlus issued a press release explaining that they were delaying the game so as maintain the quality of the package, which would have been "irreparably compromised" if they had "revise[d] or abandon[ed] the deluxe package."[73]

Persona 3 FES was first released alongside the original game in two forms: the "Regular Edition" — containing both the "director's cut" version of Persona 3, and the new epilogue — as two separate discs, and the "Append Edition", containing only the epilogue, on a single disc.[74] Persona 3 and its expansion were released simultaneously in Japan on April 19, 2007. At the time, Atlus had not announced plans to release FES outside of Japan.[33] This announcement did not come until February 2008, when the game's North American release date was revealed to be April 22, 2008.[75] An exclusive Amazon.com limited edition bundle was released on November 28, 2008, containing Art of Persona 3 artbook, Persona 3 soundtrack disc and the FES edition in a cardboard sleeve.[76] The FES edition of the game was also released on PSN on April 10, 2012.[6]

Persona 3 Portable was released as a stand-alone game and as part of a bundle package, which includes a t-shirt and desk calendar.[77] The game on its own retails for 6,279 yen (US$68), while the bundle (known as Persona 3 Portable DX) sells for 8,495 yen (US$92).[78] In its first month of release, Persona 3 Portable sold over 158,000 copies in Japan.[79][80][81][82] During the North American release, Atlus offered Junpei's hat as a pre-order bonus for purchasing "Persona 3 Portable".[83]

Critical reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 87% (60 reviews) (Org.)[94]
88% (28 reviews) (FES)[95]
91% (41 reviews) (PSP)[96]
Metacritic 86/100 (52 reviews) (Org.)[97]
89/100 (25 reviews) (FES)[98]
89/100 (40 reviews) (PSP)[99]
Review scores
Publication Score
1UP.com A- (Org.)[84]
A (FES)[85]
Famitsu 33/40 (Org.)[88]
32/40 (PSP)[89]
Game Informer 8.5/10 (FES)[87]
GamesRadar 9/10 (Org.)[86]
GameSpot 8.5/10 (Org.)[11]
8.5/10 (FES)[47]
GameSpy 4.5/5 stars (Org.)[90]
4.5/5 stars (FES)[91]
GameTrailers 9/10 (Org.)[92]
IGN 8.3 (Org.)[14]
8.8 (FES)[54]
Play 9.5/10 (Org.)[93]
Awards
Publication Award
Famitsu RPG of the Year[100]
GameSpot RPG of the Year[101]
GameSpy PS2 RPG of the Year[102]
RPGamer RPG of the Decade[103]
RPGFan RPG of the Year[104]

Persona 3 has seen generally positive reviews since its release, earning a Metacritic score of 86.[97] Shane Bettenhausen of 1UP.com called the game a "refreshingly new take on the MegaTen [Megami Tensei] concept", and "the best RPG hitting the PS2 this year." He praised the "excellent" AI created to direct the actions of party members during battle, which he felt created "the series' speediest and most dynamic battle system to date."[84] This sentiment was shared by other reviewers: Play magazine's Eric Patterson said that the game's characters are a "smart bunch" in battle; in addition, Patterson wrote that the concept "strengthens the idea that each character is not just some sprite in a video game, but a real character in a real world."[93] Jeff Haynes from IGN criticized the system, finding that it would occasionally result in the death of the player's character, which causes a game over.[14]

GameTrailers gave the game a score of 9.0, calling it "a rare supernatural delicacy" stating it's an RPG that fans of the genre shouldn't miss out on. GameSpy's Patrick Joynt praised the social elements of Persona 3, calling the game's Social Links "almost universally fascinating." While he suspected the simulation elements would "probably be the biggest hurdle" for fans of role-playing or Megami Tensei games, in his review he wrote that he "can't stress enough how well-done it is."[90] Heidi Kemps of GamesRadar found the game's teenage themes to be "a refreshing change" from those of other games in the genre, as they touch on "the social awkwardness common at that point in life."[86] Patterson commended developer Atlus for how "utterly enjoyable" they made the "mundane life of a typical Japanese high school student" be.[93] Jonathan Hunt of G4 commented on the day-to-day structure of Persona 3, which he found to be both "a blessing and a curse." While "look[ing] forward to seeing what new characters or events are revealed" each day, "having to visit a single dungeon…is not always appealing."[105] Similarly, Game Informer's Joe Juba found the game's environments to be weak, as "most of the game takes place within one tower [Tartarus]." He also in his review noted that the game's roots in the Megami Tensei series would come across as foreign to new players. "If you don’t know anything about fusing Personas, or simply that 'bufu' means 'ice attack,' you have some catching up to do."[87]

Persona 3: FES received a score of 89 on Metacritic, slightly higher than that of Persona 3.[98] The plot of The Answer provides "much-needed narrative closure" to the story of The Journey, according to Shane Bettenhausen.[85] Kevin VanOrd called FES a "wonderfully enhanced version of an already-great RPG"; in his review, he recommends the game to new players and those who had already finished the original game.[47] The gameplay of The Answer was criticized by several reviewers for not including the social elements of the original game.[47][54][91] VanOrd found the new chapter to be "less interesting" because of this. Jeff Haynes commented that the change "harkens back to a classic, more hardcore RPG experience of fighting and grinding", while done at the expense of what "made Persona 3 so intriguing in the first place."[54] The reviews of GameSpy and IGN reiterated issues found with the original game, such as the inability to directly control party members in battle.[54][91]

While some critics like IGN criticized Persona 3 Portable for "losing some of its polish", it was as acclaimed as FES, receiving a 89 out of 100 from Metacritic,[99] making it the third best reviewed PSP game on the website.[106] It was praised for, despite having been released twice already, being an adventure worth playing again. This was echoed by GamesRadar, IGN, 1UP.com and GamePro.[99] It received a score of 32/40 from Famitsu; one reviewer wrote that the remake includes "enough differences in the Social Links to make it fun even for old players.",[89] and perfect scores from websites such as Destructoid[107] and GamePro.[108] GameTrailers went on to nominate the game for "Best PSP Game" in their awards, losing to God of War: Ghost of Sparta[109] and "Best RPG", losing to Mass Effect 2.[110] Three websites specific to coverage of RPGs honored it in annual award postings, namely RPGamer (Best Re-release),[111] RPGFan (Best Traditional RPG on Handheld),[112] and RPGLand (Best Port).[113]

Shane Bettenhausen considered the inclusion of Evokers "a ballsy and shocking move" on the part of Atlus, but felt their inclusion created "an edgy sensibitliy that fits perfectly with the overall dark tone" of the game.[84] Similarly, Joe Juba thought the concept fit "perfectly" with the game's "dark tone".[87] Jeff Haynes found the animations of characters using their Evokers to be "intriguing and shocking at the same time".[14] While previewing Persona 3 for GameSpot, Kevin VanOrd said that the continued use of Evokers "never gets old and it never gets any less awesome to watch, and considering that you could play this for fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty hours or more, that's saying something."[114] Atlus U.S.A. did not remove the Evokers from Persona 3 for its worldwide release, despite the possible controversy. Nich Maragos said on 1UP.com's Retronauts podcast that the company did not receive any criticism for their inclusion, however. "There was never any Jack Thompson-ing…we didn't get any letters from concerned parents."[115]

Persona 3 was named the best role-playing game of 2006 by Famitsu,[100] and of 2007 by GameSpot and RPGFan.[101][104] GameSpy gave the title its 2007 PS2 RPG of the Year award and placed it second in the 2007 PS2 Top 10 Games of the Year.[102][116] IGN placed Persona 3 FES fifteenth in their feature "The Top 25 PS2 Games of All Time".[117] 1UP.com's 2007 game awards, which ran in the March 2008 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, included Persona 3, given the award for "Most controversial game that created no controversy".[118] In 2010, Persona 3 ended up coming first place in RPGamer's "Top RPGs of the Decade" list,[103] and second place in RPGFan's "Top 20 RPGs of the Past Decade" list behind Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga & Digital Devil Saga 2.[119] According to IGN's Top 100 RPGs of All Time, Persona 3 ranks 69th.[120]

Media[edit]

Merchandise[edit]

Several figurines of the characters have been produced by Kotobukiya, a Japanese collectible toy company. They include the Protagonist of the game, Aigis, Mitsuru, and Akihiko.[121] The figurines have interchangeable parts, such as an Evoker or weapon, which can be stored in the base. Alter, another Japanese company that specializes in collectibles, has also released 1:8 scale figurines of Elizabeth, Aigis, and Mitsuru.[122][123][124] The headphones worn by the Protagonist are sold by Audio-Technica, model ATH-EM700(Japan-only version).[125] Atlus collaborated with the Japanese publishing company Enterbrain to publish the game's multiple strategy guides and an artbook detailing character and setting designs.

Udon recently announced that they will release an English edition of Enterbrain's Persona 3: Official Design Works artbook to be released June 10, 2012.[126]

Manga[edit]

There is also a manga adaptation of Persona 3, written and illustrated by Shūji Sogabe, and was published monthly in the Japanese magazine Dengeki Maoh until it went on hiatus once Persona 4 was released. However, it began serialization again starting November 7, 2011, moving from Dengeki Maoh to Atlus's official Persona Magazine.[127][128]

As of June 2012, 6 volumes have been released.[129]

Anime[edit]

A non-canonical spin-off anime to Persona 3 entitled Persona: Trinity Soul aired in Japan starting in January 2008 and ran for twenty-six episodes. Taking place ten years after the events of the game, the anime features Akihiko as a secondary character.[130] NIS America licensed the show and released it in two half-season deluxe edition box sets with the original Japanese audio track in 2010.[131]

Films[edit]

In June 2012, the end of the newly released Persona 4 film announced that Persona 3 would receive a film series adaptation.[132] It is produced by AIC ASTA and directed by Noriaki Akitaya. The main Japanese voice actors from the original game are also reprise their roles in the film series.[133]

Radio drama[edit]

Several series of radio dramas based on Persona 3 and Persona 3: FES have been released in Japan. Persona 3 Drama CD: A Certain Day of Summer features an original story voiced by the game's original cast.[134] Persona 3 Drama CD Vol. 2 -Moonlight- links the story of Persona 3 and the epilogue released with Persona 3: FES.[135] From February to June 2008, a series of character dramas were released as five CDs. The volumes respectively focus on the Protagonist and Ryoji;[136] Junpei and Chidori;[137] Fuuka, Ken, and Aigis;[138] Yukari and Mitsuru;[139] and Akihiko, Shinjiro, and Koromaru.[140] In early 2009, a two-volume side story about Mitsuru was released.[141][142]

References[edit]

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    Junpei: She's so cute, but... she's a robot...
    Ikutsuki: Anti-Shadow weapons were created ten years ago to combat uncontrollable Shadows. Aigis was the last to be made... and she's the only one that still remains today.
    Mitsuru: An Anti-Shadow weapon... Does that mean she...?
    Aigis: Yes, I am capable of operating the Persona "Palladion."" 
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    Akihiko: We've got four new members. Things have changed quite a bit since you left. We're more aggressive now.
    Shinjiro: I'm not interested.
    Akihiko: Think about it, Shinji. Don't let your power go to waste.
    Shinjiro: My power ain't worth s***.
    Akihiko: Shinji!
    Shinjiro: I made up my mind a long time ago. I ain't going back.
    Akihiko: You have to let the past go. What's done is done. It's time you moved on." 
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  52. ^ Atlus (2007-08-14). Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3. "Metis: The only way to survive is to somehow find a way to eradicate the Abyss of Time. / Ken: Eradicate it? How're we supposed to do that...? /Metis: I've already tried the simplest, most direct way: eliminating all of you. The Abyss of Time connected to this dorm, as if drawn to it. That, together with the way you can all perceive the time skips...it seems clear to me that you have a lot to do with the reason for this happening." 
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  57. ^ Atlus (2007-08-14). Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3. "Junpei: You're all about the here and now, right, Yuka-tan? I mean, you say it all the time—"You gotta look forward!" / Yukari: I...I...want to go back. To the time before the last battle... [...] If there's a way for him to come back...I'll take it, no matter what." 
  58. ^ Atlus (2007-08-14). Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3. "Yukari: *sigh* There's no use going around and around like this. We're never gonna reach an agreement. So if no one gives in...we'll have to settle this another way. / Fuuka: Another way...? Yukari-chan...you don't mean—!? / Yukari: Taking the keys by force... That'll work too, right?" 
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External links[edit]