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Review: Persona PSP

Earnest "Nex" Cavalli | 14 Oct 2009 21:00
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Now, there's nothing innately wrong with these gameplay mechanisms, but over the last decade we've grown to loathe them. Nowadays, games show us where our enemies are so we can choose to avoid them and instead of plodding through narrow 3D corridors, we're used to exploring lush, fully realized environments. Realizing how archaic the original Persona must seem compared to even the worst modern roleplaying titles, Atlus decided to add a spit-shine to some of the game's aesthetics and audio.

Specifically, they upgraded the cutscenes. Interspersed throughout the remake are short vignettes that blend the modern Persona style with that of the original game. Now instead of sitting through long blocks of dialogue - though there is still lots of that - you can sit back, drink a cold beverage and watch as your fully animated party members stare slack-jawed at the confusing events taking place around them. Likewise, almost all of the original Persona's music has been replaced with a score from Shoji Meguro. If that name means nothing to you, just know that he's the man behind all the fantastic tunes in the original PlayStation 2 Persona games.

Still, all the shiny cutscenes and J-pop in the world can't cover the fact that Persona PSP is an attempt by Atlus to release a decade old game. There are two distinct groups of people I could see enjoying Persona PSP for what it is: those who lived through 90s-era RPGs and get a nice nostalgia hit from this retread or those willing to overlook the game's archaic gameplay because they love the setting and characters so much. I fall into that latter camp.

In a world where "RPG" either means "overwrought, angst-ridden Final Fantasy" or "medieval fantasy romp," it's nice to be able to spend a few hours roaming a Japanese town with a group of sarcastic teenagers. Like the latter day Persona games, the characters in Persona PSP are all unique and individual and have some of the best dialogue in any Japanese-style roleplaying games before or since. You simply won't hear jokes about dating animated toilets in Final Fantasy XIV.

In the end, that's really what this review boils down to: Can you see yourself spending dozens of hours in a world solely because you enjoy its characters, or does the idea of random battles and archaic dungeon crawling turn you off? It works for me, but just barely.

Recommendation: Though not for everyone, the world of Persona PSP is enjoyable. Assuming you can get past the game's 90s era gameplay.

Bottom Line: Only hardcore Persona fans or masochistic RPG devotees need apply.

Earnest "Nex" Cavalli once asked a girl for her "Demon Card" and was kicked in the groin.

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