Category Archives: This Time It’s Persona

This Time It’s Persona: In the Company of Myselves

I am lying to you.

At this very moment I am being untruthful. It’s a fundamental truth of our society that we only show certain sides of ourselves to each other. At times we engage in a complicit lie, pretending to care about one another in order to achieve some fundamental goal. At this very moment I am choosing only to show this side of myself to you, to engage you on a “meaningful” level .This concept of the faces we wear around each other, the idea that the relationships we create are based not only on what we choose to share with each other, but we choose not to share, is at the core of the great game that us members of society play with each other.

Arguably, the idea of our “other self” has been at the core of the Persona series for some time. However, it is not until the release of Persona 3 that it finally metastasized into the core of the games.

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This Time It’s Persona: Towering Tedium

Persona 3 is about character. In my final days I lost the will to climb Tartarus. I knew I was strong enough to take on what was to come. Instead, I spent my days spending time with friends I hadn’t had the time to fully develop my relationships with.

I slurped ramen with Nozomi, helped work things out with Mamoru, and grew close to Yukari. At night I spend time drinking with Mutatsu and watching a bummed out Vincent mope around.

Some nights I would work at the Chagall Cafe, hoping to work up the courage to stomach Fuuka’s cooking.

As I grew closer to some, I knew that I was at the peak of our relationship. I’d never spend another moment with them that would be new or unique. Yukari would love me no matter what, and Mamoru disappeared with his family, looking for a way to support them.

When the final call came, I reflected on the people I would likely never spend any more time with. Fuuka and I came so close to becoming more than simple friends, and I’d never know how the business with Bunkichi and Mitsuko worked out.

I regretted it more than the time I didn’t spend training, all of Elizabeth and Margaret’s endless side tasks I left incomplete. I actually felt that I spent too much time doing them. I felt like the father who is consumed by work, isolated from his family.

This is what Tartarus was to me. Work.

By the final days, I dreaded every encounter in Tartarus, every floor I had yet to climb. I half-heartedly tackled Margaret’s challenges and looked only for the fastest way to ascend each tower, ignoring the piles of treasure to be found.

In my mind, Persona 3 would almost have been a better game without combat. While the Social Link system provides motivation to interact with others, and gives a tangible measurement of the strength and growth you achieve with the help of others, it oftentimes is drags on too long. Aside from the thematic considerations of the removal of combat, I found that mechanically it was simply an accessory to the experience.

P3 is a different beast than its predecessors. Its a character driven story shackled by the dungeon crawling origins of the Shin Megami Tensei series. Arguably, the Persona series could do well to minimize, or even eliminate it’s combat system and still carry it’s core engagement. The JRPG genre is generally could use a reexamining of  the role of its combat systems (an argument covered in more detail by Extra Credits’ Western vs. Japanese RPG series ).

I fought to end Tartarus. Not because it took a thrill from doing so, but because it was dividing me from the time I wanted to spend with my friends. Catching only a glimpse of what a world without Tartarus would look like, I can only dream of the times I could have had with the others.

This Time It’s Persona

Persona 3 is complete.

Just this month I wrapped up the final chapter of Persona 3 Portable. In the time I’ve been playing it I’ve gone through at least three different PSP units (including one PSV) and multiple copies, both UMD and digital. It’s taken over 54 hours.

It doesn’t feel like an accomplishment. Towards the end it became a slog through endless battles and tired trials. I wanted it to be over 10 hours ago.

Yet, its a somber occasion. It feels like a goodbye. I’ve finally put it behind me, yet I want to go back, learn what happened with the social links I left incomplete. There are relationships that are in limbo. People I will never know.

It’s too familiar.
My tension is not with how the game is crafted, but with the circumstances in which I finally completed it. An ending that I couldn’t have experienced at any other point in my life.

The final stretch took place during a sleepless night. The hours burned away into morning and by the time I finally set the game down, I was as tired as the protagonist at the end of the game. I closed my eyes.

No dreams would come for me.