The theme to this entry and my overall mood.
I love hip hop, pop, rock, rnb, dance and orchestrated music. I've been interested in religion and mythology since childhood. I like getting to know people. I like visual novels and rpgs.
So why isn't Persona the greatest thing in the world to me?
One would think a cocktail of everything I like such as this would be something really wrong for me not to flat-out worship this series. Well, it's rather complicated.
I first learned of a highly critically acclaimed game called Persona 4 back in 2009 or possibly 2010. All I knew was that it was really good. I looked it up and was stunned. An rpg that's HIP?! As in realizes that there's other genres than orchestrated and rock?! It was a dream come true. I was lured in by its fantastic music and style. Never minded style over content if the style is really worth it, and this seemed like just that. I dubbed it "best game I have yet to play". It was out of stock EVERYWHERE in Sweden, and that's something. Doubt it was because it was popular, probably the polar opposite. I've never seen a copy in a physical Swedish store, used or new, but I found it online eventually. Took even longer for it to arrive in my mailbox.
I wish I could say it blew my mind, but it didn't. I did like it a lot, though. Liked the style and overall feel of it. It also had strong characterization, which is really rare. It's regarded as one of the best rpgs in its decade, even to this day.
Of course, I checked out Persona 3. It seemed as good as 4 but a bit worse. Especially how you couldn't directly control your allies. Years passed and the worst thing hppened: They started doing spin-offs of Persona 4! Especially Persona 4 arena, which is a crossover with Persona 3. Persona q seems like a rip-off of Square if anything.
Which brings me to my issue. I hate it when stuff I I like gets milked for no reason. Persona 4 prett much had a fairy tale ending, how do you go from there? You don't, or rather, SHOULD. Square comes to mind, as they're masters of milking. Atlus seems to be becoming Square more and more, and it pains me to see such a good series get treated like this.
Can't call me a fan of the series since I've only played Persona 4 (kinda curious of Persona 4 golde, honestly). However, on 11/11-14, that changed. I noticed Persona 3 fes while browsing the store, it went for under 100 bucks, so I bought it. Had been curious about it for years now.
So then, which is better; Persona 3 fes or 4? Short answer: It mostly depends on what you're looking for, but Persona 4 is the better overall experience.
Almost everything Persona 3 does right Persona 4 perfects (keep in mind, I've only played fes, I've never touched portable or vanilla). The characters are more well-developed, you have social links with everyone and it's not shoved it with just a few towards the end, the dungeons are better designed, the personas are better, the story is more intriguing from the start and feels overall more rewarding somehow. Have I mentioned you can control all party members manually in Persona 4?
However, Persona 3 IS almost 10 years old, and it was the first really hip rpg, so I suppose it was hard to perfect it from the start. I think I prefer its music over 4, but just by a little. That depends on my mood. For what it's worth, it is a good but flawed game. It's a worthwhile experience and I recommend both games. Both are in the 7/10 region but for various reasons. 3 has a more gangsta soundtrack and 4 is more pop/rnb. 4 is a detective story with strong characterizaton, 3 is [can't say it, huge spoiler]. It really depends on what you're expecting. However, if you like one, you'll like the other just fine. Though The answer in Persona 3 fes is skippable. Fun trivia: I never turned off the game, let alone the PS3, for a single minute during these 8 days.
Persona 3 has a HUGE advantage that makes 4 green with envy. Her name is Aigis, and she's my second favorite character of all time after Helga G Pataki (though it's possible she gets a lower position if her treatment in the canon arena games ain't too good). She is the singlehanded reason for my mood today. Let's leave it at that.
WARNING!!! MAJOR SPOILERS FOR PERSONA 3 FES BELOW!!! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!
JAMES, STOP READING, NOT TRYING TO BE FUNNY, I'M ASKING YOU AS A FRIEND, SERIOUSLY
NO, JAMES, I WANT YOU TO BUY THIS GAME AT ONE POINT SO STOP NOW, I MEAN IT
LAST WARNING, SPOILERS INCOMMING!!!
Originally, I was going to write about how I wish Atlus not to milk Persona so much, and came up with the this title for the entry. However, that changed the more I played Persona 3, and "issues with Persona" has a totally different meaning now.
I went into Persona 3 knowing the protagonist would die. It was among the first things I heard about the game. Didn't know the circumstances, but still. For some reason, I never thought too much of it during the playthrough. Dunno why, maybe I hoped it'd undo itself or something. I finished the main game, The journey, on 17/11, and felt satisfied somehow. 5 minutes into The answer and I was confused. Turned out I DID die after the events of The journal, but they beat around the bush about that until the end. I played through The answer just to find out what happened, because I truly wanted to see Aigis reunite with "me". It never happened. I'm still dead but she has coped with it. Aigis and Yukari, those who loved the protagonist the most (in that order) decide to become roommates next school year. End of story.
It's time for me to become extremely personal. Today, 19/11, I finished The answer, not long before 10:00. I have not slept since, and I've been awake since ca 16:00 on the 18th. I wanted to know what happened so bad I stayed up for a long time. Today has been a very difficult day for me.
Aigis starts out as a normal, confused, emotionless robot. Of course, she has a change of heart. Mostly because of her fascination with the protagonist. I usually refer to him in me-form, because I tend to relate and identify quickly to silent protagonists whose actions are up to the players. One could say I bond with them. Aigis eventually get strong emotions, and she seemingly develops a crush on the protagonist. As utterly cliché as it is, it somehow struck a cord in me. Mostly because of Karen Strassman's perfect action, robotic but still with soul, plus her very distinct voice. Her performance would easily been regrarded as bad, but they establish early that Aigis speaks very robotic without going all-out, and she gets more "human" as the game goes on (I suppose one can compare it to Pinocchio, but I don't recall her ever outright saying she wants to be an actual human). At first she was meant to be by the protagonist just to keep watch over Death, but she keeps staying with him by her own free will. Because she develops very strong feelings for him, most likely romantic love. Or perhaps VERY strong friendship. At the end of The journey, she shares a wonderful moment with the protagonist at the rooftop, swearing to protect him always. I was kind of moved by this simple love story. Aigis is the only truly developed character in the whole game, and trust me when I say that they took one of the oldest clichés there is and made it work perfectly. Everything to her acting and the writing was just wonderful. For the first time in my life, I honestly wanted a robot to end up with a human. It was too adorable and well executed not to love. For once, I thought a robot and a human would be a canon couple.
Needless to say, after the ending to The answer, I was a bit upset. Both good and bad. The game had teased that the protagonist, i.e. me, was still alive somehow, but kept focusing on Aigis' "sister". I was praying for them to get together somehow, being so nervous and kinda hyped at what was gonna happen next.
I have deliberately stayed away from tragedies in my life because I don't like to bond with people who will get bad things happen somehow. Black comedies and such doesn't count. I once read only the final chapter of a manga with a tragic ending because I didn't want to bond too much but still was curious about the ending. Somehow, I still felt a bit sad by it. Persona 3 FES is my first true tragedy romance I have experienced. I feel like a kid frustrated that he didn't get what he wanted. I honest to God wanted her to at least see him in the flesh and say something to him, but it never happened. No conversation, not a lock of eyes, least of all a hug. They set up how truly important he was to her and she was depressed by his death. In the end, she couldn't truly keep her promise, as he died shortly after she gave it. However, she has moved on. She has started to live her life and not look back, getting over his death. Most likely, she'll find love again, as she'll be alive for a long time, and I will be but a painful memory. This is how you truly write a good character and good character development. Everyone should learn from this.
If there ever is a part 3 to Persona 3, not counting arena, it would most likely follow her in her last school year, or possibly as an ass-kicking wild card persona user. Should the decide to continue it in game form, I'm all for it. I will most likely wait for Aigis and "my" reunion unti I die, because it's extremely unlikely without resorting to retcons.
If I someone asks me what category Persona 3 FES falls into, I'd say "mystery with a tragic love story". The love story is only blasting on all cylinders during the very end, but it's well set up and executed and becomes the highlight of the whole game. It truly hit a nerve with me.
At around 15:00 today, I decided to take another look at the ending to The journey. I had saved the in-game day before the graduation, and I saved a new game+ as a seperate file. This means I can watch the ending whenever I want.
I'll be blunt: It ripped me apart from the inside.
I was close to crying during the final battle in Mother 3, I cried like a sissy by the end of Metal gear solid 4. Persona 3 FES has the distinct honor of being the second game I've ever cried to, and the first game where I didn't cry during the first viewing but on the second. Having seen in The answer with my own eyes that all her pretty words and promises ended up undone or not happening filled me with such regret and guilt on such a personal level. Seriously can't believe that he was dying. Seeing it made me feel like I had betrayed her, childish as it sounds, and I couldn't help but to weep. I did two things I never thought I'd do in my life: Saying someone's name and "no" while crying. I simply can't describe how awful I felt, seeing this adorable character having everything taken from her in an instant. Worst of all is that I think he knew he would die. For the first time ever, there was no miracle, nothing to salvage their relationship, only death and tragedy was in store.
And I cried for a good time.
I'm still bummed out, but I've tried to move on. Just like Aigis. Something inside me has died today, no doubt. I will get better, in time, as I always do. It's almost 20:00, and I should get some sleep and contemplate my life a bit. I haven't been such an emotional wreck in a while, and I owe it all thanks to Aigis. One of the best and well-rounded characters in fiction. I know I will be grateful for this experience soon enough. I just need time.
In case any of the Persona 3 FES staff happen to see this, whether it's a developer or voice actors, including Karen Strassman: I thank you from the bottom of my heart, you have changed my life for the better. You have created one of the finest characters of all time, treat her as such.
Thank you for reading this.
I love you, Aigis.