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Persona 3 Portable Vs. Persona 3 FES: What's The Difference?

A new version of "Persona 3 Portable" released on Steam, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and Nintendo Switch in early 2023. This popular JRPG has seen several iterations over the years. The original "Persona 3" launched on the PlayStation 2 back in 2006. Then an enhanced edition called "Persona 3 FES" came out in 2007, followed by another variety initially made for the PSP called "Persona 3 Portable" in 2009. While they share the same name, 2023's "Persona 3 Portable" has a few upgrades not found in the older PSP version.


Given this complex history of releases, prospective buyers may struggle to keep track of which version has what features. Atlus originally intended for "Persona 3 FES" to serve as the definitive edition of the game, adding hours of extra content, but the arrival of yet another take on "Persona 3 Portable" has called this into question. So, what did the developers add in "FES"? Does the 2023 version of "Portable" have all the same offerings, or has Atlus left some of it on the table?

Atlus added a lot in Persona 3 FES

"Persona 3" served as the first game in the popular "Shin Megami Tensei" spin-off franchise to offer an enhanced edition. This went on to become standard practice for the "Persona" entries, with "Persona 4" getting the "Persona 4 Golden" expansion and "Persona 5" leading to the critically acclaimed "Persona 5 Royal." Fans often see these follow-ups as the definitive editions of the titles since they add a significant amount of content to the already-lengthy launch lineups.


"Persona 3 FES" brings an additional ~30 hours of gameplay to the story. Most of this extra content comes from an epilogue titled "The Answer" (aka "Episode Aegis"). It takes place a few weeks after the events of the main narrative and explores the fallout of the SEES' battle against the demon Nyx. It focuses more on combat, with less of the social aspects seen in the core experience. Players can only take it on via Hard mode, making it a difficult proposition for those who prefer lower difficulty settings. Still, many have also found that "The Answer" "[fills] in some missing gaps" leftover from "The Journey" and that it makes the game generally feel more complete.

What changed in the PSP version of Persona 3 Portable?

Atlus altered several aspects of the original game for "Persona 3 Portable" to make it function on the limited storage available on the PSP's UMD, though it added very little new content. The main major addition allows player to choose between male and female versions of the protagonist, with either choice changing the way certain scenarios can play out. The battle systems also received some nice upgrades, such as allowing players to control all of the characters in their party rather than just the protagonist. This added a few layers of replayability, but certain fans didn't think it made up for the loss of everything the developers cut.


Overall, "Portable" offers a paired down take on the original "Persona 3." It doesn't include "The Answer" or any of the other content added in "FES." It also replaces most of the 3D modeling in cutscenes, instead opting for 2D illustrations in front of stationary backgrounds so that the story plays out like more of a visual novel than a typical RPG. Atlus likewise swapped most of the 3D environments for overworld exploration for stationary maps and locations and replaced the animated cutscenes that the franchise is famous for with still-shots and visual-novel style dialogue interactions.

What's in the 2023 version of Persona 3 Portable?

According to Nintendo, the 2023 version of "Persona 3 Portable" includes the same story, but with several improvements. It claims that it has "newly remastered graphics, improved smoothness in gameplay, and quality of life features including difficulty selection and quick save functionality." It doesn't mention returning the animated cutscenes to the game or whether "The Answer" will be available for those who wish to play it.


It appears that these enhancements are the only changes that fans will get. Early reviews of "Persona 3 Portable" suggest that it still doesn't have any of the animated scenes or additional content from "FES." "An engrossing story and well-balanced gameplay loop easily justify a purchase, though things like Tartarus' repetitive floors, the visual novel presentation, and the lack of 'FES' content hold this one back from the heights its successors reached," explained Mitch Vogel of Nintendo Life.