A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable is a role-playing game with a deep and engrossing storyline that is very mature in its content. The dark, spooky monsters are only the start of it. The heroes can evoke "persona" creatures from their brains to help them fight; these creatures are based on elements of the characters' subconscious minds, meaning they may be violent, sexual, or both. This makes the story more intriguing and interesting, but again, it does so on a very mature level. Also, even though it's only used as a device to call forth the persona creatures, seeing the good guys put a gun-like instrument to their heads and pull the trigger is kind of creepy and disturbing.
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What's it about?
In SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI: PERSONA 3 PORTABLE you play as a new student at a boarding school. During the daytime hours, the game plays like a high school sim, with you attending classes (and doing work in them) and chatting up other students to forge new social relationships. At night, though, most everybody turns into a monster and a mysterious dark tower sprouts up. You and the few other unaffected teens form a force to investigate the tower and fight off the monsters within, using creatures called \"personas\" that you can call forth from your subconscious. You can choose to play as either a male or female protagonist, and the story will change based on your selection.
Is it any good?
When most people play a role-playing game, they're looking for a solid storyline to interact with. In that department, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable will not disappoint. The daytime levels are entirely about story -- a story you can craft, depending on who you choose to talk to and what you choose to say. The nighttime parts are full of good old-fashioned turn-based fighting action -- with an ultra-creepy atmosphere and some profound psychological symbolism layered over the whole experience. This is definitely a game for mature players, but for teens who can handle it, it's bound to bring up all sorts of interesting topics for discussion. The game is so frought with symbolism that, in many ways, a lot of it is open to interpretation. This is the kind of game you will enjoy while playing and spend lots of time pondering when you're done.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the relationships between characters in the game. Who you choose to hang out with and how you choose to behave with them is mostly up to you. Plus, your social relationships affect your stats and abilities in the game. How does this reflect real life?
In the game you can play as a male or female protagonist. Would you ever choose to play as the opposite gender? If so, why?
What do you think of the sexual imagery used in the game? Does it serve a purpose, or does it seem gratuitous?
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