To this day, there is still no definitive way to play Persona 3. Granted, you can still purchase digital downloads of Persona 3 FES and Persona 3 Portable via the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita stores respectively. Not only does that require you to own a PS3 or Vita in 2021, but neither version really offers the complete Persona 3 experience. Regardless of which one you pick, you're ultimately missing something that only the other one offers, something you don't need to worry about with the updated re-releases for Persona 5 and Persona 4.
There are issues to be had with how Atlus handles definitive versions of the Persona games, but Persona 5 Royal and Persona 4 Golden contain all of the content from the original games, feature a bevy of brand new additions and gameplay tweaks, and are at least readily available for today’s audiences. While Atlus could simply port Persona 3 to modern platforms and turn a tidy profit, that alone wouldn't completely rectify the problem. Ideally, what Atlus could, and arguably should do, is try and make an entirely new version of Persona 3, one that combines everything fans know and love from Persona 3 FES and Persona 3 Portable.
Persona 3 Port It
Earlier this month, leaker Zippo claimed that Atlus is working on a multiplatform remaster of Persona 3 Portable. It’s certainly believable; the success of Persona 4 Golden’s release on Steam means more ports are assuredly coming (thanks Persona Central) and possibly not just for PC. The same persona also correctly predicted a re-release of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax for 2022, which was announced during this year’s The Game Awards.
A P3P remaster would be welcome, if only for preservation's sake. But, if we take this at face value, it being a remaster implies it will by and large be the exact same game with some visual tweaks, what with it being a PSP game originally. It makes sense for Atlus to prioritize re-releasing this over the PS2 original or Persona 3 FES since P3P is the most up-to-date version of Persona 3, with it containing extra difficulty options, the ability to manually control your party members (so no more Mitsuru spamming Marin Karin over and over again, it never works, just please, girl, stop!), and the option to play as a female protagonist, something the series has yet to offer again since.
Unfortunately, P3P is lacking in two key areas. The first is that it trades the full 3D environments for glorified menus, with the whole game featuring a visual novel style presentation. It’s not bad by any means, but it does mean cutscenes are all told through static character portraits, lacking the animated character models which can add extra nuance and detail to the more dramatic story moments. The second is that it doesn’t even tell the full Persona 3 story.
The Importance of The Answer
Less than a year after Persona 3 released, Atlus followed it up with Persona 3 FES, with the key and most enticing addition being a new epilogue section called The Answer. Similar to Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition’s Future Connected, The Answer provides more clarity to the original’s slightly ambiguous ending and sees the main cast dealing with the aftermath of the final battle.
We’ll keep spoilers to a minimum, but The Answer not only continues the main game’s themes of death and how humanity copes with its inevitability; it also provides real closure to its main cast, in particular Aigis. Although she’s not the only character to receive focus and additional character development in The Answer, she does take over as main protagonist, with The Answer chronicling her journey to come to terms with her newfound humanity and finding a reason to keep living even in the face of a painful loss.
This all makes The Answer an integral part of Persona 3’s overall story, right down to it being acknowledged and referenced in the Persona 4 Arena games, and it is completely absent from P3P. Should Atlus release a simple remaster of P3P, there would still be mild disappointment among the excitement because of the lack of P3 FES’ content. Newcomers could always look up The Answer’s plot details through wikis and YouTube videos but learning things second hand is never as entertaining or fulfilling as doing it yourself.
In an ideal world, Atlus would completely remake Persona 3 from the ground up, combining everything people loved about FES and P3P and dressing it up in fancy modern graphics. The second best (and far more likely) scenario is either a remaster of FES with P3P’s QoL updates and the additional female MC route, or a P3P remaster with The Answer slapped onto the end (also maybe give difficulty options for The Answer as well). But even those seem somewhat unrealistic since both alternatives require a lot more extra work and the creation of new assets -- that's time and money Atlus would probably rather spend on a new project, like Persona 6.
Maybe Atlus will completely pull the rug from under us and offer a complete Persona 3 experience in the near future. As it stands, however, it’s sadly more likely that it’ll go the easy route and just release a relatively untouched Persona 3 Portable. It’d still be worth the purchase, but it would also be a harsh reminder that, unlike its successors, there is still no true Persona 3 experience.