Persona 3 as Gamasutra's 7th Game of 2007
Gamasutra wrote:7. Persona 3 (Atlus - PS2)
Breaking ranks with a long dynasty of traditional Japanese fantasy RPGs, Persona 3 stands out in that its largest setting -- the one wherein you build your character, strengthen your ranks and move the story along -- is nothing more supernatural than an ordinary high school.
There, with a fascinating duality between a mysterious "dark hour" and the light of day, most of the key RPG elements take place through building relationships with your schoolmates and taking care of school responsibilities.
This normalcy is tidily contrasted with the more sinister, fantastic elements of the game, and set against stylish character designs and a peppy, electronica-infused J-Pop soundtrack.
Persona 4 as Gamasutra's 6th Game of 2008
Gamasutra wrote:6. Persona 4 (Atlus, PS2)
Modern, hip and overtly Japanese, Persona 4 is proof positive that the Japanese RPG can evolve for a broadening audience. The game sheds dated conventions and implausible fantasies in favor of a stylish, immensely thought-provoking and surreal self-discovery story set in a rural-area Japanese high school.
Though many JRPGs hinge on the stories of teenagers, Persona 4's themes focus on the perils of self-denial and the necessity of facing one's inner self, particularly poignant and useful in the context of the characters' believably confusing life stage.
Persona 4 is a game that requires no small measure of patience. The reward, however, is character and story growth via an intriguing system of social and behavioral rewards that perfects the promising formula introduced in Persona 3.
Devil Survivor as Gamasutra's Handheld Game Of The 2009
Gamasutra wrote:1. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor (Atlus, Nintendo DS)
This was only a Shin Megami Tensei game in the U.S., but fans flocked to it nonetheless. The game had an interesting premise – the main downtown areas of Tokyo have been sealed off, and within 7 days, everyone inside the sealed area will die. It’s up to you, and your devil-summoning pals, to survive the incident in this branching-path, non-linear storyline.
Though the art was by Atlus’ second-tier team (with less Kazuma Kaneko and more Suzuhito Yasuda), and the music was lackluster, the tactics-meets-dragonquest battle interface felt fresh (thanks to designer Shinjiro Takada), and the story kept users engaged. Like Persona 4 before it, the game set message boards ablaze with strategies, tactics/story comparisons, and general JRPG love.
Atlus has continued to prove that it’s one of the only companies trying to push the JRPG genre forward, and is doing so much to the delight and expansion of nascent Western audiences. SMT: Devil Survivor was one of the best, most complex, and most interesting core experiences on the DS, and for that it makes our number one.
Persona 3 PSP as Gamasutra's 4th Handheld Game of 2010
Gamasutra wrote:4. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable (Atlus) [PSP]
Atlus likely could have appeased fans with a straight port of 2007's Persona 3, the PS2 RPG praised for its Social Links (NPC friendships that advance character stories and unlock Personas) and dark themes, but the developer packed in more than enough new content to attract both first-time and veteran players to this PSP version.
Along with its new difficulty options, battle system changes inspired by Persona 4, full party control, streamlined overworld interface, and other additions, Persona 3 Portable introduces a female protagonist that brings with her new Social Links, music, and more.
Even in its second re-release (2008's Persona 3 FES being the first), the RPG's dungeon crawling, Social Links, and coming-of-age tale are just as enthralling, and the ability to play it on the go and experience the story from a new perspective make this an essential title for any fan of offbeat RPGs.
People might be skeptical, mistaking this as some Pokemon rip-off (Shin Megami Tensei started back then in 1987), but for fans of the series, Demon Fusion is a discipline unto itself. Ascertaining your opponents, fusing the right demons, having a solid deck of demons at your disposal are crucial as well as their overly strategic battle systems.Demon Fusion is basically a planning phase, incorporating more agency, demanding more from the gamers , almost like designing your own level in LittleBigPlanet, but here, you are designing your own team.
I think at this point, it is save to say that RPGs without Demon Fusion systems is archaic, be it WRPG or JRPG.