My Favorite Game I’ll Never Finish

Some JRPGs are known to be difficult, and I’d consider Persona 3 and Persona 4 to be reasonably hard, or at the very least, have some challenging bosses that require more than a couple tries to even begin figuring out a winning strategy.

But that’s not why I gave up ever playing Persona 3 again.

I absolutely love the mystery of the story, and the modern-day setting. The dating/social aspect of the game is also incredibly addictive. I quite enjoyed the time I’ve played both, except for a single fatal gameplay flaw that is so frustrating it’s almost impossible to believe it was “overlooked.”

The most egregious example of this offense came during the entire “Love Hotel” scene in Persona 3. You start off the sequence by entering the hotel, clearing out the floors of random enemies, and doing some rudimentary puzzle solving to get to the correct boss door. Meanwhile, there’s text boxes to read through, options to choose from those text boxes, and then finally you get to the main boss battle. All told, it takes about 15 or so minutes to get from the beginning of this sequence to the beginning of the boss.

Now, you’re not going to beat the boss the first time, because you don’t know what it’s weak against, so you don’t have a strategy right out of the gate, so you end up dead pretty quick. Now, here comes the swift kick to the balls.

When you die, where do you pick up where you left off? Right at the boss? No. In front of the boss door, ready to enter the boss room? Nope. At the beginning of the level, with the enemies cleared, so you can run back to the boss to try again? Sorry, but no.

You load your save from 15 minutes ago, and you enter the hotel for the first time. Those 15 minutes of your life were just sucked out and are now lost forever. And, of course, after getting through another 15 minutes of this level, speeding through text boxes, avoiding as many fights as I can to get to the boss faster, I’m not really in the correct mindset to fight this thing.

I’ve just rushed past the previous 15 minutes of this game, and I know, if I die again, it will have to be repeated again. I’m pissed at having to go through the same 15 minutes a second time, straight in a row. And I’m hoping I don’t lose. But I do.

Which doofus on the developer totem pole made the decision not to add a goddamn save point before the boss? If this is a deliberate choice, then I don’t understand it. The 15 minutes before the boss is not difficult at all, and it’s not a challenge. It’s just normal gameplay. Why do we need to repeat it?

It’s not a technical limitation to allow the player to save before fighting the boss. Here’s two examples off the top of my head, just because I remember them:

* Grandia II by Game Arts, released on the Dreamcast in 2000: Right before fighting a boss, there was a spot to both heal and save.
* Chrono Cross by Square, released on the Playstation in 2000 as well, about 4 months before Grandia II: You have the option of running away from any boss battle, with 100% success rate each time. This was true even with the last boss in the entire game. You can go back to fight the boss immediately afterwards, like a restart.

Persona 3 was released in 2007, and the FES version, which I played, was released in 2008.

What the hell is your excuse, Atlus?

Such a simple thing to not screw completely up, and it happened anyway. The Persona series has a lot of fans, and although I don’t admire their ability to play through the exact same part of the game over and over, I can respect it. Regardless of how much I love a game, making me suffer through that is inhumane.