- Estimated achievement difficulty: 8/10 [Achievement Difficulty Rating]
- Offline: 35 
- Online: 0
- Approximate amount of time to 1000: 130-150 hours [Estimated Time to 100%]
- Minimum number of playthroughs needed: 2
- Missable achievements: Refer to the guide below
- Does difficulty affect achievements: No
- Unobtainable/glitched achievements: None
After the longest wait in the history of the world, Persona 3 Portable is now available on the Xbox platform, thanks to this remastered version of sorts. Players familiar with recent iterations of Persona, whether it’s Persona 4 Golden or Persona 5 (which recently hit Game Pass), will finally get a chance to see the proper roots of the franchise, the game where it truly went from Shin Megami Tensei spin-off, to a series in its own right.
Persona 3 Portable was the first Persona game with Social Links, and while this game might be debated to be the inferior version of Persona 3 compared to P3 FES, it’s still a heck of a ride. Story-wise, it’s fantastic, like the other Persona games have been, and the minute-to-minute turn-based gameplay is still solid. If you like building relationships, getting knee deep in some heavy RPG mechanics, and being thoroughly entertained by a great story, then look no further.
Let’s get this out of the way first: if you want the full 1000, you’re in for a hell of a time investment. If all goes according to plan, you’re looking at around 130 hours. If things go badly, like they did for me, then you’re looking at more like 150-160 hours. Let’s talk first about why it takes so long to complete.
- You’ll need to complete 2 playthroughs - one as the male character, the other as the female character.
- You’ll need to level up not just the main character to 99, but also 3 other squad members too.
- You need to get all Social Links in 1 run.
- You need to get 100% completion in the Persona Compendium.
- You’ll need to prepare for, and defeat the two incredibly hard optional bosses.
And now some advice, before I push on with how you should structure your playthroughs:
- The first runthrough will be focused on one thing, and one thing alone: maxing out your ‘social qualities’ - AKA Academics, Charm and Courage.
- Okay, maybe not one thing… you’ll need to get to the true ending as well and fight the two main bosses.
- You’ll also want to enter into a “Special Relationship” with someone (for the “That Special Someone” achievement, in case you get the responses wrong in the female character playthrough.
- The second runthrough is ALL about the Social Links, and getting all the rewards you can, that will help with the two hard optional bosses at the end of the game.
- Whatever happens in your first runthrough, do NOT do the Vision Quests on the other side of the Paradigm Door in January. The rewards you get count only per save file. So, if you get them in playthrough 1, and then go into New Game Plus, they won’t be available. And some of the items, like Infinity, Armageddon and the Homunculus, will be essential for the two secret super bosses.
Now, there is a reason we’ve gone for the male main character first, and that’s because his Social Links are structured like the original game, and they were tough, leaving no wiggle room whatsoever. The female main character’s links have been reworked, meaning there’s now more than 2 Social Links at night, and you’re under less pressure to stick to the rigid structure.
So, as I said, the first playthrough will be all about maxing out the three social qualities:
Playthrough 1 will be fresh to most people as well, so if you’re wondering whether you’re the right level to fight the full moon boss for that month, the general rule of thumb for Persona 3 in general is that if you’re strong enough to beat the Tartarus sub bosses in that month for the new block, you’re more than strong enough to beat the full moon boss. Use that as a guide for where you need to be level wise.
So, outside of Tartarus, on your first playthrough, just focus on the S-Links you want to focus on, and getting to grips with the mechanics, while levelling up your three social qualities.
A few things about what carries over to New Game Plus:
- Your player level.
- Your social qualities.
- Your weapons and armour (and even that of your teammates).
- Your money.
- Your key items (for example, if you maxed out Mamoru’s Social Link in playthrough 1 you’ll get his Car Key, which will allow you to fuse Helel, meaning you can fuse Helel in day 1 on New Game Plus if you like)
- Your squad mates will all start at level 1 in New Game Plus.
- All your consumable items.
- Your skill cards.
- In fact, all your Expendable items, including any spells too.
- Your enemy scanning data.
- Your Social Link progress.
The only other thing I’d suggest for the first playthrough is to create a multi-elemental Persona. I opted to make what is called a “Four Elemental Lillim,” and by the end of the first playthrough she had 4 different elements and all 99 stats across the board. I did this by fusing together the following:
- Fuse a Nekomata with a Pixie to get a Forneus with Agi
- And then, fuse an Angel with Garu with the Forneus you just created, and you’ll get a Lilim with the four elemental spells.
And finally, when it gets to December 31st, you need to be a pacifist and not kill anyone. Doing so will unlock January, and give you a pathway to fight the two bosses at the top of Tartarus.
Playthrough 2 - Female Main Character:
The second playthrough is all about 3 things:
- Getting all 22 Social Links in one playthrough for the Social Butterfly achievement (that also unlocks Orpheus Telos, who you need for Thorough Bookkeeper (80G), and also for A Cut Above (80G)).
- 100%ing the Persona Compendium.
- Prepare your squad and your characters for the secret boss fight for One Who Has Proven Their Power (80G).
Before we crack on with everything, let me issue a warning of sorts (to save you some time). I’m a bit of a Persona veteran, completed Persona 3 Portable years ago, got the Platinum on Persona 4 Golden on Vita, and smashed Persona 5. Having already done a 100% Social Link run on Persona 4 Golden, without a guide, I tried that with Persona 3 Portable this time around… and failed dismally. While Persona 4 Golden offered you a healthy amount of wiggle room, Persona 3 Portable only offers a small amount. In the Social Butterfly (35G) description, we’ll run you through the dos and don’ts if you want to try it without a guide, based on what we learned, but we’ll also link to an incredibly helpful step-by-step guide if you want to play it safe as well.
Most of the other stuff you’ll get naturally. But perhaps one you might have to force is The Nose Doesn't Always Know (10G), which requires a fusion accident, and is completely luck-based.
So yeah, that pretty much sums up the journey you’re going to take. We’ve prepared in-depth guides for everything you will need along the way, or linked to some of the best from yesteryear to assist. In no time you’ll have maxed out Persona 3 Portable… and by no time, I mean, like 100 or so hour’s time. It’s actually a really enjoyable 1000 if you like structure and delving deep into some RPG mechanics. I loved all 167 hours of my time invested in the game. It’s not easy, it’s not short, it can be incredibly frustrating if you’re not prepared, but this guide is to prepare you for everything along the way. Good luck!