RPG remakes and ports are always tough to judge. Do we continue to praise the same games over and over or do we give the glory to newer titles? We figured this year we could do a little of both. Featuring a PSP remake of a PlayStation 2 title, a PSP port of a DS RPG, and a remake of an earlier generation series, this year we had some great games that we might have seen in some other form before. That's not going to stop us from giving them credit again this time around.
What can be said about Persona 3 that hasn't already been said? It's beloved by nearly every member of RPGamer's staff, voted RPGamer's RPG of the Decade by a wide margin, and easily one of the most talked about games released in the past few years. It's hard to argue with the potential of a handheld port of the title, but Atlus really outdid itself with Persona 3 Portable. In fact, it's difficult to really call the game a port at all. It received dozens of upgrades and improvements, and is quite simply the best version of the game released to date.
Featured most prominently is the addition of a female protagonist. While the entirety of the FES version of Persona 3's story is present in the game, the option to play as the new female protagonist is also present, and offers up an entirely new outlook on the story. Not only are there several new social links to experience, including ones for the male party members, but even some of the major events in the game change. The gameplay has received an overhaul as well, introducing several of the combat additions featured in Persona 4.
In the end, it was hard to not call Persona 3 Portable our RPG of the year since it's practically a brand new game. Either way, Persona 3 Portable is a game that's definitely worth another play.
Knights in the Nightmare's revival on the PSP suggests re-releases don't always need an abundance of new features to catch our attention. If the game's good enough the first time around, sometimes minor refinements are all that's necessary. Many companies in search of quick bucks have attempted this feat, only for their efforts to be unmasked as tepid mediocrities. Knights in the Nightmare instead glows at its second chance to share its somber charm. The improved graphics and sound build upon the tight atmospherics of the original, enriching the cursed realm of Aventheim. The upgraded combat interface maintains the original's unique blend of real-time bullet dodging and tactical movement, but opens up play options by spreading out the characters' weapons. Even the out-of-combat interface has improved, despite still lacking in key areas. Knights in the Nightmare was strong enough to crawl back from its menu-choked grave — don't let its efforts be in vain.
Although series detractors might argue that every Pokémon game is a remake, Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver are actual remakes of Pokémon Gold and Silver, the second generation of Pokémon games. Rather than simply give the games a facelift, Nintendo went the extra mile with these remakes, creating a multifaceted Pokémon playground that provides a little something for every kind of player. Not only do the games have the most recent battle system, improved touchscreen interface, and a bunch of minigames, they come bundled with the Pokéwalker, a pedometer that allows players to level up and capture Pokémon by going outside and taking a walk. Remember kids, Pokémon is good for you!
by Becky Cunningham, Adriann den Ouden, Zach Welhouse, Michael Cunningham