[[image:jd_121208_persona01.jpg::right:0]]I’ve played two RPGs in my life: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. Besides the fact that each game bends over backwards at a 270° angle to subvert normal RPG battle mechanics, you may have noticed another subtle similarity between the two games. A certain, shall we say, thematic element that runs through both games.
My excuse is my console history during my formative years, which looks like this: Genesis → Nintendo 64 → GameCube. You tell me where I was supposed to develop a love for RPGs in there. Without Nintendo Power and Dragon Warrior or Final Fantasy VII‘s hype to convince me that I really really wanted to select “Attack” from a menu, I sailed through my video game life blissfully unaware of the joys of min/maxing and grinding. I never even actually bought Paper Mario and Mario and Luigi either; I borrowed them from friends and family members. I did buy Chrono Trigger for the PlayStation this last summer, all the while vaguely cognizant of the fact that there was something people didn’t like about this particular port. Then I got home, noticed the loading times before battles, and haven’t returned to it since.
It all adds up to modern man who’s never been interested in RPGs. You might find that lamentable, but I don’t think you can say it’s all that unreasonable. I figure most RPG fans were introduced to the genre when they were impressionable youths, and took the play system for granted. Growing up with the mechanics and conventions in mind, they simply never gave them much of a second though. But for myself, who had a fully formed concept of what a video game should be, I balked when an RPG was placed in front of me for the first time. “You mean I just stand there while the enemy attacks? I just sort of hope that I dodge it? Really?”
I probably sound awfully dismissive about an entire genre that I admittedly have little experience with. I certainly don’t think that RPGs are bad games, and am even open to the possibility that I’d like them if given the opportunity, but I don’t even get to play all the games that I’d like to play let alone have the money or time to experiment with genres that never caught my fancy.
Enter Festivus, where my haul this year included cult favorite and forum institution Persona 3. On some level this a kindly, face-saving gesture by my gifter, as P3 is expected to appear in the background of all Festivus pictures. On the other hand, it’s a perfect excuse to give the genre a try. True, I’ll be without a PS2 for the Winter Break, but I’m gonna give it a shot between bouts of studying for finals. We’ll see how it goes.