The interview was conducted with P Studio general producer Kazuhisa Wada, director Takuya Yamaguchi, and producer Ryota Niitsuma. They discuss their goals in remaking Persona 3 and the advancements compared to the original.
The fully translated interview can be found below:
The complete remake of Persona 3, which has been long awaited by fans has finally been revealed. As a creator, you must have been excited to make this announcement.
Wada: Yes, Persona 3 is a very important title for Atlus, and for staff like me who have been involved since the development of the original version, and above all, for the players who love this work and the characters so much.
In the Atlus Survey we conduct each year, Persona 3 has been at the top of the list for titles that fans want to see remade for the past few years. This remake has been realised because of everyone’s support.
What are your goals behind this remake?
Wada: As the basic premise, we didn’t change the scenario or characters that form the foundation of Persona 3. We would like players to be able to enjoy the graphics and functionality on the level of the latest numbered works in the series, Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal. We decided that was the way this remake should be, and followed that stance from the start of development.
Wada’s in charge of overseeing the development as the general producer. It’s the first time that Yamaguchi and Niitsuma are appearing in Famitsu as members of the Persona Team, so please introduce yourselves.
Yamaguchi: I’m Yamaguchi, the director. When the original version of Persona 3 was released, I was only a user playing the game. After joining Atlus, I started working on the series starting with Persona 4, and I’ve been involved in creating event scenes where 3D character models engage in dialogue. Although I didn’t have experience in overall development direction, I really loved P3, personally. One day, I found out that Wada was planning a remake of it, so I raised my hand and expressed my desire to participate.
Wada: And then we selected him as the director (laughs). He also had great love for P3, so we took that into account. As for Niitsuma, he supported Yamaguchi as a producer and took on the role of creating an environment for smooth development.
Niitsuma: I’m Niitsuma, serving as the producer for this project. I joined the company through a career change, and even in my previous job, I was involved in game production. I enjoyed playing Atlus games at that time as well, but I never thought I would end up working in my current position (laughs). As a side note, when you look at the development scene at Atlus, you can feel that everyone has a stronger inclination towards creativity rather than management.
If I were to compare it to an RPG party, it’s a scene with a lot of “attackers” (laughs). While understanding that this greatly contributes to the quality of the work, I thought it would be good to have healers and supporters so that everyone could focus on development without worries. That’s why I decided to focus on that aspect in this project.
It’s amusing to have a party full of attackers (laughs). Sometimes, intense debates occur within the party, right?
Yamaguchi: Yes, that did happen. Atlus has released titles in the past where they remastered older titles for current platforms and added various elements. However, this time it’s the first remake where we completely recreated the graphics from scratch. Therefore, discussions on how much to change or add to the original elements were more intense than ever. This project’s staff—with nearly half of them having played the original version as users—approached the development with their individual love and dedication.
Niitsuma: The goal was to be faithful to the original version and, at the same time, when there were additions or changes, Yamaguchi actively led the team and discussed them with Wada to get his approval. I believe there are many series fans who have a strong attachment to Persona 3, including myself, so I have high hopes for this project.
The largest change is the update to the graphics. Was it difficult to rebuild the original PlayStation 2 release with the same level of quality as Persona 5?
Yamaguchi: Yes (laughs). For the characters, we put a lot of effort into creating the 3D models and portrait illustrations for conversations at the level that users will have come to expect from current standards. The portraits are very expressive and the 3D models are so detailed that you will want to zoom into the screen to look at them.
The school, town and dungeons have been reconstructed in line with the 3D models.
Yamaguchi: The field has not just been enlarged to match the characters’ proportions, but also to increase the density of game elements and scenery.
Niitsuma: Everything has been redesigned, but Tartarus (the central dungeon that the main characters progress through to reach the top) has undergone a particularly significant change in appearance. In addition to changing the visuals, we have added more elements for the players to explore to keep them from getting bored and have added the option to dash while moving.
Regarding the Scenario, it has been said that character side stories will be added. Can you elaborate on this?
Yamaguchi: Since the main story is an ensemble drama, I thought that there was still room to delve deeper into the stories of the characters who didn’t get as much attention in the original version. It will be a new element that is different from Social Links, that will deepen the relationships with specific characters.
Speaking of the main story of Persona 3, there were also works called Persona 3 FES, which was based on the original release with various additions and changes, and Persona 3 Portable, where you can select a female protagonist. How will Persona 3 Reload be positioned in relation to these?
Niitsuma: I would like to clear things up so there are no misunderstandings. Persona 3 Reload is a project that was conceived as a remake of the original Persona 3 for current platforms, therefore it does not include the additional story scenario that was added in FES or the female protagonist from Portable. However this does not mean that elements added to the main story in FES are not included in Reload at all.
The remake has substantial volume. By including the side stories mentioned earlier, the total number of voiced lines is one of the highest in the series’ history. The reason for the increase in voices is not just limited to the side stories, but we will be talking about that at a later date.
I think there are many series fans who are attached to Persona 3, as am I, so I have high expectations for the game.
Yamaguchi: Thank you very much. In terms of development progress, we are in the final adjustment stage, and I feel a sense of accomplishment that it will surely satisfy those who have been waiting for this game for many years. During development, whenever there was a moment of uncertainty, I often tried to forget that I work at Atlus and instead put myself in the position of a fan waiting for the remake, thinking about what would make me happy. The entire staff has worked with this perspective in mind, so please look forward to it.
Niitsuma: From the planning stage, this project had the keyword “rebirth.” In other words, it’s a game that we have approached as a team with the concept of “deepening” rather than simply evolving Persona 3. I believe we have been able to deliver this in-depth exploration that won’t disappoint everyone’s expectations, so I hope you’ll pay attention to it.
Wada: We are very happy to have reached the stage where we can unveil it to everyone. We have a strong desire to deliver it to you as soon as possible. We hope those who have been waiting for a long time, as well as those who have never played Persona 3, will pick it up and enjoy it. Thank you for your continued support!