Give Us Our Femme Protagonist You Cowards

Mikkel: The Persona series, specifically the “modern” incarnations from 3 onward, is a beloved franchise that manages to effortlessly blend intricate visual novel dating sim mechanics, even more intricate JRPG combat mechanics, and dungeon crawling to create a bespoke experience unlike anything else on the market. Yet, for all of the things they’ve done, Atlus has managed to keep to staggering levels of heterocentrism, and we just want our femme protagonist (they have already mapped out). 

Persona 3 Remake Official Trailer

With the announcement of a Persona 3 Remake, there was much rejoicing in our corner of the nerdom, but then there was some chagrin with the announcement that the remake would be focused on the base game and take no influence from PES or Persona 3 Portable.

Now PES, I get not including. That’s almost an entirely different game and arc. Persona 3 Portable though. That game is so very much in line with re-releases like Persona 4: Golden and Persona 5 Royal that it’s actually baffling that the remake isn’t taking any cues, especially since the roadwork is right there. The franchise could get an easy win. The replayability! The representation! The basic addition of a singular meaningful customization option.

Djiah: Our femme protagonist in Persona 3 got the spicy lines and pizzazz like any other Persona protagonist. As a matter of fact, the funniest lines in the series come from female characters. The delivery of the voice artists, the zest of awkwardness when they’re roasting a masc character, it’s honestly iconic.

In P3P, the femme protagonist is more immediately likable than the masculine protagonist. The femme protagonist is upbeat, and the femme team members are immediately more friendly towards you.

I’d like to also point out how interesting it is that when you’re a male protagonist in Persona 3 Portable the only way to max out the social link of femme team members is to date them. You have to date everybody to max them out; but you’ve been too cowardly to give us our protagonist x Yusuke (Persona 4 Golden) romance; and too uncomfortable to feed into the clear chemistry between Akechi and our protagonist (Persona 5 Royal)?! What is this madness? 

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 THE MOVIE #1 Spring of Birth Trailer 2

Even in the Persona 3 films, it focused on the masculine protagonist.

Mikkel: If we look at the history of the franchise, we see that Persona features a silent protagonist with a set persona and that Persona 2 has the player assume control of four players with fixed persona evolutions. Persona 3 injected this element of “Wild Card” with their primary tarot alignment being the Fool, allowing for a wide range of options and ideologies.

At which point, it becomes staggeringly weird that the blank slate of a protagonist has absolutely no customization options on their actual character. And look, I get the film and anime mandate a canon version of the character. I don’t want Atlus to lose out on the multimedia money, but our character is a clear insert. Let us insert ourselves. Hell, I’m not asking for a Cyberpunk level of character creation. I’m barely asking for a Pokemon level of customization. Skin tone, hair, gender. How hard is that? 

I’m asking for a simple binary choice that allows for a little more variety, a little more deviation, and a little more representation.

Djiah: I mean, I won’t REJECT Cyberpunk level of character creation, but I understand some dreams have to stay as dreams because dreams cost money. But honestly, choosing your gender was an accessible option from the jump. I loved customizing the team’s clothes while dungeon crawling, and I’m sure many of us did but imma need y’all to galaxy brain a bit. 

See clothing customization beyond the dungeons. Allowing clothes to affect the perception of the protagonist in the universe would be a hilarious way to unlock secret dialogue and/or distribute skill points. Example, allow the protagonist to make “outfit faux pas” in their daily lives. It might be +1 social points for one character, but that failure might actually excite another character a bit too much and give +3 social points. Of course, we love customization for fun and self-expression, but allowing these decisions to be ingrained in game play creates a layered experience and would make players think hard about not only what they say, but how they would be perceived.

If you’re trying to level up a social link but you missed out on meeting with them or you’re having a hard time distributing time to build a skill, sometimes a happenstance outfit at a weird moment can boost something. Customization doesn’t have to be a central focus, but it could be a great way to distribute bonuses and challenge players to unlock all the secret dialogues.

We’ve seen costumes before in dungeons. I definitely enjoyed hearing slow burns and hot takes from Yukiko in Persona 4 Golden due to my outfit. I even loved seeing the weapons in Persona 4 and Persona 5. When paired with certain outfits, some weapons look absolutely wild. I just think even if we utilized these costumes in daily travel it could make the experience even more enlightening. Because honestly saying something spiffy in a feather hat would be socially different than saying something spiffy in a cheerleader outfit. 

Mikkel: So look, I’m not gonna pretend to know the intricacies of game development or cultural stigma. I doubt they’re going to change their minds and course. And I’m happy that my first ever Persona game is getting remade on platforms that weren’t a weird encapsulation of the early 2000s technological devices (rest in peace, Playstation Portable, you were not made for this era). But I also very much feel like we’re not being too greedy asking for base level customization and an agnostic approach to the story. They basically have established a routine of adding half an entirely new game with the inevitable remake, so why can’t one of the remakes have a femme protagonist? 

You hear that Atlus? I’m not even asking for Persona 6 to feature one. We can wait until Persona 6 Perfected! Please, just give us some consideration and basic customization.

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