Atlus are known and loved for their often fantastic pre-order bonuses that take the form of all sorts of exciting memorabilia, such as art books, soundtrack CDs, posters and so on. Ergo, as is often the case, fans were curious to know what sort of fascinating goodies Persona 3 Portable — a PSP version of the game thousands now identify the company by — would ship with.
Earlier in the week, Atlus USA finally announced the much-anticipated pre-order bonus for P3P — a baseball cap similar to the one worn by Junpei Iori, one of the game’s characters.
Now, if there’s one game publisher you can’t blame for not knowing their audience or how to communicate with them, it’s Atlus — and this holds true for both their Japanese and overseas divisions. To many Japanese game enthusiasts, Atlus is presently the one company that can do no wrong. The quality of their games is usually satisfying at worst and groundbreaking at best, and when a game is published by them, you can bet it’s unique in some way.
That said, even Atlus tend to drop the ball at times, and I feel like Atlus USA’s treatment of Persona 3 Portable’s pre-order bonus might be one of those instances.
While it does away with Persona 3 FES’s “The Answer” episode entirely, P3P also adds a lot to the original game, the most significant element being the ability to play as a female character with her own unique route and events. For a piece of media that would be more aptly described as an “experience” rather than simply a game, being able to relate to the character whose shoes you step into is immensely important. For JRPGs as a whole, it’s a huge step forward and one that female fans of Atlus products are no doubt excited about.
It makes one wonder then, why the pre-order bonus for P3P is something so intrinsically…not appealing to both sexes. No, don’t call me a sexist. No one’s saying women can’t or don’t wear baseball caps. My point here is that a better piece of memorabilia could have been chosen in order to play up the fact that the game has been geared toward both genders, which is now its standout feature.
Even Atlus USA’s newsletter feature pictures of Assistant Media Producer John Tubera donning the cap and “unlocking his inner Junpei.” The press release regarding the same announcement in the meantime states, “The choice of your protagonist’s sex at the start of the game has a dramatic impact on the game’s intricate social dynamics.” If the gender-selection is that vital to the experience, why not reflect that? It’s almost as if they’re communicating two different messages.
Granted, we can’t claim to have any knowledge of whether or not a different pre-order bonus coming with the game would help its unisex appeal — and, ultimately, its sales — but art books and soundtrack CDs are examples of something both sexes can enjoy equally. It just seems like a bit of a missed opportunity, and one that I wish they’d leveraged. Then again, Laura insists the cap is for all the girls that “<3 Junpei," so what do I know.