Both Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 and Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Fes were rated “M” for mature audiences by the ESRB. So, it’s hardly surprising Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable, an enhanced port of the PlayStation 2 game, also got the same rating.
But, why was Persona 3 rated for 17-year-olds and up in the first place? This ESRB description from Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable has some insight on the situation.
This is a role-playing game in which players control either a male or female student who teams up with other high-school students to unravel the mystery behind a tower called Tartarus. Players interact with classmates, teachers, and various town characters on their way to solving the mystery. Players can summon "Personas," which are creatures that can perform special offensive and defensive moves to aid during battles against monsters. Combat is turn-based with numeric values and light effects indicating damage. Some sequences depict characters summoning Personas by shooting themselves in the head with a gun-like device (an Evoker); however, glass shards materialize through the exit wound. Bloodstains are sometimes depicted on walls, the ground, and on the sides of Tartarus. Female creatures (female Personas) occasionally are depicted topless or with revealing costumes; male creatures have phallic-shaped heads and torsos. Story elements contain references to "Rampant Sexuality" and characters that make "sexual advances." The words "sh*t," "a*s," and "b*tch" appear in the dialogue.
Male creatures with phallic-shaped heads. Gee, what could the ESRB be talking about?