Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

[Archive] Wizardry 8, Intermission: Wizardry 8 vs. Persona 3

Posted by Rampant Coyote on July 23, 2015

Back in 2008, I did a playthrough of Wizardry 8, a game I’d missed the first time around. At the time, it was hard to acquire (yay for getting it brought back as a digital title!), and I felt (correctly!) that I’d missed out on a classic title. I blogged my efforts, but with the Great Blog Reboot we lost those articles. Since they’ve been requested, I’m re-posting them now. I hope that with the game now made available again via digital distribution, this may help other people discover this overlooked “final” game in the Sir-Tech series.

persona3fes-762858Editorial Note from 2015: Somewhere in the middle of the time I was playing Wizardry 8, I discovered the not-quite-as-old console RPG Persona 3 FES, which remains an amazing game IMO. So amazing, I put Wiz 8 on hiatus to play through the Playstation 2 game. My only excuse was… dang, it was fun. So in the comments, someone asked me to compare the two games, since I seemed to enjoy them both in spite of them being extraordinarily different. So… I had fun with it! Note that at the time I wrote this, I still wasn’t finished with Wizardry 8… it was about the time I took on the Rapax Castle. So I was about 4/5ths of the way through.

So how would Wizardry 8 and Persona 3 FES compare with each other? One is a die-hard Western-style PC RPG, the other is… well, definitely rooted in the console JRPG tradition, but definitely marches to the beat of its own bagpiper.

The two games are only barely in the same genre. Apples and watermelons, here. But for the sake of argument (because I do so love a good argument), I thought I would offer a point-by-point comparison of the two, so you can draw your own conclusions. So here goes:

Wizardry 8: Classic party-based Western RPG. They don’t come any more classic.
Persona 3: Party-based “Japanese” style RPG, mixed with elements of dating sims, Pokemon, Japanese anime shows that even die-hard fans are too embarassed to dub for a U.S. release, and whatever else the designers could come up with during their week-long session around a bong.
Winner: Neither. Come on, uber-stalwart-old-school or freaky-weird-innovation… do you really think I’d pick one over the other?

Combat Duration
Wizardry 8: Bring a sack lunch to each one, especially later in the game.
Persona 3: Ranges from trivial speed-bumps to appropriate length. Boss battles reasonably long and dramatic. Final boss battle requires you to call in sick for the next week, and you may want to and make sure your console is hooked up to a UPS in case of a power outage.
Winner: I’m gonna go with Persona 3, here. I’d actually call the battles “too short” for the most part, but it’s better to err on that side than on the side of “too long,” which Wiz 8 does even with the monster speed-up patch.

Wizardry_8_boxBest Robot Companion Combat Quote Pop-Culture Reference
Wizardry 8: “Exterminate!”
Persona 3: “Hasta La Vista!”
Winner: As a Doctor Who fan, I’m gonna have to go with Wizardry on this one.

Epicly Cool Settings
Wizardry 8: While it’s a more traditional sword & sorcery world, it mixes science fiction elements, some very well thought-out races, history, and an entire city set inside a giant tree.
Persona 3: The game is so heavily dominated by the Japanese setting and culture (from school schedules to New Years in Kimonos at the local shrine) that they didn’t bother to hide it when they localized it – which is a treat for Western audiences. The weird Twilight Zone-esque circumstances with the flow of time is just out there.
Winner: I might feel differently if I lived in Japan, but I’m gonna give the point to Persona 3 on this one. Just barely.

Sheer Quantity of Controversial Material
Wizardry 8: Ummm….. you have some pretty chunky deaths, as enemies tend to explode on expiration. Some mild profanity, I think… And bare-chested female creatures.
Persona 3: Profanity. A shower scene (suggestive, but reveals nothing). The summoning of demons and angels from Catholic / traditional Christian theology. Lots of occult references (especially the tarot). Children being crucified. Half-naked personas. Personas with extremely suggestive anatomical features. Multiple references to inappropriate teacher / student relationships. A rather phallic persona (in the expansion). Oh, yeah, and a whole game about kids shooting themelves in the head.
Winner: I’m going with Persona 3 here, although whether that makes it a winner or a loser is subject to personal taste and belief-systems.

Best Use of Sex As A Weapon During a Boss Battle
Wizardry 8: You douse a horrible-looking rapax mannequin with sexy rapax perfume, and use it as bait for a devious and deadly trap. When the assassin breaks cover in hopes for a romantic interlude in the middle of hostile territory, you squish him. Or I guess you could fight him directly.
Persona 3: The “Lovers” Arcana boss teleports you and Yukari into a hotel room, with Yukari in the shower, both of you afflicted with a foggy memory while it tries to convince you to give in to your desire. Unfortunately, being noble and resisting temptation just gets you slapped anyway, with a warning from Yukari to never mention anything about it to anyone.
Winner: As icky as the very thought of Rapax Love might be, Wizardy 8 wins handily due to its being a dynamic, truly interactive puzzle sequence rather than a cutscene with circular dialog choices.


Least Tedious Monster Grinding
Wizardry 8: The more powerful you get, the more powerful and numerous (and, generally, tedious) the monsters get. So there’s really no point in leveling up. Unfortunately, its hard to avoid, as there are fights whenever you are trying to get from point A to point B. Even in town in some places.
Persona 3: The bosses keep getting harder, and arrive on a schedule. It’s up to YOU to keep up with them. But you can choose not to go to Tartarus if you feel ready to deal with the upcoming boss, and the non-boss fights are not too difficult to flee and avoid entirely.
Winner: Persona 3, hands-down.

Goofiest Ally
Wizardry 8: Hmmm…. Madras, the Trynnie gadgeteer?
Persona 3: Koromaru, the wonder-dog who wields a dagger in his fangs and summons Cerberus. At least he’s less annoying than Ken.
Winner: Persona 3 loses here by winning.

Most Interesting Non-Combat Activities
Wizardry 8: A great amount of gathering, exploring, puzzle-solving, and conversing is possible. Building faction, questing for craft items, and
Persona 3: Plenty of fairly lame “quests” from Elizabeth, breeding and improving personas, building relationships, and making yourself more desirable to the opposite sex. Oh, and overstaying your welcome in a hot springs pool, and participating in “Operation Babe Hunt.”
Winner: A tie, actually. Persona 3 has a broad scope of repetitive activities you perform regularly, plus some unique activities in certain parts of the game. Wizardry 8 has fewer repeatable non-combat activities, but ultimately has a lot more unique activities, quests, and things to discover – plus a lot more interesting adventure-game style puzzles.

Most Fun Boss Encounter
Wizardry 8: You have to defeat a mutant frog that swallows party members whole in order to rescue a kidnapped comrade.
Persona 3: Though I never played this part, I’ve seen the videos on YouTube of fighting Elizabeth, the “secret” Persona 3 boss. She is a butt-kicker of godlike power that puts Death to shame. So why didn’t she save the world? Besides the fact that she’s definitely twisted?
Winner: Brekek the mutant frog of Wizardry 8. Simply because the storyline leading up to him is immensely amusing. And he’s a mutant frog.

Most Challenging Sub-Quest
Wizardry 8: So far, trying to rescue Glumph from Bayjin, by way of the Gigas Underwater Caves and the Bayjin Shallows. Rescuing him is easy, surviving the trip both ways is hard.
Persona 3: Trying to max out the social links for all three women (and a robot!) from the same dorm. I finished the game barely getting Fukka to talk to me again at school (at only social link level 5-ish), and then probably only because the world was supposed to end the that week.
Winner: Persona 3. Because there’s no apparent option to “just be friends.” Those sick designers. (Editorial Note from 2015: They fixed this in Persona 4)


Best Opportunity To Impersonate Deity
Wizardry 8: The party gets to become gods. (Editorial Note from 2015: How did I know this before I finished the game?)
Persona 3: The main character gets to become a Christ allegory.
Winner: I want to get to decide who lives and who dies. Wizardry 8 ftw!

Most Unrealistic Inventory Item
Wizardry 8: A Port-O-Potty. Made from a porthole and a hinged pot with a lid, it casts a Noxious Fumes spell in the hands of a gadgeteer.
Persona 3: Bikinis and French maid uniforms which grant better armor protection than bulletproof vests.
Winner: Tie. A delicious, insane, wonderful tie.

Overall Winner:
Since a big part of the reason Wizardry 8 is incomplete is Persona 3, if you held a gun to my head and forced me to pick which game I enjoyed more, I’d probably have to go with Persona 3 – probably because of the characters and story. But if that gun was instead an evoker, I’d summon Chi-You and go all Vorpal Blade on you!

However, compared to the ‘expansion’ for Persona 3 FES (“The Answer”), Wizardry 8 is far and away the better game. The Answer, at least for me (so far), is pretty much the most boring mechanics of the game (the monster grinding) with most of the cool parts from the original campaign (“The Journey”) ripped out. Its story isn’t much on its own, but it’s intriguing as a tie-in to the original.

I could also note here that I got Mass Effect at about the same time as Persona 3 FES, and it has hardly been touched. Technologically, it is vastly superior to either game, but so far it has not left me too thrilled. (Editorial Note from 2015 – Oh, yeah. I still haven’t finished the original Mass Effect. Dang.)

Filed Under: Archive, Wizardry 8 - Comments: Read the First Comment

  • T2.0 said,

    If the goal of Computer RPGs is to emulate Tabletop RPGs, then my opinion is that JRPGs are far from succeeding at it (but maybe that never was their objective) – just like the Western Dungeon Crawlers of the 80’s and early 90’s.
    That doesn’t mean those are bad games (I actually LOVE JRPGs – and I also have a few Dungeon Crawlers on my shelves), but I really don’t think calling them RPGs is appropriate.
    “Lunar Silver Star Story” and “Lands of Lore” were hours of fun for me, but none of them came close to recreating what was interesting in my Tabletop RPGs sessions…