I'm about 15 hours into Persona 3 Portable, and, as the title of this post indicates, I like it a lot. I was quite worried when I bought it, because I haven't enjoyed a JRPG in a long time. Years. Maybe since Pokemon: LeafGreen. I've tried several JRPGs since then, but I just can't get into any of them.
I bought P3P recently, because I figured if I didn't like it, I would probably know pretty early on, and I could re-sell it at a price that was pretty close to what I paid for it. I was afraid it would be more Final Fantasy III (which I hated for the grinding), and less Pokemon (which, as I said, I enjoyed), but it turned out that it was neither. It seems to be more Pokemon than FFIII, but it's really not even that. It is its own thing, but I can't really tell why. When you boil it down to its major components, it doesn't sounds like anything special at all. It's still just a turn-based JRPG with a kind of rock-paper-scissors/Pokemonesque kind of battle mechanic. I can't really tell what makes it different, but it is.
I said I've played it for about 15 hours so far. That's actually a lot further than I thought I would get before I gave up on it. I mean, it's a 100 hour game, from what I've heard. That's an enormous time investment. it still surprises me that I haven't gotten bored with it yet.
I think that has to do with the other part of the game, though: the social aspect. A friend asked me the other day what the ratio is between the social and the combat. I told him that I would guess, judging by my experiences so far, that it's about 65% social, and 35% combat. And, to make it better, I have had to do little-to-no grinding. In a JRPG!! It shocked the pants off of me.
The social part of the game is quite entertaining. There are several different side-plots, all which appear to be optional, and all of them (with the possible exception of one) are fairly interesting and well-written. I'm constantly surprised at how much I enjoy hanging out with Kenji and the old couple at the bookstore. There hasn't been anything groundbreaking in these side-plots, but it's just pure enjoyment. It's like hanging out with a friend, in a way.
I'm still a little afraid that I'm going to get bored of the game. I'm apparently about 15% through the game, so I guess there's still a rather large chance that I'll eventually give up. But I don't see that happening for the foreseeable future.