REVIEW: Persona 4 Golden

Persona 4: Golden is a remake of 4-year-old Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4, and it's a remake that's worth not just buying the new game but also buying the Playstation Vita.

The storytelling is just as good, if not better, than its original. It may have a cheesy message of bonds of friendship are true power, but it sticks to that message the whole way. With the addition of the Marie and Adachi social links, you learn more about the TV world, become close to the fumbling detective, and help the new mystery girl recover her memory. The same twists are present, but fans of the original still face a few new surprises, mainly having to do with Marie...

There are new animation cutscenes and new content, including trips to the beach (one as a large group, and you can choose to go there via scooter with other friends some days), a short cutscene of a hotsprings trip with Marie, and most importantly, a whole new dungeon, and a ski trip. The last two are related, making it my favorite addition to the game. You also get to play through January and February, whereas the original skipped straight to March. (Building snowmen with Nanako? You bet!)

There have been some rumors that you can only have one girlfriend in Persona 4: Golden. That's not entirely true. You can still become intimate with several girls at the same time. However, Valentine's Day forces you to spend your time with one girl. And the others will get sad and make you feel guilty. It's an awkward time all around.

After maxing out social links with your teammates, you can hang out with them again to have their Persona transform a second time, making it even stronger. Maxing out Rise's social link proves to be one of the most useful things about P4G, and she saved my butt several times. Rise can provide even better support through her social link, raising your stats, blocking enemy attacks, and reviving you.

Atlus didn't fix what wasn't broken. The music is relatively unchanged (other than a new opening) and the fighting system is the same. Other changes were minor, but very helpful! You can fastforward through dialogue (sticking with the TV motif) and when you die in battle, you can choose to retry from the beginning of the floor, meaning you'll only lose about 20 minutes of your time rather than an hour or two...or three...

You can dress up your teammates in costumes, which you get for free and can buy in Okina City. And when you talk to them, they'll comment on their and your costumes.

I can find no bad additions to Persona 4: Golden. Persona 4 was already a solid game, and the remake made it even better. Hell, the game is nearly perfect. It's enjoyable, the storytelling is fantastic, the characters are distinct and dynamic, and the visuals are eyecatching. For newcomers who haven't experienced Persona 4 before, just when you think you've figured out the killer, you'll get it turned around on your head once again. As long as you keep pursuing the truth and avoid distractions, you'll make it through.

I don't normally put numbers to reviews because I think the writing should stand by itself, but I'd give P4G a 9.5/10. This is a must-buy for RPG fans who own a Vita. (And if you don't own a Vita now, P4G is worth it.)

To read my review of the original Persona 4, click here. In this review, I decided to focus on what was different about P4 and P4G. For more background information on the game, check the review of P4.

Thank you so much, Atlus.

Another week, another Persona: Episode 4

As much as I love this series, and as much as I love watching the new episode every week, the pacing for this show is getting too predictable. One of the many great parts of the game was the immense amount of freedom coupled with the immense number of things to do. Yeahhh, you're supposed to save Yukiko. But come on--there's a soccer club! And you have your cute baby cousin and her not exactly responsible father to deal with. Where's the parts where Dojima starts getting suspicious of the main character's involvement in the murders case?

This is obviously easier to pull off in a game where you're largely controlling the pacing. In an anime, the pacing is set--you can't change it. And so now we're four episodes in. Four of the characters have personas, the new audience doesn't really understand the larger picture of this series, and so far the pacing has been static. In each episode, they run around fighting monsters, one of them obtains a persona, and they go home.

Fortunately, that should change with next week's episode. Several weeks will pass before the next attempted murder and this should give Yu Narukami a chance to start working on those social links! However, there's the chance of it feeling like a filler episode.

As much as I'm complaining, I do really enjoy this show. I just wonder if it's really bringing in new fans. If I hadn't played Persona 4 before, I would be a little lost and not entirely motivated to continue watching the show. And I have one more gripe.

What is up with the animation sometimes? (Click on the picture to truly see the fantastic quality of the animation.)

Though, I do like the added touch of the back of the Arcana card below Chie's feet. It's a nice addition.

As I mentioned last week, Persona 4 the Animation is doing a good job of bringing fresh content to the show. It's true to the storyline, but also includes helpful backstories so that we can understand the characters better. I understood the caged bird symbolism in the game, but we never actually knew that Yukiko kept a bird in her room because she wanted something else to be unable to escape.

Yes, suffer like I always have...

This week was largely about Yukiko--and to a lesser extent, Chie. Chie is one of my favorite characters from the game (my most favorite being Naoto--who I hope many others will love in the future), so I love the attention she's getting. Chie and Yukiko have been friends since they were kids (as evident by last week's episode) and their screentime was important for episodes 3 and 4. Their problems concerned the other--and the problems exacerbated because they didn't tell each other about them.


 And, as always, hipster glasses!

And...not quite hipster glasses.

Replay value

I recently finished my second playthrough of Persona 3 Portable, which I first played as the male protagonist so that I could get a feel for the original game. So, six months pass and I have no new games to play. I figured it'd be fun to play as the female protagonist.

And believe me, playing as the female was much more fun. Female harems are so old--building a male one was entertaining. I'm tired of seeing female characters constantly blush and fumble over their words when in love because I feel it simplifies us into these submissive, bashful girls that have traditionally been the norm because that's what was expected. Some of the males were awkward (I'm looking at you, Akihiko) and some were flirtatious from the start (oh, hello there, Ryoji). I constantly laughed and awwww'd.

 Persona 3 Portable: Finally making harems fun for girls.

The female protagonist version added many social links other than the guys. As a boy, you couldn't start social links with your male friends, but as a girl you can become "besties" with your fellow females. (I suggest hanging out with Fuuka. You get to make stuff at cooking club that you can then use to aid you in building your male harem.) But more than anything, I'm glad ATLUS included the Koromaru social link.

Koromaru joins the team after his master at the shrine passes away. Koromaru defends the place and the team realizes he can summon a Persona. You can take him for walks as a male, but you really bond with him as a girl. As an animal-lover, I loved this idea. I've bonded with every animal I've come in contact with for more than a couple days. Having a pet dog is much more than simply taking him for walks and feeding him. And Koromaru isn't like any other dog--the team correctly considers him their equal. The social link with Koromaru could be better developed (I wanted to learn more about his old master), but it was touching.

No one leaves out Koromaru.

These additions are what make P3P's replayability so great. I wouldn't say it's on the level that I think the replay value of Tales of Xillia will have, but replaying this game was not a waste of time. I bashed my head against the wall during the Tartarus parts (I rarely felt motivated to go there; it's not like you're regularly saving people you know like in Persona 4), so these new social links were what made me go into "fangirl mode."

RPGs need character development; that's why I love them so much. Getting that extra bit of background and growth during social links is what makes the Persona games memorable.

And if you're motivated enough, you might want to play the game a third or fourth time in order to get all of those social links you missed. There's no way to do it all from the start.