Well, I thought it was about time to talk about THE reason to get a Vita. From the outside it may seem like just a simple port of a PS2 game, but there’s so much more to it than that. Persona 4: Golden is truly one of the best games ever made.
My history with Persona 4 is an odd one. You see, I was never a big JRPG guy. I tried (and failed) to enjoy various Final Fantasy’s, I was close to loving Lost Odyssey, but as is always the case with these games I hit a roadblock and couldn’t be bothered to put in the hours needed to grind to an acceptable level.
So, why would I even touch a game from a genre I didn’t particularly like? Because I watched a playthrough. Over on the website Giantbomb they did an Endurance Run, a complete play of Persona 4 (with hilarious commentary) and I was hooked. I happened to have a couple of weeks off work at the time and instead of doing anything worthwhile like going outside, I just binge watched over 100 hours of video. It was a glorious time.
As someone who never owned a PS2 it wasn’t until the Vita update where I was finally able to control the game for myself. And it was everything I hoped it would be. And more.
As the protagonist (who you can name to whoever, but is canonically called Yu Narukami) you find yourself having to live with your uncle for a year in the small, Japanese countryside town of Inaba. You need to go to school, take part in after school activities, make new friends and do part time jobs. Oh, you also have to do battle with monsters in the world inside the television.
Yep, our hero soon discovers he can enter the television into a weird new world where all sorts of enemies await. Trying to balance the act of saving the world and hanging out with friends is a tough task for Yu. Forming Social Links with people is a key element of the game, so while there is a time limit on events (game plays out on a day to day basis with certain tasks needing to be completed before a certain day), rushing through dungeons is never really advised.
During your after school time you’ll get to explore your high school and hang out with any of your friends, ranking them up gaining additional power during battles. And with each rank up you’ll learn something new about them in some brilliantly done story scenes.
When you do decide to brave the television world you’ll be treated to one of the deepest and rewarding battle systems ever. Using a variety of different Persona’s (that can be found or fused throughout the game) you do battle with shadows, the majority of which have weaknesses. It’s a little Pokemon-ish as you need to discover the shadows weakness with trial and error to determine the best strategy. This is just the basics though, there’s more to it, but it never feels overwhelming thanks to some helpful tutorials.
But what really is Persona 4’s strongest aspect are the characters. For years the Japanese RPG space has been full of the same type of spiky haired protagonist, Persona 4 brings a little realism to proceedings. Okay, realism may be a bit of stretch in a game where you have a walking teddy bear (called Teddy unsurprisingly).
None of the characters feel stereotypical. Even the ones that feel like they could be falling into classic JRPG stereotype are quickly pulled out by another side to their personality. As well as your voiceless protagonist there’s the likes of teen idol Rise, joker and all round idiot Yosuke and Kanji, a man who seems somewhat conflicted sexually. And while the cut scenes may seem long and text heavy, you won’t care because it’s so well written and voice acted. Troy Baker putting in a hilarious performance as Kanji back before everyone became tired of him starring in everything.
What I’ve spoken about so far is just the base game, I haven’t even mentioned what makes the Vita upgrade better. Along with new story sections, there’s a new character in the form of Marie who actually has an impact on the plot in ways you wouldn’t think, new improvements to the battle system, a new Quiz mode and a variety of special features. My personal favourite being the footage from the Persona concerts in Japan. After all, this game does have one of the best soundtracks around.
If I haven’t sold you on this yet then I don’t know what else to say. It’s the definitive JRPG and one of the greatest games of all time. And if you disagree, then as Kanji says, “get bent”.