When I first started at Ready Up one of the first recurring features I wrote was called Vita Appreciation Society. I loved Sony’s handheld, and felt it was unfairly considered a joke, especially when you consider it has the greatest JRPG of all time in its library.
Golden is the updated and improved version of the original PS2 game, Persona 4. On top of a new character and a new story thread, it also improves on elements from the original, such as the crucial fusing element that is such a core part of the series.
There’s a reason that this set of characters has made appearances in dancing and fighting spin-offs and have stood the rest of time. They each have unique personalities and while some do feel similar to what came before in Persona 3 (Yosuke is basically an evolved form of Junpei) getting to know each one as the game progresses is not only required to improve your social links, but you actually want to spend time with them. So much so that when the credits finally roll around 80 hours in you’re sad to see everyone leave.
While I’ve attempted to get into the JRPG genre many times over the years from multiple Final Fantasy games to the Dragon Quest series, the only two series’ I ever fell in love with enough to finish were Persona and Pokémon. While nowadays it seems quite normal, being able to see the enemies on the field so you can choose whether to engage or not was a game changer for me. One of my pet peeves with the genre was always random battles. Wanting to get from point A to B and fighting an endless slew of enemies, wasting all my health potions is always what made me turn off.
On top of that, there were only a couple of areas where I had to go back and grind levels, and more crucially, the times when that happened it never bothered me because the battle system is so good. Finding enemy weaknesses and utilising them never got old, making it far more tactical than just choosing your most powerful spell, healing your party, rinse and repeat.
The whole game was a joy to play, the story was incredible and the world is one I never wanted to leave. But I also have to end this on a sad note. Because while I thoroughly enjoyed Persona 5, I don’t think another game in the series will have the same effect on me that Persona 4 Golden had.