Ryu’s Musings – Persona 4 Golden – PS Vita

Posted on April 20th, 2013 by Ryu Sheng |

persona-4-golden

Following in the footsteps of Persona 3 Portable, the second highest rated PSP game of all time, and based on Persona 4, one of the most beloved ATLUS titles ever, P4G delivers an enhanced and expanded portable roleplaying experience.

Visuals have been beautifully remastered to take advantage of the vibrant 5″ OLED display. The game’s aural presentation is better than ever, with 1.5 times the voiced dialogue of the original release. A new online dungeon rescue feature allows users to call on other players for assistance when they are about to die in the TV world.

P4G is also overflowing with new content: new Personas to collect; new story events along with an all new character; stunning new anime cut scenes, which include a new opening animation with a new song from master composer Shoji Meguro; a host of fan suggested tweaks and changes, and much, much more! Persona 4 Golden is far more than just a handheld version of an all-time classic: it’s the best way to experience it yet!

  • A bigger, better version of one of the best RPGs ever: Improved visuals, tons of new story and voiced dialogue, and much more combine with deep turn-based combat, addicting character and Persona management, and a memorable cast of personalities.
  • Make meaningful bonds with characters via social links: In between its exploration, battles, and Persona management, P4G lets players choose how they wish to spend their time each day in a variety of different activities.
  • Will you uncover the true ending to the story? Nearly 100 hours of gameplay thrusts you into a deep mystery where midnight television leads to serial killings.

I recently got myself a PS Vita, just to play this series of games. Persona 1-4 are now available on the Vita, with 1-3 being PSN Store bought, and 4 of course having a proper Vita ‘disk’ release. My original plan was to play them in sequence, however the PSN Store is a nightmare and i ended up starting Persona 4 Golden while waiting for Sony to do whatever it was they needed to to fix my account.

I finally finished the first playthrough of the game just now, clocking in a whopping 54 hours 4 minutes. Other than the Final Fantasy series of games no other game has managed to keep me playing for this long. What’s more I’m already planning a second playthrough so i can get all the bits i missed, and the other endings.

I love this game to bits, and frankly this game alone justifies the rather large price tag attached to a Vita. However unlike a lot of other people, while i will heap praise in the game, i also feel i need to point out a number of issues with the game. None really major, but they are there and thus lower the enjoyment of the game some what.

The Bad

There are several things to note in this game, one of the biggest is the difficulty settings. For my first play through of the game, given I’d never played any of the series and was a complete noob to the game i went for easy. After the first dungeon I regretted it, and every dungeon after it just increased the regret.

One thing to note, difficulty level only effects dungeons, it’s doesn’t effect anything else such as relationships, costs of buying etc. etc., which is good.

The problem with the easy level (and I’m guessing it’s even worse on Very Easy) is that no fights are really a concern. You stomp over everything within a turn or two. Even the boss fights tend to be a bit on the lame side. This is more noticeable if you have a support character in your team who spends a turn boosting your abilities. Because of the way the game works the fight can be over before it gets to their turn, or over before it gets to you again.

In fact only one fight was the exception to that rule, in one of the dungeons (trying to avoid spoilers hehe) there’s a box you open that releases a special mob. This guy is a beast, and even on easy my party got wiped out. However due to the skill set you can form it doesn’t matter if you die since you instantly revive with full health and SP, ready to continue the fight and the guy your fighting doesn’t regen his health. So even if you die 2 or 3 times in the fight it’s irrelevant, you don’t lose anything. So there’s no penalty for dying. In fact if your up in a dungeon running low on health or SP it’s actually a viable play to get yourself/party killed so you revive with full health and SP.

I prefer story over combat, i always have. So playing on easy means you get to really ignore the combat and focus on the story. However due to how easy it is you can complete dungeons in one run, meaning there’s a hell of a lot of dead time, where the only thing you can really do is build your social rank or one of tasks to build your stats. Normally this would be a good thing, but on the easy level it just feels empty. There’s no tension to the combat, as such even if your like me and prefer the story over combat, I’d recommend you start on normal.

Another aspect that was frustrating during combat was the camera. The Camera is on your right stick, however there were a few times when it was slow to respond. For men this was in corner rooms when i was changing the rare mobs. More than a few of those escaped because the camera was slow to respond or just didn’t respond at all. This also makes it hard to get behind shadows so as to get the player advantage, which lets you attack first.

The economy in the game is ridiculous, by the end of the game i had over 5million yen but nothing to really buy with it. Oddly, the game lacked SP potions, i found and was given some SP stuff, but you couldn’t buy it from the store unlike health potions. You can get drinks from vending machines that regened some of your SP, but the amount you regain is negligible compared to what some spells cost.

Shiroku Pub,which is only available at night seems to have some nice stuff in it, but the best stuff requires multiple items from the dungeons, most of which I’ve never received yet, even after 54 hours; hopefully they’ll be in the game+.

It’s dubbed, with no option for japanese dialogue, which is a shame since the game has subtitles by default. Surely it would cost less to use the original audio track than to hire english dubbers to make a new track, and decrease the production time.

The Good

This game frankly is awesome, i rate it up there with Final Fantasy 7&8 two of the best RPG’s ever.

The story is interesting and draws the player in, which given this is a dialogue heavy game is essential. The characters are awesome, with a good mix of personalities to keep you laughing from hour to hour.

The combat is very much like that of Final Fantasy of old, turn based summoning:

Persona 4 Gold - 2

 

Which gives you plenty of time to decide on what you want to do, and of course to enjoy the various costumes available. There’s even a cross dressing one for the guys, and a maids for the girls.

One thing i never got quite the idea of was why there was an attack function, i mean why would you attack with a weapon, when your persona has endless summons and does significantly more  damage.

Personas are ‘caught’ after combat if you get a shuffle time, which can grant you various perks, persona, or cost you exp or gold. If you use all of the cards you get more to use the next time, this means there’s actually a reason why at times it’s good to take the negative effects of lost exp and gold, to gain more cards for your next time.

Occasionally during the combat the characters will offer you the chance to do special moves and combos with other members of the party. These are generally one hit kills, but don’t come along frequently enough for my liking. In my 50+ hours of playing I’ve only had a half dozen or so combo’s like this:

Persona_4_golden special

 

You do get get frequent ‘normal’ combos, where everyone piles onto a downed mob and basically kicks the crap out of it. Frankly i loved these, the reminded me of the original Batman Series where you get signs like ‘biff’ and ‘bop’ on the screen during fights. In this game when the combo goes off we get a ‘dust cloud’ where our party piles in and kicks the crap out of the mob. Depending on the mobs level the party members can be thrown out, they get up and pile back in. It’s hilarious to watch, and frankly a great way of doing a guaranteed kill.

Now, what really took me by surprise was the English Dub. In games like this I’m purist, i always feel the original dub, japanese is the better. Frankly most anime dubs suck beyond belief, so i almost gave up on the game when i realised there was no option to turn on the original japanese dub on.

HOWEVER i have to admit i think the english dub for this game is pretty well done. The VA’s doing the characters did an excellent job of feeling their characters and bringing them to life. None of the characters sound like an old guy trying to do a teens voice (something anime has by the tonne). The choice of VA’s perfectly fit the characters, i was especially impressed by Teddy, whose voice was just right, and perfectly matched the personality and actions the character takes during the game.

The other thing the game has in spades is amazing music, not to mention a killer opening track:

The awesome music continues throughout the game, so much so i found myself loitering in an area just so i could hear the music. I loved the music so much i wish they’d release an OST for the game. The thing i liked the most was that while there was pure instrumental music, usually in fights, the rest were full songs added to the game.

The Golden Edition, released for the PS Vita had some significant upgrades. One of the most notable is probably the inclusion of Marie, a new resident of the Velvet Room who becomes a rather interesting character you interact with over the course of the game. Though i have to admit even after maxing out her social status i still really didn’t know anything about her as a character, which is a shame, since she seemed like such a good character.

A number of the characters from the original version of the game were added to social ranks, which means if you maxed out their ‘story’ you got a rather unique special persona. Dojima and Adachi being two of them.

One thing i never quite got was Kanji, everyone else who reviewed the game said he was a homosexual, and praised Atlus for including him. Personally i never really got that from the character, though i can understand how and why they felt that way. When he’s first introduced there’s very much that sort of feel, and his dungeon would leave no room for questions. However his reactions over the teams girls, and especially a certain one (no spoilers!!) who arrives later on it leaves no question for me that the guy is as straight as they come.

The other characters all have their own little side story, which when you follow it boosts your social rank, and if you follow it through to the end grants you a special persona. Of the ones i finished (it’s not really possible i think to do them all in one playthrough) i liked the stories. You get some interesting character developments and their personalities feel more unique when you follow their stories.

Another aspect added to the game that i loved was the SOS feature, this allows you to use the WIFI on the Vita to send out a request for help. Likewise you can receive these requests, by sending help you give/receive a temporary boost to your stats which can make the fight much easier.

For me though i think the fact the game has multiple endings, some of which (like the one i got) leave you wondering what’s happening with the game, since it appears to have no conclusion. For me this means the re-playability is high, since you want to know the true ending of the game. Frankly I’ll keep playing it until i get that ending, cause i really want to know what happens at the end, since the ending i got was both sad, and a little open.

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