Persona 4 Golden – Solid Experience, Mediocre Game

Persona 4 Golden Feature Pic

So, I have this thing called the Playstation Vita.  Never heard of it?  Well, neither has anyone else ever.  I guess that’s why it’s doing so poorly.  I don’t have any numbers to show you; I just hear about it in every site or forum I visit.  Regardless, I love the damn thing even though I know it’s not perfect… because those same sites and forums keep reminding me of how imperfect it is.  “The Vita haz know gaymes!” they erroneously type over and over again.  Not that their mantra is erroneous or doesn’t have any merit… figuratively speaking.  It’s an empirical fact that games do indeed exist for the console.  I’m merely taking a swing at their hilarious understanding of the English language.

English, Mother Fucker!

Why can’t people be racist and not stupid?

Getting back to the Vita “haz-ing” no games thing, yeah, the Vita certainly is lacking in the “killer app” department.  And it seems to be doing the same mistake its predecessor did, by which I mean the Vita is releasing a shit ton of ports.  Not that that’s a completely bad thing in my eyes.  I love having portable versions of Rayman Origins, Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus, and Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, and I’m looking forward to owning portable versions of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus and Muramasa Rebirth (everyone who reads this better support that game!)  However, I can’t help but notice how I mainly use my Vita to watch my MST3K collection.  I keep hoping that, by the time I re-watch all of them, the Vita will be in full swing with some kick ass games.  But what if it never goes into full swing?  Maybe then it’s too late!

MST3K

Wow.  The future conditional pluperfect subjunctive.

I love watching me some MST3K, but I wanted a game for my gaming console.  So I did some research and found the undeniably best game for the system… and it’s a port.  Persona 4 Golden.  Again, not a bad thing, but still a bit disconcerting when considering the PSP’s fate.  Nevertheless, I dropped the dough for it and stayed awhile in Inaba.

Persona 4 Golden Box Art

Game: Persona 4 Golden

Console: Playstation Vita

Developer: Atlus

Publisher: Atlus

Release Year: 2012

Okay, I’m going to lay this one to you straight because Persona 4 Golden did something very weird.  It both shattered and didn’t live up to my expectation.  That seems impossible, but damn if the game didn’t somehow do it.

Here’s a little history between the Persona series and me: there is none.  I’ve never played them because they’re Simulation games, a genre that makes me want to puke.  I just can’t take the slow pacing and non-action.  But, since the Vita “haz” no games, I decided to try it out.  I went in knowing Persona 4 Golden was a Simulation/Rouge-Like Dungeon Crawler/JRPG.  I imagined the game to be, based on that description and from piecing together my past experiences with the individual genres that make up that description, slow and boring with way too much talking, relentlessly difficult, and very grind heavy.  I’m here to say that, after 78 hours of playing this game to completion and getting the True ending, my expectations were only 66% wrong.

Meat LoafIt sure ain’t.

I don’t want to review this game or describe how you play it.  I more or less just want to give you my thoughts about it.  The best way to do that is to break the game up into two sections: The Simulation Section and the Game Section.  Because I can’t reasonably call Simulation a genre of game.  I just hate them so much.  So, let’s take a look at the Simulation part!

Simulation:

WHYWHO THE FUCK CARES!?

Seriously, the above scene where the girls were gathering ingredients made me want to murder myself.  HOW IS THIS A VIDEO GAME!?  And this kind of shit is littered throughout the entire 78 hours.  One of the primary things you have to do in the game is build up your “Social Links”  which, honestly, I found pointless.  Everything I read during my research to prepare for this game told me to build my Social Links, but there’s really no great advantage in doing so unless you’re building up the links of your fellow fighters, of which there are many benefits.  But really all the Social Links do are give you more story about certain characters and level up your monsters, or Personas.  However, if you didn’t really give a shit about any of the characters or didn’t mind taking the time to level up your monsters with some good, old-fashioned grinding, then Social Links were pointless (except for Maria and Adachi.  Working on their links unlocks a dungeon and ending, respectively).  That’s not to say that I didn’t like any of the characters; in fact, Morooka was the best thing to ever happen in the game.  It was a damn travesty when they killed him off.  Spoilers, by the way.

The Man

Rest in peace, you god amongst men!

In the end, I gave a shit about all of the characters.  They were all likeable and genuine.  Being an adult, I didn’t get too much into the high school drama stuff, and I found myself really connecting with the older characters (Dojima, Eri, and especially Hisano). I will say this game might be a good way to teach empathy.  During my playthrough, I got intimate with every female character I could (which seems creepy, considering all the girls are under-aged.  But it didn’t show anything, so it’s cool… I hope).  I didn’t think anything of it because I assumed Bimmy (I name all my heroes that, by the way) broke things off with the other girls.  This wasn’t the case.  Come Valentine’s Day, I felt like the world’s biggest asshole, rejecting all the girls who thought I was their boyfriend.  Yukiko in particular made me feel like shit.

Rejected

Even I want to kick my own ass.

Ultimately, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the simulation part of the game, and there were moments where I just had to keep going to see what was going to happen next.  Plus, trying to max out those Social Link, despite how pointless they were, became addicting.

Game Section:

Gross

Yup.  That’s a demon taking a dump.  You’re welcome.

Though my expectation were exceeded in the Simulation section, things to go quite as smoothly for the Game section.  Quite frankly, this isn’t a very fun game.  In fact, I think it fails at the most rudimentary of levels.  But this could just be from my predisposition of thinking that this game was going to be fun.

Let me back up, this game is fun, but it has a ton of flaws.  For instance, palette swapping.  This game has a few palette-swapped enemies in its second dungeon!  That’s entirely too early to be running out of enemy models.  Even the optional and mid-bosses are palette swaps or bigger versions of previous enemies.  Another thing that really got my goat was how freaking easy this game was.  I went in thinking this game was going to hand my ass to me.  I DIDN”T DIE ONCE!  I always seemed incredibly overpowered, and I never did any grinding.  A lot of it has to do with how awesome they made Rise.  She heals 10% of you HP and SP after each fight, heals you and gives you buffs during battle, and she can negate enemy attacks.  Also, your other team members can automatically heal afflictions, take mortal blows for the hero and for themselves, and add extra attacks for more damage.  It’s pretty neat, but it breaks the game.  I didn’t sweat anything, even when I took down the Technodrome!

Cowabunga

Cowabunga!

I understand that the game is enforcing a theme and all, but it did so at the expense of difficulty, which is not okay.  It didn’t make the game completely boring, but it didn’t help.  However, you can choose your difficulty before you start the game.  I suggest starting on something higher than Normal.

Conclusion

Persona 4 Golden is a great experience and should be experienced.  However, it’s not a very fun game.  It’s fun enough, but not to my standards.  After beating it you get the option to do a New Game +, but that sounds dreadful.  You can fast forward all the talking, but that seems just as boring, especially since the game part wasn’t that appealing in the first place.  But don’t let me influence you.  Try it out yourself!

Thanks for you Playing!

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