The Playstation Vita released last year, and for the longest time it had, and continues to have, a small library but Persona 4 Golden, an updated version of the PS2 original, is a title worth looking into for RPG starved fans of the little handheld that could. This game features a host of updates not only from Persona 3 and Persona 3 Portable, but Persona 4 as well as adding new content.
As for the core game, Persona 4 Golden is a turn based Japanese RPG. The characters fight enemies with these beings called Personas, which can be obtained in battle or fused with each other to make new ones. Older Personas registered in the compendium can be repurchased for use later. The battle making use of the ‘One more time’ feature that lets you have one more turn to attack or use an item, or If your Social Link is higher enough with party member, they can do a follow up attack. When all the enemie’s weakness are taken advantage enough and they are knocked down, you can perform an all-out attack to do some serious damage to all of them. This makes the battles go by really quickly. Effective use of switching the main character’s Personas is encouraged, as it allows various bonuses after battle through it’s Shuffle Time. These bonuses can be either new persona, extra experience, money, or even restore health and magic points. If you draw a lot of the same card or make a straight, you can get a Sweep Bonus that lets you draw more cards during the next Shuffle Time. Also, you can check on the enemy’s strengths and weaknesses with the analyze command, although you need to experiment first.
As for the dungeon exploration, you see a representation of the enemies on the field and can sneak up on them by striking them and this allows a free round of combat for the entire party. The enemy can also do this however. You do dungeon crawling in randomly generated maps based on themes relating to the character. After finding the staircase, you can choose to continue exploring or go it later by hitting the Square button choosing from the menu. If you stay too long on a floor however, the Reaper will come for you and most likely wipe you out. It’s the game’s way of telling you that you might be over-leveled. Taking on the Reaper is something for the endgame. In order to make the game flow smoother, if you die on a floor, you now have the option of restating the floor. Very nice.
This game also has a simulation portion to its game-play where story events take place and you can hang out with friends to raise your social links. Social links are tied to the persona creation system, where some personas need a maxed social link to even be created, or depending on the rank, you will get a varying amount of bonus experiments and skill inheritances. Also your party members get new abilities when they rank up with you. This makes social links important to take care of. The people who have links also operate on a schedule and aren’t available every day, so maybe it’s a better idea to take a job, buy food, or ride a scooter instead of trying to unlock new areas or increase stats like Knowledge which are needed to progress further in other Social Links. This part of the game is really nice as it does a decent job at making you feel like your character’s are part of a more believable and organic world. This is also where most of the character development takes place, and the development is very rich.
As for the story, it is a very interesting one that plays with concepts of Jungian philosophy involving the persona and even Nihilism, as well as teens dealing with their issues and how they suppress them. The voice acting is for the most part the same, but some characters were recast. The replacement voice overs are kind of a mixed bag. Otherwise good all-around though. Unfortunately the game lacks a Japanese audio track for those who might have been interested in that. The music is fantastic, with very funky compositions from series mainstay Shoji Meguro.
As for new features exclusive to this game, there are plenty. Polished up graphics, new story content, social links, Personas, music and new locations are all here. Also there are costumes, having the ability to do things at night, rebalanced enemies and Shuffle Time also serve to make the game easier. There are also new easier and harder difficulties for those who just want the story or a challenge. New to the game is the TV overlay and Wi-fi features. The TV overlay is an in-game app that lets you look at various things like a sound test, watch all the animated cut-scenes, watcher trailers from this and the previous releases, music videos and vignettes. The Wi-fi features include a system similar to Catherine where you can look at a poll of what people did during any given day in the game to offer suggestions for building social links. The other feature is a dungeon rescue service where you can make and respond to requests from other players who are stuck in a dungeon. Doing this allows you to bail out them out/be bailed out but at the expense of ending your day. This is a nice feature for those having a hard time. Features I wished were in the game would have been a service to trade personas with other players and the ability to save anywhere. Also a way to purchase and sell goods inside the dungeons would have been welcome as well. In summation, Persona 4 Golden is an extremely polished and brilliant re-release of a classic PS2 JRPG, and anybody who is an RPG fan and has a Vita should get this game. If you don’t have a Vita, this is one of the first in in a soon to be good list of games coming to platform, so look into buying one soon.
- Improved gameplay over the PS2 version. Much more smooth.
- Great amount of new content.
- Still missing some features I would like to see.
Summary: A very polished re-release and a great title for the Vita in general. This is definitely a system seller for RPG fans.
- Format: Vita
- Developer: Atlus
- Publisher: Atlus
- Release Date: November 20, 2012