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Review: Persona 4 Golden for PS Vita

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Title: Persona 4 Golden
Price: $39.99
System(s): PS Vita
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Publisher (Developer): Atlus (Atlus)
ESRB Rating: “Mature” for Alcohol Reference, Animated Blood, Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes and Violence
Pros: Graphics have been improved, story is amazing, dungeon crawling is tight, voice acting is mostly fantastic, there are five difficulty levels, plenty of daily activities and a wide assortment of personas to collect. New content is blended seemlessly with the old. There are new social links, new personas, new skill cards, new locations, new events, new costumes and a garden. The hero can also sneak out of the house at night to take certain jobs or meet friends. You can fast forward through events. There are “tv shows” you can watch outside of the game for extra information. Teddie’s new voice actor is really good.
Cons: Chie’s voice actress has been changed and the new voice actress doesn’t sound right. There’s no quick-save option.
Overall Score: Two thumbs up, 100/100, A+, * * * * * out of 5

When people put together lists of the best games of the PlayStation 2 era, Atlus’ Persona 4 is near the top. The Shin Megami Tensei spin-off has done so well that it could be argued they’re more successful and anticipated than an entry in the main series. It’s with good reason too, as the Persona games blend a fantastic story with challenging dungeon crawling, creature collecting and life sim elements. In its original form, Persona 4 was considered an amazing game, as an enhanced portable game with loads of extra content and enhanced visuals, it’s a masterpiece.

Solving a supernatural murder case while managing your daily life.

Persona 4 Golden begins in a very ordinary way. A city boy is forced to move to the small town of Inaba to live with his uncle and cousin while his parents are out of the country for work. He starts making friends with the locals and getting settled in school. Granted, there was some crazy dream the first night where he was chasing and fighting some strange being in a foggy world in search of the truth, but that was just a dream, right?

Then, on his first day of school, someone dies. An announcer involved in a scandal was found dead, dangling from powerlines, and no one can determine the cause. Not to mention there’s also a crazy rumor about this Midnight channel, where if someone watches TV at midnight when it’s raining, he or she will see his or her soulmate.

Except after a classmate named Saki appears on the Midnight Channel, her body appears draped across some power lines. Also, our hero discovers he can put is hand through TV screens to enter a strange world on the other side inhabited by a costumed “bear” named Teddie, sinister monsters called Shadows and an environment that changes to suit whoever gets tossed inside. The hero and his friends Yosuke and Chie learn that this other world and its Shadows are what is killing the people. Someone in the real world is tossing victims in to die, and only they and their friends have the power of persona that allows them to safely traverse the TV world and rescue them.

Which means it’s time for players to manage their high school lives while occasionally stepping into TVs to dungeon crawl in Persona 4 Golden!

Old and new content perfectly blends together into something spectacular.

Since Persona 4 Golden‘s basic gameplay is unchanged from Persona 4, let’s breeze through a brief explanation of the gameplay experience so I can focus on what’s changed and how all the new additions are a very good thing. Persona 4 Golden is a life sim and dungeon crawler. The hero has standard RPG stats from his personas, but also has traits like knowledge, diligence, courage, understanding and expression. The traits influence what kinds of part-time jobs he can perform throughout the week, his performance in school, if he can form relationships with certain people and if he can choose certain dialogue responses. The traits are there to assist with relationships. Players can create social links with people around Inaba to form friendships or relationships. When a relationship is maxed out, by spending enough time with someone and helping them with problems, players are rewarded with the ability to fuse a special persona. If the social link is with a party member, the party member will gain new battle abilities and his or her persona will eventually evolve into a stronger form.

This is important because players need strong personas to succeed in the dungeon crawling adventures in the TV world. If a person banished there isn’t saved before the rains start and fog rolls into Inaba, that person dies and it’s game over for the player. So strong personas are key. While party members have one persona assigned to them, the hero is a wild card able to equip multiple personas. These can be swapped at any time in or out of battle, which is beneficial as each has its own skills, abilities, strengths and weaknesses. If a battle begins against a shadow that uses fire, it’s beneficial to equip a persona that reflects fire attacks and perhaps has an ice spell. Battles are turn-based, with players able to control all characters actions or just control the hero and allow the party members to act on their own.

Obtaining personas is easy. The hero starts with one, but more can be obtained as a reward after battle. These can then be taken to the Velvet Room and fused to create new, stronger personas. There are multiple fusion options, allowing up to five to be fused together at once, and players can determine inherited skills. Registered personas can be purchased again at any time, if you need a certain kind in a pinch.

Now, let’s get into what’s new. For starters, the hero character can now obtain a scooter. I know that sounds like a minor addition, but it adds a lot more to Persona 4 Golden than one would think. It means players can now visit the Okina Station mall area at any time, once the hero is familiar enough with the area. It also makes trips to the ocean possible. New story segments involving the scooters are added as well, since eventually almost every main cast member gets one.

There are also new social links with two characters. One is the existing character Adachi, which is a huge addition. Those who played the original Persona 4 will know the significance of getting to know more about Dojima’s assistant. The other is Marie, a cryptic Velvet Room resident that deals in skill cards and has a rather interesting backstory. If you want to know her past, you’ll have to not only pay attention to her social link, but listen closely during Mr. Edogawa’s lecture during the class trip. Both of their social links are well fleshed out and fit perfectly into the existing Persona 4 storyline.

With the new social links and locations, however, comes the worry that there may not be enough time to accomplish everything in Persona 4 Golden. Rest assured that it is possible, even though there is also even a garden to tend and more fish to catch. The hero can now sneak out at night when Dojima isn’t home. Actually, after taking a certain part-time job, the hero can go out at night even when Dojima is home. This provides the opportunity to do extra fishing or interact with some characters to make maxing out social links easier. Those who are really worried can even choose the new beginner difficulty level to make dungeon crawling and social link-maxing even easier. Of course, people who want a challenge can go with the easy, normal, hard or very hard difficulty settings.

I think the best testimate to the new Persona 4 Golden content is that it nestles perfectly among the existing content. Everything fits together perfectly and for a moment, I didn’t even realize that the hero wasn’t always able to go out at night in the original game. Things fit well together and the extra content doesn’t feel extraneous or forced. The only downside to Persona 4 Golden is that some voice actors were replaced due to the new content additions. Teddie and Chie have new voices. Teddie’s new voiice actor is quite good, to the point where I didn’t realize it was someone different until I was told, but Chie’s new voice actress is dreadful. While I admit I didn’t initially care for Danielle Judovits’ performance as Chie, Erin Fitzgerald makes Judovits sound fantastic.

Persona 4 Golden is a flawless victory

If you own a Vita, Persona 4 Golden is the game to get. It doesn’t matter if you don’t normally play RPGs. It doesn’t matter if you played Persona 4 before. Atlus has created what is not only one of the best games for the Vita, but a title that could easily be among the best video games of all time. It’s a perfect blend of life simulation and RPG dungeon-crawler with an almost excessive amount of content. It will take people at least 40-60 hours to complete, and even then they’ll likely dive in for more in New Game + to complete social links or side-quests that were missed during the first playthrough. Persona 4 Golden will leave players saying, “Just one more day…” as they stay up past 2am, struggling to solve this supernatural case. For Vita owners hungry for substance, that’s a very good thing.

Site [Persona 4 Golden]

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