The real question on everyone’s mind is: Does Persona 4 Golden do enough to expand on its predecessors or is it just a repackaged PS2 game?
When I first heard about Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4 the only thing that really caught my attention was the name (it is quite a mouthful!) but as I found out more about it, it started appealing to me more and more. I realized that it was a game that distinguished itself from the other RPGs, a bold step away from the orcs and the avatars that make up many of the of the RPGs that are on the market today. It looked like a role playing game that I could add to my pile of favorites. Although it would probably be at the bottom when competing with such loved classics like Sonic The Dark Chronicles, Shenmue, Mass Effect, Mario and Luigi and Yakuza etc. but alas I was wrong and it became my second best game that I have ever played! So when I heard about Persona 4 Golden I came to the assumption it was the sequel to one of the greatest games ever made and believe me this time I was very excited. So I got whatever money I had together and bought the game, that was when I realized it was primarily the same game as the PlayStation 2 version! So I asked myself was It worth the money?
For me the answer is an overwhelming yes! I place Persona 4 very highly in my top games of all-time list (it is second only to Shenmue). In a nutshell (and this is mainly for the benefit of those who haven’t played the original) Persona 4 Golden is an RPG that follows the style of the other persona games, but is not a continuation of the previous games like Shenmue 2 or Yakuza 2, but an individual game in its own right. In this game you play the part of Yu, a high school student with the ability to wield personas (think of them as Pokémon). He moves from a large city to the sleepy town of Iniba and soon after your arrival a mystery ensues that requires you to enter a bizarre “other world” by using a television as a portal, to catch a murderer that has being doing his handy work on Iniba. He does this by throwing his victims into this other world to be devoured by their inner selves. You must use your ability to wield personas to catch the killer and bring him to justice, of course you cannot attempt this gargantuan challenge by yourself and that is when Yosuke comes, in the first to join the crew. One by one you assemble the cast of make shift heroes, all bringing their own unique personalities to save Iniba as well as inject some light hearted hilarity to the proceedings! For those of you familiar with Persona 4 on the PlayStation 2 you will realize that the games storylines are identical so you’re probably asking why I should buy again this game? Well here are my reasons I believe you should take the trip back to Iniba.
The first point I have to mention is they made Persona 4 portable. Now don’t get me wrong, I know a lot of people wouldn’t consider this a strong point. but if anyone has played the game for any duration of time they will compare it to Pokémon. And that is because in many respects the games are similar to each other, like for example the personas that level up by completing battles and gaining experience points, like the critical hits, the boss battles to mark certain points in the game (obviously in Pokémon there are eight) etc. The real point of comparing the two isn’t just an observation and it really isn’t to criticize (in fact Pokémon Silver is rated third in my best games of all-time list) but if you think about it, putting Pokémon on the big screen didn’t fare very well for it, games like Pokémon Stadium, Pokémon XD and Pokémon Gale of Darkness although were good, they failed to get the same recognition or rating by the critics that their portable predecessors did. In my opinion Pokémon was built to be portable and possibly so was Persona 4, so that is my first point to make about the game also it brings with it the obvious benefits that playing on a portable console has like for example now it can be played on the train to work or on breaks etc. This will be useful when you are addicted to it (and yes you will be addicted to it!) it is easily at hand to satisfy your cravings!
The second positive thing I have to say about Persona 4 Golden is the anime. For those of you that don’t know, they created an anime based on the game, the anime in itself isn’t amazing (I know I watch a lot of anime!). But in the new game they tell a lot of the story through anime cut scenes. This is a huge plus for me because I found the typical Pokémon style subtitled conversations in the game (another similarity) gets old very quickly and that’s because the game is very long and therefore so is the story, so this corrects for me what is one of the major turn offs in the original game and therefore is a plus side. Also it is still an anime series therefore it makes the game more worthy of its sticker price than the original Persona 4 did. Another pro for me are the enhanced graphics, after playing it on PlayStation Vita, I can’t imagine playing it any other way. The graphic’s look extremely sharp, crisp and just all together better than they did on the PlayStation 2. But do not assume that this is only a HD remaster like DMC HD Triple Pack, Dragon Ball Z Budokai re-mastered etc. in Persona 4 Golden they have also added new content.