Persona 4 The Golden (Or P4G as it is commonly known) is a PS VITA port of the hit Persona 4 RPG, previously on the PS2. It comes with various new features and story elements exclusive to this version.
The current review will be catered to the pool of players who have played and completed the first Persona 4 on the Playstation 2, and would like to know a few minor changes in the plot, without going too heavy on spoilers.
Note: This review contains spoilers.
The story is set in the town of Yaso-Inaba, out in the countryside. As the main character, you are to spend a year there due to your parent’s work. Strange murders happen, and the main character notices that it is linked to the rumored Mayonaka Television, which only occurs on rainy nights. With your friends, you have to go inside the television and save the people who have been trapped inside that world. At the same time, you have to build up social links with the people you meet through club activities, spending time with friends and doing part-time jobs. These social links grant greater power when fusing stronger Personas which aid you in your fight. As the story progresses, you find hints to the true culprit behind the murders, and there will come a time where you and your friends will discover the identity of the murderer. There are false leads, and some logical thinking to do, and your choices in these final months decide the ending of the game.
Persona 4 the Golden also introduces two new social links for Adachi Tooru and Marie.
Adachi’s social link (Pierrot) is triggered when you speak to him in Junes. Adachi’s social link changes the game in two ways. There will be a point in the game where you have to select the name of the culprit, and in P4G, you can now choose whether to inform your friends about him. If you choose not to, then the game will fast forward through the last few months of the year, and bring you to the day before the main character leaves for the city (The events are similar to the bad ends of the original game).
You can choose to meet Adachi on this day, and doing so will bring you to an event where Adachi makes the main character burn a key piece of evidence, the threatening letters he had been leaving. Burning the evidence would thus make you Adachi’s “accomplice”, and you will then reach the Max level of his social link. You will then obtain Adachi’s phone number (He implies that he would be able to track you down any where using his police connections, so changing your number wouldn’t make any difference) and the ability to fuse Magatsu Izanagi.
The second happens when you decide to tell your friends about Adachi, which leads to him running away into the television, and creating the dungeon, Magatsu Inaba. You and your friends decide to come in the next day to search for Adachi inside the television. However, that night, you can choose to go inside the television by yourself and confront Adachi. It is an event in which the Pierrot social link will transform into the Yokubou (Lust) social link. If you defeat Adachi and move on to the true end of the game, Adachi will appear in the sequence in the battle with Izanami as one of your mastered social links.
Mari’s appearance in P4G is one of the first changes you will notice if you have played the original Persona 4. You run into her at the train station on your very first day in Yaso-Inaba, and later in the Velvet Room. Throughout the game, there will be events triggered by visiting the Velvet Room, in which you will find a piece of paper on the floor with poetry written by Mari. Mari will then find you reading it, and she gets very embarrassed and angry.
Social link events with Mari can be triggered by talking to her when she is outside the Velvet Room. It is possible to be in a special relationship with her, but there is no Christmas event with Mari because of plot reasons.
Plot spoilers ahead (Highlight to view): Margaret informs you of Mari’s disappearance after you defeat Ameno-sagiri. During the winter ski trip event, it is possible to access the world Mari had trapped herself into. It is then revealed that Mari is actually Kusumi-no-ookami, and if Ameno-sagiri’s purpose was to cloud the world with fog, it was Kusumi-no-ookami’s role to absorb the fog, and to die after. She tries to push the main character and his friends away because of this, trapped in a dilemna between self-sacrifice, or to lose all they have worked for by returning to the real world. The party eventually defeats Kusumi-no-ookami while Mari seals away her consciousness, thus protecting her self and could then return to the real world. However, after the battle with Izanami, Mari appears to fade away and leaves you with her real name: Izanami-no-mikoto.
The addition of Mari’s character wraps up the story of Persona 4 more completely. The mastering of her social link and subsequent rescue is thus a new requirement for the true end of the game.
In the early months of the game, Yosuke suggests that you should get a bike license, and ride to Okina City to pick up girls. As the game progresses, you obtain a license, and gain access to Doujima’s old scooter. This brings you to an event in which the main character, Yosuke and Kanji (who rode on a bicycle) attempt to pick up girls at Okina City. It is interesting to note that you can not only talk to girls, but also the policeman at the station, and a cat.
If you are interested, this is how the adventure ends.
There is also a summer beach event, an impromptu idol live with Rise, and a Halloween event at Junes (From which new costumes can be obtained).
After defeating Adachi, the game progresses on to the Winter events. There is a new vocal track for this season, and as Nanako has to go for the hospital for follow-up treatment, Kuma offers to stay with you.
In addition, there is a whole new month of content (January), where everyone goes to the shrine on New Year’s and on a ski trip!
The epilogue chapter is an exciting, and probably long-awaited addition to the game. Taking place in August, a year after the events, the epilogue features the main character going back to the town of Yaso-Inaba after returning to life in the city, and is then reconciled with his friends. In a sense, with the addition of these new scenarios, P4G delivers a more complete version of the ending compared to Persona 4.
The gameplay in Persona 4 is multi-faceted, with a dungeon part and a adventure novel part. Two new difficulty levels are added (Like in Persona 3 Portable), so first-time players can select an easier mode, and seasoned gamers can try the new Risky difficulty. The choice of difficulty only affects the dungeon-crawler part of the game.
In P4G, some added features are a new town (Accessible by bike), an updated fishing game, gardening and insect-catching. Also, characters can be visited at night, and they will give you items in addition to raising relationship points to make the social link events come faster.
The new fishing game now requires a little more coordination than it’s predecessor. It requires the use of the analog stick, and the ○ and △ buttons. Reading the book about advanced fishing techniques will make fishing easier in the later part of the game. It is also possible to go fishing at the sea!
Mari’s dungeon is a tough one, in which all battles automatically halve the party’s SP, and the only items you can equip are the items found within the dungeon itself. Aside from attacking shadows, opening ‘doors’ will also trigger battles. It might be better to bring along a persona with SP recovering abilities!
Much like P3FES, P4G now comes with costumes that can be equipped in the dungeon. These do not change any attack or defense stats, and are just for visual purposes. Fans will appreciate some of the costumes available, such as the Gekkoukan High uniform from Persona 3, the cross-dressing clothes from the Culture Festival, and the Velvet Room uniforms. Costumes can be obtained by completing quests in the game, through events, and purchased from Croco*Fur in Okina City. Here are some screencaptures of the costumes that are available:
A new feature of P4G is the channel listings, in which animated cutscenes, new and old video content (Like from Persona Music Live, and P4A) can be viewed.
There is also a fast forward mode ingame, which is quite cute to look at, and very useful for skipping scenarios on your second playthrough.
Persona 4 The Golden is definitely one of the best titles for the Vita. It promises many hours of quality content, and re-playability, and enough new scenarios and features to satisfy any previous player of P4. For first-time players, it is highly recommended for its story, and solid dungeon-crawling gameplay, and amazing vocal tracks. The graphics and colors on the Vita screen are simply beautiful. In reflection, it is very nostalgic to be able to see the characters of Persona 4 again (Having come from the PS2 version), and the epilogue chapter has left a deep impression on myself, as it closes up the story in a different, and more satisfying way from P4.
Name : Persona 4: The Golden
Platform : PS Vita
On Sale : 14 June, 2012
Price : 7,329yen
Cero : C (Recommended for ages 15 and above)