Over the course of the Holiday season, here at Ready Player Gone we will be bringing you a feature article each day – with a break on every 6th day – in the lead-up to Christmas. Our posts will be split into one of five themes throughout the event and there may even be a competition or two. Today the theme is, All-time favourite Christmas Releases. That means that this post will highlight a game that released in the Christmas window (November-December) and why we love it! For the full RPG Christmas line-up, click here!
On November 20th, 2012, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 Golden was released in North America on the Playstation Vita. One of the best games to have released on the handheld console, receiving a 9.3 from IGN and a 93% on Metacritic – this game was one of the major selling points of the Vita. I owned a Vita, albeit for only the span of 7-8 months. It was a nifty little console, packing an unprecedented bit of punch for the time in a small machine, upgrading every aspect of it’s predecessor, the Playstation Portable (PSP). The console really didn’t have much in the way of games for me, between this, Jak & Daxter HD Collection and a few JRPG’s which made their way to the system – Persona 4 Golden was the treasure of the Vita. If you wanted to pick up a new copy on the Vita now to go under your Christmas tree, you’re looking at paying around $150 or £120 for a copy on eBay. If you own a PC however, you can now pick it up on Steam for around $20.
So, why is Persona 4 Golden the first of our All-time favourite Christmas Releases – the JRPG satisfied a starving console in need of sustenance. Persona 4 Golden is full to the brim with a compelling story, lovable characters, satisfying gameplay and hilarious dialogue scenes. I must admit, growing up (and even a bit still now) I longed to experience traditional and contemporary Japanese culture. My love for this game, the Yakuza series and anime all stem from this fact. In fact, one of my friends actually now lives in Japan – he’s played this game – although, that’s a long-shot to make a direct connection. I personally cannot speak more highly of any other game than this – it was the perfect release at the time that ticked every single box for me. Incredible story, check. Jazz-y soundtrack, check. Deep progression system, check. Fully-voiced and hilarious dialogue, check. It has it all. If I were to review it right now, it’d earn a 10/10. That is how good I think the game is.
Now, I need to own up a little bit, this game is a Christmas release, but I am in the PAL region, so it wasn’t for me. Having said that though, it was essentially Christmas come early (or late depending how you view it) when I picked it up in March 2013.
If you’ve played the game before, you will know that there is one jingle in it that plagues your mind, your soul, your everything. Everyday’s great at your Junes. Ah, Junes, the department store that has it all, the gift that keeps on giving. The social-sim part of the game has you living the day-to-day life of a teenage boy in rural Japan. You will go to school, do homework, find a date, babysit your cousin – all the rituals that at somepoint in your life you likely did. But on a rainy night at midnight, if you stare into your blank TV-screen – the rumours are true – you will encounter the Midnight Channel. It is here where the social-sim aspects of the game blend effortlessly with a dungeon-crawling turn-based JRPG. These two, seemingly unrelated genres at first glance wouldn’t work together, but it is truly gold. A huge drama unfolds as you explore the Midnight Channel only to uncover a plot involving murder, mysteries and someone pulling all the strings.
Then of course there is the battle-system itself. You do battle with your Persona, a literal embodiment of the characters self upon mastering their shadow (the dark thoughts that reside within). It is a really interesting concept when you think about it, the main enemies in the Persona series are shadows, all created from the dark thoughts and intentions of the people inhabiting the world. The battle-system is such a simplistic approach to the genre that in some areas it can seem lacking, but in reality that is all that it needs to be. There is no need to over complicate it too much. As the protagonist you can discover and create new personas to join your team, which adds a lot of variety to the game in itself.
Today, the game does look dated. For some that will put you off but if it does, just know you are missing out on an incredible experience. Talking about this game so much has got me really wanting to try out 2016’s, Persona 5 – so I have went out of my way to order a copy of the Royal Edition to give it a go. When I say a go, I mean a lifetime, let’s be real. So that is my Christmas plans, from one Persona game to another, I will now be moving from Inaba to Tokyo to explore the streets, the palace’s and the Personas.
I hope you enjoyed the first post in our Christmas event and a small look at one of my favourite ‘Christmas’ releases. This game really does mean a lot to so many people and probably to Sony themselves too. It is one of the bestselling Playstation Vita games ever created. Considering it is actually a port of a Playstation 2 game with some extra content is a huge thing – it did for the console what the Vita couldn’t really do for itself, it gave a reason to buy it.
For more news, reviews, features and Christmas content from us, check out Ready Player Gone.