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Persona 4 Golden Review

Persona 4 Golden Review

Since the PlayStation Vita's release earlier this year, Japanese RPG fans haven't had much in the way of choices to pick from. There have been a few standouts such as Disgaea 4, but for the most part if you are a fan of that genre you've had slim pickings. This summer Atlus released Persona 4: The Golden in Japan which ushered in the largest sales ever for the handheld. Now Atlus's North American branch has brought the game over to the West under the new moniker Persona 4 Golden. With the extremely high marks coming from the original PS2 release, has Atlus hit gold twice?

Because both of his parents are working abroad, the protagonist of Persona 4 moves to the rural town of Inaba where his uncle Dojima and younger cousin Nanako live. He doesn't have too long to get acquainted with the town, however, as a string of bazaar murders start to take place shortly after he gets settled in. First is a local TV announcer who is followed by one of his local classmates. The murders are quite peculiar as the victims are hung grotesquely from the phone poles. Oddly enough these murders coincide with the showing of the "Midnight Channel".

The protagonist finds out he has the power to travel inside TVs into a parallel world. Going inside with his best friend Yosuke, the duo befriend Teddie, a local resident of the TV world who agrees to help them investigate the murders. Both of them awaken their Personas, physical manifestations of their inner strength. After acquiring their newfound powers they realize that the victims were inside the TV world prior to the deaths, so the duo and their friends decide to venture deeper into the TV world and save the victims that end up appearing on the Midnight Channel.

Persona 4 shares a lot of similarities to Persona 3, which we reviewed the PSP version of last year, so the rest of this review will be delving into the differences in Persona 4 and the new content found in Golden. Unlike Persona 3, Persona 4 flows at a much more methodical pace due to the murder mystery style the story has. As the protagonist and his teammates attempt to track down the murderer, the story throws a number of red herrings to throw the player off-track, so players have a reason to keep going both from a story aspect and trying to piece together the various clues. It's very much a differentiator from most other Japanese RPGs and was and still is one of Persona 4's greatest qualities.

Just like in Persona 3, Persona 4 once again features the Social Link system. Besides venturing into the TV world, the protagonist also has to attend school as a student of the local Yasogami High and get to know the local residents of Inaba. During his time in Inaba he can befriend and help people, some of which are social links that have their own unique story arcs. Persona 4's social links tend to branch out a bit more than the ones found in Persona 3, ranging from a women attempting to bond with her new stepson or a brother coping with the death of his only sister. Atlus' North American branch did a great job localizing these characters as they are incredibly well-written.

Persona 4 Golden, being a port, has some new content over the original PS2 version, but much like Persona 3 Portable's new content it feels like it was always there instead of being shoehorned in. Noting everything would make this review way too long, so we'll focus on the important stuff from here on out.

One of the major new additions is Marie, a brand new character exclusive to Persona 4 Golden. She's alluring, but also is cold due to her personality which tends to make her difficult to get along with at the start of the game. Being a new social link, players can befriend her just as they could with any of the other original social links. This allows you to get to know her better and make her open up. Those who were worried she might feel added in as a write-off shouldn't be discouraged as, much like Golden's other additional content, Marie feels like she belonged in the original.

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