On Persona 4 Golden

I’ve been playing quite a lot of Persona 4 lately. Hell of a game. Kind of funny that the best game I’ve played so far on Vita is a remake of a PS2 JRPG. I haven’t enjoyed many JRPGs after Final Fantasy X, but Persona 4 delivered.

First time I tried Persona series was about 4 years ago. I started with Persona 3 FES, but I gave up after moronic AI made the game unplayable. Sure, it adds to the challenge, but I am sure that that could be done through other ways. STOP CASTING MARIN KARIN ON THE BOSS, MITSURU! Yep, I am still quite hung up on that.

However, after seeing what the game had to offer, I came away wanting more. After all, it was giving me something most games didn’t. A solid RPG combined with a life sim.

If only studying in real life worked like this

If only studying in real life worked like this

In any case, I personally don’t play Persona games for the dungeon crawling. It can get quite tedious. So imagine my surprise when I actually started to enjoy it this time around. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that I can play it on a go, giving myself one or two battles at the time. Also, changes made to the Shuffle Chance system are quite fun and can really help with the tedium of the battles.

But, what really shines in Persona 4, are the social links. You can make them with most characters who are of any importance to the plot, with some of them being unavoidable and some of them being unlockable. Each one of them was essentially a parable, teaching you some kind of a lesson. Except for the Mysterious Fox of course. All he ever wanted was money.

This fox wants your money

This fox wants your money

Personally, I came to Golden after playing the original Persona 4 a number of times. As such, I knew what to expect. However, this re-release differentiated itself by adding a number of narrative and mechanical changes. I can’t say that cared much for an addition of a new character, Marie. But there are definitely people who she will appeal to. What I appreciated more, is the addition of new scenes which allowed you to see your teammates bouncing off each other and cracking jokes. This for me was the best part of Persona 4. It was this sense of growing closer to people and learning more about them.

Stop being so hard on yourself Dojima

Stop being so hard on yourself Dojima

However, the overhaul of the mechanics in the game is not to be ignored. Many features have been changed to alleviate frustration, such as the Skill Inheritance for your Personas. Instead of reshuffling until you get the optimal result, you can simply choose the skills that you want. Adding a Fusion calculator of sorts was also a great idea, encouraging experimentation and allowing completionists to get there with more ease. Even small additions like adding a symbol next to the Personas you already have registered is very welcome.

Don't be creeped out by this guy knowing everything about you and appearing your dreams

Don’t be creeped out by this guy knowing everything about you and appearing your dreams

There are also new features added on the side, such as art galleries, jukebox and a quiz challenge. While not being critical to the gameplay at all, these are very nice additions, allowing you to learn more about the design process that went into the characters (art gallery) and listen to the songs that will definitely stay in your head for a while (jukebox)

All in all, Persona 4 Golden is still a hell of a game, even after all these years. I bought my Vita for it. I regret nothing. Hell of a game

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On Mortal Kombat

I’ve been enjoying Mortal Kombat 9 lately. Great game, very accessible, but also has a lot of depth for people who care about it. Story mode is a particular stand out. While most other fighting games are content with having few written lines in the beginning and the ending of story mode, MK actually cares to create reasons (often convoluted) for fighters to actually fight and move the story forward. The story also serves as a tutorial of sorts, giving you a taste of most of the fighters in the roster.

The story is pure cheese and ham, while trying to be overly serious. Not sure about other people, but this kind of thing generally gets me going. Quite a lot of chuckles can be had, but there are also some heartfelt moments as well, including the ending. A particular stand out is Johnny Cage, who is such a douchebag, he becomes rather endearing.

There is a LOT of single player content available. As mentioned earlier, story mode is of particular quality, but for post game content, players should try the Challenge Tower. This feature adds a large number of challenges to complete, most involving some form of combat and skill based challenges.

One thing I’d like to complain about. Shao Kahn. What a cheap boss. He is not staggered by your attacks and most of his special moves ignore your blocking. Thankfully, once you lose once or twice, the AI will adjust accordingly. Which in itself is a meta joke. Instead of attacking, Shao Kahn will simply taunt you, allowing you to beat him senseless. “It’s official, you suck!” indeed.

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On PS Vita

Received my Vita two weeks ago. I have to admit, it is a lovely piece of hardware. Games run very fluidly and I particularly like how quick I can switch between applications. While this feature is often taken for granted, it really enhances the experience. I played Mortal Kombat, Gravity Rush, Rayman Origins, Little Big Planet Vita and Uncharted: Golden Abyss.

Controls:

Finding the touch capabilities a bit tacky. Same with gyroscope, I guess. At least their applications in games I played so far. Back touchpad is particularly annoying. While I expected it to be intuitive, I often have to check where I have my fingers. Also, just switching between touch and hardware keys can be more than little distracting. Hardware keys are completely fine, however. I am a bit worried about pressing too hard on directional buttons, but other than that, they are highly responsive.

Graphics:

While not exactly delivering console level experience, the games that I played so far impressed me. In particular, Uncharted really shows off what this device can offer. While some criticised the game for having some flat textures, perhaps this is the issue of expectation management. Oh well, I guess Sony really dug a hole for themselves when they promised console equivalent graphics. In some games textures have been downgraded in favour of steadier frame rate. In particular characters in Mortal Kombat are very chunky and graphics are noticeably worse. In motion, it is not that noticeable though. Rayman looks phenomenal. It’s bright colours mesh really well with Vita’s bright OLED screen.

Battery Life:

I don’t think that I am a particularly good judge of this. I am quite content with playing games on low brightness settings, and I prefer to keep it charged at most times. But, I am expecting solid 4-5 hours of entertainment, which is perfect for travelling.

Game Library:

With PS+ subscription, two of the biggest titles on Vita: Uncharted and Gravity Rush are unlocked for free. Great offer, really. Other than that, there are three games I mentioned earlier. Also, Persona 4 and Virtue’s Last Reward are sure to be quite enjoyable, if review scores are to be believed. There is a large number of PSP and downloadable titles. Some PSP titles’ pricing can be a bit high, but this is highly subjective. All in all, it cannot be said that Vita does not have quality titles. However, future will show whether developers are willing to support this platform. With the sales being what they are, this is rather uncertain. Hopefully a price cut will help.

Value for money:

Here is where PS Vita falters somewhat. I purchased the system for £130, which included a Little Big Planet game. In my opinion, to take advantage of this system’s downloadable titles, an 8 GB memory card is a must. Since these cards use proprietary format, the prices can be on a steep side. Games can also be quite highly priced. Some are priced at the same level as console games. I speak about this by looking at prices in UK. From what I have seen, in America the situation is different, with game prices being capped at $40. However, it came to my attention that Sony offered some console bundles that are very reasonably priced. This will hopefully boost sales of this platform and will provide incentive for developer support.

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Waiting on some games

Waiting for my friend to come back from Hong Kong with some games for me. Kind of frustrated with release dates in Europe. Cheaper as well. A win win. Just got a PS Vita recently as well, so I’ve been looking forward to playing Virtue’s Last Reward on it.

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