If you have money to burn and feel like buying a system for just one game, consider getting a Vita for Persona 4 Golden.
That’s not really an accurate statement, to be honest. There are quite a few good titles on the Vita right now. Last year, though, there weren’t. One of the few that I was at all interested in was this port of the popular 2008 JRPG title Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. I’m a massive SMT fan and loved Persona 4, but that wouldn’t have been enough to get me to buy a Vita.
But Golden isn’t just a port – it actually adds content and hours of gameplay to the PS2 original. There’s a whole new dungeon. There are more Personas to fuse. There are new Arcana that Persona 4 Golden makes up to shove these Personas into. There are a bunch of new costumes your characters can wear in battle (including a few slightly creepy ultra-fanservice outfits for the girls in your party.) There’s a new battle theme, meaning now there are two of them instead of just one (thanks Atlus!) There are several new story events and some new activities for your character to experience. There are two new social links.
P4G includes a bunch of extras outside of the game itself. You can now replay cutscenes, watch Persona-related videos like a live concert by whoever brought you those Persona battle themes and background music and a quiz show starring the MC, Yosuke, Chie and Yukiko, naturally hosted by Teddie. What fun!
Newcomers to Persona 4 aren’t going to understand what the hell any of this is about, so here’s a primer: Persona 4 is a half-dungeon crawler half-social sim. Your player character has to fight shadows in a magical world with his high school friends through their Personas, magical manifestations of their inner beings that can beat up monsters. At the same time, he still has to attend school, establish relationships with his non-Persona-using classmates and townspeople and hide everything he’s doing from his detective uncle. It makes more sense when you play the game, believe me.
Don’t worry about picking up the original if you’re planning on getting P4G. If you have a choice between P4 and P4G, this is the one to get. The original game is all here and then some – it doesn’t take away anything from the old Persona 4. The gameplay is the same, albeit with a few tweaks to the all-important Persona fusion system that make it easier to use. Unfortunately, this means it also retains the few genuinely annoying parts of the game.
If you want to know why Persona 4 is a 10 out of 10 game and one of the best JRPGs to come out in the past ten years, go look for a P4 review. The game is simply well-made and a lot of fun. Moreover, it brings together “hardcore” Shin Megami Tensei fans and gamers who can’t stomach the harsh and sometimes cheap difficulty of main line SMT games. It pretty much made SMT’s reputation in the West, and for an American fan of slightly obscure/weird JRPGs (meaning ones that aren’t Final Fantasy) this is enough reason to love it.
The only sticking point is whether P4G is worth buying a Vita for if you don’t have one already. I know a few people who would say yes, but I’m not so sure. If money is no object, or if you’re big on mobile gaming and don’t want to or can’t sit in front of a TV screen for hours on end, then I’d say go for it. If it is and you’ve already got a PS2, though, I’d go with the original P4. You’ll get essentially the same experience, only without the extras that P4G adds.
All in all, though, I don’t regret my decision to buy a Vita. P4G adds a lot to the original Persona 4, and it allows you to play it on the bus/train (I never did this, but if you don’t mind people wondering what the hell you’re doing this should be a benefit for you.) And anyway, the Vita’s got plenty of other good games out. Really it has.