Final Thoughts & Review: Persona 4 Golden (PS Vita)


It’s been a long road, or rather, a long school year. I began my journey in P4G back in December of 2013. Over 4 months later, I’ve finally completed it, achieving its true, best ending.

I’ve written quite a bit about this game already (those entries can be found here), so my apologies in advance for this not being a traditional review. As I played through the game’s final months, I started to think more and more about some of P4G‘s characters and situations, and my reactions to them.


First, your classmate Hanako. From the moment you’re introduced to her, she’s simply a collection of ugly stereotypes. The way she’s drawn is unattractive and in stark contrast to the other students, her voice is slurred and exaggerated, and one of the first things you see her do is sit on a scooter and crush it under her weight. Really? Yes, we’ve seen these gags in movies like Austin Powers and Shallow Hal, but do they belong in this game?

I was expecting there to be a Social Link for Hanako, but instead, the game makes fun of her eating habits and weight every chance it gets. It’s extremely off-putting, and feels like a missed opportunity for you and your friends to develop a real friendship with her. Too bad, because I think this could have been a memorable and touching one.

2014-04-29-094952Second, Kashiwagi-sensei, one of the teachers at Yasogami High, makes constant sexual advances towards the students, which is unnecessary, and adds nothing to the story. Kimura-sensei from the series Azumanga Daioh is another example of an adult character who shows overt interest in young students, and I can’t tell if these are aberrations or an accepted trope of the genre/culture. Either way, it’s disturbing.

Morooka-sensei is another bad example, who regularly curses out his students. This actually caught me off-guard when I first started playing, and figured there was a reason for his behavior, but from what I gathered, he has no real redeeming qualities. Why is he even yelling? Again, it would have been great to build Social Links with these characters, but their absence leaves them being little more than one-dimensional caricatures.

2014-04-29-094433Another part of P4G that I found troublesome was this scene, where the girls are basically checking out Naoto’s breasts. Although this has been done countless times in other manga and anime, what made this weird was the prominent inclusion of Nanako — a 6-year-old child — in the scene. Why is she there?

With so much of the current industry dialogue centered around the negative portrayal of women in games, seeing things like this in a modern, high-profile title is disappointing. I don’t remember anything like this in Persona 3 Portable, but I will have to do a New Game+ playthrough — specifically as the female protagonist — to compare them.

2014-05-01-134051Anyway, with all of that being said, I still think the rest of the game is very good. For a PS2-based title that’s nearly 6 years old, it looks great on the Vita’s screen, especially the 2D character portraits and highly stylized interface. The 3D art holds up pretty well, although some very low-resolution textures rear their ugly head from time to time. The animation is slightly dated, but they are smooth and expressive. The anime cutscenes are OK, but smack of a low-budget look compared to the quality of the rest of the game. They are a nice break from the many in-game dialogue scenes, though.

I loved P3P‘s soundtrack, so I had very high hopes for P4G‘s. For the most part, it is as good as its predecessor’s, but I have to give P3P the edge here, just because it had so many standout tracks, atmosphere, and different styles. It’s almost unfair to have to compare anything to “Memories of You”, one of the best vocal tracks of any game I’ve ever played.

Some of my favorite tunes from P4G include: “Your Affection”, “Heartbeat, Heartbreak”, “SMILE”, “Reach Out To The Truth”, “Reverie”, and “Alone”. I have to sometimes take a step back and realize how amazing a time we live in where videogames have music of this high quality, with great instrumentation and stirring melodies. The English vocals can be indecipherable at times, but for some reason, I think that adds to the soundtrack’s charm and appeal.

2014-05-01-140710This game, much like P3P, was a bit too long for me. I’m used to RPGs taking 60-80 hours, and this took me approximately 60. By comparison, P3P took me 75, and some of my friends said that was relatively quick. However, this was on Very Easy using Rush to get through most battles. Also, since I started over, I skipped through almost all the cutscenes in its first half, and it still took me that long!

It was surprising (in a good way) how much endgame material is included, which alone took me a couple nights of play to complete. However, the game is designed in such a way that it is impossible to do everything in a single playthrough, so you have to dedicate 100+ hours easily to get everything out of this title. It’s a tremendous value, but one serious time commitment as well.

In the end, I enjoyed most of the time I spent in Inaba. It takes the successful formula of Persona 3 and polishes everything to a brilliant shine. It has a strong cast, tons of quests, a seemingly endless amount of Personas to discover/fuse, great art, and a terrific soundtrack. Despite the issues I had with it, P4G is still one of the better games available on the Vita.

Graphics: B+
Audio: A-
Gameplay & Controls: B+
Presentation: B
Value: A
Overall: B+


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