Awright, finally the reason I bought a Vita a year ago! Let's fucking go. As is common knowledge by now, Persona 4 is awesome. I mean that's just known at this point, the series has gotten pretty mainstream compared to a few years back. Hell, now they've even gotten to the point where they've finally eschewed the Shin Megami Tensei label over here and just named it Persona 4 Golden. Yeah, we've gotten to the point where Persona is now (unfortunately?) more popular than actual SMT. Whatever though. Since I already reviewed this game back when it came out in 2008 (holy shit it's been that long?), it's already clear that it's great before we even play it. But hey, just 'cause I already reviewed it once doesn't mean I can't talk about different things this time around. So let's do this.
Before that though, let me say again that the Vita is a damn good machine, for a handheld. I'm not saying handhelds are ever good, but if it's something we gotta deal with, the Vita makes me less mad about it than anything else. Shame that most games tend to get made for the 3DS, because the Vita blows that shit outta the water. In fact, when I played P4G I was pretty surprised at how good the sound quality was compared to Virtue's Last Reward, which I'd been playing previously. I can only assume that VLR being multi-platform made it so that they had to bring down the sound quality for both versions to accommodate for the 3DS's crappiness. You know how it is, a game can only be as good as the version on the least powerful console. Or something. Anyway, whereas 2010's P3P had to make a lot of graphical and interface compromises since the PSP couldn't quite handle a PS2 game, P4G makes NO compromises at all. Everything is just as it was back in the original, or better.
Right off the bat we get to see probably one of the coolest additions to the game: Very Hard mode. Aww yeah. While P4 generally had an okay difficuly level in the original's hard mode, more is always appreciated, and this delivers, at least early on, where it's common for regular enemies to kill you in one hit. If you don't get the first attack you're almost guaranteed to die, and even if you do, if you let them get a turn before you win there's a decent chance you could lose. Enemies have so much health that you can hit their weaknesses and all out attack them like 3 times and they still won't die. I remember one all out attack was usually all it took to kill anything. Now that it isn't, there's more of a reason to decide against using all out attacks and use knockdowns and dizzies more. I remember at one point a regular enemy doing 1927 damage to me. I ain't even gonna have that much health ever. So yeah, fun stuff, you gotta stay on your toes and be more careful than before. Unfortunately this is only true for early on, because as the game goes on it just gets easier and easier due to a lot of factors, such as a much bigger SP pool, more ways to recover it, stronger multi-enemy hitting attacks, more broken skills, etc. You just get too strong and enemies can't keep up. Of course this was the case with the original as well and really with RPGs in general. It's very difficult to find an RPG that actually gets more difficult as you go on without resorting to some bullshit like enemies scaling to your level.
Not only that, but it just keeps piling more and more things that destroy any difficulty there might've been, like party members curing ailments for free, protecting you from a killing blow, picking you up from knockdowns. And now even your support party member, Rise, gets to do things like cure your ailments, health, SP and protect you from death and whatnot. Eventually with all these things and more it practically becomes impossible to die.
One of the things that was inexplicably advertised the most is the new online dungeon rescue system. Don't ask me why because this shit is retarded and pointless. Basically if you connect to the internet you can choose to send out a "rescue request" while in a dungeon, and if there are other people playing the game who are also online and in a dungeon they can receive the request and choose to aid you. Now, when put that way it's easy to assume a lot of incorrect things about what this is, so I'ma lay it out for you and tell you what it really means: you press a little button, your request gets sent out, and then if someone receives it, they can press a little button that makes it so that you gain a tiny bit of HP and SP at the start of your next battle. That's it. The reason why this is retarded, aside from the fact that it's nothing more than pressing a button to give random people a tiny bit of SP, is that SP being too easy to replenish is ALREADY a problem with the game, and all this stupid system does is make it even easier, while simultaneously bringing absolutely nothing of value.
So yeah, while P4G adds a ton of new stuff, which is great, it doesn't fix any of the problems the original had (unlike P3P, which did fix some glaring problems in the original). Dungeons are still boring randomly generated crap, battle system is still inferior to Nocturne and DDS, lack of real choice during social link events, SP still too easy to replenish, like I said above. In fact, I was thinking, this game would really be better if it were harder to recover SP. The reason why is because having to go back home to rest and spreading the dungeon crawling out over several days gives the game better pacing. As it is, it's too easy to do the entire dungeon in one day, and then never go back until you have to like... 2 months later or whatever. When I go that long without having a battle I'm just like damn man, I'd almost forgotten I was supposed to be playing an RPG and not a dating sim. Give me something to kill god dammit! The game is better off when these two aspects complement each other and are paced correctly. And you can tell that it's made with the assumption that you're going to space out your dungeon crawling properly, but in practice it's too easy and even optimal to do everything in a single day. Going from P3 to P4, they got rid of the fatigue system, and while that wasn't super effective at forcing you to go back home to rest (it lowered your fighting capacity by, what, 15% or some shit? Should've been 90%), at least it was something. P4 replaces that by having the limiter be SP, which as I said is actually no limiter at all.
One very... strange change they made is that they took out all of the save points before bosses. Don't ask me why, I got no fuckin' clue. It's a pretty pointless change that only serves to inconvenience you a little since the only difference is that now you have to use an item to teleport back to the hub in order to save and then teleport back. Pretty inexplicable.
But anyway, let's talk about some more of the new things in P4G. Since the game didn't have a female main character added like P3P, I expected that there wouldn't be very much new stuff. But damn was I wrong. Whereas P3P took out all of the original's anime cutscenes due to lack of space, P4G not only keeps them but even adds a bunch of new ones. There are many new scenes and events from beginning to end. You can now wear different clothes/costumes (though secretly the best part about this is your party members' comments about it). The fusion system has been revamped and made easier and more convenient than ever, now showing you all of the possible demons you can make in an easy to browse list. You can now get skill cards that can teach any persona any skill (though frankly I ended up never using them because the skills you can get with them are almost never as good as the ones you get through fusion). You can now choose the skills that your personas inherit rather than it being random and having to reroll over and over until you get the skills you want. Not bad, having to keep rerolling to get exactly the skills you want was always a bit tedious, better to limit skill inheritance by other means.
You can now go outside to the shopping district at night, possibly find some friends and hang out (though the relationship won't advance at night), and there's a ton of new dialogue here which changes every time something happens in the game. That's really cool, but unfortunately due to the nature of the game you won't be able to see all of this new dialogue because there just isn't enough time to hang out with everybody. That makes me sad. More amazingly, you can now ride your scooter to the city, where you'll find new people to talk to, new quests, you can buy clothes at Croco Fur, go to the cafe or to the movies with friends.
There are now also 2 extra social links to develop, one of them with the very much advertised new character Marie, which, although her events are pretty good because they tend to be longer and more elaborate than normal, as a character she sucks dick because she's a very classical tsundere type, and if there's anything I hate it's bitches with attitude. Fortunately the other new social link is Adachi and he's awesome.
But by FAR the most unexpectedly awesome new thing in P4G is that it allows you to keep playing for another 2 months after the original would have ended, complete with a changed town, new music, new dialogue for people, new events, a new third form for all your party members' personas (that one was particularly surprising), and even, amazingly, a whole new dungeon. Holy shit. There's also now an extended ending, which changes the original's slightly sad ending to not sad anymore (well I guess in the sense that the game has ended it's still sad but that's not what I mean) by showing what happens a year later. Good stuff.
There's a lot more, including extras outside of the game that get unlocked as you progress like art, music, a funny quiz game, etc. Point is, this game has ten shitloads of stuff. As a consequence, it's even longer than the original P4, which was already long as tits. What more can you ask for?! Aside from, y'know, everything I just asked for in this very review... but that's beside the point! This game is just as awesome as it was 4 years ago. Who could resist seeing more of such great characters? They are, after all, quite possibly the series's strongest aspect. The only thing I'm pissed about is that they changed Chie's voice actress and she doesn't try to sound anything even remotely like Chie. They also changed Teddie's voice actor but that one I can live with because he at least tries to sound similar to the original Teddie and does a good job. Chie is just grating for a long time because she sounds so different. Either way, get this fucking game, fool.
Final Verdict: A
Final Playtime: 222 hours