Bargain Gaming – Persona 4

Posted on Nov 05 2011

Woo! It’s been a fun week of reviews you guys, but we’re finally at the end! I can BEARly believe it! This is BEARiffic! Oh man, I hope I don’t mess up, the tension is simply unBEARable! I’m BEARy sorry for the wait, but BEAR with me as this game is on the number one spot of this list for a reason, as it is easily one of my favorite RPGs of all time. Forgive me if my constant iterations of my love for the Megaten series have grown TEDDIEous, but BEARsona 4 deserves all of those accolades and more for seamlessly combining the enjoyable aspects of the Social Link system with the in depth RPG battle system that fans have grown to love. This game is simply BEARilliant in the way it meshes all of the fun aspects of RPGs with a light hearted sense of comedy, punctuated by hints of a darker story in the backdrop. Some might BEARate the game for its use of lighter humor and puns, but I found it rather BEARable myself. So, without further ado, let’s BEAR down on this, the number one game on my Megaten list, and see just what makes it such a personal favorite of mine.


Did I just open up with a ton of stupid bear puns?

All right, no use worrying over a bunch of unbea- I mean silly, puns! Just gotta move on.

…With my bare hands.

Let’s start by taking a look at the game’s story, as that’s always a good place to start. You play as a nameless protagonist who has transferred in to a new town, where you will be living with you uncle and niece for one year. Upon your arrival you quickly begin to make friends, learn the city and, oh yeah, learn about a mysterious shadow world inside the T.V. where evil monsters are waiting to murder you, all while you struggle to cope with the sudden appearance of your Persona. As if all of that wasn’t enough, it would seem as though a murderer is on the loose, and that they are using the T.V. world in order to kill their victims without leaving any evidence. It is up to you and your new friends to investigate this mysterious new world, save the victims, learn more about your strange new powers, and, above all else, be home before bed time. You have a schedule to maintain after all.

I love this game’s setting, as it allows for the presence of looming danger and tension because of the ongoing murder investigation, but it also leaves room for the more light hearted antics of your fellow classmates and colleagues. The inclusion of your extended family in this game is also a welcome step up from Persona 3’s dorm room setup, as it gives you the chance to build up familial relationships as well as the standard friends and lovers that are available to you. It also adds to the game’s tension later on, though I can’t go into that without major spoilers. Suffice to say the game’s story allows it to incorporate both the high and low notes of the world, combining ridiculous puns and jokes with hair raising suspense and drama without making the player bat an eyelash. And when you consider the difficulty of that sort of feat you really have to give the game designers kudos in the story telling department, as it would be incredibly easy for them to slip either way. But Persona 4 treats its story and its characters with a level of complexity not seen in many games, as it realizes that a story can contain both sides of the emotional coin without being forced to choose one over the other.

Speaking of the game’s characters, let’s touch on the main cast for a second, shall we? Outside of the voiceless (yet still voiced by Johnny Yong Bosch) protagonist we have brosuke (Yosuke), meat girl (Chie), strange sense of humor girl (Yukiko), walking bear thing (Teddie), horribly overcompensating biker guy (Kanji), generic teen idol who hates the spotlight (Rise), and tomboyish female detective (Naoto). A large portion of the game’s enjoyability and humor derives from the interactions that occur between these characters, yet they are only the main course of the game’s gigantic character feast. Thanks to the Social Link system you also have dozens of other side characters to interact with, including your aforementioned family, meaning that you can easily pour hours of time into conversing with other characters. Heck, part of the challenge of the game is trying to figure out how you can max out all of your social links before the game ends.

Because just like in Persona 3 you are faced with a time limit, albeit in this case because you are leaving town in exactly one year. And this is what blends the game’s different elements together, as you are forced to choose how to allocate your time in the most efficient manner possible. Do you spend your time studying, hanging out with other characters, progressing through dungeons, gathering up loot, training your party, or just waste it doing whatever comes up? I’m not going to go into the RPG aspect in too much depth, as realistically if you’ve already played a Megaten game then you already have a pretty good idea as to what’s going on here; I’ll just say that Persona 4 has taken the standard RPG format and refined it to be smoother than ever before, to the point where mindless grinding can be almost as much fun as tracking down different social links. And with the clock constantly ticking you need to plan carefully, as an unexpected field trip or other plot even can easily throw off your calculations. It’s a fun challenge to try and get everything on the first play through, but the huge amount of content makes it more feasible to shoot for it on a second or third attempt with a new game plus, easily doubling the game’s 40 plus hour play time.

Finally I’d like to touch on the game’s aesthetic elements as well. Quickly touching on the game’s graphics, I would say that they’re solid considering that the game was released for the Playstation 2. Nothing really remarkable about them persay, though some of the boss fights and anime style cut scenes are rather well done. The game’s audio, on the other hand, is freaking amazing. One of the major perks of buying this game was the fact that it came with its soundtrack CD; that’s how good the music for this game is. From the battle theme to the town exploration theme, everything is memorable and interesting to listen to, allowing even the dullest in game moments to just breeze along. Heck, that’s probably why I didn’t mind grinding too much, as I was too caught up in the game’s music to mind. Suffice to say that if you’re a true music fan then you should at the very least check out this game’s soundtrack, if not the game itself.

And so we see that this game ties together a fascinating story, interesting setting, fun characters, excellent gameplay, top notch music, and, most importantly, bear puns, in a manner truly befitting a great game. As such this game receives my highest recommendation, to the point where if you’re ever in my neck of the woods I would insist you try it for yourself while you’re around. I first played this game for a day and a half when Tyto let me mess around on his copy while we were hanging out. The next day I went out and bought my own copy; that’s how impressed I was by this game. I honestly can’t think of a single reason not to recommend this game. Go forth and try it for yourselves. And embrace the pinnacle of the Megaten franchise.

And with that done, I believe it’s time for me to take a short break. But don’t worry my friends, for I will be back soon, with new content and game reviews for your perusal! Until that time, this is Bargain Gamer, logging off!

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  • Tempest Wind November 6, 2011 at 8:44 AM

    Ahhh, my favorite game everrrr. I originally bought P4 because I couldn’t find P3 anywhere, and I expected to be disappointed. Instead, I think this game surpassed P3 while maintaining an overall lighthearted theme (with enough darkness to keep me interested).

    This game is so good that my former college roommates insist I play it whenever we get together. XD Ellen’s first command to me is always, “Go to the bathroom.” lol. One roommate already played the game through, but the other two are staving off spoiling themselves so we can reach the end together. This was after I’ve already played it through on my own.

    Thanks for this awesome review! =D I’m glad you love the game as much as I did.

    • Bargain Gamer November 6, 2011 at 10:57 AM

      And I’m glad you enjoyed reading it! ^ ^ It really is a fantastic game, to the point where it’s one of the few that immediately spring to mind when I think of my favorite games. Heh, now I kind of want to play it again. XP

  • Kayarath November 6, 2011 at 7:24 PM

    Well it’s time to save the world team! Never mind, time to take a field trip over to the hot springs! 😛

    • Bargain Gamer November 6, 2011 at 8:41 PM

      What’s that, you didn’t bring your swimsuits? It’s cool, Brosuke brought some for you! THAT’s not creepy at all! :3

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