Kirk: Well, it isn't if you are into the basic combat. Which I am. And into the new combat music, which I SUPER VERY MUCH AM. And the dungeons go a lot faster the second time. Actually, this kinda lets me segue to something related: I think that P4 is really well suited to a portable device. You and I were talking earlier about how this thing works on the PSVita, and I have to say—this game is a splendid portable game for a lot of reasons. One of those reasons is that doing a dungeon run is just the kind of half-engaging thing that makes a bus ride fly by.


Jason: Yeah, or you could play while watching TV, or watching a movie, or watching Tim Tebow make an ass out of himself while trying to play quarterback. This is definitely a good portable port. Although I don't like playing on the subway, because people give me funny looks when I scream "MOTHERFUCKER!!!" as my character is insta-killed by a shadow.

Kirk: Ha, I remember playing Persona 3 on the plane and realizing that the guy next to me was likely trying to figure out why the anime teenagers kept shooting themselves in the head. Which, yes, another thing removed from Persona 3. But in terms of the Vita—clearly, Sony's handheld is in big trouble. It's not selling well, and there aren't enough games. Do you think P4G is a "system-seller"? Is that sort of thing even possible on the Vita at this point?


Jason: Ha, maybe if this was a new game and not a port from 2008. I love my Vita, but it's really telling that I've been using it mostly to play PSP, PS1, and now PS2 games. Persona 4 Golden is great and all—and the Persona series always does really well—but system-seller? Maybe in Japan... (where it has actually moved a few Vitas!)

Kirk: Yeah, and the thing about the Vita is—

Kirk's Vita: I'm sorry. Can I just add something here?

Kirk: Um.

Kirk's Vita: I just want to say, thank you for playing with me so much over the last few weeks. It's all I ever wanted.


Kirk: (I'm sorry, it kind of just butted in on me while I was typing.)

Jason's Vita: While we're doing this... Jason, can you figure out how to sleep with Yukiko already? Thanks in advance.


Kirk's Vita: Oh dude I can totally tell you how to do that. In fact, I can beam it over to you using Persona 4 Golden's ALL-NEW ONLINE FUNCTIONALITY which is ONLY ON VITA. I mean I'm just saying.

Kirk: [Pushes Vita out of the way] Okay, okay, you shill. Sure, that stuff is fun, but is it really that essential? I dunno, man. Jason: I'll let you know when I know. I think a key part of getting Yukiko to like you is not totally going for Rise, as I have done. Which brings us to another important question: You're earlier than I am, but, which girl is the one for you?


Jason: Yukiko. Next question.

Kirk: And here I thought you were going to say, "Mitsuru."

Jason: Oh, are we counting Mitsuru? Mitsuru. Next question.


Kirk: Atta boy. Did I mention I'm all about Rise? She is great, especially since in a big shift from Fuuka (and, I gather from Rise in the PS2 version of this game), she's able to help you out in battle in a lot of cool ways. You'll get to know her better soon. Okay, next question: What is your main character's name? Mine is "Shin Sable," which is the name I also used in Persona 3. (I think it is a scientifically perfect Persona main character name.)

Jason: Mine is "Jason Schreier," which probably would not be the name of anybody who was born and goes to school in Japan.


Kirk: haaaaaaaaa Yosuke, Yukiko, Rise, and JASON SCHREIER.

Jason: Well. The main character in Persona 4 is suave, handsome, and charming. He's friends with everyone, all the girls want to be with him, and in general he's just an all-around badass. Hence: Jason Schreier.


Kirk: Ha, now I'm picturing you summoning personas in the game, and it is just delightful. Why can't we actually put ourselves into these games? I ask you. Though I guess over the last fifty-odd hours, I've been doing the next best thing.

Jason: What about the new online features?

Kirk: My vita brought those up, ever so briefly—they're cool, actually! They take a bit of Demon's Souls and a bit of Catherine, and let you see how other people spent each day, and what they did. And when you're in dungeons, you can ask people for help. I haven't actually done that yet, but I should try it. It's a bit superfluous, but it's still good. Have you used them much?


Jason: I haven't asked for help yet—I doubt anyone could help my main character from getting motherfucking one-shotted—but I have played around with the "Voices" feature, which you can activate after school by pressing a button in the corner of your screen. When you press it, you get to see a big cloud of what everybody else playing Persona 4 Golden did on that given day. It's really cool, and helps give you an idea of what sort of things you could/should be doing, in case you suffer from the Persona-anxiety that paralyzes people every day after school. Oh god, what should I do next? I have to go save Kanji, but band practice is today, and Yukiko looks so cute...


Kirk: You joined the band? Man, I'm drama club all the way.

Jason: It's nice to have a frame of reference, some sort of assurance that hey, everyone else is doing this thing too—or maybe they're doing something you haven't even discovered yet! For a while I had no idea what "Report to Fox" meant—I thought you could join the newspaper or something.


Kirk: It's really something, isn't it? The sheer amount of stuff there is to do in this game. I think that's the biggest impression it leaves on me—that in so thoroughly simulating the life and times of one Japanese high school student, it's come to occupy a terrifying amount of space in my subconscious. The variety, the pacing, the way you'll go from dungeon crawling to schedule management to social prioritizing, all so seamlessly, and with such a delightful soundtrack pushing you along... this game consists of a couple big, great ideas (the battle system, the social links) surrounded by a hundred wonderful nooks and crannies.

Jason: It really is all about the little things. Like all good JRPGs.

Kirk: Like most things, really.

Jason: The big picture is great and all, but what you really enjoy is those tiny little moments: Nanako singing every time that Junes commercial comes on; the music changing based on whether it's sunny or raining outside; students jabbering in the hall about whatever rumors or crazy things are happening in Inaba at any given time. I think it's those minor details that turn Persona 4 's Japan into its own surreal, dream-like world that you just want to spend years inhabiting.


Kirk: The specificity of everything, you know? That even the characters like "Lazy Student" and "Girl with Glasses" are unique characters who turn up throughout the story. The scarred artist in the weapons shop, and the restaurant owner who so desperately wants to fix you up with his always-absent daughter. Inaba feels like a real place to me at this point, and yeah, it's a place I don't mind spending all my time.


Back when I played Persona 3, I thought I finally got what the hubbub was about this series. But I didn't, not really. Now, with Persona 4, I finally really get it—this is why people can't shut up about Persona. Nanako. Kanji. Naoto. Junes. The soft rain on the rooftop, the ominous hum of midnight channel. There's nothing else like it.

Jason: I really do need to play more, eh? So it's pretty obvious that if someone asked us whether or not to play this game, we'd answer with a resounding YES. But is Persona 4 Golden for everyone? Should gamers who don't like JRPGs play it?

Kirk: I'd easily recommend this to someone who likes video games but hasn't ever gotten into a hardcore JRPG. Hell, I'd recommend it to just about anybody. Like I talked about before, it's not for everybody (and that's part of what makes it special), but I don't think that means there are certain groups of people (e.g. "non-gamers" or "non-JRPG-fans") who are fated not to like it. Anyone could like this game, and a lot of people who might think they wouldn't probably would, if they gave it a chance. It's almost enough to make me wish Atlus would just release it on damn iOS already so that everyone in the world who doesn't have a Vita could just play it. And then talk to me about it.


Jason: Oh, man, that's gonna cause some controversy. Persona 4 on iPad? I'd play it. There aren't many moments in Persona that really require physical controls, as satisfying as it is to feel your character's sword swing as you push in the X button.

Kirk: Well, of course, any time you say a game should come to iOS, it's controversial. I really just want more people to be able to play this fabulous game. And you know, that's totally true about the sword-swing. It's the ONE real-time control in the entire game, but it's so vitally important! (And, I'd say, even symbolically important: In order to successfully enter a battle in this game, you have to mean it.)


Jason: Yeah, and the tactile feeling as your finger presses the button is just as important as the cling of the sword swipe. That button movement is kind of essential. But we digress. Persona 4 Golden: It's great, it's a yes, and it's a game we'll be talking about for quite some time. At least until Persona 5 comes along.

Kirk: The mind boggles. But this is more than just a suitable stopgap. You and I might be playing Persona 4 for the first time, but for Vita-owning Persona 4 veterans, Golden is certainly a splendid excuse to dive back in. To head back to Inaba, to Yasogami high and the flood plains; to Yukiko, Chie and Yosuke, and the modern-day fairy tale that awaits.


(Top image via Alphacoders)