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persona-4

Late last year, I had the pleasure to play the fantastic Persona 4. I still remember the days where I would stay up ‘til three in the morning playing this game nonstop, telling myself “just one more day.” I was so hooked into this game that I put games like Valkyria Chronicles, Fallout 3 and Gears of War 2 on hold.

There were a couple aspects that made Persona 4 memorable; it wasn’t the narrative or the battle system. While those things were great, a few of the aspects that made it memorable are often neglected nowadays because we tend to focus more on realistic graphics, multiplayer or achievements.

Soundtrack

Whenever I listen to a tune from a video game, I can recall where it’s from. Persona 4 is no exception because its sound design is definitely out there with its catchy J-Pop songs. One of the most noteworthy things about the soundtrack is the great amount of J-Pop songs the game features. Instead of using licensed mainstream music, Shoji Meguro, P4′s music composer, took his time to produce original songs.

These songs are extremely catchy, and many of them are perfectly placed as it fits the situation the game currently is in. For example, “Your Affection,” a cheerful J-Pop, plays during a cheerful sunny day. I always looked forward to sunny days, so I can listen to this song. Every time I boot up the game, I have to let the opening melody play as it’s so endearing and catchy with its hip-hop/J-pop beat.

Aside from the J-Pop, some rock tunes are featured – something Meguro is known for. The battle theme “Reach Out to the Truth” is one of the most catchy battle themes as it added J-Pop flavor with awesome guitar riffs into it. It doesn’t even sound like a normal battle theme; it sounds more like something you’d hear from the 80s. From beginning to end, I had my TV volume turned up and found no bad tunes here. I’m very pleased Atlus included a soundtrack CD with the game, and I still listen to it every now and then.

Characters

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The amazing thing about Persona 4′s characters is how realistic they were. They didn’t fall into the typical clichés like other JRPGs. I thought to myself, “Hey, I’ve seen someone like that,” when I met a few characters. Yukiko’s parents, for example, wanted her to run the family business (pretty much what every parent would like if they own a business), but she didn’t want to run the family business. Rise, a pop star, showed that pop stars are the same as us. She wanted to live a normal life and let the people to know the person behind the mask.

The one that struck me the most was Kanji, the supposed homosexual character. While there have been a few homosexual characters in an RPG before, Jann in Valkyria Chronicles is one, the thing that set Kanji apart from others was his confrontation to come out. At first, he is portrayed as a macho biker gang member, but his shadow reveals a different persona. Kanji’s shadow is displayed half-naked, behaving very flamboyant. While he’s talking in a homoerotic manner, the group started feeling uneasy. Yosuke is a great portrayal of how a person would react when he’s not exposed or used to homosexuality as he called the shadow’s behavior “wrong in so many ways.”

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Kanji’s shadow stated he wanted people to accept him for who he is. Kanji accepted his shadow but doesn’t necessarily state he’s gay. At one point, I’m a little disappointed he didn’t blatantly admitted he was homosexual, but it’s completely understand given his reputation and the fact that he’s still in high school. I don’t know how the Japanese high school students react to homosexuality, considering that this is a Japanese game, but here in the US, a lot of homosexual students get ridiculed which is why many are afraid to come out of the closet.

Naoto faces a similar situation where the detective prince confronts sexism. Naoto’s motives are extremely understandable as many people look down on one gender as inferior when it comes to certain things. I have to commend Atlus for handling homosexuality and sexism in a mature manner and portraying them as very likable characters.

When the gang are together during a school event or celebration, expect to see yourself on the floor, laughing at the mess they get themselves into. Yosuke and Chie constantly argue with each other, and Yosuke always ended being beaten by Chie. Yukiko had me laughing with her laughs, while Teddie had me rolling with his bear puns and when he tried to score with the ladies. One hilarious moment was when the guys tried to sneak into the girls’ room to get even with them, but they mistakenly ended up in their teacher’s room. This game had me laughing hard throughout the whole game.

Style

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Persona 4 isn’t the most technically impressive game on the system, but it excels at style. Instead of taking place in space or some medieval world, the game is set on a fresh, rural Japanese city of Inaba. The ambiance of the city is wonderful as the game gives us a flavor of Japanese culture. Social links added more to the atmosphere by going to high school and hanging out with friends, visiting many places in Inaba. It set a great, friendly place to live in.

Inaba’s environments and dungeons are incredibly designed and reflect on the characters’ inner feelings. Rise’s dungeon is set on a strip club which reflects her inner hatred of being labeled as a sex symbol. The greatest thing about Persona’s style is the use of color. The game is very colorful (something that I appreciated to escape the dull next-gen bloom), but it mainly uses yellow – title screen, menus, battles, box art, etc. Every time I go out and see something yellow, I immediately think of Persona 4.

Overall

From all the games I’ve played in 2008, Persona 4 stood out the most. It’s catchy, addicting, colorful, exciting and funny. This isn’t my favorite game from the series, but it has an undeniable charm that keeps me remembering it. I will not only remember it as a great game, but I will also remember it as one of the last great JRPGs we’ve had in a while. It’s a shame my console kicked the bucket earlier this week because writing all of this is making me go back at it.

  1. I still haven’t played it, but I can’t wait to get around to it.

  2. avatar Adam

    Excellent article, I couldn’t agree more! Persona 4 is a real classic, all of the different elements combine to form an amazing game.

    • avatar Christina

      some games that are geared taword a younger consultation, say elementary schoolers, use only kana, like Pokemon for instance. Some games like Final Fantasy VI for the GBA let you choose kana or kanji. Most other games use kanji only. I’ve seen in the recent Final Fantasy XIII that if there are subtitles then there might be furigana. All games technically use a combination, because Japanese has more than a boat-load of loanwords (katakana) and kana is needed to form sentences (okurigana and particles

  3. avatar Lusteralchemist

    I thought the game was absolutely brilliant. My favorite JRPG used to be FF VIII, not anymore.

  4. avatar darthLegion

    You still remember the days when you’d stay up till 3 in the morning playing this game? That’s amazing, cuz the game is so old right? But on another note, who knew Jesus was a gamer?

    • avatar Mado

      Det var mange nytte5rsforsetter! Jeg prf8ver e5 holde meg til ett av gangen, elerls har jeg ikke sjangs.c5 lese mer hf8res fint ut. Glemmer liksom fra gang til gang hvor fint det faktisk er e5 lese. Tenk se5 mange uoppdagede verdner det er der ute. Finnes nesten ikke noe bedre enn e5 forsvinne inn i en annen verden.Hvis du finner en oppskrift pe5 stadig positivitet: let me know ; ) Jeg jobber stadig med saken.Fantastisk fin snf8, forresten. Mye finere enn min. :pHa en fin dag da! : )

    • avatar Lyandra

      Funnily enough I was in a very siiamlr situation to you a few years ago… in my case it wasn’t FOR uni (I study Politics and French) but I’ve no doubt it enhanced my application. In the end I went for N5 (this was back when it was 4?), and ended up passing with a 90%. Since you’ve already done the GCSE (and so quickly) and you’re already finding the N5 questions easy, I’d say you’re probably in a better position than I was at the time. So if I could get a 90% on N5, you could probably do better, and in that case I would recommend going for N4.Bear in mind that it’s only graded in terms of “pass” or “fail”, so as long as you meet the requisite 60% (I think), you’ve got the qualification. All in all, from what I’ve read here I’d say you’ve a good chance of passing N4 if you’ve the confidence to risk it. Finalement, je viens de regarder ton profile et je vois que tu e9tudies le frane7ais en plus ! Il me paraeet que tu es exactement comme moi il y a quelques ans. Veux-tu eatre mon amie ? On peut travailler ces deux langues ensemble ^^

  5. @darthLegion

    Jesus is actually the writer’s real name. Lucky guy huh?

  6. @darth, lol yeah. I should of emphasized a little more on that. The thing is I was fully awake playing that game. Others, I usually get tired at around 1AM and call it a day.

  7. I absolutely loved Persona 4. I would probably go so far as to call it my favorite game of all time.

  8. avatar Sup Dawg

    So… is this a review? Where’s the score?

  9. @Sup Dawg
    This is an editorial, that allows the writer to share his experiences with us while playing the game.

    Our review is here
    http://gamerlimit.com/2009/01/persona-4-review/

    • avatar Adhy

      Love it! Haven’t given mine sweets yet since I’m aniintpaticg their first taste of birthday cake in a couple weeks! I can’t recall a time when a year went by so fast.

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