Rant: & They Took Us Down *Updated*

How the fan community pretty much reacts to anything.
Update

*Nyaa has been restored. Seems that they migrated their servers & changed their web-address from .eu to .se (amend bookmarks). this may be a temporary solution to an ongoing issue of disgruntled pricks using DDoS attacks but for the moment at least we have our torrents back.

But this whole incident does prove how much people get the shits when free stuff that they are not entitled to is taken away from them.*

Popular anime torrent site Nyaa.eu & some known fansub -such as Commie & Horridsubs- pages have been taken down in confirmed DDoS attack from unknown sources.

Some claim that it’s the Japanese government as part of their latest anti-piracy campaign, others say it’s the same group that hacked Sony & then made a bomb threat against the airline carrying Sony’s US branch CEO, whilst others say it’s merely a group of script kiddies doing it for the LuLz.

At this time it’s uncertain who is responsibility but the fan community is dealing with it in their usual fashion: throwing blame, complaining about how bad the subs are & saying random racist/misogynist things.

Unfortunately, Directed Denial of Service attacks are becoming all to common in this day & age. Their reasons range from political attacks where nations take cyber swipes at each other or groups such as Anonymous trying to take down government websites to the aforementioned Lulz Seekers who just want to watch the world burn.

Whomever begins these attacks for whatever pathetically selfish reasons, they always have unintended consequences.

Several months ago, my favourite manga hosting website Manga Trander was supposedly taken down by a DDoS & hack perpetrated by a pack of so-called fans reacting against the amount of yaoi & similar material on the site; yet were added by people with more malicious means in mind.

Similarly, the sting of the infamous hack on Sony’s PSN in 2011 which caused over 77 million users to have their personal information access is something still fresh in the minds of so many.

The internet is rife with unintended consequences. Often because supposed anonymity means people do not think that they can be easily caught or punished, so they often fire off volleys where they may, hoping that they’ll hit anything. Any chaos that spirals out from there can’t be their fault, so they keep doing it until friendly fire makes a claim on their activities.

This, naturally, is hyperbole but it still rings true.

Whomever is committing these attacks, they will not have the consequences that they wish.

If it’s the Japanese government, the torrentors will move elsewhere & not draw so much attention to themselves. If it be Lulseekers, then they’ll face comeuppance soon enough after they start bragging.

Either way, it’s a drag on an already fractured community that is unneeded.

Plus, if daddy don’t get his anime fix, he may just turn nasty.

Devil’s Advocate – Defend: Nintendo Wii U

Wii_U_Console_and_Gamepad    I don’t tend to frame myself as a fanboy of things because I just don’t have that level of obsession or energy to argue that pathetically about something. Although, to be fair, I can get passionate over various preferences that I have but not to the drooling psychotic levels that others do that is lacking both Rhyme & Reason.

    Console fanboys are pretty particular to this.

    Zealously defending that which does not need to be defended whilst it sucks their wallets dry -like some hideous electronic leech.

    Personally, when it comes to the more recent console releases, I tend to -if & when I have the money- either buy the two paragon systems to get the greater range of games (because of all the cross-platform releases) or, in the case of the previous generation when I had a staff discount from a big retail chain- I brought all 3 major releases.

Being the Wii, Xbox 360 & the Playstation 3.

    Although, to be honest, that wasn’t all at once.

    I got the Wii 1st, then the 360 after the Red Ring of Death issue had been solved & the PS3 after I’d broken up with my then fiancee & brought a big LCD TV with the money I was going to spend on a holiday together, so needed to upgrade things so could watch my DVDs on the larger screen.

    That brings us to the current gen -which is still called “Next Gen” for some reason.

    A console generation that I haven’t really bothered to get excited about because of my experiences with the previous/current gen console releases.

    That being: lack of interesting games, no ability to actually take advantage of the hardware’s capabilities & high prices.

    That being said: I did make a single exception for a release day purchase & that was Nintendo’s Wii U.

    Nintendo consoles are the only ones that I get really interested in. Something I think stems from being denied an NES when I was a kid & being made by my father to call up every retailer in town to find a SNES just after it was released in Australia (finally managing to snag the last one that David Jones in Belconnen had after 3 days of phone calls to every retailer in the city). My younger brother & I also shared an original Gameboy from the days when you needed to play them under a lamp to see anything & they took so many bloody batteries! So, so many.

    At any rate, that all pretty much cemented my preference for Nintendo consoles & games & I have owned every major home release every since (& most of the handhelds other than the Gameboy Advance). To this day I maintain that the GameCube was a thoroughly underrated system that had the most comfy controller ever made!

nintendo-gamecube

    Yet, at the same time I was indulging in my Nintendo preferences, I always had other systems to compare it to.

    I played games on the old Apple Macintosh at home as well classic PC games at my next door neighbour’s house.

    At the same time I had my SNES, my best friend (who is still my best friend to this day) flitted between owning a SNES of his own & a Sega Mega Drive (known as a Genesis in the US). He also purchased a Mega-CD but that some massively awful FMV games outside of the (then) amazing Sonic CD. He also later got a Playstation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayStation when I had a Nintendo 64, so I always had a balance with games. I also owned a GameCube & Playstation 2 simultaneously, because of the exclusive titles that both systems had.

    Anyway, bring on 2013 & the release of the much touted Wii U.

    I was a Day 1 Adopter, which was brought down by 2 factors.

    1: the mandatory update that took several hours to complete but could be done with the TV turned off due to the unique GamePad controller.

    & 2: a massive screw-up at my local JB HiFi where a good chunk of the staff weren’t there, so all consoles & games were stuck out back for ages (though the staff who were there did their best to get things sorted as quick as they could, so no blame on the good ones who did more than their job’s worth).

    But one HUGE bonus for being at Day 1 Adopter was that every game was only $40 for me. This was due to a screw up with JB head office where they offered all Wii U games for $40 with console purchase but then changed it to selected titles. Despite that, they never rescinded the original offer, leaving it open to staff, so: exploit achieved. Plus they ended up price matching with a rival store, which saved me about $100 on the console. Big score on that on too.

    I picked up New Super Mario Bros Wii U, ZombiU, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 & Assassin’s Creed 3 -the bonus mini-game compilation that game packed with the console Nintendo Land. Would’ve gotten a couple more but didn’t have the cash on me at the time & nothing interested me in what they had (some games were delayed due to shipping errors nation wide). Did order Tekken Tag 2 online when I had the cash but that arrived a while later.

    So, with two cross platform games & two exclusive titles (not including the mini game compilation), will do a quick review of each.

gaming_new_super_mario_bros_u_1_1New Super Mario Bros Wii U: not much can be said for this other then is your basic Mario Bros. Side-scrolling platformer but based more upon the Super Mario World vein. It’s fun & challenging but nothing really new if you played the 2 previous New Super Mario Bros. games. Still haven’t finished it because got a bit miffed by the sudden difficulty spike & having other titles across all my platforms to play.

zombiU coverZombiU: a 1st person zombie survival game with perma-death, meaning that if your character dies, they get turned into a zombie & you have to hunt them down to get back all the stuff you’ve collected. Still haven’t played much of it because not really my sort of game, just got it for something to play really. Will get back to is sometime soon.

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COD: BLOPs 2: Mein Gott!! This is one of the worst games I’ve ever played! Nothing to do with the Wii U version (also had a go on the 360 one & pretty much the same). This game is the reason why I avoid the whole military shooter genre (or Spunk-gargle-wee-wee to give it its proper title). The only reason I got it was because it was cheap. Finished it in a couple of hours, without doing the annoying side missions (which turns out you have to do to get the good ending). The game’s story was pretty much stupid Americans fucking over poor countries with a team of white weaponised Übermensch; with only two non-white heroes, one of which gets killed, the other wounded. All other non-whites betray or attempt to murder our Übermensch protagonist. Funnelled, frustrating gunfights & completely shitty plot. Pretty much the perfect game for Seppo paranoid gun-wank enthusiasts.

Assassins-Creed-III-Wii-UAssCreed 3: Honestly don’t know why I bothered with this game. Was boring, frustrating, tediously long with terrible controls & worse characters. Not to mention the shitty missions. I almost broke the GamePad because of the last mission, where you have to chase the last Templar down but if you make the slightest mistake or get knocked back or distracted by an enemy, it’s an automatic fail. I wasn’t invested in the AssCreed franchise much after the frustration of the 1st game & the bad, cut ending of the 2nd (got both because were very cheap & never bothered with 2.5 or 2.75) but AssCreed 3 pretty much killed any chance of me playing the rest of the franchise -despite the praises that the 4th title has received.

    Anyway, that’s enough waxing lyric on the early days of the Wii U & my personally gaming history,  onto why I think it should be defended & why it’s worth the investment of your time & money.

    Here is where many other self-appointed internet critics & pundits would go all fanboi over Nintendo or rant about how the company is basically dead & producing the same thing over & over again.

    Which side you fall on has pretty much been decided by which consoles & companies raised you as a child. I grew up with Nintendo, so my Cognitive Bias sides more with them but is mitigated marginally by the fact I’ve pretty much played ever console ever released in my country (apart from the Atari Jaguar but, let’s be honest: no one really played that system).

    To start with: The Wii U isn’t a processing or graphical powerhouse like the Xbone or PS4 but does have better graphics then the PS3 & 360. Nintendo have a history of being able to produce exceptionally pretty games, which Mario Kart 8 (as reviewed here) has proved. I personally haven’t seen anything as spectacular on the new rival consoles, despite being early days & the boosts of power that both Sony * Microsoft throw about.

    Also, despite what the many uber-fans of the other companies/consoles claim, Nintendo is still the market paradigm when it comes to home & handheld consoles. What they do, the other two companies are soon to try to copy. Whereas before it was the motion control of the Wii, now it’s the touch capacity of the GamePad. The instant that Nintendo announced that it would be making a system with an inbuilt touchscreen, the other Big 2 rushed out their versions. Being Xbox Glass & the PSVita remote play function -neither of which really worked due to the lack of 3rd party support or titles with which to use them with.

    Which does lead into Nintendo’s biggest failing: the lack of high end 3rd Party support from the big companies like Ubisoft, Capcom & EA. The former & the later have already stated that they won’t be producing more exclusives for the Wii U or porting other cross-platform titles. The main claim is that it is because of lack of sales of the system but it’s more to do with designing or altering something for the GamePad & its built-in screen.

    Bringing us to the Wii U’s biggest feature, draw back & selling point: the GamePad with touchscreen.

    FINALLY: we have a controller bigger & chunkier than the Dreamcast’s one.

SONY DSC

    The entire controller is about the size of an iPad but the screen itself is only 15.7 cm (diagonally across) & made from the same material as the DS/3DS touchscreens (about the same size as a DSi XL unit as well). So no Gorilla Glass or multi-gesture on it yet it still manages to produce a high quality image (nowhere near 1080p or even 720p unfortunately). The controller also features twin sticks which sit up high on the unit -which can be a little vexing for some games but feels natural with others. There are also 6 buttons: 4 configured like the SNES on the front & 4 shoulders buttons. Even with the spread of buttons & the width of the controller, it’s still fairly comfortable to hold & you don’t have to mess around much fiddling with the various buttons (unless, like me, you often get shit mixed up when doing Quick Time Events). The GamePad also features a NFC zone, which is & will be used with collectable figurines that unlock in game bonuses (more on that later), pseudo-surround sound (which actually does sound impressive) & a front facing camera used for the chat app (which I’m yet to use). There is also a DS-like stylus hidden in the top of the unit, each to get out one-handed when you need it for some games.

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    The GamePad is lighter than you expect but also feels cheap & fragile at times. The buttons tend to make plastic clicking noises. There is also a rattle when you shake it but that might be mine. Still, the lightness of the controller makes it surprisingly easy to use & you can play some games with it resting in its two cradles (the charging one or the display only one) or lie it flat on a table without any hassle. This is no GameCube controller mind (although an adaptor for them will be available with the release of Super Smash Bros. Wii U), so it does crick your wrists & fingers after a while. More so with how stiff the buttons can be; their lack of give hurting your thumb after too much use.

    The other major drawback of it is how quickly it chews through battery life but you can leave it plugged in without hassle because the charger cable is very long. You can also rest it in the charging cradle if you go for the Premium pack (which is black, means bigger. . . internal memory); which is handy if you are watching cut scene heavy games. You can also play some games with a Wii U Pro Controller, which looks like a 360 one, or your old Wiimote+ if you managed to keep hold of your Wii.

    The real strength & selling point of the GamePad is its ability for what Nintendo calls “Off-TV Play”. That is: the ability to play a full game on the controller rather than use the TV (if other family members are using it is the most touted example as to why it exists). Unfortunately, games like New Mario Bros. leaves this function on all the time, which becomes fairly distracting but games such as Rayman Legends use the touchscreen & remote play exceptionally well for some puzzles & levels. I also find the remote play function handy because my TV is pretty dodgy at the moment, so easier to play on the GamePad as I wait for the TV to come good. Best games for this so far have been Mario Kart 8, Wind Waker HD & Lego Batman 2 but it’s also great for the Virtual Console games that get over-pixilated on a screen as big as mine (46 inches of goodness, baby!). The distance that the remote play can go is pretty far as well; I could go to the kitchen in my old house without losing the signal but have heard tell of people who take it into the toilet like they did their old Gameboys.

    The OS is similar to the Wii & 3DS ones, with a tile/window based menu. Upon launch it was slow as fuck! Taking up to a minute to start up some titles but subsequent updates have seen that time cut down to under 20 seconds. The latest update brought a quick start function, which loads the game as the system boots, which saves a heap of time fiddling through the menus when you want to play your favourite titles ASAP. The menu is also divide across the GamePad & the TV; with the controller usually having the menu options & the TV projecting the current discourses within the Miiverse around popular games & apps.

    The Miiverse, which is Nintendo’s version of a combined social network, information system & promotional hub, is frankly one of the greatest things on the Wii U. It’s limited & highly monitored in what it can be posted (no rude or threatening language, et cetera) but has produced some amazing jokes as well as art. Because you can use the touchscreen to free hand message, so people use them to produce amazing little black & white artworks. You can also use it to capture in-game screenshots to ask the community for help (hidden behind spoiler posts). Games like Wind Waker HD also integrate it into the game, by allowing you to pick up bottles filled with random messages & pictographs taken by other players. It’s also very handy for Virtual Console games, where you find random silly things or get stuck because you’re too young to have played a game that doesn’t hold your hand for you all of the time.

    Like the Miiverse, you also control the eShop & options from the touchscreen, which is handy because it means that you can browse & buy titles without having to turn on the TV. Nintendo are releasing a lot of their SNES & GB Advance range on the system but the Australia eShop is sadly lacking many great SNES titles that other countries have -such as The Secret of Mana– but they have some good unexpected releases, like Breath of Fire II (a massive underrated & basically forgotten RPG from Capcom). Unfortunate all titles are subject to the dreaded Australia tax. Why? Because fuck you, that’s why! As an Aussie gamer, it’s something I should be used to be still annoys me monstrously. You can also store downloads on approved high capacity SD cards or external hard drives but it’s not something I’ve needed to do yet.

    The highlight of the Nintendo eShop has to be the release of the cult SNES J-RPG classic EarthBound. This never saw an official PAL region release, so it quickly became the most purchased title on the eShop. I got it as soon as I was able, after playing it on an Emulator years ago but screwed up, so have to start again. Which is the problem with old titles but also part of their charm -in that they can be as hard as a paedo near a preschool. Nintendo acknowledged this & included the official walkthrough with the game & online -all for free.

    The other biggest current drawback with the Wii U is the lack of titles at the moment; both 1st & 3rd party. There are some excellent games out, such as Lego City Undercover (which I enjoyed more than GTA V in certain aspects), Donkey Kong Tropic Freeze, Super Mario 3D World, Pikmin 3, Rayman Legends & the previously reviewed Mario Kart 8 to name a few.

    Unfortunately all the long awaited titles are either due later this year, like Super Smash Bros. Wii U, or next year with the new Legend of Zelda game -which is set to be more of a Skyrim style open world. You also have duel-company developed like Hyrule Warriors, which is made by Team Ninja, so expect massively amounts of hypersexualisation & copious jiggle-physics in all the female characters. There is also an entirely new IP called Splatoon, which is an online multiplayer shooter where players have to splatter as much of the map in goop as they can to win -so follows Nintendo’s limited violence ideology. Which is countered by the uber-hypersexualised release of Bayonetta 2, which brings a whole new level to the fetishisation of female characters within a video game; they’re also releasing it with the original game bundled in, so double the perversion. At least this is countered by Yoshi’s Woolly World, which I want because AWMYFUCKINGAWDITSOKOOOOOOOOOOTE!!!! There are more exclusive titles due but will talk about them in a later article.

    Unfortunately no news on any new Wii U only Pokémon titles, that you can use with your 3DS, because that is the long awaited dream. Either an open world MMORPG or another tournament style battle game where you can use your own pokémon on your own 3DS system. Fans have been chewing walls waiting for such a game & it could really move so many consoles in a tiny amount of time -especially with how Nintendo allow free online multiplayer on all their games.

    One interesting future release that Nintendo announced via their Direct video is their new line of amiibo figure which work with the NFC system in the GamePad to allow for the transfer of data as well as a limited form of DLC. They work in a similar way to Activision’s Skylanders game, where you buy figures to bring new characters into games. The amiibo are set to work as customisable fighters in Super Smash Bros. Wii U but Nintendo have hinted that it will bring non-Mario franchise characters (like Link or Samus) into games like Mario Kart 8 (which was a desire expressed in my Mario Kart 8 review; I wonder if Nintendo read it?). If they integrate it into a new Pokémon game or other such franchise & they’ll become a licence to print money. When Nintendo reveals what they’ll be used for, how & the cost, I’ll probably end up collecting a few of them because they do look really cool. Perfect design, if the promo versions are anything to go by.

    It’s truly unfortunately that Nintendo has taken so long to release so many top tier & highly demanded games but seems to be the trend with development cycles of late; always several steps behind rushed releases.

    At any rate, the brand recognition games from Nintendo as well as their bevy of exclusive titles will be on shelves before Sony & Microsoft’s ones; plus the Big N doesn’t have to worry about the cross-platform glut as much as the other two (with some exceptions on franchises such as the Lego games, which come out on EVERY console, home & handheld).

    Whether or not you decide to buy a Wii U &/or support Nintendo is ultimately up to you. There are some good deals going on with them & the price is sure to drop in the near future. You can afford to wait if you do want one & aren’t so much interested in the other new-current systems.

    It all falls into the glut of gaming that we currently suffer, more so if you factor in all the more Indie PC games & mods out there. Yet I find again & again that my gaming time is spent more & more with Nintendo’s two current flagship consoles -the Wii U & 3DS- because they have the games that I want & the gimmicks that I prefer. You can spin it off as another example of Cognitive Bias but I am not preaching that the Wii U is in anyway the superior system. It is just the most preferable for me at the moment & it may become your’s if you give it half a chance.reggie & iwata

Game Review: Persona 4 Golden

Title: Persona 4 Golden
Platform: PS Vita
Release Date: February 2013 in Europe (2012 in Japan & North America)
Studio/Developers: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus, NIS America, Ubisoft (Australian release)

P4g_boxart_USA
Back in 2006, there were whispers of a Japanese Roleplaying Game (J-RPG for those not in the know) that had been banned for release by the Australian government because it depicted “suicidal imagery” within its opening scenes. This game was of course Persona 3 on the Playstation 2 & the “suicidal imagery” was the Envoker -the gun-like device that summons the titular Personas.

This was my first exposure to the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series of Roleplaying Games. The Shin Megami Tensei franchise was a name that cropped up every so often in the early days of the internet’s gaming websites (& the fading days of gaming magazine industry) but, try as I might, I could not find a local release of Persona 3. It would be years later, with the release of the PSP version of Persona 3 Portable -which I had to order from overseas.

But by then I was already well verse in many of the themes that underlined the Persona series & that was through my viewing of Persona 4: The Animation. That gave me a basic run down of the narrative world within the game franchise but was also beloved as an anime in its own right. The series shall be reviewed at a later date.

Like its predecessor, Persona 4 on the PS2 did not really see a proper Australian release but that seemed due more to perceived inability to sell rather than any controversy within the game itself. So when Persona 4 Golden was announced in 2011, complete with improved graphic, new material & featuring the voice cast of the anime series. For me, it was pretty much the sole reason to acquire the beleaguered Sony PS Vita (despite being an excellent piece of hardware in its own right).

What makes the Persona series (and the Shin Megami Tensei franchise as a whole) different to so many other J-RPGs is its usual of contemporary settings -being that of modern day Japan. Addressing issues relevant to many Japanese teenagers; such as pressure to confirm, the burdens of the past, negative self perception & overarching societal pressures in the form of family, school & peer groups. This themes resonate strongest within Persona 4 because they are what drive the protagonists & where they gain their supernatural powers from -overcoming the negativity within them & transforming it through accepting who they truly are within.

The other thing that sets the Persona series apart from so many RPGs (both Japanese & Western) is its hybrid form of being a traditional RPG & a Social Simulator (also known as a Sim Game), with some aspects akin to a Visual Novel (something that never really took off outside of Japan). Building relationships with your team mates & NPCs through the Social Links system is vital to both gameplay & story -allowing you to develop more powerful Persona to use in combat as well discover more about the characters themselves. This is something take from the 3rd Persona game & further developed for this one with more quest related tasks in some instances. Its also something vital to do if you want to see the “True Ending” of the game, another concession to the Visual Novel style of gameplay.

The gameplay itself is broken up in terms of the Overworld, which is the fictional semi-rural town of Inaba & the dungeons within the ‘TV World’. Gameplay in both areas is vastly different as well. Whilst in Inaba, you do more mundane activities such as studying & hanging out with your friends as well developing your Social Links by engaging with various characters around town, all while exploring the mystery that surrounds you. In the TV World, you explore various dungeons (which open up over the course of the game), fight monsters known as Shadows (no relation) with both weapons & your various Persona as well as hunt for items & battle bosses in order to rescue people trapped within that twisted dimension.

Within the dungeons, also referred to as ‘Studios” due to the TV related nature of the world, all Shadows are visible as blobs of various sizes, so you don’t know what you’re facing until you encounter it. Like many modern J-RPGs, you can gain advantage for sneaking up on Shadows & lose it if they manage to attack you from behind but the game also features the under used mechanic (in RPGs) of having Shadows run away from you if you can easily defeat them. It’s handy if you are just trying to do a dungeon run to beat a bonus boss or find an item but a bit vexing if you are trying to locate a certain type of Shadow so you can kill it for a various item.

persona 4 combat
Combat is pretty standard turn-based J-RPG fare, with actions for standard combat, Persona abilities that include both physical & magical attacks, items, escape & so forth. It’s in the same 3D style as Persona 3 & looks exceptionally pretty. The new Vita features allows for players to call on “viewers” to give boosts via a touch screen button, such as buffs or minor healing, as well as allow characters not in the part to do special attacks. There are also partner attacks that do special damage but these are limited to pre-set pairs & have different attack attributes that aren’t obviously listed. They also happen at random times, so there is no true controlling them but they can be handy when in a bind with groups of annoying enemies. The magic system carries over from the overarching Shin Megami Tensei franchise, with confusing names for elemental attacks, such as Agi for fire, Zio for lightning & so on. This can be very disorienting, especially if you are unfamiliar with any other titles in the franchise (such as the Devil Survivor ones). There are icons representing what the powers do & some explanations in in-game conversations but the naming system can be frustrating to remember.

Luckily the story is less J-RPG bog-standard fare. That is in part to the aforementioned contemporary setting of the game which allows characters to go beyond the typical RPG norms. Unfortunately this does mean that they become more akin to various anime character & narrative tropes but I find these engaging enough to forgive.

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The central protagonist amazingly enough doesn’t have amnesia, isn’t secretly a god or heir to some secret mystic bloodline. He’s just an outsider but, more importantly, he’s a cypher. A proper tabla rosa. An utter blank canvas upon whom you project all game defined traits. This is fairly typical for this style of J-RPG but also creates a strong negative because there is nothing that defines him (only a male playable character is available, unlike Persona 3 Portable, which allowed for some gender swapping). You build up stats to do certain tasks or be able to interact with certain Social Links. Your avatar is instantly likeable, so much so that you can form closer relationships with various female characters (the 3 party members & other NPCs). This is done in order to add extra scenes to the game as well as achieve some bonuses & trophies. Overall, there isn’t much choice involved with your development as a character.  You pretty much only get choose his name (but his official name isNarukami Yu -Yu. . . ‘You’. See what they did there?), your replies & reactions to certain questions (some of which grant bonuses), what traits & relationships/Social Links but in order to get the most out of the game, you do have to follow a very strict path.

This is because of the game conceit that everything happens on certain days & dates. The story follows the rough course of a Japanese school year, with holidays & other events such as festivals involved. The date system is tied heavily into the plot, meaning that you have to rescue people from dungeons before certain time limits or you automatically Game Over.

This system seems to be a major negative to a lot of people whom I’ve spoken to about it (similar with Persona 3 as well) but I find it one of the most enjoyable factors in the game. It gives both certain & freedom, allowing you to decide how you spend your non-story days. If you want to study, eat, spend time building stronger Social Links or do dungeon runs to build your combat stats you can. It’s all up to you. Although this does lead to the inevitable problem of “choice regret” -where you want to know if what did was the correct thing & you start the scenario again, hoping to get things right.

Luckily this brings in the best feature that Persona 4 Golden has to offer: the Fast Forward button.

Press START & everything spiels forward like a good old VCR tape, stopping only at important questions or choice. This means that if you have to replay a scene that you’ve already seen you can skip through it. And there is so much dialogue to get through.

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The start to the game is an exceptionally slow boil as well. Taking time to set up the areas & outline some of the characters, the mystery & murders that occur in the town & more you into the more supernatural elements that exist within the game. It’s almost 30 minutes before you even get to the first bit of combat but I find the game richer for that.

You’ll have noticed that I haven’t actually spoken much about the plot itself & that’s partly because to do so will spoil a lot of the story. Many of you out there may already know it from your own play throughs or from watching the anime series but for those who are yet to do either, here’s a brief summary.

You, playing as Yu (if you went with that name) move to the town of Inaba to live with your uncle & niece because your parents are working overseas. Being an outsider from the big city, you immediately gain the attention of people, mainly your classmates Hanamura Yosuke, son of the local Junes manager who is disliked because the town’s people feel as though the store is killing off local business, the tomboyish Satonaka Chie & her best friend Amagi Yukiko, the refined daughter of the traditional inn manager. You immediately hear rumours about the mysterious “Midnight Channel”, which only appears on rainy nights & shows “the one you are destined to be with”. Soon after, two women who had appeared on The Midnight Channel are found dead, hanging from high structures in town. The 2nd woman was Yosuke’s workmate & unrequited crush, so he pushes you into helping find out what happen. When you fall into the strange TV World & are attacked by Shadows, that is where the game really finds its RPG feet.

After returning to the real world with the aid of the TV World inhabitant Kuma (Teddy in the Western release) who looks like a colourful store mascot & speaks in bear related puns, our heroes realise that the murders & mystery will continue & that it’s all somehow connected to The Midnight Channel.

As the story progress, you gain new party members, including the loud & violent Kanji, the young retired idol (singer, actress, model all rolled into one) Rise & the haughty teenage detectice Naoto as well as being helped by Kuma. All of whom have their own detailed backstories & desires as well as paths of personal growth.

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The characters are the true strength of the game. Combining pathos with good humour, using an anime style. Most of them are render with depth & details, especially those in the Social Link stuff, but some are also depicted as very annoying -the being Teddy more than anyone else. That’s because of the actor Dave Wittenburg in how plays Teddy, who has an exceptionally grating voice. Some of the other voice acting is exceptionally weak, especially with the Social Link characters who don’t get nearly as much dialogue as the main cast. But is good to see so much spoken dialogue in a handheld game, even if it isn’t always the best quality.

One positive on the translation front is that they stuck with the traditional Japanese honourifics -such as san & senpai- to help denote relationships & social status. Having the game stick to many Japanese nuances without having to explain them is a great touch & shows that NIS America knew that this would be a niche market game brought more by people who had a strong understanding of all things Japanese pop culture. This can be an isolating factor for those who like a good RPG but don’t want to get bogged down in all the linguistical issues.

Though what really names this game stand out from so many other RPGs is its use of colour. Everything is exceptionally bright. The main box art is a fierce yellow & each character is given their own bright huge. The Persona, even when dark, are given a strong sense of style, although it’s a pity that the monsters aren’t given the same. Many of them being recycled from Persona 3 & then more of them in game being palate swaps with extra spikes or a large size. But the bosses all have stunning & creepy designs, even one sickening fetus like one which I despise to even think about.

Overall, this is the kind of game that I do love & can find few negatives in it other than the dodginess of the voice acting & the awkward pacing of the story. This is what we call a “long haul” game & you must be pretty invested to see it to the end & more invested to use the New Game+ function once you’ve finished it. The Vita itself makes it look utterly lovely & there is more then enough Vita exclusive content to be worth the now cheap price to pay for it.