Imagine youíre in high school, and youíre taking a course you really love. Your teacher is a really cool person who you admire. Youíre earning an A in the class, and have been working really hard for that A. One day, the teacher decides to give you a multiple choice pop quiz consisting of 6 questions about his wifeís measurements. Itís worth 8,000,000,000,000 points, and if you miss one question you get an F.
Persona 3 and Persona 4 are my favorite games in the world and I love them to death. But that doesn't mean they aren't full of poor design choices and flaws. It's really hard to say which I like more, as they are both fantastic games, and they each have flaws that the other game doesn't.
I wrote a blog 2 days ago describing features of Persona 3 I hated, that were all fixed in its sequel, Persona 4. But that blog wasn't in any way a declaration that I preferred Persona 4. The fixes of the flaws made room for new ones. And the worst one was its bad ending. The bad ending in Persona 4 is a perfect example of how not to make a bad ending.
Alternate endings are meant to give a sense of non-linearity, but this goal is usually not achieved. In Bioshock, if you get the "evil" or bad ending, you're portrayed as some sadistic asshole who makes Stalin look like Mother Teresa. And getting this ending doesn't even require being evil. It requires you to harvest ONE single Little Sister. Most people will probably do this out of curiosity at least one time if they go into the game knowing nothing about it.
Persona 3 did have one normal and one "bad" ending. However, the bad ending of Persona 3 was one of the best examples of a bad ending ever. Contrary to a game like Bioshock, Persona 3's ending is determined by a single, straightforward choice. You are presented with a decision that clearly decides your fate, and you can easily tell what consequences each of your two possible choices will lead to. This is good. The bad ending you get in Persona 3 isn't just a giant f**k you for giving into curiosity like it is in Bioshock.
Notice how I put quotation marks around the word "bad". Another reason Persona 3's "bad" ending was a great example of how to make one was because it wasn't THAT bad. It was depressing enough to make it clear that it was meant to be a bad ending. But it certainly wasn't a f**k you. It left you with a sense of emptiness, but didn't leave you feeling cheated. Depending on how you look at it, it could even be considered happier than the normal ending. A reasonable discrepancy between alternate endings is good if you're going to have them. In Bioshock, you're either Jesus or Satan. In Persona 4, the difference is just as bad.
In Persona 4, there are 3 endings. Thereís a bad ending (with no quotes), a normal ending, and a true ending. Firstly, let me explain why the bad ending is the worst ending Iíve ever seen. Even worse than Shark Attack 3ís.
It offers absolutely no closure. I donít want to spoil anything, but imagine a detective novel in which the main character tries to figure out who the murderer is once and for all. He thinks of 3 people who couldnít be the murderer. He then gives up and quits.
I just spoiled it, didnít I? Damnit.
But the ending itself, even though itís terrible, can be SOMEWHAT forgiven because itís supposed to be a giant f**k you. The implementation of the ending and how to get to it canít. Iím going to have to put this in the most juvenile way possible to get my point across.
The way you get the bad ending in Persona 4 is f**king stupid. F**k it. It is literally a taint on gaming, not just in the sense of ďa stain on gamingĒ but literally a taint, the anatomical area between the anus and the testicles.
Look back at the beginning of this blog. How does that relate to anything? Well, that is how Persona 4 gives you your choice of which ending youíll get. Or wait, no it isnít. Imagine that you passed the quiz, and are really happy about doing it, whether you cheated or not. Then the next week, another quiz is given out, this time worth 16,000,000,000,000,000 points, and it consists of one question where you have to write down 3 guesses as to what your teacherís favorite food is.
You can save before the long series of game-deciding questions in Persona 4, but it kind of breaks immersion when you have to re-load your save file after getting the bad ending to re-watch an hour of scenes that were actually really heartfelt the first time.
Yes, thatís how Persona 4 gives you your choice of which ending youíll get, rather than Persona 3ís straightforward yes or no question. If you do manage to get past the 2 quizzes without using GameFAQs, give yourself a pat on the back. If you did cheat, no oneís blaming you. Congratulations, now you get a B because you didnít stay in class wiping the chalkboard for 2 hours after the last bell on the last day of school rang even though your teacher told you to ďget out of the class what are you doing hereĒ.
Thatís right, they pull the true ending bullshit on you. Literally, the game tells you to ďgo homeĒ. You canít get the true ending unless you are a MOTHERF**KING rebel and disobey the gameís commands. How awesome!
I donít see why the developers decided they needed to put the true ending into the game.
[VERY MINOR SPOILER ALERT]
Youíd think that after you solved the gameís mystery and beat some giant thing that was pretty much god in an epic boss fight with epic music, that youíd beaten the game. Nope! That wasnít God, it was Godís puppet! Now you have to really fight God so you can witness a scene with some terrible voice acting that was the equivalent to patching a bunch of (plot)holes on the hull of a ship with rice paper. Shut up, you shouldnít care that I spoiled something that stupid, unless youíre just disappointed because you expected something better from an otherwise blissful gaming experience.
[/VERY MINOR SPOILER ALERT]
The reason this is less forgivable than Bioshockís bad ending is because Bioshock isnít 80 hours long. I shouldnít have to explain this.
Alternate endings have to not have a f**k you as a bad ending to be effective. Saying f**k you to the player is not good storytelling. They should be implemented in such a way that makes them near impossible to get without a guide or without knowing how to get them in the first place. Thatís it for this blog. In closing, make sure to use a guide when you get to November in Persona 4. Seriously.