I've been waiting to do this blog for a long time, and by now it's probably a little late, but I think fans of Atlus and the Persona series are always up for a little discussion. As a hardcore Persona fan, as well as a longtime gamer, the love I watch people have for Persona 4 absolutely boggles my mind. We're not talking Golden here, because I can't afford a Vita just to play one game. We're talking Playstation 2 version of Persona 4. This game is probably one of the most insane wastes of time I've ever played.
Please, can someone explain to me what you find so compelling about this game that doesn't even hold a candle to Persona 3? It's predecessor was a fantastic work of art, and I could go on and on about 3 for a really long time. The characters, the stories, the cliffhangers, the battle system... purer genius was never found. And when they created Persona 3 Portable, they only improved on an already perfect game. By stark contrast, 4 is bland, hard to play, and ultimately not very satisfying for the time spent.
I'll break down why I feel this way and I'm curious if any of you agree or disagree. Please be aware right now that this post will be bogged down in SPOILERS. Again, SPOILER CITY.
Oh, you're still here? Let's get to it then!
Persona 4's characters have absolutely no depth to them. The stories are so bland and straightforward that my friends and I use the game as a joke. (He named the protagonist 'Wiener Minstrel'.) When I say this, one character in particular stands out fabulously: Yosuke. Could there be a more generic jealous best friend stereotype anywhere? "Oh man, I hate you but I actually love you. Let me punch the crap out of you and then we can be best friends again, because you make me feel useless and this will solve everything!" Are you getting it yet?
How about Chie? It wasn't enough we had male protag vs. Yosuke, we had to have the lovely Yukiko vs. Chie. Listen, if you wanted to go out with her, you should've just asked instead of being such a prude about it! Bringing this up really leads me into the dungeons and part of the story because of the way these games are set up. The characters in Persona games become the story, so when they are lacking, the entire story falls short. When thinking about Chie and her problem with Yukiko, are we reminded of Yukiko's lacy underthings in her princess castle?
At the end of every dungeon it is revealed that each character was secretly trying to hide awful personality traits about themselves. And yet, each breakdown is seemingly unrelated to the fit that got them there. Yukiko, the introverted young innkeeper-to-be, turns into an outgoing princess-type looking for a man, but in actuality that wasn't what her inner self was trying to say at all. Please tell me you see the problem here. The real Yukiko expresses her hatred for being forced to inherit the inn. This has nothing to do with the castle, and yet it is her princess self who expresses this unhappiness. By the end of the game, if you've raised Yukiko's S.Link high enough, she eventually decides to inherit anyway because it's part of the family.
I can see all you P4 lovers out there, and I know what you're thinking: Yes but it's the journey to get there that was amazing!
No. No it wasn't. That journey consisted of hours spent in a dungeon with a combat system that made me want to snap my controller in half over twenty times over. We've finally gotten to that point in the review. After playing 3, I'm not sure how anyone can stand 4's combat system. In fact, I tell people that if they insist on playing them both, they play 4 first, so they'll be less disappointed with it when they finish it. They won't realize how shitty the battle system is until they play the smooth combat system that 3 has. Sure, you can't control every character in 3 and Mitsuru has a startling tendency to uselessly 'marin karin' everything, but I'll take that over inadequate targeting systems and an annoying ID system.
Let's address one last huge pet peeve: THERE IS BASICALLY NOTHING TO DO AT NIGHT, except that sexy nurse. (And man, did I do her.)
You are forced to do the dungeon during the day, when the most S.Links are available, therefore compromising that part of the game. There is just no logic to this. In the previous game, you only had to give up studying or hanging out with Koro-chan (depending on which version you played) to go to Tartarus. In this one, you give up time with just about every single character to hang out in the Midnight Channel (DURING THE DAY) where a hateful and horrid Fox will charge youridiculous amounts of money to heal. I think the amount of disgust I felt with the Midnight Channel outweighs everything else. If the whole thing was different, I'd even be willing to let the generic stereotypical story go.
After all, the choose-your-own-adventure style ending in which Nanako can die if you mess up is pretty cool. That and the music were the only things Persona 4 had going for it. What do you think? Do you see these flaws now that they're laid out in front of you? Or do you still think Persona 4 is quite possibly the greatest game ever, even above 3?