'Persona 4 Golden' for PlayStation Vita is a remastered version of the PlayStation 2 game 'Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4'.
Four years ago, Atlus released an odd RPG titled Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 onto the PlayStation 2 to rave reviews. Earlier this month, the company released an enhanced version, known as Persona 4 Golden, on to PlayStation Vita. While P2G itself isn't an improvement over the already-stellar PS2 version, the enchancements and Vita-specific content make for a refreshingly familiar playthrough for fans of the original.
Unlike when Atlus ported Persona 3 onto the PSP and took away from players the open-town exploration that they enjoyed in the original home console version of that game, exploration of Inaba remains intact in Persona 4 Golden. Inaba is a living, breathing town; and being able to explore it provides for an organic exploration experience.
The storyline hasn't changed from the PS2 version (make sure to read the PS2 version's review for more details), which features a group of Japanese high schoolers battling demons in an alternate dimension that is accessed only through television sets. What has changed in this department is that all of the demon killing and investigating of supernatural murders is now done in HD widescreen -- a truly beautiful thing on the Vita.
While the plot remains the same, there is a good amount of new and (mostly) interesting content in P2G. Not only are there new characters to literally bond with (thanks to the game's semi-complex Social Links mechanic), but players can also now explore Inaba after sunset as well as visit and explore the previously-unexplorable Okina City. This alone adds hours upon hours of new content to the game.
Another new feature with Persona 4 Golden that takes advantage of the Vita's online capabilities (something that was not so widespread on the PlayStation 2) is its SOS mechanic. Well concieved yet poorly executed, it's supposed to make it so players can call for help to other P4G players and have them assist during a tough battle. Unfortunetly, it doesn't seem to work -- or, at least, other players seem unwilling to heed the call.
While (loosely) on the topic of combat, players of the PS2 version will find themselves right at home here. Turn-based battles work more-or-less exactly as they did in 2008. Actions are still assigned, and Personas can still be called upon to do each character's bidding.
The Persona and demon-fusion mechanics themselves seemabout the same as before as well. They are still both a pleasure and a pain to manage, but veterans and newcomers alike shouldn't complain anymore now than they did four years ago.
All-in-all, the PlayStation Vita game Persona 4 Golden is every bit as good a JRPG as the original Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 was on the PlayStation 2. The 90-minute-some-odd intro still drags on way too long, but players who chug through it will be rewarded with one of the best RPG experiences of the last half-decade.
Final Game Guys grade: A
(Atlus provided a copy of this game for review.)