For about eight years, Persona 4 was Atlus’s cash cow. One could not escape Yu Narukami and his bespectacled group of friends. And even though I legitimately loved the game in high school, I started to get sick of it. It wasn’t that good, I thought to myself. But playing the port of
For those who do not know anything about Persona 4 Golden, the story is fairly standard JRPG fare. You play as the unnamed Protagonist (whom I will refer to as Yu because that is his official name from the anime adaptation, as well as what I named him). He moves to the sleepy town of Inaba to live with his uncle and younger cousin for a year. While he is in Inaba, a chain of mysterious and unsettling murders occur. Yu and his buddies discover a world inside of the TV. Not only that, but someone is throwing people in there to cause said murders. With Personas – powers that they obtain after fighting their inner Shadow and facing themselves – they work together to seek the truth and bring the murderer to justice.
As a little warning, this game is from the late 2000s and oh boy, you can tell. Though Atlus rewrote, cut, and added dialog in Royal to make some of the Persona 5 characters a little less abrasive, it did not do that for Golden. Yosuke is still needlessly crass to Kanji, making unprovoked homophobic comments that are more mean than funny. Hanako is the only visibly overweight character in the game. While her face is not particularly attractive, a lot of the humor about her revolves around her size. It feels insensitively fatphobic. Whatever personal headcanon you want to have of Kanji and Naoto is fine, but the game does not always handle it with the most delicacy.
In an era where the Nintendo Switch can easily play Persona 5 Royal, which was natively a PS4 game, it should come as no surprise that it can run Persona 4 Golden without any problem. It plays smoothly and there are hardly any issues with the frame rate, lag, or crashing. Now, this is huge for me because almost every single game I have reviewed or previewed for the Nintendo Switch had those problems. Playing it handheld feels like I finally got a PS Vita, and playing it docked brings me back to 2009. It’s truly a wonderful port, and honestly, I would not mind if it ushers in a Yu Narukami Renaissance.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, I never played Golden. So this is actually my first time seeing the new content! There are extra scenes, as well as two new Social Links: Adachi and Marie. There is a new ending and a new end-game dungeon as well. You can also catch bugs and garden. But honestly, the biggest change I noticed in Persona 4 Golden was in how Atlus re-balanced the enemies and party members. And I know for sure that Atlus went and tweaked some things.
Even on Normal difficulty, I noticed that I was having issues I never experienced in my multiple playthroughs of Vanilla. Enemies hit way harder, for one thing. Like why is Yu taking like 200 damage from a random mob just because the Persona he has on is a few levels lower? Plus, my characters miss their hits half the time. I sure loved watching Yu whiffing with Vicious Strike four times in a row! It also felt like there were more enemies with no elemental weaknesses. Or they were only susceptible to Insta-Kill moves, which I do not regularly employ in my strategies. So the early game especially was a war of attrition in which I inflicted them with status ailments and then whaled on them with physical attacks.
Persona 4 Golden is a wonderful port on the Nintendo Switch. The characters are fun (albeit sometimes they say some really wacky stuff). The plot is a delight even if I’m already familiar with a lot of the beats and twists. And that soundtrack? Absolutely beautiful. Almost every piece is a masterpiece. It proves just why it reigned as Atlus’s golden child for such a long time.
Persona 4 Golden is readily available on the PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Game Pass, Windows PC, and Nintendo Switch.