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Persona 4 Golden: Pokémon for the Discriminating Adult

Company: Atlus

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 was my absolute favorite Japanese role-playing game of the last generation. It was everything that most JRPGs were not: fast-paced, thoughtful, well-written, and addictive as hell. The intoxicating blend of dungeon crawling, turn-based combat, and text-based adventuring made it unique and irresistible. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 has been on my "pile of shame" for the longest time. Now that I have the chance to review the updated version on the PlayStation Vita, I no longer have an excuse -- not that I had a particularly good one to begin with. Persona 4 Golden is Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 retooled for the Vita, with some new trimmings on the side.

Much like its predecessor, Persona 4 Golden tells the story of a nameless transfer student who suddenly finds himself at the center of a supernatural mystery. In the sleepy town of Inaba, weather patterns are starting to follow a strange trend. People are disappearing. When the fog after the rain lifts, their bodies are found hanging from wires and telephone cables. But why? Could it have something to do with the mysterious Midnight Channel, which supposedly allows you to see your soulmate on a rainy night?

Shortly before the game begins, you and your friends discover a world inside the television at your local Junes supermarket. Its sole occupants are monsters known as Shadows and a hollow, bearlike creature named Teddie. It becomes apparent that someone is throwing people into the television to be murdered by the Shadow versions of themselves. It's your job to save each victim and get to the bottom of the conspiracy.

Persona 4 Golden will retain the same engaging brands of gameplay featured in the last two Persona games. By day, you're an average high school student. You attend classes, socialize, and participate in extracurricular activities.

After school, you have the opportunity to enter the television and defeat Shadows using special avatars called Personas. The dungeons are randomly-generated and the combat features a triangle of strengths and weaknesses. More often than not, there is a correct strategy for each enemy, and succeeding often results in the opportunity to do even more damage.

But what's really interesting about this game is how each specific type of gameplay feeds into the other. As your Social Links mature, your ability to craft even stronger Personas in the Velvet Room improves. And provided you have a Persona belonging to the right Arcana, they can help strengthen your Social Links.

Persona 4 Golden releases November 20. Stay tuned for the full review.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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