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Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4, originally released in Japan as simply Persona 4 (ペルソナ4 Perusona Fō?), is a role-playing video game developed and published by Atlus for Sony's PlayStation 2, and chronologically the fifth installment in the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series. Persona 4 was released in Japan in July 2008, North America in December 2008, and Europe in March 2009. It features a weather forecast system with events happening on foggy days to replace the moon phase system implemented in the previous games.

Instead of the city locales of previous games in the series, Persona 4 takes place in a fictional Japanese countryside and is indirectly related to both Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 (in terms of gameplay, story and production) and the Persona 2 duology (in terms of Shadow selves and confronting them to awaken Persona). The player-named main protagonist is a high-school student who moved into the countryside from the city for a year. During his year-long stay, he becomes involved in investigating mysterious murders while harnessing the power of summoning Persona.

The release of the game in Japan was also accompanied with retail merchandise revolving around the game's theme such as character costumes and accessories. The North American package of the game was released with a CD with selected music from the game, and, unlike Persona 3, the European package also contained a soundtrack CD. The music was composed by Shōji Meguro, with vocals by Shihoko Hirata who sang the theme song "Pursuing My True Self". The game was positively received by critics, and it continues to be promoted by Atlus through releases in other media such as adaptation in manga and anime, followed by an enhanced remake, a fighting game sequel, and side stories in the forms of a manga and light novel.

Gameplay

Like its predecessor, Persona 3, Persona 4's gameplay mixes a traditional role-playing video game with a simulation game. The protagonist of Persona 4 is a teenage boy, named and controlled by the player.[1] The game takes place over the course of a traditional Japanese school year.[1] Outside of key events, the protagonist attends school, and can interact with other students and characters, spend time at part-time jobs to earn money, or engage in other activities.[2] The player may also enter the "TV World", an alternate reality where the game's dungeon-crawling gameplay occurs.[3] Each day in Persona 4 is broken up into different periods of time, such as After School or Evening. Certain activities are limited to certain times of day. In addition, the ability to engage in certain activities is based on the day of the week, or the weather.[3][4]

By spending time with people, the protagonist forms "Social Links", friendships made with other characters as the game progresses, each represented by one of the Major Arcana. Social Links start at Rank 1, increasing over time as the protagonist spends time with that person, until it reaches MAX Rank (rank 10).[4] Social Links grant the player bonuses when creating new Personas in the Velvet Room.[4] Social Links are also influenced by the protagonist's five attributes: Understanding, Diligence, Courage, Knowledge and Expression, which can be improved through various activities, such as part-time jobs, school clubs, and sports teams. These attributes in turn may also affect the protagonist's interaction in daily activities outside of Social Links.[1]

Persona 4's timeline is story-driven—the protagonist and his friends must rescue characters who disappear from the real world into the TV World, indicated through the "Midnight Channel". The one-week weather forecast indicates the amount of time players have to rescue people who have disappeared, in which the last foggy day of the week marks the mission deadline.[3] The game ends when the player fails to retrieve the missing person in time, and is given the choice to return to one week before the fog appeared.[4]

Combat

File:P4BattleScreen.jpg

Inside the TV World, the player explores randomly generated dungeons in the field map; each dungeon is of a certain theme, based on the victim that has been kidnapped.[2] Dungeons are divided into floors, each containing Shadows, enemies the protagonist and his friends fight; and treasure chests, which contain items or equipment. To progress the story, players fight against Shadows as they navigate their way to a dungeon's final floor, where the missing person is located.[4]

The player enters battle upon coming into contact with a Shadow in the dungeon, and the player can gain the initiative by striking the Shadow from behind.[4] The battle system is turn-based, with similarities to the Press Turn system used in other Shin Megami Tensei games. Each character can perform a basic attack with their weapon, use a special Skill, or use an item. The player can choose to directly control the actions of all party members, or use the "Tactics" option to alter their battle AI.[4]

Offensive abilities cause certain types of damage, such as "Physical", "Fire" or "Almighty". Enemies the player encounters may have a weakness to a certain type of attack. Exploiting an enemy's weakness will knock it down, giving the attacker the opportunity to act again.[1] If all enemies in a battle are knocked down, the player may initiate an All-Out Attack, a powerful attack in which the player's party rushes the downed enemies, removing weaker enemies and inflicting heavy damage on stronger ones. However, as party members also have weaknesses, they are also vulnerable to being knocked down.[4] At the end of the battle, players are awarded experience points, money, and items. Players may be given the chance to win a new Persona to summon in battle by a timing game.[4]

Personas

Each party member has a Persona, the manifestation of one's true self, that they can use in battle. Each has its own unique Skills, and a specific set of strengths and weaknesses to certain attacks. Personas gain experience from battle and learn new Skills as they gain levels.[4] The Personas of the other members will transform to a more powerful form after completing that member's Social Link. The protagonist has the unique "Wild Card" ability, allowing him to carry multiple Personas and switch between them during battle, giving the player access to different sets of Skills.[4] Outside of battle, the player can access the Velvet Room, where new Personas can be created. In Persona Fusion, two or more Personas can be fused to create a new one; the new Persona will inherit a certain number of combat skills from the Personas used to fuse it.[4] Like Social Links, each Persona is of one of the Major Arcana. Creating Persona with the same Arcana as an established Social Link will grant the Persona a creation bonus; the higher a Social Link's rank, the greater the bonus will be.[4][1]

Story

Setting and characters

File:P4characters.jpg

Persona 4 takes place in the fictional, rural Japanese town of Inaba, which lies among floodplains and has its own high school and shopping districts. Unexplained murders have taken place in the small town, where bodies are found dangling from television antennas and their cause of death unknown.[5] At the same time, rumor has begun to spread that watching a switched-off television set on rainy midnights will reveal a person's soulmate.[6] The game also follows the main characters into the TV World, a fog-shrouded realm filled with monsters called Shadows, which can only be accessed through TV sets.[7]

The protagonist is a high school student who has recently moved from a large city to Inaba, where he is to live and attend school for a year. At school, he quickly becomes friends with Yosuke Hanamura, the somewhat-clumsy son of the manager of the local Junes megastore; Chie Satonaka, an energetic girl with a strong interest in martial arts; and Yukiko Amagi, a calm and refined girl who helps out at her family's inn.[4] A few days into the game, the protagonist, Yosuke, and Chie follow the "Midnight Channel" rumor, which leads them to discover the TV World and meet Teddie, a friendly creature that appears as a hollow bear costume.[8] Using Personas, the students form an Investigation Team to investigate the connection between the TV world and the murders, and possibly capture the culprit.[9] As the game progresses, the group gains new members, including: Kanji Tatsumi, a male delinquent who is confused about his sexual and social identity;[10] Rise Kujikawa, a former teen idol who moved to Inaba as another new transfer student;[11] and Naoto Shirogane, a young female detective investigating the case with the local police, but is forced to take on a male identity to associate with them.[12]

Plot

Persona 4 begins on April 11, 2011, with the protagonist arriving in Inaba to live with the Dojimas, consisting of his uncle Ryotaro and his cousin Nanako, for one year, as his parents are working abroad.[13] Just after his arrival, a TV announcer is found dead, her body hanging from an antenna; Saki Konishi, the high school student who had discovered the body, is later found dead under similar gruesome circumstances.[14] After the protagonist and his friends accidentally enter the TV world, they encounter Teddie, who helps them travel freely between the TV and real worlds.[15] They awaken their Persona abilities, and, realizing that the murders stem from Shadow attacks in the TV world, are able to rescue several would-be victims. Yosuke, Chie, Yukiko, Kanji, Rise and Teddie accept their other selves, which become giant Shadows in the TV world, and join the group as Persona-users. Mitsuo Kubo, a student from another high school who disappears following the death of Kinshiro Morooka, the protagonist's foul-mouthed homeroom teacher, claims credit for the murders; it is eventually learned that Kubo only killed the teacher and played no part in the other murders.[16] Naoto Shirogane, a nationally-renowned "Detective Prince" investigating the case, is also rescued and joins the group, who learn that "he" is actually a girl who assumed a male identity to avoid the police's sexism.[12]

Events come to a head when Ryotaro Dojima mistakenly accuses the protagonist of being involved in the murders.[17] Nanako is kidnapped during the protagonist's interrogation, leading Ryotaro to engage in a vehicular pursuit with the culprit. The chase ends as they both crash; the kidnapper escapes with Nanako through a television set in his truck, and the gravely-injured Ryotaro entrusts her rescue to the party. The group tracks them down within the TV world; the culprit, Taro Namatame, attacks them as a "human/Shadow" hybrid - Kunino-sagiri - but is defeated, and both he and Nanako are taken to the Inaba hospital. When Nanako appears to die, the group furiously confronts Namatame; as the protagonist, the player must help the others realize that Namatame is not the killer by pointing out the lack of a proper motive, and subsequently work to determine that Ryotaro's assistant, Tohru Adachi, is the true killer.[18][19] Failure to do so ends the game with the party being unable to solve the case; Nanako's death being permanent; and the recurring fog permanently setting in, the latter of which will eventually result in humanity's demise.[20]

Having identified the culprit as Adachi, the party chases and locates him within the TV world. Adachi explains that his actions were out of both boredom and the belief that humanity is better off existing as Shadows; his claims are dismissed by the party.[21] After fighting Adachi, he is possessed by Ameno-sagiri, the Japanese God of Fog, who reveals that the fog is lethal to people and will eventually wipe out humanity.[22] Upon his defeat, he agrees to lift the fog, congratulating the party on their resolve.[23] Defeated, the wounded Adachi agrees to assume responsibility for his actions and turns himself in.[24] The game moves forward to the day before the protagonist must travel home. If the player returns to the Dojima residence, the game ends with the party sending the protagonist off as he departs Inaba. Alternatively, should the player be able to identify the unexplained cause of the Midnight Channel and attempt to resolve this plot element, the protagonist meets with the party and together they decide to put the case to a permanent end.[25]

The protagonist confronts the gas station attendant encountered at the start of the game, who reveals herself to be the Japanese goddess Izanami, the "conductor" behind the game's events. The cause of the recurring fog is established as an attempt to eliminate humans by merging the TV world with the human world, all for the "sake" of humanity.[26][27] The group tracks Izanami down within the TV world and battle her, but is at first unable to win; the defeated protagonist is given strength by the bonds he has forged with those around him, and with this power awakens a new Persona - Izanagi-no-Okami - which he uses to defeat Izanami.[28] In doing so, the fog in each world is lifted, and the TV world is restored to its original form. The game ends with the party sending the protagonist off the following day, and a post-credits scene depicts the group resolving to remain friends forever, as the protagonist examines a photo of the party.[29]

Development

According to the game director Katsuro Hashino, while "ideas [had been] thrown around earlier", development on Persona 4 in Japan did not begin until after the release of Persona 3.[30] The development team consisted of the team from Persona 3, all of whom retained their roles from the previous game, as well as new hires who were "fans of Persona 3".[31] Atlus intended to improve both the gameplay and story elements of Persona 3 for the new game, to ensure it was not seen as a "retread" of its predecessor. Hashino said that "to accomplish that, we tried to give the players of Persona 4 a definite goal and a sense of purpose that would keep motivating them as they played through the game. The murder mystery plot was our way of doing that." Feedback from players on Persona 3 and Persona 3: FES was considered a "great help", as well as over 2,000 comments generated by Atlus staff on the company's internal website.[30][31] The plot of Persona 4 was "greatly inspired", according to Hashino, by mystery novelists such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and Seishi Yokomizo. "The discovery of a bizarre corpse in the countryside, and...a story that reflects Japanese mythology" are common elements of Japanese mystery novels reflected in the game.[32] Persona 4 was officially unveiled in the Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu in March 2008. An article in the issue detailed the game's murder mystery premise, rural setting, and new weather forecast system. The game's North American release date was announced at the 2008 Anime Expo in Los Angeles, California.[33] Atlus has stated that there will be no "Persona 4 FES".[34]

The design of Inaba is based on a town on the outskirts of Mount Fuji.[32] Its rural design was a source of conflict between Persona 4's developers, as "each staff member had their own image of a rural town", according to director Katsura Hashino. The entire staff went "location hunting" to determine Inaba's design.[31] Inaba does not represent a "a country town that has tourist attractions", but rather a non-notable, "'nowhere' place". Hashino described the town as being "for better or for worse...a run-of-the-mill town".[32] Unlike other role-playing games, which may have large worlds for the player to explore, Persona 4 mostly takes place in Inaba. This reduced development costs, and enabled Atlus "to expand other portions of the game" in return. A central setting also allows players to "sympathize with the daily life that passes in the game." To prevent the setting from becoming stale, the development team established a set number of in-game events to be created to "keep the game exciting."[30]

Despite living in the countryside, Persona 4's characters were designed to look and sound "normal" and like "modern high-schoolers", according to lead editor Nich Maragos. Initially, he wrote the game's cast as being "more rural than was really called for." "The characters aren't really hicks...They just happen to live in a place that's not a major metropolitan area."[35] While interviewing members of Persona 4's development team, 1UP.com editor Andrew Fitch noted that the characters from the city—Yosuke and the protagonist—have "more stylish" hair than the other characters. Art director Shigenori Soejima used hair styles to differentiate between characters from the city versus the country. "With Yosuke in particular, I gave him accessories, such as headphones and a bicycle, to make it more obvious that he was from the city."[32]

Music

Persona 4 Original Soundtrack
Soundtrack by Shōji Meguro
Released July 23, 2008 (Japan)
Recorded Aniplex
Genre Video game soundtrack
Length 2:08:14

The soundtrack was mainly composed by Shōji Meguro with 4 tracks composed by Atsushi Kitajoh (known for his soundtrack for Trauma Center: New Blood and Trauma Team) and 3 tracks by Ryota Kozuka (1 composition and 2 arrangements). All the vocals were done by Shihoko Hirata, whom Meguro felt was able to meet the range of emotion needed for the soundtrack, while the lyrics were written by Reiko Tanaka, whom Meguro believes "writes excellent English-language lyrics."[36] Meguro was given a rough outline of the game's plot and worked on the music in the same manner and simultaneously with the development of the story and spoken dialog, starting with the overall shape of the songs and eventually working on the finer details.[36] According to Meguro, the songs "Pursuing My True Self" and "Reach Out to the Truth" were composed to reflect the inner conflict that the game's main characters; the former song, used as the opening theme, helped to set an understanding of the characters' conflicts, while the latter, used in battle sequences, emphasized the "strength of these characters to work through their internal struggles."[36] The "Aria of the Soul" theme used in the Velvet Room, a concept common to all the Persona games, remained relatively unchanged, with Meguro believing "the shape of the song had been well defined" from previous games.[36]

Persona 4's soundtrack was released as a 2-disc Original Soundtrack on July 23, 2008, by Aniplex with the catalog number SVWC-7566/7. While Persona 3 had a more modern style and design, Persona 4 features a more retro one. The soundtrack is also available in the North American release, containing a Side A and Side B.[37] The Side A of the soundtrack is the bonus disc packaged with each game, while Side B of the soundtrack is part of the Amazon.com Exclusive Persona 4 Social Link Expansion Pack.[38] Similarly to Persona 3, a "Reincarnation" album for the game's original soundtrack titled Never More was released on October 26, 2011, featuring full length cuts of the game's vocal tracks and extended mixes of some of the instrumental tracks.[39] Never More made it to the top of both the Oricon Weekly Album Charts[40] and Billboard's Japan Top Albums chart[41] for the week of its release, selling nearly 27 thousand copies to beat out Girls' Generation's The Boys by a margin of 6 thousand units.[42]

All music composed by Shōji Meguro, unless otherwise noted.

Media

Merchandise

With the release of Persona 4, Atlus has also produced a line of merchandise, including action figures, published materials, toys and clothes. Atlus collaborated with the Japanese publishing company Enterbrain to publish the game's two strategy guides, an artbook detailing character and setting designs, as well a fan book called Persona Club P4 which included official artwork, fan art, as well as interviews with the design staff.[43][44] Most items were only released in Japan, while other Japanese third-party manufacturers also produced figurines and toys. The action figures include a 1/8 scale PVC figurine of Yukiko Amagi as well as Teddie and Rise Kujikawa, produced by Alter.[45] Licensed Atlus merchandise sold by Cospa includes Persona 4 t-shirts, tote bags, and the jacket and other accessories worn by the character Chie.[46]

Udon recently announced that they will release an English edition of Enterbrain's Persona 4: Official Design Works artbook to be released May 8, 2012.[47]

Manga

Persona 4 was also given a manga adaptation. It is written by Shūji Sogabe, the artist for Persona 3's manga, and started serialization in ASCII Media Works' Dengeki Black Maoh magazine on September 19, 2008. The first tankōbon volume was released on September 26, 2009, and six volumes have been released as of February 27, 2012.[48][49]

Shiichi Kukura also authored Persona 4 The Magician (ペルソナ4 The Magician?), a manga that focuses on Yosuke Hanamura's life in Inaba before the game's start. Its only volume was released on August 27, 2012.[50] Another upcoming manga is the adaptation of the light novel Persona 4 x Detective Naoto that will be authored by Satoshi Shiki and published in ASCII Media Works' Dengeki Maoh magazine starting on November 27, 2012.[51]

Light novel

Mamiya Natsuki wrote a light novel titled Persona X Detective Naoto (ペルソナ×探偵NAOTO Perusona × Tantei Naoto?) that focuses on the character of Naoto Shirogane a year after the events of Persona 4. She is hired to investigate the disappearance of a childhood friend in Yagakoro City where she is partnered with Sousei Kurogami, a mechanized detective. With illustrations by Shigenori Soejima and Shuji Sogabe, the light novel was released by Dengeki Bunko on June 8, 2012 in Japan.[52]

Anime

An anime television series based on the game has also begun airing, produced by AIC A.S.T.A. and directed by Seiji Kishi. Main voice actors from the original game are also set to reprise their roles in the TV series including Daisuke Namikawa (protagonist, renamed Yu Narukami in the anime series), Showtaro Morikubo (Yōsuke Hanamura), Yui Horie (Chie Satonaka), and Ami Koshimizu (Yukiko Amagi).[53][54]

The episodes started airing in Japan on MBS on October 6, 2011 and had a simulcast by Anime Network in North America.[53] The run concluded March 29, 2012, with the 25th episode. A 26th "true ending" episode was released on August 22.

On November 23, 2011, Aniplex started releasing the series in DVD and Blu-ray volumes, with the first one including the first episode in a director's cut version and bonus CD single for the opening and ending themes.[55] Following volumes will contain three episodes and a single CD with the second released on December 21, 2011.[56] The releases have been popular in Japan with the first Blu-ray selling 27,951 copies during 2011.[57] The anime has been licensed in North America by Sentai Filmworks for Blu-ray and DVD release during 2012.[58] Sentai has confirmed that the English dub will retain the same cast from the game.[59] Sentai released the first collection of the anime on September 18, 2012.[60]

Also, a 90 minute film titled "Persona 4 The Animation -The Factor of Hope-" was released on June 9, 2012 in 10 theaters in Japan. This film is a condensed version of the anime that contains new footage that wasn't shown earlier. However, unlike the anime, it is edited to include the "true ending episode" that was to be released exclusively on the final volume of the anime's Blu-ray/DVD.

Fighting game

A fighting game sequel, Persona 4 Arena, was released during summer 2012.[61] As with the anime, the protagonist is named Yu Narukami. Aigis, Mitsuru, Elizabeth, and Akihiko from Persona 3 are also featured in the game. Set two months following the True Ending of the original game, the Investigation Team enters into a fighting tournament called the "P-1 Grand Prix" hosted by Teddie. The game is developed by Arc System Works, the company known for creating the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series.[62]

Persona 4 Golden

Persona 4: Golden, released in Japan as Persona 4: The Golden (ペルソナ4 ザ・ゴールデン Perusona Fō Za Gōruden?), was announced in August 2011 as an enhanced port of Persona 4 for the portable PlayStation Vita. It was originally planned by Atlus to be a PlayStation Portable title, similar to Persona 3 Portable, which would have required removing some of the features of the PlayStation 2 game. However, the Vita provides sufficient resources that has allowed Atlus to expand the game.[63] It is an expanded version of the PlayStation 2 title, adding new features and story elements to the game. A new character named Marie was added to the story. Additional Personas, character outfits, and expanded spoken lines and anime cutscenes are included as well as two new Social Links for Marie and Tohru Adachi. The game supports the wireless networking features of the Vita, allowing a player to call in help from other players to help in dungeon battles.[64] Another new feature is a garden that produces items the player can use in the various dungeons.[65] The game was released in Japan on June 14, 2012.[66] Persona 4: The Golden is also the first Persona game to be released in traditional Chinese.[67]

The release of Persona 4: The Golden resulted in the surge of sales of PlayStation Vitas. During its debut week, the game sold 137,076 units in Japan.[68] Media Create stated that the game's outstanding sales that surpassed the debuts of other titles from Persona series may be due to the exposure the Persona 4 game has had in other forms of media.[69] As of mid-July 2012, the game had sold 193,412 units in Japan.[70]

A P4G soundtrack was released on June 27, 2012, consisting of one disc of tracks composed by Meguro.[71]

In an interview with RPGamer at E3 2012, Atlus USA revealed that in terms of bonus content in the special "TV Channel" feature, the US release will have 99.9% of the content the Japanese version has, with only one or two commercials missing.[72][73] It was originally stated to be released in North America on October 23, 2012, however many retailers are now listing the release date for November 20, 2012.[74] The English version will also be released in the "Solid Gold Premium Edition" in fall 2012.[75]

On September 21, 2012, NIS America (Europe) announced that the game will be released in Europe.[76] According to Amazon.co.uk, the game will be released on February 22, 2013 in Europe.[77]

Stage production

A live stage production titled VisuaLive: Persona 4 (VISUALIVE『ペルソナ4』 VisuaLive: Perusona Fo?) took place from March 15, 2012 to March 20. Actors starring in the stage production include Toru Baba as the protagonist (whose name was chosen by the audience within every performance), Takahisa Maeyama as Yosuke Hanamura, Minami Tsukui as Chie Satonaka, Risa Yoshiki as Yukiko Amagi, Jyōji Saotome as Daisuke Nagase, Motohiro Ota as Kou Ichijo, and Masashi Taniguchi as Ryotaro Dojima, and Masami Ito as Tohru Adachi. Kappei Yamaguchi reprised his role as Teddie in voice.[78] Following the announcement, Youichiro Omi was cast as Kanji Tatsumi on December 1, 2011.[79]

Release and reception

Persona 4 was highly acclaimed by critics within and outside Japan, and remained on top of sales charts on its initial release. In Japan, the game sold 193,000 copies within a week of its release, while in North America, Persona 4 was the highest-selling PlayStation 2 game on Amazon.com for two consecutive weeks.[80][81] A soundtrack disc was included in the North American and European releases of Persona 4, containing a selection of tracks from the full soundtrack released in Japan.[37] Amazon.com exclusively sold the Persona 4 "Social Link Expansion Pack", which included an additional soundtrack disc, a t-shirt, a 2009 calendar, and a plush doll of the character Teddie.[38] Persona 4 was awarded the "PlayStation 2 Game Prize" in the Famitsu Awards 2008, voted by readers of Famitsu.[82] It was also recognized by the Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association as one of the recipients for the "Games of the Year Award of Excellence" in the Japan Game Awards 2009.[83] The game was given the award for its "high quality of work", "excellent story, automatically generated dungeons and impressive background music".[84]

Critical reception

 Reviews
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 94.2% [3]
Metacritic 94% [4]
Review scores
Publication Score
1UP.com A+[85]
Edge 9/10[86]
Electronic Gaming Monthly 10/10 [5]
Eurogamer 9/10 [6]
Famitsu 35/40 [7]
GamePro Star fullStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg[87]
Game Revolution Star fullStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [8]
GameSpot 9/10[1]
GamesRadar Star fullStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [9]
GameTrailers 9.4/10 [10]
GameZone 8.7/10[88]
IGN 9.3/10 [11]
X-Play 4 of 5[2]
Destructoid 10/10 [12]
RPGamer Star fullStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [13]
RPGFan 98% [14]
Wired 10/10[89]
Awards
Entity Award
Famitsu PlayStation 2 Game Prize[82]
Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association Award of Excellence[83]
GameRankings, [15] RPGFan [16] Game of the Year

Persona 4 received critical acclaim from most game critics upon release. The original game received a Metacritic score of 94% based on thirty reviews. [17] Famitsu pointed out that while "there isn't much new from the last game", it favored the changes over the battle system, where the pacing "is quick so it doesn't get to be a pain", and the ability to control party members "makes play that much easier".[90] IGN on the other hand noted that "the pacing can be somewhat off", and "some things feel repurposed or unaffected from previous games", while praising the game as an "evolution of the RPG series, and an instant classic". It also noted that the soundtrack can be "a bit repetitive".[3] RPGFan's Ryan Mattich recommended Persona 4 as "one of the best RPG experiences of the year", noting that "among the cookie-cutter sequels and half-hearted remakes", the game is "a near flawless example of the perfect balance between 'falling back on what works' and 'pushing the genre forward'."[91] 1UP.com's Andrew Fitch summarized Persona 4 as "some of this decade's finest RPG epics", although the reviewer criticized its "slight loading issues" and the time spent "waiting for the plot to advance". GameTrailers gave the game a score of 9.3, stating it's an exception to the rule of the Japanese Role-playing genre, and that it stands out of any other JRPG, including its predecessor, Persona 3.[85] Wired pointed out that while the graphics are not up to par with those of the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, "the clever art style makes up for that". It also praised the game's soundtrack as "excellent, especially the battle music".[89]

The game's setting garnered mixed reactions. IGN labeled Persona 4 as "a murder mystery set against the backdrop of familiar Persona 3 elements", and while this element adds "an interesting twist" to the dungeon crawl and social simulation gameplay, it also causes the plot to "slow down or suffer". Hyper's Tim Henderson commended the game for "willfully embellish[ing] absurd urban legends and other ideas with such assured consistency that the resulting whole is unshakabl[y] coherent". However, he criticized it for the narrative's sluggish pace and for how he felt the game is "lacking in elaborate set-pieces".[92] 1UP.com called Persona 4 a "stylish murder mystery", the comparison given being a "small-town Scooby-Doo" adventure.[85]

The game is also noted for its "significant portion of the story revolving around sexual themes", as quoted from RPGFan's Ryan Mattich. One of the playable characters given attention by reviewers is Kanji, who is considered to be one of the first characters in a mainstream video game to struggle with their sexual orientation, and Atlus has been commended for the inclusion of that character.[10] Atlus has stated that they left Kanji's sexual preferences ambiguous and up to the player. According to Dr. Antonia Levi, author of Samurai from Outer Space: Understanding Japanese Animation, the questioning of Kanji's sexuality in the script is a "comment on homosexuality in a greater Japanese social context," in which "the notion of 'coming out' is seen as undesirable ... as it necessarily involves adopting a confrontational stance against mainstream lifestyles and values".[10] Brenda Brathwaite, author of Sex in Video Games, thought it "would have been amazing if they would have made a concrete statement that [Kanji] is gay", but was otherwise "thrilled" with the treatment of the character and the game's representation of his "inner struggles and interactions with friends".[10] RPGFan had expressed hope that attention be given on the localization effort as "homosexuals could certainly take issue with the manner in which they are represented".[91]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Anderson, Lark (2008-12-10). Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 Review. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2009-06-07.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Vinson, Dana (2008-12-12). Persona 4 Review. G4. Retrieved on 2008-12-14.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Haynes, Jeff (2008-12-09). Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2009-02-25.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 North American instruction manual. Atlus U.S.A, Inc.. 2008. p. 5-28 (5-7, 10-11, 14-15, 19, 23, 25, 28). SLUS-21782B. 
  5. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. (December 9, 2008) "Dojima: We haven't found the cause of death for the first vic[tim], and now we've found a second one just like it…"
  6. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. Level/area: Junes - Food Court. (December 9, 2008) "Chie: You're supposed to look into a TV that's switched off, alone, exactly at midnight on a rainy night. While you're staring at your own image, another person will appear on the screen. And they say that person's your soulmate."
  7. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. Level/area: TV World. (December 9, 2008) "Teddie: I know that if it's foggy on your side, the fog lifts here. It's really dangerous when the fog lifts. That's when the Shadows get violent…!"
  8. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. Level/area: TV World. (December 9, 2008)
  9. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. Level/area: Inaba - Yasogami High School Rooftop. (December 9, 2008) "Yosuke: This guy and me are gonna catch the culprit ourselves! The police are out of their league in this case, but we've got Personas. / Chie: I'm helping out too! I can't believe someone would throw people into a place like that. I'm gonna sock whoever's doing this! / Yukiko: Let me help too. I want to know why this is happening…especially if someone hates me so much they want to kill me."
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Xu, Samantha (January 28, 2009). Opinion: Sexuality And Homophobia In Persona 4. Gamasutra. Retrieved on February 8, 2009.
  11. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. Level/area: Inaba. (December 9, 2008)
  12. 12.0 12.1 Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. Level/area: Inaba - Junes Food Court. (December 9, 2008) "Naoto: My sex doesn't fit my ideal image of a detective… Besides, the police department is a male-oriented society. If they had the slightest "concrete" reason to look down on me, no one would need me anymore."
  13. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. Level/area: Dojima residence. (December 9, 2008) "Dojima: I guess until your parents get back next year, you're part of this household."
  14. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. Level/area: Yasogami High School - Ground Floor. (December 9, 2008) "Rumor-loving girl: She died the same way as the announcer, right? That's so creepy! / Girl's friend: Well, last time it was from an antenna, but this time she was hanging from a telephone pole. It's gotta be a serial murder case! [...] Oh, by the way, did you hear? Someone saw a girl who looked like Saki on that Midnight Channel thingie!"
  15. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. (December 9, 2008) "Teddie: I'll be waiting for you guys here. You need to come in from the same place every time. So we can meet up. [...] You could come in from somewhere else. But then you won't end up here. You could end up somewhere I can't get to you. Then, you'd be dooooomed… Got it!? / Yosuke: Well, pretty much. Now can you show us the way out? / Teddie: Roger that! One exit comin' right up!"
  16. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. Level/area: Junes - Food Court. (December 9, 2008) "Naoto: Mitsuo Kubo's only victim was Mr. Morooka. It was a copycat killing that mimicked the true culprit's method. / Yosuke: No wonder King Moron's murder broke the pattern in so many ways!"
  17. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. Level/area: Dojima residence. (December 9, 2008)
  18. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. Level/area: Inaba - Junes Food Court. (December 9, 2008) "Rise: Isn't that kinda odd? Would [someone who thinks he's saving people by killing them write stuff like "don't rescue" or] "kill"? […] / Kanji: Yeah…and the "will be put in and killed" part doesn't make sense, either. If the killer was writing it, wouldn't in be more like, "I'll put it and kill"?"
  19. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. Level/area: Inaba - [_] Hospital. (December 9, 2008) "Naoto: / Adachi: I have no idea what you're talking about… / Kanji: 'Cause we think…it might've been you. / Adachi: Wh-What?! That's ridiculous! We already know Namatame was the one who put 'em all in! [!'s go off above everyone's heads.] / Chie: [shocked] Wh-What did you just say…?!"
  20. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. Level/area: Dojima residence - Your Room. (December 9, 2008) "Narrative: The inside of your room is filled with fog... It's extremely foggy outside... […] Naoto: Th-The entire town... it's filled with Shadows... I can't...!"
  21. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. Level/area: TV World - Magato Inaba. (December 9, 2008) "Adachi: Honestly, we don't need our world anymore. Better to let it be swallowed up and for mankind to turn into Shadows. That's what all those people who are scared to death really want, so it's my duty to see that they get it. / Chie: Nobody wants anything like that! It's just you, dumbass! […] / Adachi: You annoying little brats are the ones who aren't wanted in the new world! / Yukiko: Speak for yourself!! Living is too painful for you, but you don't want to die… Of course no one would understand! It makes no sense! You're just throwing a tantrum like a kid who can't have his way!"
  22. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. Level/area: TV World - Magato Inaba. (December 9, 2008) "Ameno-sagiri: Mankind will soon become Shadows and live on in the darkness of the fog, oblivious of their reality…"
  23. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. Level/area: TV World - Magato Inaba. (December 9, 2008) "Ameno-sagiri: I see… Your powers are strong. Power comes from the heart… You have proven to me human potential… Very well. I will lift the fog from the place where you will return to."
  24. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. (December 9, 2008) "Adachi: Get outta here… The Shadows will finish me off… Just leave me be… You came to kill me in the first place… didn't you…? / Kanji: No, dumbass. / Yosuke: If we leave you here dying…and a dead body eventually appears, then what? What's that accomplish for anyone…? Your stupid game's over. We're taking you back. Live and face your punishment… That's how it works in our world."
  25. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. Level/area: Junes - Food Court. (December 9, 2008)
  26. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. Level/area: Inaba - Shopping District. (December 9, 2008) "Yosuke: You're saying this so-called Izanami is the conductor, and she's waiting for us in the other world? [...] / Yukiko: Right! We'll defeat her and put an end to this for sure this time! / Chie: Alright, then once we're all ready, let's meet up at Junes!"
  27. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. Level/area: TV World - ???. (December 9, 2008) "Izanami: Everything was for your sake... to create the world mankind so wanted. Man struggles to understand one another. You can only truly know a finite number of people within your lifetime. But humans disregard this fact and try to know more people than is possible. Only by comparing yourself to others can you define yourselves. Thus your ever-present anxiety. Your anxiety causes you to see only what you want to see, and believe only what you wish to believe. As I said, your desire is for a world enshrouded in fog!"
  28. Atlus. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. (Atlus). PlayStation 2. Level/area: TV World - ???. (December 9, 2008) "Narrative: The hearts of those you formed the deepest bonds with become your strength... Izanagi has transfigured into Izanagi-no-Okami!"
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