Okay, this game IS addictive.
When a friend mentioned this game, I went onto YouTube to suss it out but, for some strange reasons, I thought it was a fight game a la Tekken (or even Dissidia); but it turns out to be a JRPG (with a bit of Sims thrown in) which is just great, Great, GREAT!
Persona 4: the Golden (or just Persona 4: Golden) is a remake (of Persona 4 for PS2/3 I think) now for PSVita. I got the Chinese/Korean version with original Japanese voice acting (Yeahh!!); though the strange thing is in order to activate the Chinese, I had to switch the PSVita language settings to Chinese altogether. Am I glad I learnt the language as a kid?!?
The graphics, colours and animation are just Stunning. But that is just on the surface. What really appears to me is the story, that goofy humour (not unlike Disgaea 3) and depth of gameplay that lie underneath. PG4 is told through the (silent) teenage protagonist who has to move from the city to the countryside to live with his detective uncle and young niece. He also has to move to a new school but making new friends is the least of his problems when people mysteriously disappear and murdered in the small town. MC also meets a host of characters -- some fun but some really weird -- who will help him unravel the half murder/half horror mystery.
"Persona" actually refers to our "other/darker self", which in this game, takes on a somewhat supernatural manifestation (they are a bit like monster summons in other RPG games like in the Final Fantasy series). While the physical human forms wield weapons, the personas possess all sorts of other powers to attack, buff and debuff. The gameplay/mechanics itself is turn-based but battles move really, really quickly. Unlike most RPG, levelling up doesn't so much rely on upgrading weapons and gears but MC staying intelligent, strong, sociable, determined etc. through "social links" or interaction with other characters and his environment. So he needs to attend school just like all teenagers and take classes and exams (so far, my MC is not top of the class but neither is he a dumbo).
So the idea is that the more he talks to other characters (to get their background stories), the stronger he and his various personas become. The game is, therefore, very dialogue heavy but the translation works very well and it really is just like reading a graphics novel, with battles and tough bonus bosses thrown in for good measure. The individual stories are actually quite adult with themes such as single-parenthood, sexuality/sexual preferences, self doubts/adolescence and death.
The game has many endings apparently so I'm playing carefully not to get the Bad Ending (!!!) The cast of characters (including Kuma, a weird-looking "teddy bear" that has nothing inside its head) is really lovable ... and I'm glad the first playthrough will take about 100 hours. Then there is the NG+, which I cannot wait to unlock.
On with the grinding!!!