The first time I played Persona 4, I let myself drown in its emotional, dramatic, and wonderfully crafted world. Playing through it again on Sony’s PlayStation Vita via Persona 4 Golden, I did what any rationale and mature person would do: I abused the system’s screen-capture feature to post images of lines said out of context that could be giggled at for their sexual connotations.
Deadly Premonition stands as a fantastic example of Japanese gaming. On a purely technical level, the sandbox adventure of an FBI agent called to a small American town in order to investigate a bizarre murder often seems rough and quaint when compared to the mammoth open-world releases we’re used to from Western developers. And yet, what Deadly Premonition lacks in power it makes up for in charm. While some wrote it off, those who really gave a chance to the project Japanese creator Hidetaka “Swery” Suehiro poured his heart and soul into found a game overflowing with personality, attention to detail, interesting characters, and a style of storytelling that you won’t find coming from any other country.
When it came time to make up a “Best of 2011″ list at the end of last year, a little PSP horror game from Team GrisGris, 5pb, and XSEED called Corpse Party was my #2 game for the year. My #1 game was Dark Souls—a choice that really required little justification, even among those who chose something else for that particular spot. Putting Corpse Party at #2, however, seemed crazy to many. First of all, it was on the PSP—and wasn’t that thing dead? Second, it looked like something from the 16-bit era of gaming—and gameplay-wise, played like something even older. Plus, not only was it on the PSP, but it was a horror game on the PSP. Does that concept even work?
Shortly after arriving in Japan, a visitor finds a camera from an older era lying on the ground. Via that camera, we get a different look at some familiar features of the sprawling city known as Tokyo.
Normally, I sling a lot of criticism in the direction of Nintendo of America, and with good reason—their love for either being ridiculously late in releasing a game in the US, or not releasing the game at all, is legendary.
I would love to believe that the opening 30 to 45 minutes of gameplay in Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy was a carefully orchestrated plot, one conceived in some smoky Japanese bar one night when staff from both Square Enix and indieszero went out drinking together. The goal would be a scathing commentary on Japan’s RPG industry, and how—inexplicably—so many of its offering force players to sit through 5 to 10 hours of boredom in order to get to the “good stuff.”
Like previous portable Persona projects, Persona 4 Golden for Vita will offer up a new intro video to go along with the original PS2 intro. It’s colorful! It’s full of bikes! It’s got the characters doing some funky dances!
Ever since I was a child, I’ve had one particular dream that’s played out over and over again: my ability to fly. Each time, the pieces are different—different settings, different people, different sources of motivation—but the core component’s always the same: I know I have the ability to fly, I’ve just forgotten how to. At some point, that memory comes back to me, and moments later, I’m jetting myself through the sky to some new destination. At times, these dreams can be so utterly overwhelming and powerful that it’s hard for my subconscious self not to swear that I’ve always been meant to have that power of flight. For a brief sliver of time, my body’s as light as air—my battle over the forces of gravity won.
I went to Japan recently, and this is what I bought! Usually I just spend a lot of money on games, and come home with a bunch of stuff but kind of meh overall. This time, I bought things that were really fun and/or that I really wanted. I spent less, but felt far more satisfied with my purchases.
It was just shy of 1am when I finally finished Corpse Party—or, should I say, finished it with an ending I could be satisfied with, versus the one I had received a few hours earlier that left me starting over the game’s final chapter. Having put off a necessary trip to the supermarket in order to correct my prior mistakes, I let the credits play until their end and then rushed out to my car to brave nighttime L.A. for milk and bread.
As I sat there in the driver’s seat, guiding my car along the nearly deserted road that lead to my closest shopping option that was still open, my mind drifted back to the game. I thought about its characters—who they were, what they had experienced, what horrors they had endured in trying (and, for some, failing) to survive what the game had put them through. Or, more precisely, what I had been forced to put them through.
I then realized something—this small wave of panic and despair was welling in my chest, all for some characters in some video game.