Persona 4 Golden is an enhanced version of the original Atlus PlayStation 2 game for the PlayStation Vita. Many new additions and changes have been made to the game as well as modifications to incorporate PS Vita capabilities such as touch and wireless networking. Released June 14th in Japan, and at Tokyo Game Show 2012 Atlus officially announced a November 20th release date for North America and a European release of Spring 2013 where it will be published by NIS. Originally conceived as a PlayStation Portable game, development of Golden was moved to the Vita in order to avoid the constraints placed on the development of Persona 3 Portable.
Unlike Persona 3 Portable, the game does not feature the option to play as a female protagonist. The presentation is, at minimum, on par with that of the original PlayStation 2 game; the resolution has been bumped up, textures have been redone and it is now presented in the 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. Presentation elements were not stripped out. It contains all of the elements of the original release, plus additional content.
The majority of the English cast from the PS2 version of Persona 4 are reprising their roles for Golden. However, Tracey Rooney, the original English voice of Chie Satonaka, and Dave Wittenberg, the original English voice of Teddie, were not retained for the Vita version for reasons Atlus has not disclosed publicly. Supposedly, the original voice actress for Chie has retired from voice acting. Both roles are being entirely re-voiced with new voice over artists; Erin Fitzgerald now voices Chie, and Sam Riegel is the new voice of Teddie. Both new actors also voice their respective characters in Persona 4 Arena and Persona 4: The Animation.
New Content and Differences
Social & World
Social Link Changes
- An all-new Social Link character named Marie, of the Aeon arcana.
- A new Social Link with Tohru Adachi, of the Jester arcana.
- When talking to an NPC with an available Social Link, you will be told whether or not you are close enough to rank up before you commit to spending time with them.
- Ranking up will confer bonus S. Link skills that can be learned, similar to Rise's skill progression in the original Persona 4. Now, something will happen after each rank obtained with the main cast.
- Upon completing certain requirements, the months of January and February are accessible for more socializing.
Dojima Residence Changes
- You are able to sneak out of the Dojima Residence at night whenever Ryotaro Dojima is not present; after getting a nighttime job, you may leave the house at will. During this time you may visit various locations in Inaba featuring new music, shops and NPCs.
- Players can grow plants with Nanako and/or her father in the garden next to the Dojima Residence. Maintaining the garden will increase your closeness to them, depending on who is at home.
- After gaining access to the garden an NPC will be available outside of the house; seedlings may be purchased from them in order to plant different vegetables.
- When reading books in your room you are now able to browse from your selection, as well as see how many chapters there are per book, what skills they raise and allow you to read whichever you want at any time. You gain no stat increases until you have finished the book, but you gain additional bonuses if you read while it is raining.
- You can now interact with the calendar in your room to view upcoming events.
- Players may now purchase items from Tanaka up through Wednesday.
- Some of the items available through Tanaka have been changed.
Central Shopping District Changes
- New books have been added to increase efficiency in jobs, studying, etc. Some old books have been renamed.
- The owner of the Chinese Diner Aiya will make references to his daughter, Aika Nakamura, a character created for Persona 4: The Animation.
- NPCs offering quests are now highlighted with a marked bubble above their head. In-progress quest bubbles are marked in a different colour.
- At night, the Shiroku Store becomes the Shiroku Pub.
- The shrine is now an accessible location, available during both night and day time. Courage is required to access at night.
- Fortune slips are available at the shrine, providing a Social Link boost to a character of the player's choice at the expense of passing time.
- The fishing mini game has been updated with a different catching mechanic.
- Instead of generic bait, bread crumbs and bugs are now used as bait. Additionally, before bait is used, the game will indicate what types of fish they will catch.
- The lady in front of the Dojima Residence will no longer offer bait.
- Failing to make lunch for school will no longer give bait.
- The old man by the Samegawa Riverbank will not trade items for fish, though he still needs to see a fish as part of the Hermit arcana Social Link.
- A lady will appear at the shrine and offer to trade gems for fish.
Other Miscellaneous Changes
- A bug catching mini game has been added.
- All school and test questions have been changed.
- Additional save prompts have been added between long story sequences, as well as breaks during the game's opening hours to use a save point.
- Players can now interact with the shelf in the main character's room, allowing control over what gets placed where. Additionally, constructed models may be viewed for closer inspection.
- Story sequences can now be sped through using the fast forward feature, speeding up animations and skipping through dialogue/text.
- There are two additional weather types. Thunderstorm and snow.
- You are reminded every day after school and every night when you return to the Dojima residence of your job if you can go to work that day. You receive separate prompts for each job available.
Dungeons, Combat & Persona
Dungeon Map Changes
- Rare monsters (gold hands) and rare chests are now more common.
- Once the stairs have been found, Teddie will let you warp to the next floor at any time by pressing the square button and selecting from the menu. Conversely, you may also warp to the previous floor.
- The Reaper may be fought on the first playthrough.
- Other party members will comment on the contents of a room when opening a door.
- Aside from story-related areas, floors are no longer remembered and now randomized each time you visit them even without leaving the TV World.
- Save points have been removed from the top floor of each dungeon.
- Roaming shadows have changed in appearance and consist only of the ground type.
Shuffle Time Changes
- Shuffle Time has been changed from a timing based mini-game to one where the player must select cards from a random selection. Not all cards offer positive effects. If all cards dealt are picked the player receives a sweep bonus which allows them to automatically receive shuffle time on their next battle, be able to pick three cards instead of one and for persona already owned to be turned in to a different card.
- Choosing sword cards during Shuffle Time will now give Skill Cards instead of weapons.
- Chest keys may be obtained through Shuffle Time.
- Increases to individual Persona stats can be gained by picking specific arcana cards.
- Green wand, blue cup, yellow coin and red sword cards return from Persona 3's Shuffle Time, missing from the PS2 incarnation of Persona 4.
- After choosing EXP or money related cards in Shuffle Time, the results screens will show how much the corresponding amounts increase or decrease.
- Status buffing skills can now be stacked to extend the time they remain on the character.
- Gems can be collected from enemies in dungeons and exchanged for rare and new weapons at the Shiroku Pub.
- Enemies and bosses' elemental weaknesses have been changed.
- Two additional difficulty levels have been added. A Very Easy difficulty setting that presents the player with an infinite number of retries after falling in battle and Very Hard which offers no retries.
- Upon death, the player may choose to start over on the floor they died on or return to the title screen. This is applicable only on the Easy, Normal and Hard difficulties.
- The ability to call in help from party members not in the active party, as well as more direct battle assistance from Rise Kujikawa.
- Certain party members have team up abilities that can trigger.
- New Personae have been added to the compendium along with two new arcanum, Aeon and Jester. Also, a number of existing Personae have switched arcana. For example, Sati has been changed from the Magician arcana to Aeon.
- You can now search for Persona fusion combinations in the Velvet Room. This will display all possible outcomes for fusion and allow you to create the Persona from that menu.
- Party members other than the main character now have access to a third tier Persona.
- Third tier Personae come with a character-specific ability.
- Party members no longer lose their weaknesses on evolution of their persona.
- Players can now choose skills to inherit during Persona fusion, rather than rely on random skill selection.
- Skill Cards can be collected that contain Persona skills. These can be registered and bought in the Velvet Room from Marie and used to teach a Persona a particular skill.
- Abilities earned through social links with party members have been altered. Instead of Rank 1 allowing them to take a blow for you in battle, party members will now pick up a knocked down ally.
- Icons have been added next to Persona in the fusing menu to signify whether or not they are already in the compendium, and whether or not the fusion forecast bonus will apply.
- Persona 4: Golden features wireless internet support, allowing players to send out Rescue Requests for the aid of others while in dungeons via the SOS feature. Upon entering the next battle a portion of HP and SP is restored in proportion to the number of players who responded to the SOS. Conversely, hitting the SOS button will also allow the player to send aid, displaying the recipient's protagonist name and PSN username in the process.
- In the Velvet Room, players may look over their Rescue Requests and set phrases for sending and requesting help. This is done via prefabricated words or phrases similar to Player Titles in Persona 4 Arena.
- When connected to the PlayStation Network, a blue chat bubble with the word VOICE will appear in the upper left corner. By touching this, it will enable the Vox Populi, a new system that displays the top five actions taken by other network-connected players during a specific portion of the day. You can also view the fusion choices made by players that day.
- PlayStation Trophies and syncing have been added.
- New anime cutscenes have been included.
- New and revised in-engine story events.
- The game features 1.5 times the voice-over of the PS2 version.
- Aspects of the translation and incidental monologue and dialogue have been changed or reworded.
- New music composed by Shoji Meguro, including a new opening theme and battle theme. The original battle theme, "Reach Out to the Truth" now only plays if the player is able to ambush enemies for the advantage.
- Environment and User Interface graphics have been updated.
- New artwork/animation has been added for the Intro video as well as the All-Out Attack.
- It is now possible for the characters to become licensed to use motor-scooters, which plays into some story elements and battle mechanics.
- New special story events are included, such as a Halloween event, a summer beach trip, and a winter ski trip.
- New features can be accessed on the TV, including anime clips, music, and a quiz show.
- Special outfits for the characters can be unlocked and worn in the dungeons to change the party's appearance. Costumes are equipped separately and do not affect stats, unlike Persona 3 Portable.
- The game is available on the PlayStation Network as a digital download, released at the same time and cost as the retail edition. The total size of the download is roughly 3.1 GB.
- Retailers offered a bonus Persona themed pre-order skin with copies of persona 4 which also came with a link to download 8 wallpapers for the Vita featuring the Persona 4 cast.
- Atlus revealed a Solid Gold Premium Edition of Persona 4: Golden that includes a copy of the game with slightly altered box art, Persona 4: Golden themed Hori hard pouch, Persona 4: Golden themed Hori face cover, Persona 4: Golden stickers and the protective Vita skin offered to regular pre-order customers. Only 10,000 were made. The accessories are the same ones available in Japan, as they sport the Japanese title, Persona 4: The Golden.
Sales and Reception
As of October 2012, Persona 4: Golden has sold 260,000 units in Japan.
At the time of its North American release in November 2012, Persona 4: Golden had the highest average review score out of any game released so far that year. By the end of the year, it was bested only by the full retail release of The Walking Dead: Season One.
For the most part, the soundtrack remains the same from Persona 4: Golden's predecessor, but new compositions were made to accompany the new settings, plot points, etc. None of the background music of the original game's content has been replaced, with the except of Shin Mitsuo Tensei, an 8-bit arrangement of the boss theme, which now plays over the final boss battle of the Void Quest dungeon.