Friday 29 April 2016

A Persona 3 vs Persona 4 Comparison for the Persona 4 Golden Fan

A majority of the cast of Persona 3 and 4 (and some other characters too) together in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
When I finished Persona 4 Golden, I was sure there was no other game in the world that was as deep, as engaging and as involved as it was. Little did I know, Persona had plenty more to offer and the series was already highly successful after Persona 3. Persona 4 Arena had introduced me to the characters of Persona 3 and since I wanted more Persona in my life, after starting the game, getting distracted by other games and then starting again, I decided to finally commit to Persona 3 to learn more about the series and honestly, in the hopes finding another game that would become high in my favourites list.

The mechanics of Persona 3 were easy enough to pick up, but I quickly noticed a different feeling in Persona 3. I definitely think both games I good, but I found I definitely had a favourite out of the two games. For anyone interested, but specifically for those who were like me and may be thinking about trying Persona 3 because of Persona 4 Golden, here is a friendly comparison between Persona 3 and 4.

Note: Since I've played Persona 4 Golden and Persona 3 FES, this article is purely based on them and not the very first PS2 releases of the games.

Story and Tone

The tone of Persona 3 and Persona 4 is probably what differentiates the two games the most. One of the main things that drew me to Persona 4 Golden was it's bright exterior and positive feeling I felt from it's music and visuals, which looked so exciting and fun that I decided I needed a Vita to try this game. Persona 4 Golden has it's own dark themes, but there's always an upbeat outlook to things that I really connected with while playing.

While I didn't play Persona 3 because of it's trailer, it's easy to see that the trailer of Persona 3 is a bit darker, feature more blood and fighting scenes in the trailer. Of course, when next to a game that uses a bunch of bright neon colours like Persona 4 Golden, Persona 3's blue colour palette will naturally seem darker, but I can confirm that throughout Persona 3's story, I've definitely felt a somewhat sadder feeling. Both games feature the theme of loss as a story theme at points, but it's much stronger in Persona 3 and therefore the overall tone of it is darker. Both games also feature a lot of humourous and light-hearted moments, but with less loss and death evident in Persona 4, it feels very different.

Personally, when it comes to the two games, I much preferred Persona 4 Golden's story. Possibly because the game keeps a more upbeat tone most of the time, dark moments in the story felt deeper to me and hit me harder. In Persona 3, the story is definitely compelling as well, but the characters seem to go through hardship after hardship, so the feeling of contrast and surprise isn't as distinct. Both stories are extremely interesting and worth playing though and I think people's feelings on which story they prefer will probably stem from if they generally prefer a darker or more positive story.

Characters and Social Links

With Social Links as one of the most important gameplay mechanics of Persona games, good characters are an essential part of the mix and thankfully Persona 3 and 4 have these in spades. All characters are based off the same types, the Persona Arcana cards, so there are definitely some similarities between characters but all have their own unique stories to tell. The purpose of the Social Links is mainly to improve your relationship with each Arcana to unlock the most powerful Persona from that Arcana, but each Social Link adds it's own bit of depth to the story because it helps the player understand where the characters are coming from.

Persona 3 was actually the first Persona game to feature Social Links, a fact that surprised me considering how vital they are to Persona 4 Golden. Persona 4 Golden's Social Links definitely improve on what was done in Persona 3, adding more voice acting, longer cutscenes and player choice. Also when related back to the tone of each game, Persona 3's Social Links are again centered around loss and a lot of hardships, although it's also apart of the game where softer and light-hearted sides of characters are seen a bit more too. Since Persona 4 Golden is more about finding inner strength, the characters deal with a bigger variety of struggles and I just found that generally more interesting and relatable, so I felt more of a connection with the characters in Persona 4 Golden than I did in Persona 3.

Dungeons and Battles

The base mechanics of Persona 3 and 4's dungeons are the same, but the execution makes certain parts feel quite different. In both Persona 3 and 4, each dungeon section features climbing a bunch of floors and then fighting a sub-boss. Persona 3 doesn't usually have any main bosses inside it's dungeons because it saves them for the full Moon, whereas the goal in Persona 4 Golden is to get to the top of the dungeon in order to fight the boss and save whoever is stuck inside the TV world.

What's interesting about the difference between Persona 3 and 4 is that you must complete Persona 4 Golden's dungeons otherwise it's a one-way ticket to game-over town. In Persona 3, if you don't play through the dungeons, the only real consequence is being highly under-leveled for bosses or having a lot to do towards the end of the game. This is one of the reasons I actually preferred Persona 3's dungeons. Dungeons in Persona games are not short, so having them be more optional was something I definitely appreciated. I could choose to either have a challenging boss battle and higher stats or slowly building my stats and beating bosses easily. Grinding your characters stats is an important part of Persona as well, so feeling like I had more of an option to not to grind at every possible time was a good way to avoid getting fatigued and bored of the slightly repetitive dungeon areas, especially considering how much there is to do in Persona games anyway.

Persona 3 also has a few extra mechanics in it that makes overly easy dungeon levels, like being able to split your team up to explore a floor or fight enemies and having enemies who are clearly a much lower level than your party be easier to critically hit. I don't know why these features weren't added in Persona 4 and Persona 4 Golden as I really enjoyed using them in Persona 3 to make my dungeon time easier. However Persona 4 Golden does feature the benefit of your characters not getting tired, meaning you can crank out a dungeon in one in-game afternoon and then be free to Social Link. Both have their pros, but I liked the extra functionality of Persona 3's dungeons.


I'm getting close to the end of Persona 3 and while I'm enjoy the experience, it reminds why Persona 4 Golden was such a special game to me with it's positive outlook and it's emotional depth. I do enjoy that they're both different though, as it makes going back to playing Persona 3 FES as a PS2 Classic much more interesting and as much as I love Persona 4 Golden, 300 hours was a good amount. Playing both of these games and seeing their differences also makes me curious as to what will be different in Persona 5. With it's red theme and dark first trailer, I wonder if the game will lean darker or more positive in tone, or even somewhere in the middle. Only time will tell, but for now, Persona 4 Golden definitely still holds a very special place in my gaming heart.

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What's your favourite Persona game - is it 3 or 4? Do you think Persona 5 will have a dark or light-hearted story (or something completely different)?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit us me up on the JRPG Jungle Facebook page and let's talk!

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Friday 22 April 2016

JRPG Appreciation Post: Final Fantasy X-2's Unique Soundtrack

Music takes an interesting, more dominant role in Final Fantasy X-2. With Yuna now somewhat famous after the events of Final Fantasy X, she seems to be a pop star figure in of sorts, especially if we're judging from the game's opening cutscene where she's singing and dancing to a pop song. Much like the different tones in their opening movies, Final Fantasy X's more sentimental feeling is replaced in X-2 with a mix of mostly fun upbeat funk, rock and pop pieces, but also a wider exploration of genres when needed for more humourous and dark scenes that are quite different to what was heard in X. The composer for X-2 isn't the same composer as Final Fantasy X and doesn't feature any compositions from Nobuo Uematsu, Final Fantasy's regular composer, which could have a lot to do with the different feeling of the music in X-2. While I'm a big fan of music from other Final Fantasy games and Uematsu's music, when X-2's is placed aside other Final Fantasy soundtracks (which I noticed during the recent Final Fantasy Record Keeper FFX-2 event), it's almost refreshing how different it is. Although it's not my favourite Final Fantasy soundtrack of all time, it's probably the most unique Final Fantasy soundtrack and it creates it's own sound while also balancing the Final Fantasy feeling from other soundtracks.

Real Emotion

Contrasting Final Fantasy X's emotional opening track To Zanarkand is X-2's Real Emotion, a pumping pop track full of all the catchy hooks you'd expect from a chart hit, a music video like feel and a dancing Yuna. Much like how To Zanarkand set the tone for the journey ahead in Final Fantasy X, Real Emotion does the same for X-2. The music sets the lighter tone for the game, while the lyrics of the song are a good indication of how the current Yuna feels two years of from her last journey. This opening is rather strange for a Final Fantasy game, but it's fitting for the fun filled journey ahead and for fellow fans of pop music, I'm sure the pop number was a welcomed way to open the sequel.

Battle Theme

When playing Final Fantasy Record Keeper during the Final Fantasy X-2 event, I immediately noticed how different X-2's battle theme was from every other Final Fantasy battle theme. Instead of using a string section as the main instrument of the track, it's replaced by an electric guitar solo-ing like crazy. Another instrument that stands out in the track when compared to other Final Fantasy games before X is the use of an electric drum, which makes the track sound more modern rather than orchestral. The track still uses an orchestra, but mostly for support, but I'm glad it does as it's what makes the track maintain it's Final Fantasy feel.

1000 Words
I was obsessed with Final Fantasy X-2's main ballad 1000 Words when I played the game for the first time and I still think it's a beautiful song. Because one of the game's themes is music and singing, it's no surprise this scene and song together create one of the most powerful moments in the game. Other than the stunning cutscene that plays along with the song, the song is truly made powerful by the lyrics and the amazing performances from Jade from Sweetbox for the English version and Koda Kumi for the Japanese version, with both woman belting out this track with the right amazing of emotion. If you pay attention to the lyrics of the song, it sums up the story of Final Fantasy X and X-2 really well, so when you finish the game and hear the orchestral version playing while the credits are rolling, it's a perfect way to end the series.

Exploration of Genres and Styles

While most of the main pieces in Final Fantasy X-2 are on the fun, rock-pop side, for moments like boss battles and enemy encounters, the music is chosen very well to fit the situation. If it's an encounter with a cheeky boss, an exotic Eastern style is used (such as Anything Goes For Leblanc!). If the crew are on their way down into a dungeon, a very dark orchestral piece is well (such as Bevelle's Secrets). If the story is exploring Yuna's softer side, a beautiful piano piece is used (like Yuna's Ballad, one of my personal favourite tracks from FFX-2). The best part is that the music is so appropriate for each situation, which is important since X-2's dialogue is fairly light-hearted most of the time. The music never fails at giving the right tone to show how the characters may really be feeling or at least how the player should feel.


Which is your favourite track from Final Fantasy X-2? Which JRPG do you think has the most unique soundtrack?
Leave a comment below or send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle and let's talk!

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Friday 15 April 2016

A Random Rant About Gameplay Time and Quality

Yesterday it was my day off. I played 4 hours of Persona 3 according to my game count.
Except I didn't.

Yesterday I played Hearthstone, read the Walking Dead comic, bought a DSi and some Pokemon games for it, went for a walk in the park, had multiple convenience store runs, did a bunch of chores....

I probably played an hour of Persona 3. Two if we're being generous.

This happens to me a lot, not just with Persona games, but with every console game I play. I look at my game counts and I feel like I really should be finished by now. Then I look at How Long To Beat and feel like this even more. It makes me question my gaming ability because it makes me think I'm taking too long because I'm bad at the game. It makes me question whether it's me or the clock or the fact I leave my console on way too much while I'm running errands. It's most likely the latter, but it's still something that has bugged me for awhile.

It's weird thing to write about, but I've been noticing this since last year I got back into playing games on home consoles. When I play with portable consoles such as my PS Vita, I can see exactly how much I played because if I need to do something or I get distracted, I can just lock my Vita and come back, meaning my game count remains pretty much 100% accurate. If I walk away, pause or anything while playing a home console, the clock keeps ticking as if I'm intently sitting at my TV creating strategies when in fact I'm probably on the phone or texting or just doing something else. All these times add up to make my game count seem highly inflated at points.

I am realistic about this problem though. I don't expect developers to spend time inventing a system that can tell the difference between idle gameplay time and actual gameplay time. I'd definitely love them to keep making the actual game as great as possible, so great that I forget the clock exists. And that's just it. From thinking about this more intently than I should've, the biggest thing I've learnt is that as soon as I google How Long To Beat for a game, I'm running out of enthusiasm for it.

I once played Persona 4 Golden for 8 months and platinumed it because I didn't want to leave that world yet and didn't pay attention to the clock until it was done (300+ hours by the way). If you play JRPGs, you know they're long and you go in expecting them to be long, but when a game's got it's hooks into me so deeply that I don't care how long it is and what game trailer or game in my backlog I could be playing instead, it's a true winner for me. My favourite time of looking at the time played is when you see the hundreds of hours sunk into the game and you feel a weird sense of pride because you were having so much fun. I want to feel as much of that as possible. This article doesn't have a lot of point other than serving as a reminder to myself and others that as much as I'd like to play and clock every JRPG ever because I love the genre so much, that quality is more important than wasting my own (and your) time playing a sub-par game or a game that's much for me. It's hard to manage this sentiment with my completionist tendencies, but it's something I think is important enough to keep in mind.


What game took you too long to beat? What's the longest time you've spent in a game?
Leave a comment below or send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle and let's talk!

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Friday 8 April 2016

Review: Platinum Demo - Final Fantasy XV

Final Fantasy XV has got a lot of expectations to live up to. It's been floating around for almost 10 years, beginning as Final Fantasy Versus XIII and resurfacing at E3 a few years ago as Final Fantasy XV. For almost 10 years, myself and others have been waiting to find out when it'll be out, what it'll be and will it be better than more recent Final Fantasy games that a lot of fans didn't enjoy so much. Despite this, I walked into Platinum Demo: Final Fantasy XV with leftover hype and positive expectations for the game following the Final Fantasy XV Uncovered event. The demo is only 20-30 minutes long, but it's a good teaser for the full game, showcasing some of what's to be expected from the game's combat, boss battles and interactive worlds.

Platinum Demo is a standalone story that won't be featured in Final Fantasy XV. It looks into a dream from Noctis' childhood where small Noctis is led through the game by Carbuncle, an adorable rabbit like creature that's featured in other Final Fantasy games. The goal of the demo is to get Noctis to awaken from the deep sleep he's in, so he must explore and survive this dream world in order to wake up. While there isn't any significant detail given to Noctis' character, the dream world is so incredibly stunning and the experience of just playing the game is good enough that it isn't really needed.

From the start menu to the landscapes, every character, every area and every gem is stunning in Platinum Demo. Maybe it's because I've been playing a PS2 classic recently, but I swear it's the most stunning game I've seen on my HD monitor. It's beauty makes exploring the world enjoyable from the get-go and each time a new area was unveiled, I wanted to explore all of it just to see how pretty everything was. Collecting gems from around the area have the ability to unlock coloured plates scattered around the world. These plates can do things such as change the weather or time of day, give gifts or change Noctis into something new. Because of how beautiful everything was, even being able to see the landscape go from Day to Night or from Sunny to Rainy was a little exciting, especially knowing the final game will feature these things in even bigger open world environments.

Aside from exploring the world, one of the most exciting things about Platinum Demo is finally being able to see the combat. Since I didn't play the Episode Duscue demo, I was most keen to see what kind of creatures and battle system would be used in Final Fantasy XV. Without separate screens for battles, battles are now completely active, which isn't a surprise considering more recent Final Fantasy games have been adopting versions of this style. Much like in Final Fantasy XIV or Kingdom Hearts, when you get close enough to an enemy, battle begins and enemies will begin to attack you. In this demo, you have the choice of a sword or a hammer as your main battle weapons, along with some magic items you can find as presents. Thanks to the active element of the battle, a little more skill is required now with locking onto enemies and aiming spells accurately as an important part of battle. Since these controlled similarly to Kingdom Hearts, I was able to pick this up quick enough thankfully, but this may be a surprise to some players. Another thing I really liked was the way it incorporated timed-battle buttons during the boss battle. At one point the boss was about to hit me, but I had the option of parrying his hit and making a counter attack if my thumbs were quick enough (they weren't). This reminded me of Final Fantasy XIII-2's version of this, but much better as it was apart of battle and could be used as a way to get an edge on an enemy for particularly sharp players. Even though I'm usually a fan of turn-based battle systems, I felt like Platinum Demo's combat was a breath of fresh air from previous games thanks to the way it required more skill and thinking on my feet.

I mentioned a little the Kingdom Hearts feel of the combat, but there are shades of Kingdom Hearts throughout Platinum Demo in more ways then one, perhaps due to how young Noctis is in this game. The second area available to explore has Noctis as a shrunk down version of himself, very reminiscent of the Alice in Wonderland world of Kingdom Hearts, the music is done by the composer who also composed for Kingdom Hearts and even the way Noctis wields a sword reminded me a bit of Sora from Kingdom Hearts with his keyblade. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it was a little surprising. I didn't mind it in some senses as it made the battle system feel more familiar, but I do hope that when Final Fantasy XV is released, Noctis being an adult feels like a more original character.

Like a good bite-sized experience, Platinum Demo: Final Fantasy XV left me wanting more with it's brief teasers of what will be seen in the full game of Final Fantasy XV. While it doesn't feature a deep story or a lot to do, just seeing the stunning visuals, fighting enemies big and small and collecting gems was a nice introduction to what the game will feature. Whether or not the actual game lives up to the positive impression left from this demo and Final Fantasy XV Uncovered, I can say this demo has me excited and intrigued about what's to come, with plenty revealed in the demo but with plenty of mysteries still in tact.

Score: 8.3/10
Finding different things on my three playthroughs was really fun and was a good teaser for what's to come and everything about it was stunningly beautiful!

You can pre-order Final Fantasy XV from now!
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What did you think of Platinum Demo: Final Fantasy XV? What did you name your Carbuncle?
Leave a comment below or send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle and let's talk!

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Make sure to follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter for updates on content and random, shorter musings on JRPG news and games. You're awesome! <3

Friday 1 April 2016

5 JRPGs I Should've Really Played By Now

It honestly wasn't until I finished Persona 4 Golden that I understood I wasn't just a fan of weird Final Fantasy games, I understood there was entire genre of these Japanese Role-Playing Games I loved, I just hadn't been paying enough attention to them. I love this genre enough now to talk about it as much as possible, but there's a catalog of classic JRPGs and highly relevant series that I haven't touched yet. I always intend to get back to them, but it's not that simple sometimes because of life getting in the way and the sheer length of a JRPG, not to mention keeping up with the franchises I already love and want to continue playing. It's hard to balance both. So, as a reminder to myself of my backlog of shame, here's 5 JRPG games I definitely should've played by now and hope to play sometime soon.

Tales of... Series

The Tales of series is one of the biggest JRPG series at the moment, both in popularity and series entries, with 16 main entries in the series and no sign of stopping. I used to see Tales of Graces f in the discounted PS3 games section of my local game store and thought it looked interesting and pretty, but I never really went beyond just looking at it until games media sites like IGN started hyping Tales of Xillia. Now I own a few Tales titles, including Tales of Xillia 1 and 2, Tales of Zestiria and Tales of Graces, but I don't really know when I'm going to play them as of yet. I love a great story and the Tales of series is known for having great stories, so it's something I should probably try more of. I have tried Tales of Xillia, but I didn't finish it because I started another playing another game. It'll probably be the first one I try to concur and I hope that sparks a big love of the series that'll make me play the ones I own.

Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger is legendary in the world of JRPGs, so having not played it yet almost feels like a sin against my love of JRPGs. I was pretty damn young when Chrono Trigger was out, so I missed it but it's one of those must play JRPGs as it was revolutionary for it's time and has definitely had an effect on JRPGs now. With time travel and multiple endings being featured in the story, since these are some favourite features and kinds of story, I'm sure I'll enjoy it, dated graphics and all.

Suikoden Series

Yet another series I became intrigued about due to many people on Twitter and in games media being hardcore advocates for the game. It was people like them that are the reason I signed the petition to bring Suikoden to the PSN. The petition was a great sucess, with Suikoden 1-3 now in the PSN store. I bought Suikoden 1 from the PSN, so it's sitting in my backlog waiting to be played. I hear the story is incredibly touching and if the trailers anything to go off, it looks like an intriguing game that's been loved for a reason.

Wild Arms Series

Wild Arms is yet another legendary series I hear so many good things about, but I have mixed feelings about playing it. It's meant to be one of the best JRPGs of all time, but I've never been interested in Wild West themes in movies or games and that's one of the premises for this story. However, I've also never played a JRPG with a Wild West theme so maybe I'm missing something and I just don't know it yet. With a mix of puzzles and JRPG mechanics, it's probably worth checking out as an education on the JRPG genre, but if anyone could sell this to me in the comments, please do!

Dragon Quest

I used to not want to play Dragon Quest, purely because it was once Final Fantasy's rival, but nowadays I really don't think that's a reason to not play something! A lot of the games mentioned in this article are ones I'm curious about because of what other people have said and while many people say nice things about Dragon Quest, I'm mostly listing it here because of my own interest. For starters, turn-based battles and hero saves the medieval looking town is one of my favourites, even if it's a bit cliché. It looks like Dragon Age does this in it's own way, with cool cartoon monsters and characters. Also the interesting things being done to the series such as Dragon Quest: Builders show that the creators of Dragon Quest are paying attention to what's going on in the world of gaming, but it's a series that seems more faithful to it's roots than Final Fantasy. It's hard to know where to start with a series like Dragon Quest, so perhaps I'll wait till the next one!

Which of these games should I play most? What's a JRPG you wish you'd played by now?
Leave a comment below or send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle and let's talk!

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Make sure to follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter for updates on content and random, shorter musings on JRPG news and games. You're awesome! <3

All of the photos used in this article are not my own and are property of their respective creators and companies