Persona 4 for Playstation 2.

Persona 4

In a year dominated by ‘Next Gen’ hardware, a lowly little RPG on the nearly dead Playstation 2 came along and stole the award out from under them. Proving that shiny graphics and heavy tech aren’t always necessary to create a dynamic narrative, Persona 4 took everything that made its predecessor great (my personal favourite game from 2007, and one of my favourite games of all time) and improved it in the subtle ways that count.

Unlike most RPGs, Persona 4 thrusts the player not into a cliche medieval/futuristic world, but rather into a rural Japanese town. The nameless protagonist, though young, then has to deal with the social aspects of life as he battles through both dungeons (created by the personality flaws of the people he meets) and the halls (and twisting social structure) of high school. Even as someone long removed from high school (well, several years, at least), the unique style of the narrative and the deft handling of the social aspects drew me right into the story and the small setting it takes place in.

What drives Persona 4 home, just like the previous entries in the trilogy, are the characters and the interactions between them. When I first started Persona 4, I wasn’t sure how I would like the new characters, considering how attached I had become to those of the previous game, only a few hours in all of my fears were washed away. The top notch character interaction is improved, the characters are just as relateable (if not more so) and the gameplay systems driving the social interaction elements is buttery smooth.

Everything I loved about Persona 3 is back again in finer form and I couldn’t be happier to declare Persona 4 as my personal Game of the Year.


Fallout 3
Xbox360/Playstation 3/PC
   A fantastic follow-up to two classic PC games.

Chrono Trigger DS
Nintendo DS
   My favourite game of all time, in portable form, with added stuff. Damn.

Persona 3: FES
Playstation 2
   Like Chrono Trigger DS, this takes a classic RPG and makes it better.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village
Nintendo DS
   A charming romp with a gorgeous art style.

Boom Blox
Nintendo Wii
   An ugly puzzle game from Steven Spielberg that just somehow works.

What was your favourite game to come out this year? What game not on my list should I try to get my hands on?

  • edifanob December 31, 2008 at 4:22 am

    Your choice didn’t surprise me. I’m still thinking whether to buy Persona 3 or not. There is one big concern: I don’t know when to play.

    Today is the last day of 2008. So I starting to think of some intentions for 2009. I think one will be to buy Persona 3 and find time to play the game.

  • Tia January 1, 2009 at 5:17 am

    The game sounds great and I’ve been trying to find a good RPG for either the Playstation 2 or the Wii. However, I’m just not interested in a game that forces you behind the eyeballs of a male character. Girls are so neglected in the RPG game world!

  • Adam Whitehead January 1, 2009 at 5:17 am

    I believe that the PS2 is still (narrowly) outselling the PS3, so I’m not sure about the ‘nearly dead’ thing. In fact, compared to the same situation last gen (two years after the PS2’s launch the PS1 had disappeared almost completely), Sony appear to be in real trouble with the PS3 due to the lack of any killer exclusive games for it (even the enjoyable LittleBigPlanet seems to have under-performed saleswise versus its expectations).

    This was my worst year in some time for staying up to date with games releases. Fallout 3 and Witch Enhanced Edition would probably be my two picks for the year. Looking forward to Dragon Age, Empire: Total War and StarCraft 2 in 2009.

  • Adam Whitehead January 1, 2009 at 5:19 am

    That’s WitchER Enhanced Edition, obviously ;-)

    “Girls are so neglected in the RPG game world!”

    I was surprised to find out that FF13 is the first game in the series to feature a female central character. I think it’s a J-RPG versus a Western RPG thing. In JRPGS you usually play a set character, who for whatever reason is almost always male, and in WRPGs you can usually create your own character. I went through Mass Effect with a female central character for variety’s sake and found the game to work really well with that approach.

  • aidan January 1, 2009 at 8:32 pm


    Persona 4 has a male protagonist, but frankly it’s the secondary characters that help the story and game excel. On top of this, Persona 4 (and 3, for that matter) has some of the most well drawn female characters in the videogame world. The girls are far from damsels in distress, certainly don’t get by on their breast size alone and hold their own against the strongest of the male characters in the game.

    As a female gamer, I think you’ll find a lot to love in Persona 4.


    In November (the most important month in terms of Videogame sales, with most of the major releases coming at that time) the PS3 outsold the PS2 by 172k units (378k vs 206k, respectively) and when compared to sales of the Xbox360 (836k) and the Wii (2.04m) [Source], those numbers in general are looking pretty weak.

    Despite any sales numbers from current months, the PS2 still has a broader installed base than any other active console out there, but the game releases are simply drying up. There’s a fantastic catalogue out there, but when talking about Game of the Year, the PS2 can’t really compete against the big boys in number of releases (most of which are simple shovelware or down-ports). Because of it’s installed base, the PS2 should still be a player in the game, but Sony’s spent all of its limpid attempts at invigorating the market in the PS3’s basket.

    Still it’s nice to see releases like Persona 4 and Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories keeping the ‘Little Machine that Could’ ticking.

    The Witcher is one of those games that I’ve been itching to play, but my computer just can’t handle it. Certainly will be one of the first that I tackle when I buy a new computer later this year (hopefully!).

    I find myself often making a female character in most WRPGs, often to mixed results. In Fable II I went with a female lead and loved the experience, while in Fallout 3 I felt like I would have prefered to have played as a male. I’ve heard excellent things about Jennifer Hale’s portrayal of the female version of Commander Shepard in Mass Effect.

  • Scott January 4, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    A DS player, eh?

    The World Ends With You is a game the you should most certainly check out.

    Side note on the Witcher…its coming to the 360 later this year. Prolly around the 3rd quarter…so far by all accounts its looking like it will be pretty good too. Its not just a port…but a whole new living breathing rendition designed solely for a console gamer to enjoy.

  • […] can find my favourite games of 2008 HERE. So, after my decidedly retro list, what are some of your favourite games released in […]