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Persona 4: It's about time.

Currently playing through Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 on the PS2 for the first time. Still very early on in the game for me. Early impressions: *As the male protagonist, you begin life (and the game) as a new student at a new school. After the first day of class, two attractive female (and also main) characters volunteer to accompany you home. Damn, that has never happened to me in real life. *The inclusion of the Japanese honorifics key/legend/glossary thingy (ie, a definition of honorific endings such as "-san", "-sama", "-kun" etc.) in the instruction manual is a cute and functionally-essential maneuver on the part of both the designers and the localization team, I think. Where before, the tendency would have been to simply omit that dimension of linguistic politeness out of the game, the Persona series is so very rooted in the cultural paradigm of Japan that Newspeaking it out of the game is not only undesirable from a variety of perspectives, but also nigh impossible without rendering some damage to the beauty of the game world (in my opinion). *The character dialog is in and of itself sufficient for conveying the varying goals of the game at any given point, but P4 has a peculiar tendency to give a narrator-like summary of what just transpired, a kind of idiot-proofing, which is functionally-sound for those who prefer play over story, but somehow feels like more of a redundant obstacle than a facilitator. For example:

----CHIE: "We need to save Yukiko!"

----YOSUKE: "No doubt. Let's go right away!"

----((Narrator)): "You need to save Yukiko. You should go to Junes to do so."

----CHRIS: "I concur."

*Like Persona 3 before it, this game truly does feel authentically Japanese. In fact, after I moved back to Hawaii from Japan from 2009~2011, I would play Persona 3 whenever I felt too homesick for Japan, and that really did the trick.

About the Author

PhD Candidate in Japan, researching Narrative in Games. Responds favorably to Thrash Metal, Karaoke, and Dungeons & Dragons.

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