-by Dylan DiBona
Welcome everybody to the first in a new series of blogs. PlayingWithEmotions is the flipside of PlayingWithThoughts; I’ll be delving into why a game was good to me emotionally rather than factually. Today we’ll be focusing on:
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4
I had experience with Persona 4 before this story. Quite frequently I get the urge to play a long JRPG, something turn based and with a good story. Unfortunately none can really hook me until the credits roll. I’ve tried them all; tons of Final Fantasies, Chrono Trigger and whatnot. Some of the most immersive JRPG’s I’ve played are the Four Fire Emblem games (Soon to be 5) on the 3DS. Being able to have private/optional conversations with my fellow warriors and even marry and have kids (and fighting alongside said kids) connected me to the games worlds and stories like none other. If a games characters and story is just as addicting as the actual gameplay, you know there’s something special there. When I heard that Persona 3 and 4 were quite similar, I was interested.
A little less than a year ago I picked up Persona 4 on the PS2 eager to dive into what I heard was a great murder mystery with cool characters.I was hooked from the first batch of dialogue and seconds of music I heard. Persona 4 had this magical effect on me where I could forget about the outside world and feel like I was a part of Inaba and their society. Yosuke, Chie, and Yukiko were my new best friends and things were great. While I love the turn based combat and elemental systems; the social aspect probably held my interest more. But unfortunately I’m not too good at keeping up with levels in JRPGS, I was underleveled and kept getting destroyed by the third boss. I quit.
After trying to grind some levels every now and then during a couple month period I finally beat the third boss and my interest was reborn. New friends were introduced with Kanji, a violent albeit kindhearted person and Rise, a potential love interest. Aside from trying to solve a murder case like some nighttime superheroes, we went to school, on field trips and hung out at the mall. It was awesome, but before I knew it the fourth boss came around and he was twice as hard as the third. For another five or so months I gave up on Persona 4.
Never Give Up:
But how could I give up on something that had me so emotionally attached? I simply had to keep going. I grinded a few levels and tried some new techniques and after losing another couple of times, I prevailed. The hijinks soon continued and the summer festival happened. Needless to say, laughs were had and smiles were born on my face multiple times.
Don’t take me as the crazy guy who easily gets attached to fictional characters; I don’t. In very few but powerful cases I will get emotionally invested to fake people.
You see, I’m not at the best time in my life. I took a break from school that’s lasting a bit longer than originally thought, and my store closed down for repairs so I’m out of a job. Frankly: I’m not doing anything of value in most peoples eyes. I don’t contribute to society and I feel guilty for that. My friends are all busy with school or work so I see them maybe twice a week. I think I got back into Persona 4 the third time because I needed to. I needed the virtual friends, family, hangouts, classes, jobs and purpose. Persona gave me a wonderful feeling of needing me. For the first time in years I couldn’t wait to flick that black switch in the back of my PS2 and hear that fan humming.
Ever since the original Pokemon aired on Cartoon Network I was intrigued by anime. Big worlds, expressive people and grand adventures juxtaposed with the staleness of reality. There came a point when I figured anime would stop growing up with me; there would always be cringe inducing moments, oversized breasts and dumb cliches. Even though I’m past my high school years, Persona proved me wrong in the sense that anime tropes can be intriguing even for older people (even though I’m not old at all). There are some serious matters discussed in Persona and that makes everything feel so much more real and at stake.
You’re not saving the world, you’re stopping a local serial killer. You’re not summoning giants monsters with MP, you’re facing your inner demons that manifest into Personas. It didn’t matter what path I took or boring after school job I signed up for; I was always meeting interesting people with their own lives and stories in Persona 4.
I guess what I’m trying to say is Persona 4 is a special game. We only have two games quite like this (3 and 4, with 5 on the horizon), so we need to cherish them. I still haven’t seen the credits roll on Inaba yet but I’m almost there and I know a part of me will be missing. But with Persona 5 looking even more promising, it’s time to embrace the exciting friendless of the Persona franchise.