Tag Archives: love

FGC #575 Big Bird’s Egg Catch

The giving birdAccording to contemporary evolutionary theory, our modern-day birds are direct descendants of dinosaurs. For the longest time, dinosaurs were assumed to merely be the big brothers to our current crop of not-so-terrible thunder lizards, but a recent spat of scientists being attacked by antagonistic pigeons has given rise to the theory that there is a direct link between your Jurassic Park’s raptors and… well… raptors. Huh. Maybe we should have been able to figure that one out earlier. But, regardless of whether or not the Dinosaucers should have had feathers, one thing is obvious: there is a clear and undeniable link between dinosaurs and birds.

So the link between Big Bird and Barney the Dinosaur is just a matter of evolution, right? Two beloved childhood stars, both literally built to appeal to and educate children. Both sing songs, teach lessons, and share an evolutionary bloodline. On a genetic level, they are practically the same creature.

Except there is one major evolutionary difference: Big Bird is fondly remembered and supported to this day, and Barney the Dinosaur was always universally loathed.

Why? It’s all about love.

Look, we all appreciate Sesame Street as some shining bastion of children’s programming, but, to examine a quote from one of its creators, Big Bird’s chosen street had vaguely sinister sounding origins. Sesame Street was to be a show that would “master the addictive qualities of television and do something good with them”. It is great that there is that “do something good” caveat there, but ignore that little bit, and it almost sounds like Cookie Monster was invented by a supervillain attempting to take over the world. And, regardless of intentions, Sesame Street did take over the world. Sesame Street is a global institution, appearing in as many countries as there are palette swaps for Big Bird. And it is all based on one simple concept: learning should be fun for kids. Education does not all have to be stodgy teachers explaining math in a monotone, it can also be obsessive-compulsive vampires and cranky trash people.

Grab it!But, as time has gone on, Sesame Street has also become a place where children can learn from puppets how to be more human. Ever since the Snuffleupagus snafu of the 70s, Sesame Street has paid careful attention to guaranteeing the children of yesterday and today not only know how to count cookies, but also how to cope with a cruel and uncaring world of grouches. Sesame Street is not just about goofy songs and guest stars that are comfortable making eye contact with muppets, it is also about addressing children from all walks of life (those born into families both amazing and dreary), and teaching them that they are going to get through this world. Sesame Street is not universal for every child (how could it be?), but it does do its best accommodate as many children as possible, and express that the world may not be perfect, but they are loved.

And then there’s Barney. Barney just straight up says “I love you” like a jackass. And he does it over and over for every episode! What the hell, dinosaur?!

Barney & Friends, a children’s television show that premiered in 1988, had a similar origin to Sesame Street. It was created to fill a gap, but, while Sesame Street was broadly established to appeal to preschoolers, Barney was aiming for more of the kindergarten set. His creator, Sheryl Leach, believed that her son had outgrown anything available on television and video, so she set out to fashion a singing dinosaur that could entertain children of specific ages. After an initial VHS splash, the concept was graduated from direct-to-video edutainment to a television series in 1992. And from there, Barney & Friends became an American phenomenon, with the purple dinosaur singing everywhere from your television to the toy aisle to the Daytime Emmys. If you were exposed to a child of a certain age in the 90’s, you were exposed to Barney. And his songs would be stuck in your head for the rest of the day…

It's a sunny dayOh, and if you didn’t have a kid around that demanded to see Barney, you were probably familiar with the creature, too. Barney had a bit of a… negative following. Or, put another way, to my knowledge, this is the first time I am covering something on this blog that had a roleplaying book dedicated to a “jihad” to destroy it. Barney was almost universally loathed. Yes, of course there were “kids”, preteens, and other sarcastic malcontents that made up “funny” songs about barbequing the purple dinosaur’s head, but the whole antipathy enterprise leaked into adult entertainment, too. Remember The Critic? An obvious descendent of The Simpsons, and one of the few dittos of the era to actually be funny? A full half of its fifth episode was given over to an extended parody of Barney the Dinosaur (Humphrey the Hippo… why do I remember that unbidden?). This was a primetime show! For adults! Mostly! And they dipped into the “Barney sucks” well immediately. And if you needed something less animated, Barkley was dunking (literally) on Barney on Saturday Night Live. Barney was an object of scorn everywhere for a few years, and people were able to massively profit off the previously mentioned RPG sourcebook based on destroying Barney, or ersatz appearances like Mr. Huggles in a 2007 Xbox game (Monster Madness, incidentally). And more than a few Youtube careers were launched by involving “a Barney” in one way or another…

So this brings us back to a simple question: Why? There have always been Sesame Street parodies, but none possessed the same consistent vitriol we all saw in the Barney universe. Why was Barney so universally, consistently despised?

Maybe it’s just because he loved too much.

Go Barney!Barney is supposed to be a big, purple manifestation of unconditional love. He loves you, you love him, we’re a great big family. Barney is great for kids, because his unconditional love of the audience tells children that there are people out there that will love you no matter what. That is a great moral! But, to anyone over the age of five, it sounds an awful lot like bullshit. In fact, that very bullshit is likely a significant reason why Barney was so loathed. A generation of kids that had just experienced He-Man, G.I. Joe, and Ninja Turtles was now seeing the next generation (or their little siblings) being influenced by Barney the Lover. And, whether anyone really understood what was happening, they all recognized this… deception. Barney did not love you. Barney did not even know you. And neither did Prince Adam of Eternia, Sargent Slaughter, or Leonardo, but they all took time out of their day to give you some Sailor Says knowledge and sell a few toys for a half hour a day. They didn’t know you, they didn’t care about you, but they made you think they cared about you. And you, a stupid kid, bought it, literally, every time you waddled into Toys R’ Us. And an entire generation was just starting to realize this. He-Man had retired. The Ninja Turtles were losing shelf space to the Power Rangers. Our lovers had left us, and here was a new sucker ready to be tricked by the latest dinosaur of love. He’ll leave you like they all left us, Little Timmy! Do not love Barney! He doesn’t really love you! Flush his body down the potty while you can!

Just not goodThat is the difference between Big Bird and Barney. Despite a similar evolution, they are both the products of very different times. Big Bird loves you, but it is not his whole identity. Barney exists in a world wherein he cannot conceive of being unloved, and, while that works for some ages, it does not for people starting to understand all their heroes were little more than toy commercials. And, as a result, to this day, Big Bird continues to star in any number of counting-based videogames, while Barney never escaped the Sega Genesis. Love did not keep Barney alive, and it never could. In our modern world, Big Bird still stalks the Earth, while Barney is extinct. A big, purple evolutionary dead end.

… Or maybe just nobody liked his songs. Man, I’m not a paleontologist.

FGC #575 Big Bird’s Egg Catch

  • System: Atari 2600. It’s got pretty good graphics for an Atari title!
  • Number of players: Two player alternating. Likely assuming their audience were literal preschoolers, that alternating happens pretty damn often. You don’t have to wait for your turn for long.
  • Maybe actually talk about the game for a second: This is a game for babies… and surprisingly well-balanced for multiple ages. The lower-difficulty levels see a Big Bird that automatically magnetizes to where an egg falls, but later stages allow the player to more precisely position the bird so as to more effectively fail at catching an egg. Oh, and the chutes get more zig-zaggy. And invisible. That makes things complicated!
  • Where did they go?You are in Control: Big Bird’s Egg Catch was built for the Atari Kid’s Controller. That controller was, essentially, a num pad. It was basically only built for educational/egg-based games. But since it had more buttons and was more complicated than your typical Atari “paddle”, it was kind of ironic that this became the “Kid’s Controller” and not “Accountant’s Delight”.
  • Goggle Bob Fact: Many of “my” Atari games were games my grandfather found interesting (like Pac-Man) that I incidentally got to play. But I want to say Big Bird’s Egg Catch was the first videogame ever distinctly purchased for “Little Bobby”. Either that or my grandfather really liked gigantic birds.
  • How about that Barney Genesis Game? Barney’s Hide & Seek Game (yes, “Game” is part of the title) is basically a platforming title wherein you find marginally hidden children (and one child dinosaur). As much as it would make sense, It is not a “find in the picture” game, and it definitely controls like a Mario title… albeit a Mario title wherein our hero is trapped inside of a bulky dinosaur costume. Barney steers like a drunk truck is what I am saying. Regardless, it is not nearly as fun as catching eggs with Big Bird, but it… uh… exists? Technically? I guess it officially has significant (for the time) voice acting, so that’s nice.
  • Fly awayDid you know? Barney’s “I Love You” song was used for psychological torture at Guantanamo Bay detention camp. That’s the fact. No moral.
  • Would I play again: Big Bird’s Egg Catch could work as some kind of cell phone title that is played for like ten minutes while waiting for your shots. But am I going to break out the 2600 to play it some more? Nah.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Contra for the NES! We are going from loving birds and dinosaurs to extremely unloving commandos! Please look forward to it!

FGC #574 Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection

Here they come!This was either the absolute perfect time to release Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection, or the absolute worst.

Yes, folks, we’re going to talk about COVID, the past year, and probably squeeze some ghouls ‘n ghosts in there, too.

Let’s pretend this article is actually about the title matter, though, and address Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection. It’s a Ghosts ‘n Gobilins game! In the year 2021! And it is a 2-D “old school” title like its forebearers! No 3-D Maximo for this Arthur! And, in a lot of ways, it follows the Contra 4 model of being “the most Ghosts ‘n Goblins”. Yes, there is new content across this latest Demon Realm, but it’s hard to point at any one thing and not see how it is a precise evolution of something that existed in a previous G ‘n G title. As an easy example: all of the bosses are foes Arthur has faced before, but they all have new patterns, so they are effectively new challenges wearing old skins. Same for the many venues Arthur must traverse, and the surprisingly high number of demon stomachs he is going to have to trudge through. Technically there is nothing and everything new here, and it’s a fun time for G ‘n G fans old and new.

But you don’t play a G ‘n G game for the scenic vistas, you play for the challenge. And does Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection challenge the player? Hell yes. GnGR leans completely into the challenging spectacle of previous G ‘n G titles, and even seems to ascend to the level of “masocore” that is usually only reserved for Super Mario Maker stages made by sexual deviants (you heard me, you maniacs!). In fact, it is possible that GnGR focuses too hard on difficulty, because there is a definite feeling that the “flow” of previous titles has been forsaken for checkpoint-based mini challenges. This title does not contain anything as dramatically epic as Super Ghouls’ second stage, so it is hard to escape the impression that the game was designed around a difficult-and-escalating series of “challenge areas”, not a cohesive Demon World. Or, put another way, for reasons that will never make any sense, there is the boss of a stage that is a deteriorating stone dragon, and then you must progress through a series of stone dragon riding challenges in the next stage. Wouldn’t the previous boss be Let's run!an excellent capper to that area that contains nothing but its brethren? Yes! But then the difficulty curve would arc in the wrong direction, and we cannot have that. Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is about the challenge, so everything about its world is about the challenge first and foremost. You are playing a Ghosts ‘n Goblins game, over everything else, you should be worried about maintaining careful offensive with continual defense.

And constantly dodging everything in a concentrated, eternal effort to survive? Yeah, that’s been this last year in a nutshell.

I’m not writing this article for right now. I’m writing this essay so I don’t forget what 2020 has been. I’m writing this article so I can remind myself what has happened. I’m writing this for future generations trying to understand why there are millions of weirdos that act bizarre because “oh, they lived through COVID”. If you’re reading this in the Spring of 2021, shortly after GnGR’s release, then this is all going to be something you are inordinately familiar with. And that “something”? It’s that life has been impossible for the last year.

While it is still fresh in my mind and not polluted by nostalgia, here is the arc of the last year or so. As of New Year’s Day, 2020, I was celebrating in Athens, Greece on a European trip that my (now) wife had planned for our vacation. At the time, there were news reports that China had some kind of weird virus thing going on, and, by the tone of the reports, they were trying to contain it by setting up concentration camps. Ha ha! Weird, backwards China is stomping all over the rights of its citizens because they can’t keep a virus under control. And here I am, exploring the Parthenon with thousands of other tourists, and petting strange cats I found on the street. Hey, babe, it’s okay, I’m not going to get worms, I’ll wash my hands eventually.

We eventually came back to the States, and I formally asked the love of my life to marry me. That was the final day of February (Leap Day!), and there wasn’t much of a question as to whether she would agree to the arrangement, as we had already literally set the date a month prior (we travel backwards through time on occasion).Slashy slashy 11/20/20 was chosen because the numbers looked cool. Sweet! We proceeded to have a rockin’ engagement bash thrown by our friends, and we were partying like Gatsby. Things were looking up, and I’m pretty sure we hadn’t heard about that virus from another continent since January. Is that thing still around?

And then we hit March. It is remarkable, in retrospect, how quickly things changed. On what was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, many bars were not only 100% open and operating, but they had all sorts of “special” drinks that mocked the current situation and recommendations. Would you care for a quarantini? Or a maskgarita? COVID was considered little more than a punchline, and, while the locals were well aware that New York City was already suffering, nobody thought to consider that a virus ravaging an area a short car ride away would actually impact the local population.

And then we hit real quarantine. Offices hastily closing and frantically switching to “remote” setups. Retail businesses randomly declaring themselves essential because they sold absolutely critical items, like Funko Pops. And a deluge of information that may or may not have ever been correct. Masks were either essential or a silly precaution only employed by the most germophobic nerds. What could qualify as a mask? A scarf? A bandana? A banana? Whatever. And don’t touch anything! Or maybe do, but use hand sanitizer constantly! Assuming you can buy it at all, because it has been sold out for weeks! And speaking of shopping, leave your groceries in the garage for three days, because apparently they need to die, venture through the underworld, and then be reborn on the third day in order to be cleansed of all impurities. It was a weird time! You practically had to have a score card to determine whether someone wearing a facemask while bicycling was either the biggest dork on the planet, or a person that was infinitely more responsible than your average plebian.

WeeeeeBut it was all in pursuit of one thing: nobody wanted to get sick. The Corona Virus was reported as deadly from day one, and even people that claimed it was little more than “a big flu” knew they didn’t want to get sick, regardless of survivability. As more data was released regarding how ‘rona could impact the lungs of even a healthy person in unprecedented ways, it was confirmed that this was a virus that was more than just a week or two in bed. So we all did the only thing we could: we dodged. We followed the rules. We stayed home. If we went outside, we avoided other people. We went shopping as little as possible, and (if at all possible), during less crowded hours. We touched nothing. We hugged nothing. We spent all day, every day either “hiding” in quarantine, or venturing out only when it was possible to assess the value of every last action, and whether it was “worth it” to get the ‘rona because you had to go out for more paper towels. You want to die for that Taco Bell run? Be my guest. I’ll attend your funeral on Zoom.

And I’m not even going to consider the number of people that had to make that decision for the purpose of continuing to have an income. My wife and I both were fortunate enough to be in positions where we simply changed tracks to remote working (gee, that “switch” sounds so easy now), but so many people were forced into situations wherein they literally had to risk their lives so more fortunate folks could have food or healthcare. And this is to say nothing of people who had no choice but to risk their wellbeing for their family or friends that required their presence. I took up a job as a Legend of Zelda NPC, and walked around the neighborhood, dropping off supplies and food at the front door of my parents. But I am (again) lucky that any of the older folks in my life did not need constant care, nor did they require me to physically be there (potentially with an “outside the bubble” health aide involved, too). We threw around the term “heroes” a lot during the start of the pandemic, because it genuinely did seem heroic to risk your own lungs to help another, whether that be through produce stocking or helping an older person get upstairs.

RiitBut, as this life of dodging everything wore on, an important question began to surface: when can we have fun bbagain? And, as alluded to earlier, this presented a difficult question in my own life: when am I going to get married?

Our original wedding date was November 20, 2020. That sounded cool an’ all, but by the time we were finally able to meet with “the venue” in June, that already seemed dangerously optimistic. What had initially been a two week quarantine was still going strong come Summer. Some fragments of normalcy had begun to return (the only reason that we were meeting in June was because hotels had just been allowed to legally reopen), but we were still nervous about setting any concrete plans for November. It would be one thing to plan a wedding if it was a simple affair, but at the point you have to make decisions about booking a DJ, you want to know that your deposit is not going to go to waste. So, as of June 2020, we made the decision to push the wedding out to March of 2021. Surely “one year later” would give the world enough time to recover from all of this nonsense. Surely putting some money down on March being a good time would be a safe bet.

Lord, typing this in March of 2021 makes me wonder how I was ever so stupid.

In all honesty, I do not remember exactly when we determined we would go back to the November 20th date. I know a significant factor was determining that there would be no way in hell that allowing my wife’s family to fly in November or March would be a good idea, but I am not certain when that information was first evident. Regardless, we decided to reinstate the wedding on November 20, and plan for what would be (in my wife’s own words) “the most expensive backyard BBQ ever”. It would be outside. The guest list would only include local people that we were generally already interacting with at that point anyway (aka a lot of coworkers). We would pray for a sunny day, and hope for the best with… everything.

Hot stuffAnd if I thought life was nothing but dodging before, planning a wedding with the looming threat of coronavirus and its attendant issues was its own, zombie-deluge level challenge. Not only was there the general fear that the wedding cake or dress might not be available due to a local outbreak, there was also the hazard that a government could, at any moment, essentially make our wedding illegal. Okay, we vowed that the actual wedding ceremony would happen one way or another (if every participant had to be on a stream, so be it), but the actual reception was the tough nut to crack. We wanted to celebrate our union! We wanted to at least have the appearance of a normal wedding (albeit one without hugs)! We wanted to have some goldarned pigs in a blanket, dammit!

Spoilers: our extremely limited backyard BBQ of a wedding reception did go off without a hitch. The dress was there, the cake was there, and, more importantly than all of that, literally no one got sick as a result of our wedding. We did everything right, apparently, and the small enclave of our friends and family that attended had a good time and did not contract a deadly disease. It was everything we could ever hope for, given the circumstances.

And when I think of what could have happened, I am still shaken by what I could have done.

I do not know what I would have done if I had been showing some kind of symptoms shortly before the wedding. Or, I suppose if I’m being completely honest, I think I do know what I would have done. I think I would have gone forward with the wedding. If I knew I had coronavirus, if I outright tested positive, I know I would have cancelled everything. But if I “just” had a strong headache, a less responsive sense of smell, or was just kind of generally sneezing more? And I did not have enough time to get the results of a (presumably rapid) test? I probably would have gone forward with the wedding as planned. Hey, everybody gets an upset stomach before their wedding, right? It’s probably nothing! Why should I cancel the months of planning and disappoint all those happy guests with a no-show groom? Why not endanger the lives of everyone I know and care about for a chance at some decent cake?

Bad timesAnd it is freaking horrifying knowing that it is possible you could do that. It would have been difficult to cancel the wedding and its attendant features so close to the event, so I probably would have gone ahead and allowed people to be infected because to do otherwise would be a hassle. But I did not have to make that decision, and I possibly would have made the right decision (just reschedule, you absolute asshole). And, relatedly, it is equally horrifying to know that anyone else could be in that same situation, and making the same wrong decision. And infecting everyone around them. And spreading a deadly virus even further. And all in the name of getting those little eggroll things that only seem to exist at catered events. Acknowledge how you must multiply all of these potentials for virus transmission by your entire life and everywhere you have to be just to survive, and life becomes a gauntlet of dodging, dodging, dodging. Anyone could have made selfish decisions. Anyone could have made well-meaning decisions to help others, but wound up infected as a result. Anyone could be a threat to you, your family, and everyone you know. And it takes little more than a sneeze…

And that has been life for the last year. That’s the gameplay of Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection. Dodge, dodge, dodge and hope you don’t make the wrong jump into an abyss. Hope you have the right equipment for all the challenges you’ll face. Hope you don’t have to make a terrible choice because of the sheer randomness of what is happening. In much the same way an hour and a half flew by while I fought the same boss over and over, a year has now gone by while I spent all of my spare mental energy trying to determine if it is safe to deal with some jerk that seems to genuinely believe it is safe to go see Tenant. We have all spent the last year dodging assaults from all possible directions. We’ve all spent a year playing Ghost ‘n Goblins Resurrection.

But, end of the day, at least I can say I beat Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection. And we’ll find all the shadow orbs in this pandemic, too.

FGC #574 Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection

  • This sucksSystem: Seems like we’re only looking at Nintendo Switch at the moment.
  • Number of players: Arthur is a single hero kind of guy, but he can get assistance from a second “assistant” player. But that’s cheating!
  • Get those upgrades: Holy cow, Gold Armor is a game-changer. And I would not have ever known if not for the skill unlock system eventually leading to an “armor powerup” spell. Yes, it takes forever to charge, but being able to start from practically any checkpoint with a gold armor powerup is amazing. It well and truly makes GnGR one of those games that frontloads the difficulty, and things get a lot easier as you level up.
  • Favorite Weapon: Gold Armor-Crossbow is practically Contra’s Spread Gun, and it can fell a Red Arremer on its charge in a single shot. I liked being able to sling arrows already, guys, you didn’t have to sweeten the deal that much.
  • Favorite Boss: I like me some flamin’ devil dogs. Fire Cerberus? Whatever that puppy happens to be called, he’s my favorite boss, as he is pure G ‘n G in a nutshell. The whole thing seems impossible at first, and there is always a level of randomness, but you can overcome if you figure out the patterns and tells. Or you have that golden arrow thing, too. Whatever works.
  • Step into the Shadows: I was expecting the “second run” of GnGR to be the typical “the real game starts now” wherein the stages are the same, just harder with additional traps and spawns. But I was pleasantly surprised to find the “shadow stages” are more or less entirely new challenges with familiar level layouts/graphics. Good on GnGR for “for real” doubling the length of the game, and not just including its own Very Hard mode.
  • ChompyDid you know? Satan appears as the third boss (or fifth, if you are completing all the stages). There are (many!) demons that stand above Satan in this universe. And that reminds me: despite being Satan, the big guy rarely gets to star as a final boss. Any games you can think of where straight up named-Satan is the finale, and not some random fallen angel (ala Lucifer)?
  • Would I play again: Like a Mega Man X title, it is genuinely fun to replay earlier stages with a complete set of upgrades. And it is challenging-fun to play the game without a precise loadout. So I’m probably going to play the game with one of those choices. … But never both.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Big Bird’s Egg Catch for the Atari 2600. We’re going from 2021 to 1983! Please look forward to it!

These dorks

FGC #554 Pokémon Go

An abridged timeline of events in my life related to Pokémon Go.

7/16/16

Started playing Pokémon Go. I had apprehensions about playing a game I damn well knew I was going to find addicting, so I didn’t sign up at launch. However, after a number of local businesses asked me how they could capitalize on the “Pokémon craze”, I figured I had to jump on the bandwagon. I choose Team Mystic, as Articuno is best bird.

7/17/16

Found Questionable Statue, the best dang Pokéstop in the whole of the game. Good lil’ statue there.

It's a good stop

7/19/16

Published this nonsense, clearly already hooked by the “fad”.

8/21/16

Evolved a Magikarp into a Gyrados for the first time. There is plenty of water around my local play area, but it’s still worth noting for finally scoring 400 candies.

8/22/16

There was a Snorlax on the boardwalk. It was my first, and, as this was before the radar in P-Go was precise, I literally ran all over town trying to find its exact location in time. I succeeded, but I may have parkoured off a building to do so.

9/11/16

Evolved a Dratini into a Dragonair into a Dragonite. This may have been one of the last Pokémon of Generation 1 to earn its final form in my ‘dex.

6/25/17

Questionable Statue graduated from being a Pokéstop to a Pokégym at some point around here. Very important for my favorite stop to be upgraded.

It's a good gym

10/27/17

Found an errant Sandshrew party on the beach. Pretty sure we celebrated until dawn.

Party time!

12/12/17

I catch Tiny Dancer, a Kirilia that becomes my walking buddy for 352 nonconsecutive kilometers (as of publishing this article).

2/24/18

At my second Pokémon Go Community Day, I encounter Pokémon Fight Club (as chronicled here), and have my first successful Pokémon raid. I get by with a little help from other nerds.

3/25/18

Prompted by interest in having another big raid day (as it was the third ever Pokémon Go Community Day), I hit the boardwalk to hopefully find another “fight club”. I found a raid party, and noticed there was exactly one Team Instinct member in a lobby that was crowded with people from Team Valor and Team Mystic. I asked out loud, “Who’s the Instinct?” and a cute blond replied she was the odd one out. She got a shiny Lugia out of the raid, and I had apparently just met my future wife.

4/15/18

Mareep Community Day was rainy, cold, and altogether miserable. Despite the weather that was only hospitable to electric sheep, there were enough of us to tackle a Latios raid (or maybe Latias. I always get those two confused). One of the people in the raid was the Team Instinct player from the previous month. Given the weather was unpleasant, I asked her if she would like to go grab a coffee to warm up and catch Pokémon from somewhere slightly less freezing. It was super effective.

4/18/18

I caught a Mew on my birthday after finally mastering the excellent curveball throw technique. Exceptional little mirage present.

5/28/18

Participated in my first EX Raid and caught a Mewtwo. It was at Questionable Statue. It was with a certain Team Instinct trainer. It is remembered fondly.

Don't ask my wife about this.  She will laugh.

9/11/18

Caught Corsola in Florida. Definitely did not travel alone.

10/22/18

Caught a bunch of giant Magikarp, and earned a medal. Playing by the ocean for the win!

11/14/18

Finally reached Level 40 after, what, two years at this point? This is primarily because I had performed approximately 10,000 raids with that Team Instinct Trainer.

11/26/18

This BS happened.

Gimme some coins

Occasionally I forget that Pokémon Go is a game designed to make money, and not a freemium soul-mate finding app.

1/27/19

Went on my first cruise with that Team Instinct Trainer. Found that there are gyms that are apparently only accessible by sea.

I want to live there

2/8/19

There is confirmation Pokémon Go is still a thing in the real world.

5/10/19

Back when going to the movies was a viable option, we saw Detective Pikachu at its premiere. We were not the only people in the audience playing Pokémon Go during the previews.

6/14/19

We visit Chicago for Pokémon Go Fest, a national gathering for Pokemon Go players (or just a bunch of nerds that wanted to catch a Pachirisu). We spend the weekend visiting landmarks, museums, and bizarro pizza dispensaries. There was a lot of walking accompanying the inordinate number of Pokélures around the city.

7/21/19

During yet another Community Day (we haven’t missed one together yet), I catch the horrible Shiny Mudkip Zero. It is a blight on my life I will never escape.

I can't quit you

8/25/19

I catch a particularly good Roselia deep in Mexico during a cruise that, thanks to a mega-hurricane, goes on a little too long. In the end, everything worked out fine, and we made out better with Hurricane Laura than so many people that lost their homes, but it was a bit dicey there for a while. At least I had accumulated some completed tasks so I could still have my research breakthroughs amidst such strife. It’s the little things that keep you sane.

9/20/19

For our trip to Pokémon Go Safari in Montreal, Canada, I printed out a “wanted” poster for a foreign Pokémon, and pinned it to my dear Instinct Trainer’s backpack. This attracted the attention of a kindly gentleman from Japan that didn’t speak a lick of English, but had a similar “can you trade this Pokémon” sign. Pokémon trading crosses language barriers rather effectively.

Gimme

12/30/19

Or maybe it doesn’t, because there is somehow a stop in Poland named “Optimus Prime”. That is clearly not the robot in disguise we all know and love!

This cannot be right

1/7/20

I catch a shiny fighting/psychic type at the Olympic Coliseum in Greece. This is vaguely appropriate.

2/5/20

I leave a Pokémon in a Polish Gym in December, and I wind up earning a gold medal as a result of it not being kicked out until early February. I’m pretty sure my happiny did not have any problems with customs, but she was surprisingly cold when she got back to the States.

2/29/20

This happened.

Go Goggle Bob

It happened right in front of Questionable Statue, mere feet from where we first met for a Lugia raid nearly two years prior. Amusingly enough, that picture was taken by a child who was, of course, on the boardwalk playing Pokémon Go.

4/19/20

As COVID rages and people were afraid to leave their homes, my Instinct Trainer and I take the opportunity to conquer as many local gyms as possible. Hey, we don’t have to interact with a soul to walk around the neighborhood. Blissey takes over the town in the name of Team Mystic.

She's all over the place

6/21/20

The rare Double Arlo.

This hardly happens

9/20/20

I am awarded a medal for defeating 1,000 Team Rocket trainers. I am truly a hero, but I would like to thank the recent “local” Pokémon Go Fest for granting me so many targets.

11/20/20

I state these words to my Team Instinct Trainer:

Looks delishI’m a giant nerd. Pikachu is apparently a featured guest at our reception, so I don’t think anyone needs to be reminded of that. But as a result of being a giant nerd, I have absorbed the stories of roughly 5,000 different movies, videogames, and graphic novels. I’ve seen so many super heroes save so many worlds it’s kind of ridiculous. And that means I’ve also seen so many heroes die for the people they love. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Superman kick the bucket for Lois Lane at least six different ways. And all of these stories, it’s always the same: the hero make what we’re told is the ultimate sacrifice, they die for the person they love.

I’m going to vow right here before man, woman, and children that should not be watching this stream, that that is bullshit. I’m not going to die for you. I’m going to live for you.

I’m not going to take a bullet for you, fight some malevolent monster for you, or die in the vacuum of space for you. I can’t vow that I’m going to do something so super for you. But I can vow that I am going to do the dishes, mow the lawn, and take out the trash. I vow that I’ll go for walks with you, even when the weather is on the Polish side of things. I vow that we will talk, and that I will always be honest with you, and you will always know what I’m thinking. I vow that, above everything else, I will make you happy, to make sure you can be happy, and to do everything I can to see a smile on your face. And when things aren’t cheerful, during any bad times that may be ahead (like, you know, in the middle of a global pandemic), I vow that, while I might not be able to make problems go away with some kind of special move, I will do everything I can to make sure we get through it together. In our world, every storm has an end. Every night has a new morning. And I vow to be with you every morning from this day forward.

I vow to live for you, Trish, and I may not be a superhero or keyblade master or whatever, but I am a man that vows to love you forever.

I also caught a Tepig.

11/23/20

Despite the fact that the previously transcribed vows were broadcast across the world, not a single person seemed to notice the Chrono Trigger reference that was, like, right there. This doesn’t have anything to do with Pokémon Go, but it is nonetheless depressing.

11/30/20

The Pokémon Go Beyond “expansion” is released. Before informing my wife of this update, I remind her she is currently working from home, and needs to keep perspective on what needs to be completed, as we are adults. Fifteen minutes after we have this conversation, she is still in the beanbag chair, and still trying to complete as many Beyond tasks as possible without leaving the room.

12/11/20

I publish an article that is apparently meant to be sentimental, but mostly just talks about Pokémon. Or is it the other way around? C’est la vie.

FGC #554 Pokémon Go

  • System: Mobile, so get your Droids and Apples out.
  • Bulba!Number of players: It’s a generally solitary experience, but there is 2 player battling, and 2 player trading. And there are 20 person raids. And you’re kinda sorta playing with everyone on Earth. Let’s split the difference and call it two player like its Pokémon brethren.
  • Did you catch ‘em all: There has been no point in this game’s existence that I have had every available Pokémon. I have every Pokémon I can catch locally, but regionals have often escaped me. There was one time immediately after Pokémon Go Fest 2019 when I had every Pokémon except Uxie, but that’s as close as I ever got.
  • Goggle Bob Fact: I have been to Athens, Greece once in my life. Three days after I flew out of there, Niantic released a regional Pokémon that exists only in Greece and Egypt. I have never been more mad at a videogame.
  • Goggle Bob Fact #2: I play this game every day. I take frequent (nigh daily, according to weather) walks with my wife while playing this game. I have played a lot of videogames in my time, but, if all hours are tabulated, this might be the videogame I’ve played the absolute most in my entire life, even if it is generally “passive”. And that’s saying something!
  • SPLASHFavorite Pokémon (Go edition): Machamp has been a big, burly beast from day one. Conkeldurr came for the throne, and he’s technically better, but I don’t have six maxed out Conkeldurrs, now do I?
  • Did you know? Playing Pokémon Go anywhere near a large body of water always generates some weird spawns. Water Pokémon you might expect, but Cacnea? I am so tired of seeing that guy.
  • Would I play again: I do.

What’s next? Vaguely related to events mentioned in this article, I’m taking a week off from totally new content. But! I’m going to be updating my World of Final Fantasy Let’s Play here on the site, so if you haven’t seen that elsewhere, it’s new to you! So come back Monday for some fun times with funko fantasies. Please look forward to it!

The Champion

FGC #014 Persona 4 Golden

Hard boiled, yoPersona 3 was a revelation. I played Persona 3 initially just to see what all the fuss was about, and to get my quarterly JRPG injection. Given I had played roughly seventeen billion JRPGs at this point, I didn’t speak to any of the NPCs the game didn’t squarely point me at, as I didn’t want to deal with all the “Please save the crystals,” and “I hear fire enemies are weak to ice magic,” banter that clogs up the usual JRPG NPC dialogue. I dove into the dungeons and battle system with aplomb, and participated in the S-Link game, a system whereby you grow stronger by forging meaningful bonds with imaginary digital people, as a perfunctory way to kill time between dungeon dives. And then an odd thing happened: somewhere about midway through the S-Link with Chihiro Fushimi, I realized I was rushing through the dungeons to get back to Chihiro’s story. It wasn’t the most interesting story, mind you, just… very human, and the last game I could remember playing with such a human edge to it was Final Fantasy 8. Don’t get me wrong, say, Final Fantasy 10 is an excellent piece of storytelling, but it’s kind of hard for me to relate to a woman who is literally sacrificing herself for her world when I can barely sacrifice putting on flip flops to drag out the trash. The curb is all the way over there! But the “Social Links” of Persona 3 were, by and large, very human, and, thus, engaging. I’m not making Chihiro-kun my waifu anytime soon (am… am I saying that right? I’m not, am I? I’m okay with that), but it was certainly pleasant to play a game where I actually cared about the world I was saving, as opposed to leveling up to 100 just to insure that that “I are sick” guy has a pleasant evening.

However, despite Persona 3’s reputation as a “Japanese High School Simulator”, I never really believed the Persona 3 universe to actually involve high school students. Much like Cecil Harvey’s command of his nation’s entire air force at the tender age of 20, half the cast of Persona 3 comes off as much older than their given age. Yes, this is likely a side effect of the “you must have this much PTSD to join” sign that hangs above their dorms, but, see, right there? These kids live in their own dorms, with near zero parental/adult supervision, and hang out in weird places around midnight and then struggle to stay awake in class the following morning. This all sounds a lot like to college to me. And while a number of characters in the game do come off as actual high school students (Chihiro included), It’s hard to get immersed in that high school way of thinking when there’s such an overt emphasis on saving the world, dwelling on “your” mortality, and, oh yeah, the robot and the dog wearing a little vest. Persona 3 really did create something human there, but it stumbled just short of the immersive realism goal that could really make it shine.
Which is why it’s no surprise that Persona 4 and its cast have made such an impact on the video game landscape, from its all fighting, all dancing, all corn dog spinoffs to a variety of JRPGs that now lean heavily on Persona’s visual novel similarities. Persona 4 took the high school setting and ran with it, creating a cast of characters that are surprisingly realistic, even across cultures.

And now you’re going to suffer for it.

As you may have guessed, I went to high school. It was about as much fun as licking a fire poker overall, but I did moderately enjoy the social interactions. With that in mind, I am going to inventory the S-Links of Persona 4, and compare the personalities involved to my real life experiences. I hope, with myself and my readers focusing strongly on my high school past, that I can tear a hole in the space-time continuum, fly back to the past, and punch my smug, self-absorbed teenage self right in his handsome face. Join me, won’t you?

This nerdYosuke Hanamura
Arcana: Magician

Description: Yosuke is the protagonist’s best friend, and the son of the owner of June’s, the local mega store that is destroying small town America… err… Japan. Yosuke is also a complete %^#. Seriously. He’s a such a %^#, that he is in a constant state of trying to be funny, but he’s generally just insulting or otherwise annoying his friends. He claims to have a strong sense of justice, but, have to reiterate this, he’s basically just a running insult machine, and not even a particularly good one! It doesn’t take a lot to insult someone’s sexual preference, it takes a little more effort to note that someone’s mother is so fat, that when she goes to the zeppelin expo, she is immediately purchased by Baron Overcompensatious. What I’m saying is that Yosuke is a %^#.

Did we meet in high school? Oh yeah. Yosuke was pretty much my entire peer group in high school. Hell, on a bad day, I probably was Yosuke, just minus any useful kunai skills. I realize this does not speak well of my high school self, but I’ve changed! I swear! I’ve discovered a whole new array of insults to yell at you jackanapes!

Cute, but quirkyYukiko Amagi
Arcana: Priestess

Description: Yukiko is the gorgeous (this is, arguably, a big factor in her personality, as like three characters hit on her during her introduction) heiress of the Amagi Inn, a successful local business. She’s often seen as very reserved and quiet, but, once you get to know her, she’s kind of a complete goof. Also, a complete pyromaniac.

Did we meet in high school? My first thought is yes, very much yes, and we used to date. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure Yukiko is just a walking stereotype for how most teenage boys see most teenage girls: cold, beautiful, privileged, and unapproachable, but then once you actually get to talking, wow, she’s actually pretty fun and not at all the stuck up jerk I thought she was when she told me to get lost 3,000 times. Hey, baby, I’m not still bitter about the fact that you wouldn’t give me your screenname for like six months, it’s coo’, please don’t light me on fire.

This nerdMargaret of the Velvet Room
Arcana: Empress

Description: Margaret is the enigmatic Velvet Room attendant for Persona 4. She’s basically a cross between a caring adult and a robot that won’t stop bothering you about, “What is this thing you humans call love?” Much like Yukiko, she also has this weirdly goofy side, which I’m starting to think is some kind of eerie kink with the Persona 4 writers…

Did we meet in high school? It’s easy to give this one a flat “no,” as Margaret is fairly alien. On the other hand, 90% of teachers I had during high school seemed to have been beamed here from some other planet. I may be giving the writers too much credit, but part of being a teenager and growing up is acknowledging that these adult authority figures actually are humans, no better or worse than yourself, and Margaret’s gradual slide from otherworldly to mundane might be a very deliberate move. On the other hand, might just be an easy excuse for yet another woman to hit on the protagonist, so who knows.

This nerdKanji Tatsumi
Arcana: Emperor

Description: Overcompensation, thy name is Kanji. Kanji’s defining trait seems to be that, in order to hide the fact that he has fairly feminine interests (sewing, naked men), he portrays himself as an over the top street thug that can bash the world into submission. He eventually mellows and proves to be one of the more reliable members of Team Snoops, and even makes little adorable dolls for his friends.

Did we meet in high school? So very much yes. I’m pretty sure we met last week, too. I’m pretty sure I’m talking to him online right now. Man, is the whole “overcompensating masculinity” thing an ingrained part of Western Society. I kind of feel bad for all the men that suffer from this, though I don’t have to worry about it, as I have an enormous penis.

This... oh... sorryRyotaro Dojima
Arcana: Hierophant

Description: Hard-boiled detective Dojima plays double duty throughout the plot as the chief investigator on this whole murder spree going on and surrogate dad for the protagonist. When he isn’t complaining about his dull-witted coworkers or coffee choices, he seems to spend time trying to better connect with his daughter and his nephew, the protagonist.

Did we meet in high school? Dojima is supposed to be a model father, right? Or some model of a father? This is the first character that seems to be significantly written from an adult’s perspective, as his difficulty connecting with his young daughter and teenage nephew seems like something out of some 40-50 something’s rambling about kids these days. I don’t really know how to rank this one, as I met my own father before high school for some reason. Dude has just always been around.

This nerdRise Kujikawa
Arcana: Lovers

Description: “Risette” is a national star, but taking a break to slum it with all the hoodlums around Inaba. She claims she’s not the hyper, bubbly star the media portrays her as, but pretty much her every interaction past her introduction… portrays her as a hyper, bubbly young lady. Her optimism in the face of the literal end of the world is… unsettling. Also, I’m not one to judge fashion, but pigtails? Really?

Did we meet in high school? This is kind of weird, but I don’t think I can recall a single person, male or female, who was ever this “on” in my teenage years. If Rise is your favorite character, more power to you, but I know a few literal cheerleaders who would ask Risette to dial it down a notch. Then again, I don’t think I’ve ever hung out with a national celebrity, so maybe she’s completely normal. I’ll update this article after I become famous.

Right into the stratosphereChie Satonaka
Arcana: Chariot

Description: Chie is kickass. There, got that out of the way. Beyond the obvious, Chie has a tendency to come off as “one of the guys” in social interactions, and is the animus to Yukiko’s anima. Chie wants to grow up to be a police officer, but will likely be disappointed when the job does not involve as much galactic punting as Dojima alludes to.

Did we meet in high school? Yes, a thousand times yes, and I’m sorry. Look, in retrospect the fact that we were frequently playing basketball, despite the fact that you were like five foot nothing, just seemed like an entertaining thing to do, okay? And all those times we were playing Marvel vs. Capcom, and I was complaining about “why don’t girls like to play video games,” while you were RIGHT THERE? Look, I’m just… I’m starting to think I might have had brain problems. Alright? I’m… I’m just so sorry.

This lil preciousNanako Dojima
Arcana: Justice

Description: Effectively the protagonist’s little sister, Nanako is there to be adorable and get kidnapped. Oh, spoilers, the most football sized cast member becomes a football. Additional spoiler: Nanako is eventually revealed to be three kittens and a puppy piloting a robot powered by rainbows. I have also decreed that this character is allowed to have pigtails.

Did we meet in high school? Nope. I’m an only child, and any of my friends that had little sisters weren’t THAT little. A complete swing and a miss for this game, but Nanako is more of a plot device than an actual character.

This foxFox
Arcana: Hermit

Description: A fox.

Did we meet in high school? See references to “the blonde” in the previous article.

This nerdNaoto Shirogane
Arcana: Wheel of Fortune

Description: The final member of the player’s party and also its smartest member, Naoto is the genius of the group, always wishing to be defined by cerebral achievements, which is important, as, prior to this detective joining, the cast was just sitting around on the roof repeating the same stupid facts over and over again, like, replace Yosuke with a mildly homophobic parrot and you’d have the exact same dialogue. Also, I cannot imagine the size of the balls on Naoto, who had to inform other party members that a firearm might be an effective weapon here, but maybe you guys should just go ahead and ditch your shoes, chair, and… Christ, is that a fan? Are you trying to combat the monsters of evil with a damn fan? How are you people not all dead!?

Did we meet in high school? Yes, and, I’m going to have to apologize to anyone that was in our Junior English Class. Look, we both self-identified ourselves as the smartest people in the room, and we might have been, but that was no reason to completely destroy any sort of classroom decorum to settle our year long grudge match. In my head, yes, I believed that I was producing all new ways to interpret Hamlet, and I’m sure he was thinking much the same, but, hindsight, I’m pretty sure the rest of the class just saw a forty minute session of two cats hissing over the same meager scraps. I promise to never waste everyone’s time in an attempt to validate my own pretentious ideas again.

Article somehow continues through impregnable layer of irony.

These nerdsKou Ichijo & Daisuke Nagase
Arcana: Strength

Description: I’m grouping these two knuckleheads together, and you’ll understand why in the next section. These two are the sports stars of P4, and, while they have distinct personalities and issues (something about dealing with tradition and family, which is like every other S-Link here, and the other one… something about a fear of failure and problems with the opposite sex…man, that’s just lame) they definitely come off as more of a twosome in each of their s-link scenarios. And, whoo, sports!

Did we meet in high school? Maybe it’s just me, and I’m going to go ahead and claim it’s universal, but there’s that feeling where you see two other people hang out, like, all the time, and you just know they’re going to get married at the same time and have kids that play together and oh man they just have this perfect little best friend relationship and why don’t I have anyone like that in my life? While your own best friend is standing right there and is like, oh man, why don’t I have a best friend like that? I feel like there’s this “pairing” push in most media that creates these perfect duos, from Lenny and Squiggy to Nana and Popo, and we’re all left holding the bag because no one is really that in synch with another human being. So, yes, they seem very real, and now I’m skimming this post to see exactly when I started turning it into therapy. Think it was shortly after I used the word “revelation”.

This nerdNaoki Konishi
Arcana: Hanged Man

Description: Naoki’s big deal problem is that he’s dealing with the sudden death of his sister, and I feel a little bit bad mocking the poor kid in his time of grief, but then I recover because he’s giving me those eyes. Man, I was trying to be nice, why you gotta look at me like that?

Did we meet in high school? I actually think high school was about the first time in my life that someone would suffer a tragedy, and I’d actually pay attention like, “Wow, that has to be terrible, you need anything?” Kind of funny to remember the first funeral you ever went to because you actually knew the bereaved, and it wasn’t just your Great Aunt Bernie or some such nonsense. Man, need to get back to being moderately entertaining here. What’s the next arcana? Aw, $%@.

This old nerdHisano Kuroda
Arcana: Death

Description: A widow who hangs out by the river on Sundays, starring longingly into the abyss and commenting on how she am become Death. Her dead husband had some The Notebook based malady that caused him to forget his true love and wither into some sad shell of a… Good God, why did I ever play this game?

Did we meet in high school? I might be an only child, but I did have the reverse pyramid of a family in my teenage years with an overabundance of grandparents. Too many grandmas! As a result, many a Sunday post-church lunch was spent with them and their general peer group. So, oddly, I spent a lot of time with old widows. This might sound terrifying to some, but old ladies are just ridiculous with their occasion attempts to offer life advice. My favorite? My grandmother’s best friend once leaned over to me, and whispered (old ladies cannot, at all, whisper) “You know, Bobby, don’t be afraid of some of the heavier girls. Heavy girls really know how to…” she then winked a startling wink, and said with as much emphasis and innuendo as possible for a woman of her age, “… dance.” Screw this death widow crap, old ladies are our greatest natural resource.

This nerdEri Minami
Arcana: Temperance

Description: A fresh, youthful step mother who, playing against type, is quite the opposite of wicked. Her kindness and gullibility is basically her downfall, though, as she apparently gets help with relating to her new step son not from a friend or family member, but a random high school student who happens to be hanging around. This, miraculously, works out.

Did we meet in high school? Oh my no. I can tell you right now, if I saw a random post from some new wife about how she was getting such great advice on child rearing from some teenager she met at the park, I’d be calling child services faster than you can say “unfit mother”. I don’t have kids, so I really shouldn’t judge, but I’m pretty good at identifying kooky when I see it.

This nerdSayoko Uehara
Arcana: Devil

Description: A naughty nurse that works at the local hospital. She seems to delight in mocking the teenage protagonist with her wealth of “experience” and “maturity”. I will remind you all that I’m talking about an adult taunting a kid who can’t seem to wear glasses correctly. Like pretty much all S-Links, she eventually softens up and runs off to join the Peace Corps or something. You know what? I’m sticking to that sentence as-is. I choose to believe most of the cast of P4 joins the Peace Corps after the game ends.

Did we meet in high school? I dealt with a number of adults in my teenage years, as my “night job” was pretty much what it is now: being the only guy on the payroll who knows how the computers work. I am either known as Goggle Bob or Where Did My Email Go Why Don’t We Ask Bob Bob. That said, I can’t think of a single adult I ever met who vamped on me to the degree we see with Sayoko. This is likely because I dealt with adults who were actually adults, and not teenage fantasies. Despite many years having passed, though, if anyone knows any teenage fantasies I can hang out with, I’m game.

This nerdShu Nakajima
Arcana: Tower

Description: A young boy who is tutored by the protagonist, Shu initially comes off as a complete jackass, but eventually turns out to be the weepy byproduct of an overbearing mother. So Shu is basically every third male you meet on the internet.

Did we meet in high school? Basically. This one seems to be another teenage perception archetype, when everyone younger than age x seems to be a complete self absorbed pain in the ass that isn’t worth dealing with until they ripen to the amazing level of maturity that you yourself have attained in your autumn teenage years. Haha, teenagers have no hindsight. They’re stupid.

Play it!Teddie
Arcana: Star

Description: Teddy is a magical bear from the world of dreams. He is beary powerful, and has a smeller that is second to none. His combat prowess is potent, and his support abilities are indispensable. He gradually grows his own ego over the course of the game, and hatches an entire additional body as a result. Occasionally, he is worried that he has nothing inside, but, in the end, he becomes an vital member of the team whose ice magic is second to none. After the events of P4, he splits his life between being a department store mascot and living in a miraculous Jungian fantasy.

Did we meet in high school? Yes.

This nerdAi Ebihara
Arcana: Moon

Description: A “bad girl” who cuts class and is generally really, really confusing. If I’m being generous, she’s a girl with significant body and rejection issues, and acts out for attention, any kind of attention, that will satiate her desire for validation. If I’m someone who played the game and is still bitter, she’s a freaking labyrinth of incorrect S-Link choices that is just there to toy with player expectations. Either way, she kinda turns out horrible.

Did we meet in high school? Sympathetic interpretation, she could sort of be any girl, almost a female compliment to Kanji, as western women have body/attention issues like western men have issues with their smaller-than-mine penis compensation problems. It’s practically ingrained in our culture, but I do have a solution available for the low, low cost of $19.99. While you’re grabbing your credit card, I’ll note the general way Ai “works” in the game, that the usual “right” answer is almost never right, even when she’s nearly jumping off of the roof (!) may be there just to mimic the way most high school students feel in a relationship: “I never have the right answer, why is my lover always so upset with me?” Either way, she kinda turns out genius.

This nerdYumi Ozawa
Arcana: Sun

Description: Queen Drama of Drama Land. Yumi is the lead actress of the drama club, and lives and breathes the stage. Then, she has some family issue, and realizes that she’s only into drama because it helps her cope with the crap she has to put up with compliments of her family. She quits the drama club after this realization, because she will never have any more problems in her life, and thus no longer needs a creative outlet.

Did we meet in high school? Yeah. Minus the whole “quitting drama due to revelations” thing, I’m pretty sure we dated for nearly a year. It was exhausting. And I’d date her again five minutes after we broke up. I was… not a well boy.

STOP LOOKING AT MEAyane Matsunaga
Arcana: Sun (Again)

Description: A tiny, female trombone player. An entirely fictional construct. Her storyline involves a song that somehow includes a trombone solo. Another utterly imaginary possibility. She is shy, but, somehow, she’s in the brass section. I’m pretty sure the P4 writers have never seen an actual high school band before.

Did we meet in high school? Give her a flute or a clarinet, and she’s in your high school right now. I don’t care when you’re reading this, she’s there, practicing, and her overture to sadness haunts the halls.

Adachi-babyTohru Adachi
Arcana: Jester or something

Description: Your dad’s whacky friend who always seems to be hanging around and is just an absolute waste. A complete weirdo from stem to stern. Then you find out what this guy is into, and you’re never the same again, mainly because you didn’t know you could possibly vomit that much.

Did we meet in high school? Yeah, though I’ve likely repressed whatever it was that made me puke so very long. I don’t think anyone went to jail, at least. Regardless, Adachi is another fine example of finding out that adults are just as fallible as your peer group, though in this game, there may be a healthy dosage of Wild Arms-esque “the children are our future and all the adults are corrupt meanies”. Or maybe I’m reading too much into yet another story where a bunch of teenagers save the world while the adults order out for sushi.

This nerdMarie of the Velvet Room
Arcana: Aeon…. Is that a thing?

Description: A fresh addition for Persona 4 Golden, Marie is an amnesiac who is trying to find her real self. She also writes terrible poetry, dresses astonishingly, and has a fondness for memes. Her big deep secret is important and all, but she’s principally the tsundere archetype that is so popular in Japanese media.

Did we meet in high school? I asked her out like twice, and got a “no” both times. We still hung out quite a bit, though, probably because I am a persistent creep. About a decade after we graduated and thus no longer had anything to do with each other, Facebook distinctly took time out of its busy day to email me and be like, “Hey, bet you know this person,” and there was her picture staring back at me again. This is why I no longer check my email while at work.

Judgment!

I love sausage!Alright, that was sure concise, let’s check the final tally. I count seventeen or so yes’s here, so I’m going to go ahead and claim that Persona 4 resonated highly with my own actual high school experience. Way to go, Persona 4. Unfortunately, now I’m mentally reviewing every terrible thing I ever did in high school, so I have no idea how to end this article or what I was even thinking when I started. Look, I’m going to sit here and wonder why I’m not in jail for crimes against humanity, and you write your own ending. Try to tie it back to something I said at the start, yeah? Try and make it a revelation. Have it on my desk before homeroom.

FGC #14 Persona 4 Golden

  • System: Sony Vita
  • Number of Playas: One (wink wink)
  • Reason you bought the Vita? Pretty much
  • Regret the Vita? Not really. You never could have sold me the system on this idea, but now I have a portable system that plays Final Fantasy 1-10 and Chrono Trigger and a wealth of Mega Mans without having to flip a single cartridge. If I was stuck on a desert island with only a Vita and one outlet and maybe an umbrella, I think I’d be okay.
  • Favorite S-Link: Honestly? Probably Ai, as the whole thing felt like some kind of weird fight, really distinguishing it from the other S-Links that, while generally engaging, were fairly samey. She’s like hard mode in a system that I didn’t know could have a hard mode.
  • There any particular reason you’re so hard on your younger self? Look at this smug bastard.
    I don't even know what I was talking about

    Don’t you just want to give him what for?
  • Yet your high school year book is that close at hand? Quiet you.
  • Did you know? Some early drafts of the characters basically cast Rise as a Kanji-like punk that looked a lot like Ai. I would much prefer that version of the game, if only because I would be completely down with the eventual fighting game spin-off featuring a lady throwing a folding chair around.
  • Would I play again? On one hand, I very nearly Platinum’ed the Vita version (damn you, book collection), and sunk, let’s see here, 120 hours or so into multiple trips to Inaba, so I want to say I am good and done with the game. On the other hand? This thing sees a new release where Yukiko gets a new hat? I’m there.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Shadow Hearts from the New World. Ah, relationship week ends with the unbreakable bond between a ninja and a cat. Or… something. At least it’ll likely lead to an article that isn’t blowing past 4,500 words… Please look forward to it!