Tag Archives: persona 4

FGC #556 Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble!

Tis the SeasonI have always been fond of Christmas, but I find my dear wife loves the holiday more than should be allowed. She’s not a religious woman by any means, but, given the current state of my electric bill, I can safely state that she worships our Christmas Tree with the same reverence that my grandmother paid to the reason for the season. And the Christmas specials! We have somehow watched a number of those suckers this year, because who doesn’t need to see some couple learn the true meaning of Christmas while falling in love and referencing other, more popular Christmas movies. Yes! This is trite and has been done over and over since Miracle on 34th Street! We get it! Stop lampshading it, Aubrey Plaza!

But, having been exposed to far too much Christmas, I am reminded that my favorite hobby is vaguely devoid of Christmas cheer. Mario doesn’t have a Christmas Special in his featured medium (sorry, Super Show, you’re not canon), and Link might be an elf all dressed in green, but the dude sticks to horses, and never reindeer. There are a variety of reasons for this potential blind spot in the world of gaming: not wanting to tie perennial games to a particular season, many of the most popular games coming from a culture that doesn’t put as much of an emphasis on Christmas, or even just a general aversion to figuring out who copyrighted Santa Claus this year. But, one way or another, the end result is that, while you might be able to fish a Christmas episode out of practically any sitcom you could ever name (Step by Step had at least two!), you won’t be seeing Mega Man fighting Candy Cane Man at any point in his last thirty years.

But the holidays have snuck into a few games here and there. So, in the interest of finding some Christmas cheer, let’s figure out how to spend The Twelve Days of Gaming Christmas.

The First Day of Gaming Christmas: Donkey Kong Country 3

Gettin' it onDonkey Kong Country 3 pretty much inspired this article, so it may as well get top billing. And what does top billing mean in this case? That DKC3 sucks! Rare consistently came out with a Donkey Kong game for three Christmas seasons in a row, so it made a certain amount of sense that the franchise would pay tribute to the merriest of holidays. The only issue? It’s a “blink and you miss it” code that simply exchanges bananas/collectibles for ornaments and presents. And not even all bananas! Just the ones in bonus stages! Other than that, Kiddy Kong doesn’t even get a santa hat, and King K. Rool doesn’t wear so much as a red lab coat. Try harder, Rare!

The Second Day of Gaming Christmas: Diddy Kong Racing

… This is vaguely trying harder. Diddy Kong Racing is famously a game that was pushed out because Nintendo needed some kind of Christmas (season) cheer to goose the system that made the immeasurably incorrect decision to not be a FMV machine. In the absence of a certain bear’s premiere, something akin to Mario Kart was produced, and, likely due to the season that necessitated its existence, there is an entire level that seems vaguely Christmas themed. There is snow! And decorated trees! And… no actual mention of Christmas. Huh. Like in Donkey Kong Country 3, there is no concrete evidence that Christmas actually exists in the world of the Kongs, but it seems like there is certainly… uh… something going on here.

The Third Day of Gaming Christmas: Cave Story

Cave Story+, the Cave Story remake developed by Nicalis (let’s not get into that), features a few hidden bells and whistles. For one thing, Cave Story now has an agnostic approach to holidays, and will, according to the system’s internal clock, dress its heroes and villains appropriately for Halloween and Christmas. From December 24 (Christmas Eve) to January 6 (Epiphany), Quote is a reindeer, presents litter the labyrinths, and the Mimiga have to grab a snow shovel to dig out their driveways. Of course, like over in Donkey Kong Country, there’s no actual acknowledgement that all this Christmas cheer is happening, so it’s hard to determine if this race of sentient rabbits living on a floating island is actually expecting a visit from St. Nick.

The Fourth Day of Gaming Christmas: Clayfighter 63 1/3

Wack em smack emNow here’s a visit from St. Nick… and he’s gonna kill ya! Clayfighter has always had a super fighting snowman on the roster, but the third (or so) entry in the franchise went ahead and added Sumo Santa. Now, the exact lore of the Clayfighter universe has always been a little murky, so it’s hard to say if this is supposed to be the real Santa, or something more akin to a Toy Story-esque, animated-by-mutating-clay simulacrum of Santa that simply thinks he is Santa (and has built his own fake North Pole on a tropical island as a result). Regardless of origins, this is definitely Santa Claus, so it’s more of an affirmation of the holidays than the Kongs ever got.

The Fifth Day of Gaming Christmas: NBA Jam: On Fire Edition

It is not on fireWhat could be better than playing as Santa Claus? Playing as Santa Claus for free! In the age of miserly DLC (re: 2006-the rest of time), Santa Claus and an elf helper were released as a team as a free update to NBA Jam: On Fire Edition. And that’s pretty great! By Donner, it’s wholly in the spirit of not only the holiday, but also NBA Jam, a franchise that previously allowed Raiden, Will Smith, and Bill Clinton on the roster. The only thing holding this Santa appearance back from a higher spot is the unfortunate implication that this is, like every other mascot in the NBA, just a regular dude (with mad ups) in a Santa costume, and not the real McCoy. Yes, children, Hugo the gigantic blue/green hornet is not a real human-bee hybrid. There is no such thing. Sorry to ruin that for you.

The Sixth Day of Gaming Christmas: Secret of Mana

It's a secret to everybodyYes, please Santa, give me the weird stuff. Santa Claus is an actual character in the Secret of Mana world. He lives in a cabin in the woods with his reindeer, Rudolph. Santa once tried to steal a Mana Seed to grow a giant Christmas tree, but he became possessed by its power, and was transformed into a (literal, color-swapped) monster as a result. However, the Heroes of Mana helped Santa return to normal, and we all learned a valuable lesson about playing with someone else’s chestnuts. Except… uh… can we think about this for a minute? What holiday does Santa celebrate? Is it Christmas? Is there a Christ in the Mana world? Because there is definitely a Mana Goddess over there, as she has appeared and directly intervened in this world on multiple occasions. And she’s, like, tangible. Sometimes she’s your girlfriend! Is she in competition with a/the Christian God? Is Santa one of the last few believers in Christmas and, thus, Christ? In the name of Randi, what is going on here!?

The Seventh Day of Gaming Christmas: Batman: Arkham Origins

I AM THE NIGHTLet’s focus on something more plausible: it’s not easy being Batman: Arkham Origins. This is the forgotten middle child of the Arkham franchise; it is not the stellar premiere, the exhilarating Gargoyles fanfic, nor the one with the goddamned bat-tank. It wasn’t even developed by Rocksteady, so there are a number of people that don’t even consider B:AO a “real” Arkham title. But, try as they might, surly fans can’t take the most important thing away from Batman: Christmas. Batman may or may not be a strict Christian (all of that punching doesn’t seem very Jesus-y), but Christmas certainly exists in his world (actually, Batman has literally teamed up with an angel on occasion, so it’s factually true that capital-G God exists in the DC Universe), and this adventure takes place on Christmas Eve. And, granted, the setting might just be there to be a backdrop to explain why a blizzard has blocked off any not-coded sections of Gotham, but still! It is your favorite superhero opposite your favorite holiday (No, not Groot on Arbor Day). Like Twisted Metal or Parasite Eve before it, Batman: Arkham Origins effectively uses the Christmas setting for some holiday hijinks, so it’s more jolly than your average “here’s a Santa now” game.

The Eighth Day of Gaming Christmas: Home Alone

Like a certain flying mammal-themed hero, Kevin McCallister must repel criminals opposite a Christmas backdrop. And, while Batman only has a game or two that involves Christmas (I think the Sega CD version sneaks some Holidaze in there), every Home Alone game is Christmas themed. Did you know the Sega Genesis version involved filling up the Wet Bandit’s “pain meters”? Or that the SNES version was all about hording as much wealth as possible? Or that the NES version was absolutely awful? But regardless of platform, it’s always Christmas for Kevin, so Home Alone is indisputably a Christmas game. Granted, it is just because it is based on a Christmas movie, but we’ll ignore that technicality for the sake of the children.

The Ninth Day of Gaming Christmas: Elite Beat Agents

AGENTS ARE GOElite Beat Agents is not a Christmas game. However, it does include one level, A Christmas Gift, that features You’re the Inspiration, a song originally performed by Chicago. The premise of the stage is that young child Lucy Stevens (whom it is noted wants to marry someone like her dad) loses her father to an accident, and the Elite Beat Agents sing to inspire a little girl and her mother to reconcile in the face of a Christmas where daddy is never going to be home ever again. Or maybe he comes back as a ghost? And that’s the true spirit of Christmas? Whatever. What’s important is that if you fail this level, you simultaneously ruin Christmas, a seven-year-old’s day, and the entire afterlife of some bear-purchasing phantasm. So be extra careful with that stylus.

The Tenth Day of Gaming Christmas: Persona 4

WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING HEREI will admit that I have on occasion claimed to be an expert in Japanese culture. This is predominantly because I play a lot of videogames and watch a lot of anime, so I understand that Japanese people routinely ride their giant robots to please their fathers, transform into magical costumes to repel the Negaverse, and occasionally consume mushrooms to grow large. I have also learned much from the Persona franchise, which simulates the life of your typical Japanese high school boy and his ever expanding harm of classmates, teachers, and any random woman that happens to cross his path. And, most of all, I have learned that Christmas is apparently not a religious holiday in Japan, but a romantic one. You’re supposed to spend it with your sweetie! And deny any and all sexual autonomy of your mate, if at all possible! And maybe that’s why you go to jail on Christmas in Persona 5! … Maybe! In conclusion, Japan has a very rich and varied culture.

The Eleventh Day of Gaming Christmas: Holiday Lemmings

Here they goIt’s Lemmings, but everything is Christmas themed. Everything. This ain’t some Donkey Kong Country nonsense, this is Lemmings, but every lemming gets a Santa outfit, every song is Jingle Bells, and every level is celebrating an extremely White Christmas. Given there were multiple Holiday Lemmings releases over the years, this was probably as close as we could ever get to some annual holiday cheer from a popular gaming franchise back in the 90’s. Unfortunately, the Lemmings seem to have fallen off a cliff since the end of the 20th Century, so these Christmas capers have been lost to the ages. Should old Lemmings be forgot, and never brought to DOS, though, we still have the most prominent “Christmas Special” in gaming…

The Twelfth Day of Gaming Christmas: Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams

Nighty nightIt is impossible to relay the significance of Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams to modern audiences. You know Mario 64? The game the defined the Nintendo 64, and changed gaming forever? Well, imagine if, after the success of that, someone decided to release Mario 64 again, but it was only Bob-Omb Battlefield, and Mario had a new hat, but only when the internal clock hit a certain date. And, somehow, fans fixated hard on this barely new content, and regarded the whole thing as an entirely new game, because Mario made a passing mention of already collecting 120 stars or something. Well, NiGHTS was the Sega Saturn’s attempt to be Mario 64, and Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams is its bizarre, complimentary spinoff. It has a story! It has karaoke! It has Sonic the Hedgehog in 3-D for the first time ever! And it’s all completely dependent on the time of year, so if you want to see Santa, you better play on Christmas. It is also a scarce commodity, releasing only for the generally ignored Sega Saturn, and a Playstation 2 Sega Age re-release that changed a few things. Other than that, if you want to see NiGHTS as jolly as possible, you’re stuck, and you better hope Sega All-Stars Racing came up with some holiday DLC.

So Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams simply must be the most Christmas game there ever could be. It only truly works one day a year, is extremely limited, and is inexplicably the hottest item of the holiday season, despite being, ya know, friggin’ NiGHTS. Videogames as a whole may not have as many Christmas specials as other mediums, but there are at least a dozen or so games that mostly acknowledge Christmas exists.

Merry bananamas, Donkey Kong. Merry bananamas, everybody.

FGC #556 Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble!

  • System: Super Nintendo, Gameboy Advance, Wii, Wii U, and now Switch. You can find this Christmas cheer on an overwhelming number of Nintendo systems.
  • Number of players: That weird kind of Donkey Kong 2-player that nobody likes.
  • Let's have funPort-o-Call: The Gameboy Advance version made a number of changes, including redesigning the Brother Bears, adding a whole world and boss, and giving Cranky an actual place to shine (or something like that) in his own dojo. It’s kind of a shame the “basic” SNES version is the one that is rereleased over and over again.
  • Maybe actually talk about the game for a second: I like Donkey Kong Country 3 more than Donkey Kong Country 2. There. I said it. DKC3 is all over the place with a pile of half-baked gimmicks and techniques that last for maybe one stage, tops. And it’s disorienting! One random stage in the middle of the second world is a race? Comes out of nowhere, and is never seen again. But, that said, it seems like most of the bonus areas and their attendant challenges are at least related to the stage du jour, whereas DKC2 has that same kind of short attention span, but completely randomizes where what is a “challenge” is placed throughout the game. Or, put another way, I’m still salty about fake thorn vines in DKC2. All that said, all the DKC games are a fun time, but I might have had the least frustration with DKC3.
  • Favorite Kong: This game is so totally designed for Kiddy Kong that Dixie feels almost entirely perfunctory. I think I counted on one paw the number of times her float jump was useful, whereas Kiddy’s general roll and momentum was nearly always the answer (when you haven’t been transformed into another animal).
  • The Places You’ll Go: I always appreciated the interactive map/overworld of Donkey Kong Country 3. It might be a pain in the ass to have to steer your Kongs into a non-descript beach just to find a Banana Bird, but this does feel like the evolution of a “map world” first introduced in Super Mario Bros. 3. I always wanted to go exploring in those games, particularly with an ape-built helicopter.
  • It's snowyFavorite Boss: Belcha is a giant barrel that attempts to crowd the Kongs off the stage. He’s just like Crocomire, though less slimy (and less likely to become a skeleton). Possibly because he is so familiar, Belcha has always been my favorite, even if he is fought in the infinitely boring “mill” background.
  • Did you know? The official story for this game is that Donkey and Diddy were kidnapped during their fishing trip. I’m not certain “Donkey Kong fishing” has ever been seen before or since in the Donkey Kong franchise, but I am interested in seeing Link and DK team up to fish against Animal Crossing Villager and Byleth. Noctis can judge!
  • Would I play again: I like this Double Trouble, so I’ll probably play it again in… oh… Let’s say another five years.

What’s next? We’re going to toss some Kingdom Hearts nonsense in here, and then, a week from today, you’ll be able to read my annual year in review. Oh boy! My opinions on things! Please look forward to it!

FGC #101 Persona 4 Dancing All Night

Gaze into my eyesDid you enjoy Persona 4? Yes? Great! You’re not alone! Millions of gamers worldwide enjoyed Persona 4, and Atlus, ever one to hitch their wagon to a bucking bronco and hope for the best, decided to exploit that love with a series of Persona 4 spin-offs. Persona 4 wound up with its own portable redux (which was great!), two fighting games (which were alright!), and an Etrian dungeon crawler (if that’s your thing!). Then, when it seemed like we’d finally get Persona 4: Super Yosuke World, Atlus zagged and gave us a rhythm game, because… I guess Rise is an idol, so… why not?

Now, full disclosure, I love rhythm games. From Gitaroo-Man to Guitar Hero to Project Diva, I unashamedly enjoy rhythm games, primarily because I just like pressing buttons. Tell me you never tried to complete a Sonic the Hedgehog level by only jumping to the beat. No? Alright, fine. Maybe it’s just me. Whatever the reason, I’m not lining up on a cold January evening at midnight to get the latest Parappa game (should such a thing ever exist), but I do generally enjoy rhythm games, and, one way or another, the latest releases do have a way of showing up on my systems after a while (and that “while” usually means “flash sale”).

So, as someone who enjoys Persona and rhythm games, this game couldn’t be any more obviously my kind of game without including a little blue robot. But I must never assume I am the majority, even in the face of how many Transformers movies keep getting produced. Persona 4 was popular, but it was a JRPG, which is, give or take Mario & Luigi, about as far from a rhythm game as you can get. In the interest of helping a potentially confused populace, here’s a guide: ask yourself what you enjoyed about Persona 4, and then check below for how that translates to Persona 4: Dancing All night.

Did you play Persona 4 for the Social Links?

Bad news: everything about the Social Link system of Persona 4 was dropped for Dancing All Night. With the exception of family and party members, every single social link character has been completely lost, save a “secret” cameo by a certain Velvet room resident. ElectronicaOn one hand, this saves us from having to see expert trombonist Ayane Matsunaga ever again, on the other hand, we are deprived of a world where we can watch Mistress of Death Hisano Kuroda bust a move (and maybe a hip). Considering all the Persona 4 sequels (that phrase makes my brain itch) have played fast and loose with continuity, I’m not buying the “we didn’t bring back any of these characters because they were all optional” justification. I want to see Fox the fox dance for shrine offerings, dammit, I don’t want excuses!

Did you play Persona 4 for the calendar management sim?

Sorry, but no day planning for you. The entirety of this game takes place over three days or so, and you get absolutely no choices on how you want to spend your dancing time. Come to think of it, the plot of the game involves a universe with freaky, parallel time, which seems like a mere plot contrivance, but it could have allowed for perfect, 100% completion runs for choosing exactly when to eat a snack or study while in a nega-universe. Or maybe that sounds ridiculous by even Persona standards.

Did you play Persona 4 for the Dungeons/Battle System?

Woo, yeah, this is another one in the loss column. Yes, the party fights their way through shadows creeping over a series of dungeons, but it’s done entirely via text boxes. So, yes, there’s a dungeon involved, but, no, you don’t get to I'm sorryexplore an inch of it. Not that Persona 4’s dungeons were all that great to being with… but someone had to enjoy them? Right?

As far as the battle system of Persona 4, no, nothing returns. Obviously, this is a rhythm game, but there’s no attempt to implement the tiniest bit of Persona 4’s strategy into the gameplay. Particular hits to exploit elemental weaknesses or “all out” bonuses for making proper choices are not a possibility here, and the closest we get is calling in an additional party member when you’re already doing well. Considering the “strategy” involved with that is simply “don’t suck”, I have a hard time saying there’s any remains of the battle system here.

Did you play Persona 4 for all those whacky demons/gods?

If you enjoyed filling the pages of the compendium for Persona 4, great news! You don’t have to do that again… because Dancing All Night removes that idea entirely. Playing demon Pokémon with fusions and collections and leveling and skill mutating and whatever is all completely gone, and not coming back. It’s a shame, because I’m currently imagining a compendium with various international pop stars mix and matched with random mythological creatures and… no… No, it’s too beautiful for this world. David Bowie mixed with Helios? And he has skills that increase the odds of your combos continuing? It would be nice…

Did you play Persona 4 for the main cast?

Now we’re talking… Yes! Yes, Persona 4 Dancing All Night highlights all your favorite main characters, and even is the Persona 4 spin-off that takes place the I'm shipping thisfurthest in the future, so you get to see how everyone turns out. And it turns out… no one ever changes, and everyone will forever be exactly how you remember them, because character growth is for people in other franchises. Hell, a couple of characters have to backslide a bit just so they can have the exact same revelations all over again! Hooray for familiarity!

Did you play Persona 4 for the plot?

Well.. errmm… about that… uh…..

Did you play Persona 4 for a billion words with zero substance?

There we go!

Persona 4 was, at its core, a mystery, and a pretty interesting mystery at that. It established its stakes early, set forth a distinct pattern, and then challenged the player to find and assemble all clues into the correct answer. Fight your way to the truth, stay honest, do what’s right, and you’ll “achieve” the best ending in Persona 4 by being a good detective, and a good person.

Unfortunately, Persona 4 also assumed its audience was marginally brain-damaged, so it “reviewed” the plot on a monthly (in game) basis, which often led to the characters saying the same stupid things over and over to each other. Oh, you say there’s a fog involved? I completely forgot about that, given you only mentioned it seven times in the last two hours. It… got old fast.

SHUT UPThen again, I can’t really fault the writers of Persona 4, as the game can be an eighty hour experience, and not everyone has the kind of life that would allow for that time commitment all at once. It’s a pain when you’re marathoning the experience, but it’s a boon when you’re thirty hours into the game, but only have an hour or two a week to play. That would mean you’re, what, fifteen weeks away from when you started the story? Everyone plays video games differently, and there’s no reason to penalize a player that can’t hook the game to their veins.

So, in an eighty hour game, all that talky-talk makes sense. In a game that can be completely 100%’ed inside of ten hours? Not so much.

Persona 4 Dancing All Night really, really wants to be a visual novel. This may work in a JRPG, it even can pass in the Fighting Game genre with contemporaries like Blazblue and Guilty Gear, but a rhythm game? Oh my, no. When the average “battle” is something like three minutes long and very thumb-intensive, slapping ten minutes of dialogue on either side of the experience is exhausting. Yes, you can skip all the jibber-jabber, but, assuming you’re anything like me, there’s that fear that “there will be a test on this later”, and you’ll hit a brick wall because you don’t know what choice to make. If that sounds absurd, remember that that exact thing can bar you from the proper ending in Persona 4.

And all this wouldn’t even be that bad if the story wasn’t deliberately constructed in such a manner that the same stupid beats happen rapidly (and boringly) over and over again. When one of the characters is going the distance and lampshading the issue about 40% through the game…

THEN STOP IT

You know something’s up.

Yes, Persona 4 was a very talky game, but there was substance there, and the thousands of text boxes actually added up to something interesting. Here, the plot is obvious from the first fifteen minutes (particularly if you’ve, you know, played Persona 4), which is coincidentally how long it takes to get to the first dance in the game. Guys, I understand you likely slapped together this plot because you wanted to see the P4 cast experience some actually meaningful victories, and not just fluffy “yay you beat Bowser” quick wins… but this story still manages to be insubstantial. It’s going to a fancy steak house and being served an entrée of potato chips; all that effort, and you probably would have enjoyed it more in your pajamas.

But if you like Persona 4’s plot for just the words and words and words, congratulations, here’s your game.

Did you play Persona 4 for its music?

Oh, this is another good one! This game has a lot of really great music tracks from Persona 4 for some reason. It’s almost like that’s the entire point of So weird...the game, but that seems absurd, because there’s like an hour’s worth of music here, and approximately nine hours of dialogue. Your reward for completing the game isn’t more musical tracks, it’s more story, so, clearly, this must be a story-driven game. It’s nice that they included such a wide musical variety with the story, though.

So, Is Persona 4 Dancing All Night right for you?

Bow before your teddy-bear garbed master, you’re buying another Persona 4 spin-off whether you like it or not. Don’t you want to know what happens to Risette’s singing career? No? You’re not even a little bit curious? Come on, there’s shadows, and costumes, and the Velvet room. It’s all beary interesting! Come on, give it a whirl…

FGC #101 Persona 4 Dancing All Night

  • System: PS Vita. Oddly, so far, the only exclusive Vita games I’ve reviewed are Persona 4 based.
  • Number of players: One. Actually, this game might be two players, but that would require finding another Vita owner, and that doesn’t sound possible.
  • Special Ed: Yes, I ordered the special edition of this game about six months in advance from Amazon, and, yes, I still have Golden Disco Teddy on my keychain. I am a shameless mark for any and all Persona related merchandise. I think I own like six Persona art books…
  • Favorite Track: There’s a lot of great music in this game, but none of it is as ridiculous as the expanded Junes Theme. In a way, that song had to be in there, but in another? It’s like they expanded a McDonald’s jingle to three minutes, and then based a music video on it. That takes a special kind of dedication.
  • FrogmanFavorite Coda: So every character’s persona gets a rad solo for completing a song as flawlessly as possible. Each persona has a different featured instrument, and Chie’s Tomoe is equipped with a trumpet. I cannot describe how absolutely perfectly this makes sense and aligns with every lady trumpet player I have ever known. Congratulations, Persona 4, I now concede that you understand brass sections.
  • Did you know? I actually mentioned the “Rise was supposed to be a punk” trivia in the previous Persona 4 entry, but I want to revisit it because without “Risette the idol”, it’s likely that this game would have had to find a whole new excuse for its existence. Maybe Yosuke gets bored and hooks up with a dance troupe, and the rest of the cast has to join in to save him? It would have at least been more interesting than what we got…
  • Would I play again: Yes. I might be hard on the story mode of this game, but I love rhythm games, and, when you get down to it, the rhythm game part of this rhythm game is actually pretty good. And I like the music! Just have to ignore the part of the game that obviously involved the most production time…

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… The Legend of Zelda! Actually, ROB chose that Zelda compilation for the Gamecube, but I’m not reviewing four Zelda games at once, so we’re sticking to the original. 102 entry has the bomb. Please look forward to it!