Saturday, March 7, 2009

Off the Wagon

I've mentioned here before that I'm a recovered Video Game Junkie. I could park in front of the Tube with a controller in hand to the point where I would start growing moss. I've spent Summers with friends playing Mario Kart and Super Bomberman almost every day.

A year ago, I finally picked up my first video game console that was made in the 21st Centrury. I've also picked up a PlayStation 2 to match it, because Sony decided not to make the 40GB console backwards compatable with PS2 games. I was surprised how little I played these things after I purchased them. an hour or two here, part of a Saturday Afternoon there, but I didn't log more than one or two hours in any one day that I played. I still have about four games that I purchased that Still haven't seen the inside of my PS3. I thought I had left that part of me behind.

Then, late one night there's a knock on the Door. I open it. There's a familiar looking monkey standing there, and he's holding something.

"Whadya have there, little friend?" I ask him. He hands it to me. It's a Playstation 2 game called Persona 4.

I look over the cover. One of those new Japanese RPGs that features a menu based combat system, and also features a kind of high school social networking mechanic, a popular recent addition to these kinds of games from Japan.

While I was distracted, the Monkey which gave me the game pounced. He put me in a full nelson, and triumphantly climbed onto my back, chattering all the way. That was when I remembered where I saw this back-dwelling monkey. I sent him packing after I replaced Video Games with Magic: The Gathering as my timesink of choice. And now he has returned.

Anyway, this monkey used a game to get his foot back in the door, so I decided to play it, in the hopes that I could finish it, and then concentrate on ditching him like I had done 8 years ago. Ah... JRPGs... Almost 40 hours of game play, and I still feel like I'm only about halfway through, if that far.

Here's the plot (if not so deep in Gameplay, JRPGs Overcompensate this shortcoming with Plot, if your lucky it might remotely makes sense). You're a 2nd year high school student in Japan who's parents take a contract job overseas. You are sent to live with your uncle, who is a Detective in Inaba, a little rural town in Japan. Hmm... The protagonist moves away from the Big City, to live in nowhere-ville. Already, I can relate to him!

The day you arrive, there's a local news personality is murdered, shortly after the Affair she's been having with a local polititian has been uncovered. A few days later, a local school student is murdered, and her body is found the same way as the first; draped over a rooftop TV Antenna. You and a few of your new schoolmates find another world after going through the TV Poltergeist style, and find a connection to that world and the recent murders. The rest of the game is spent social networking with your school mates, which give you combat powers when fighting monsters in the TV World.

As odd as this sounds, it's still more logical than some Anime and JRPGs I've seen.

Anyway, the monotonoius menu combat is broken up nicely by the social networking sim, where you make friends and strengthen those bonds by spending time with them after school, or sharing lunch with them. Also, you'll be asked to converse in some delicate situations so you'll need to boost attributes like courage, understanding, dilligence, expression and knowledge to be better able to deal with them.

It's kinda like somebody accidentally spilled Final Fantasy on The Sims, then tried to mop it up with pages torn from Manga.

I've spent the better part of the past two Saturdays playing it. When I was a kid, I'd get kicked off the TV if I would have spent even one third of that time playing games. Now, I can get all day marathons in. Such are the advantages of being a single adult.

I'll probably go back to my orginal schedule of maybe 6-8 hours of game time the per week after I finish this, but for right now, me and the Monkey are catching up on old times.

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