Persona 4 Golden has finally come out on a Portable System - Switch Impressions

I can’t believe Atlus has finally done it. Persona 4 Golden, on the Nintendo Switch. Persona 4, on a portable system. In all the fifteen years since Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 graced our shelves on the PlayStation 2 we’ve never once gotten an official portable version of this beloved classic. Granted, you could argue that a Steam Deck would count as it can play Golden (although the name of the original console this version debuted on alludes me for some reason…), but I don’t think that really counts. Here it is, Persona 4 on a portable system. It's real.

Jokes aside, I never had any doubts that Persona 4 would run well on Switch. Persona 4 is a special game to me for a few reasons, it got me into JRPGs and then got me to buy a Vita. That might not seem like a huge deal, but it massively expanded my horizons thanks to its backwards compatability with almost every PS1 and PSP game.

As someone who has spent hundreds of hours on the Vita version, I just always figured the Switch version would be a home run. Especially since it is seemingly based on the excellent PC conversion that dropped in 2020. 

This is one of those ports that really is a best-case scenario. I have so very little to discuss because it just does its job that well. If you’ve read Adam’s indepth review on the PC release or just played it, you’re basically getting that version of the game on Switch. The system settings are even the same, outside of the ability to heavily customize your graphics settings. The contrast setting has carried over though, so if you’d like to mimic the experience of playing Persona 4 Golden on different kinds of Vita screens, there’s that too. 

Can I just say, I think the Slim Vita gets a bad rap? My first and most recent times playing Golden were on OLED screens (Original Vita and the Switch OLED you’ll often hear me mention in my port reviews), I get the appeal. The Slim Vita felt so good, I quite miss playing games on that comfortable little handheld. The screen wasn’t too bad either, contrary to popular belief.

Having said that, I do need to brush aside my Vita nostalgia and admit - this is now probably the best way to play this game on a portable. The resolution boost is quite nice and the assets in HD on the OLED screen look great.

They even got this running at 60 FPS. I mean, I don’t see any reason why a Switch port of a very optimized PC port of a PS Vita version of a PS2 game would struggle to run at 60 FPS. But, if you’re the worrying type, rest assured that it does run well. I don’t have the ability to measure framerate outside of skimming frames in my video editor to confirm that it does target 60 FPS, and I don’t think I noticed many dips. If they existed, they were very minor ones depending on certain spells or abilities cast in battle, and there’s a likely chance you won't notice. 

The biggest new addition to Persona 4 Golden’s new console ports isn’t even a major one, but the ability to Suspend Save and quit out to the main menu to resume the game later. Combine this with the PC version’s change to make the previous New Game Plus’ customizable difficulty options available from the start, you basically have the best version of Golden you can imagine if you’re not a PC gamer.

Now, despite Persona 4 being a foundational game for me I will admit it hasn’t aged the best in a few areas. I’m not even talking about the story content, which I genuinely don’t wish to stoke the flames of discourse on. It feels like a transitional game between 3 and 5 in a lot of areas, and it had some awkward steps with fleshing out the series’ new systems.

This, even more than Persona 3, decided the future of where Persona will go. This game has an undeniable legacy, for better and for worse. Despite that, I think I’ll always harbor some amount of love for this fun murder mystery in the town of Inaba. It's an infectious game that manages to stay with you despite the faults. 

Revisiting it on Switch, I’m left very whelmed. In a weird way, I don’t feel like this is as impressive of a port as last year’s Persona 5 on Switch. When I think “I want a modern version of Persona 4 on Consoles, and then that to run on Switch” this is exactly what I expected. To a tee. There haven’t been any awkward fumbles in bringing this over, this is the same game you remember, on Switch. The devs did their job well, it doesn’t carry with it any of the negative connotations that often comes with Switch ports. But, that’s to be expected given that there shouldn’t be any reason why it would run poorly on Switch.

If you’re looking for a revisit of Persona 4, or have just never played it, the Switch version has been pretty great. Although, if you'd allow me to nitpick, I do think the font is comically large on both this and the PC version. It takes up so much screen real estate.