Episode 47: What is Love?

Episode 47 Title Card

Arguably the most difficult emotion to represent in gaming is love, or at least in any sort of meaningful way. Developers like Bioware and P-Studio have been tackling the challenge for some time now with varying degrees of success. In this episode we discuss both the representation of platonic & romantic relationships in gaming; while also comparing and contrasting the Persona series with franchises like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Baldur’s Gate.

We ended up running fairly late with this one so we weren’t able to get to nearly as many questions as we should have, apologies in advance for that. Regardless though, this was one of the best episodes of the podcast to date.

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Thanks to Jintor for the show outtro.
Thanks to Serah for the title card.

Piano tracks from the Podcast provided by composer Doug Farrell, check out his work here:

We’re available on the itunes store, just search “S.Link FM” and subscribe! Also you’d be doing us a big favor if you gave us a review on itunes.

Question time: Love is in the air~

Portraying love in a meaningful way within a videogame while also giving the player agency in how a relationship plays out is something developers have struggled with for years now. Unless a game tells a linear narrative focused on love like Silent Hill 2 or Final Fantasy VIII, often games tend to trivialize it. There’s long since been a debate as to what developers and franchises “get it right” and of course Persona is in the heart of this discussion.

In the next episode, we plan to discuss the portrayal of love both in platonic & romantic ways  in Persona, and compare/contrast it with the likes of other franchises like Baldur’s Gate, Mass Effect, and whatever else may come to our minds. So if you have any questions or comments, now is the time to get them in!

(Header image by CJ)

Episode 46: The name’s Bond, Friendship Bond

Disclaimer: This episode is a spoilercast for Ultimax, if you haven’t finished the 3 story modes to might want to before listening to this episode.

On this Episode we discuss the bonds that bind us together, and what happens if someone has no bonds. Without any friendship bonds, a bondless villain might rise up and try to take away our bonds.

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Thanks to Jintor for the show outtro.
Thanks to Serah for the title card.

Piano tracks from the Podcast provided by composer Doug Farrell, check out his work here:

We’re available on the itunes store, just search “S.Link FM” and subscribe! Also you’d be doing us a big favor if you gave us a review on itunes.

Question time: Ultimax Spoilercast is happening this weekend

Well now that Ultimax has been out for a good while, it’s about time we do a podcast going over the events of the story mode. We’ll be going over the plot(s) of the three different campaigns and which will probably entail bonds, bonds, bonds, friendship, bonds, and bonds.

So if you have a particular question about the story mode or would just like to voice your thoughts in general, but all means post ‘em in the comments section below.

Episode 45: Casual Saturdays – Destiny

It’s time for another installment in our off topic series, this time Destiny is the topic at hand. We talk all about its faults, how important narrative is in gaming, and how Bungie has successfully created “Third Wheel: The game”.

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Thanks to TrueSelf for the title card.

Piano tracks(for every episode but this one) from the Podcast provided by composer Doug Farrell, check out his work here:

We’re available on the itunes store, just search “S.Link FM” and subscribe! Also you’d be doing us a big favor if you gave us a review on itunes.

Episode 44: Persona (Q)uestions with Nich Maragos

For Episode 44 we had the great pleasure of being joined by Nich Maragos, one of the key members of the localization staff over at Atlus USA. We talked all about the upcoming Persona Q, Nich’s encounters meeting several of the big names from Atlus Japan, and even the discussion of honorifics came up.

Apologies for the tardiness behind getting this episode out, but rest assured it was worth the wait!

Download Link (Right Click + Save as)

Thanks to Jintor for the show outtro.
Thanks to TrueSelf for the title card.

Piano tracks from the Podcast provided by composer Doug Farrell, check out his work here:

We’re available on the itunes store, just search “S.Link FM” and subscribe! Also you’d be doing us a big favor if you gave us a review on itunes.

Review: Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (Playstation 3[Reviewed], Xbox 360)
Reviewed by @Levito

Satiating the desires of several different communities with a single game is a difficult task for any developer, and it is one Arc System Works and Atlus have dealt with in their Persona 4 Arena series for some time now. The challenge being creating a title that appeals to the hardcore fighting-game fan well-versed in Arc’s history, while also satisfying the fans of Persona‘s traditional RPG roots. The first game attempted this and it was successful in varying degrees, depending on who you ask of course. Now Arc is taking another jab at the concept with Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, and it is time to see if it fairs better than its predecessor.

Note: Slight spoilers for the first Arena in the following couple paragraphs

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax’s narrative picks up immediately after the events of the first game, with both the Investigation Team and the Shadow Operatives heading their own separate investigations to discover the true identity of the elusive antagonist of the first game. Though there’s not much in the way of investigation to be done as Inaba becomes engulfed in a layer of red fog that gnarls the landscape into something sinister. General Teddie returns to announce that another P-1 Grand Prix is about to take place, insisting that if the entrants do not participate that the world will come to an end. Also, a mysterious young man named Sho Minazuki seems to be at the center of all the wrongdoings.

If you are one of the people that was not a fan of the story of the first game, Ultimax is not much of a step up in regards to the quality of the writing. While I believe it’s undeniably better than the first game, it’s certainly not up to the standard of the RPG series from which it originates. My biggest issue is there is not a lot in the way of character development, particularly on the P4 side where it feels like some characters have even regressed from the growth that occurred in Persona 4. The story mode certainly has its moments, especially on the P3 side, but overall you should probably approach this with a “dumb fun” mentality rather than expect a truly gripping narrative. While normally I would never expect an excellent story from a fighting game, it stings a bit because they tried to set up a big overarching plot line over two games and in the end it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Probably the biggest improvement to Ultimax’s story mode over the first game is its presentation. In order to see the entire story of the first game, you had to play through every single character’s individual story route. Normally that wouldn’t be an issue, but each path was more or less the same plot points retreaded over and over with lots of fluff in between. This time around however, Arc opted for a more concise approach to how the story plays out. There’s a large branching tarot card tree that basically allows the player some degree of choice to see how the story unfolds, with each tarot card representing a small portion of the story you can choose to play. That’s not to say that the narrative has a lot of branches and it’s affected heavily by play choice, but it cuts things up into smaller bite-sized chucks while also removing the repetition that plagued the story mode of the first game.

While Ultimax’s narrative is lacking, the things it *needed* to get right like the gameplay, it got absolutely right. Now anyone that listens to the podcast knows that asking me about the intricacies of a fighting game is like asking GWAR advice on how to keep an audience civil during a concert. However, despite my lack of knowledge with regards to the technical merits of the actual mechanics, Ultimax succeeds where most other fighting games have failed for me: it genuinely filled me with the desire to learn all about its inner workings. Whether you decide to play through the story mode at first or just start with the basics in the wonderfully helpful tutorial mode, the game does well to not overwhelm novice players like myself. Furthermore, things like auto combos will help you to not feel useless in your first few bouts with other players; though make no mistake, a skilled player will laugh at your attempt to auto combo your way to victory. It’s a game that is easy to learn on a fundamental level, but you’ll have to really work to understand it to actually be any good. My advice for players just starting out would be to choose either Chie or Mitsuru as a starter just to get a feel for combat, as both of their attacks have quite large hitboxes. Of course you should experiment with everyone on the roster and choose a main that really accentuates your strengths, and more importantly, someone that you enjoy playing as. In my case I’ve taking quite a liking to how Yukiko plays– big fan of the zoning game she’s got going on.

Like with most fighting games the majority of your time spent with the game will probably be with others, and for someone like me it can be difficult playing with others as there is not really a local fighting-game scene where I live. Thankfully the netcode for Ultimax is pretty freaking fantastic. In the numerous hours I have spent battling with others online, I can count the amount of awfully laggy matches on one hand. When you initially start an online match, there’s a brief stage intro that will play that seems to act as a bit of a time buffer for players to smoothly connect to one another. Usually these stage intros will stutter a lot initially but will progressively smooth out as both players get a decent connection. It’s a great way to compensate for the initial lag build up. There’s also a multitude of different lobby systems that help easily bring you and your friends together to keep the pace of matches smooth.

Earlier I mentioned that the presentation of the story mode was an improvement from the first game. Well that excellent presentation extends over to the visuals in the game too. Ultimax sports some of the most gorgeous 2D sprite work that Arc has ever put into a project. The new playable characters really highlight how much better the animation is over that of the first Arena. Rise in particular is the standout; her standing idle animation is perfectly in line with her personality, and all of her moves are like throwbacks to Elvis Presley’s stage antics. All of the characters’ personalities are well defined in their sprite work, it’s really a testament to how excellent the art direction is. Even despite the fact that the game is only available on last-generation hardware, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is one of the most gorgeous games released this year.

Ever since the original release of Persona 3, the series has become well known for having excellent soundtracks. A tradition that carries over to Ultimax as well, for the most part. The main theme Break out of…” sung by Hirata Shihoko & Lotus Juice is arguably one of the best songs in the history of the franchise. There have been several instances where I found myself just sitting at the title screen listening to that song. Probably my only real complaint with the soundtrack though is there isn’t quite enough new music, or at least not enough that resonates the way the main theme does.

Probably the most surprising thing about Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is the fact that it’s absolutely brimming with content. The story modes for the P3 and P4 casts (and Adachi’s campaign if you download him) are likely to run you around the 14-18 hour mark. Not to mention the strangely addictive RPG-like Golden Arena mode where you can level up and increase the stats of whichever character you choose. Really though, when it comes to “bang for your buck”, Ultimax delivers and then some.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax walks a fine line in its goal of appealing to both the hardcore fighting-game fan and the fan of the Persona RPG series. Obviously I can only really speak on behalf of one side of that duo, but as a whole I would say the game is quite successful in what it sets out to accomplish. More than that though, for the first time in years a fighting game has hooked me to the point where I want to learn all of its intricacies.

8/10

Episode 43: Cosplay n’ Coffee with Priscilla Kimm

As promised, for Episode 43 of S.Link FM we had the pleasure of being joined by cosplayers Cerulean, Woodwarder, and of course Priscilla Kimm! This is a shorter episode, but it was pretty informative and a lot of fun too. We went over cosplay culture, what’s particularly appealing about Soeijima’s character designs to cosplayers, and several other topics. If you have ever wanted to put together your own cosplay but were too wary to do so for whatever reason, now you can hear from a bunch of pros how to overcome any hurdle.

Thanks again to Cerulean, Woodwarder, and Priscilla for coming on the show.

Download Link (Right Click + Save as)

Thanks to Jintor for the show outtro.
Thanks to TrueSelf for the title card.

Piano tracks from the Podcast provided by composer Doug Farrell, check out his work here:

We’re available on the itunes store, just search “S.Link FM” and subscribe! Also you’d be doing us a big favor if you gave us a review on itunes.

Question Time with Nich Maragos from Atlus

The hype for Persona Q is so great that it’s nearly tangible at this point, and for good reason. So for Episode 44 of the podcast, we’re very fortunate to be joined by Nich Maragos from Atlus to talk all about the game.

Nich has been part of the localizing team at Atlus USA for a number of years now, with Persona Q being one of his current projects. So if you have a question regarding the localization process, what it’s like working at Atlus, and of course details about Persona Q by all means ask away in the comments section below!

Note: This Episode will be recording on ht 28th, so you have just over a week to get in a question.

Episode 42: Casual Saturdays – Despair Strikes Back

Spoiler warning: We dissect many details of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair’s plot in this episode.

It’s time for another Casual Saturdays, and this time the discussion focuses on Danganronpa: Goodbye Despair. You really shouldn’t listen to this episode until you’ve finished both Danganronpa 1 and 2.

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Link dump:

Piano tracks from the Podcast provided by composer Doug Farrell, check out his work here:

We’re available on the itunes store, just search “S.Link FM” and subscribe! Also you’d be doing us a big favor if you gave us a review on itunes.

Question time with cosplay extraordinaire Priscilla Kimm!


Cosplay is becoming increasingly synonymous with gaming culture as a whole, and you’ll find few fandoms as passionate about it as Persona. We’ve talked briefly about cosplay on the podcast in previous episodes, but now we’re going to dedicate an episode solely to it! Happy to announce that for Episode 43 of S.Link we’re bringing on cosplayer Priscilla Kimm!

Priscilla has been cosplaying for a number of years now(check out her work here), and has a wealth of knowledge regarding both the culture and craft behind the scene. You also may have recognized her *awesome* Rise cosplay from this past EVO. She’ll also be bringing on several of her friends that are also cosplayers too!

So if you have any questions at all regarding any aspect of cosplay, but sure to leave a comment below! We record this Episode on the 19th!

(PS: We’re going to be doing a Danganronpa 2 off topic spoilercast before this episode as well, just encase there was any confusion regarding the episode number.)

Episode 41: S.Link FM vs. Zeboyd Games with Bill Stiernberg

wow

On Episode 41 of S. Link FM, we had the wonderful opportunity to speak to Indie game developer Bill Stiernberg from Zeboyd Games! Bill is one half of the the team that brought out recent cult classic RPGs like Breath of Death VII, Cthulhu Saves the World, and is currently working on the highly anticipated Cosmic Star Heroine.

We talked all about what we like about Persona, and just what makes a good RPG in general. Warning: excessive Chrono Trigger talk.(but really you don’t need a warning cause Chrono Trigger is amazing)

Disclaimer: The episode was recorded before the Persona 5 reveal, we’ll surely have an episode about that in the coming days!

Download Link (Right Click + Save as)

Thanks to Jintor for the show outtro.
Thanks… to Armada for the title card.

Piano tracks from the Podcast provided by composer Doug Farrell, check out his work here:

We’re available on the itunes store, just search “S.Link FM” and subscribe! Also you’d be doing us a big favor if you gave us a review on itunes.

Episode 40: Let’s Fighting Love with Dacidbro, Lordknight, and Atlusprime!

The journey has culminated, after 39 Episodes we’ve finally reached the first big landmark in the podcast’s history. To celebrate this occasion we’ve got an all star panel to discuss Ultimax, EVO, and the future of anime fighting games.That panel includes the legend and our old friend Dacidbro. The Persona 4 Arena EVO 2014 champion LordKnight. Finally we actually managed to convince someone some Atlus to join the panel, that’s right–John Hardin AKA Atlusprime is on this episode as well!

The anticipation was great for this Episode, but it feels like we surpassed the hype. Hope you all enjoy this one, as it’s one of the best episodes yet!

Download Link (Right Click + Save as)

Thanks to Jintor for the show outtro.
Thanks to TrueSelf for the title card.

Piano tracks from the Podcast provided by composer Doug Farrell, check out his work here:

We’re available on the itunes store, just search “S.Link FM” and subscribe! Also you’d be doing us a big favor if you gave us a review on itunes.

Question Time with Dacidbro, Lordknight, and Atlusprime.

fightquestion

For the 40th Episode of S.Link FM we’re bringing out the big guns, or at least for those of us that love fighting games. Old friend of the show Dacidbro is coming back, as well as this year’s EVO Persona 4 Arena champion Lordknight. Last but certainly not least, we somehow convinced someone from Atlus to come on the show. That’s right, John Hardin AKA Atlusprime will be on this panel as well!

This episode we plan to discuss Persona 4 Ultimax, EVO 2015, the future of anime fighting games, and of course whatever else you want to ask the panel about! So post your questions below and we’ll pick out the best of the lot.

Note: We’ll be recording this episode on August 15th, so you’ve got just over a week to get a question in.

(For the future: all question posts will be titled “Question Time” so we don’t have stupidly long titles on the site anymore)

Episode 39: The Waifu Of Wall Street

If you call yourself a Persona fan, chances are you’ve found yourself surrounded by the “waifu” phenomenon at one point or another. Idol worship has practically become synonymous with anime and a lot Japanese games as a whole by fans, and Persona is no exception.Though it’s fascinating to consider how much of that culture is a product of the community, and how much of it is deliberately encouraged on the part of the developers. On this episode of S. Link FM, we discuss the economics surrounding around best girl. (Yes, this episode is just as ridiculous as the description suggests)

Download Link (Right Click + Save as)

Thanks to Jintor for the show outtro.
Thanks to TrueSelf for the title card.

Piano tracks from the Podcast provided by composer Doug Farrell, check out his work here:

We’re available on the itunes store, just search “S.Link FM” and subscribe! Also you’d be doing us a big favor if you gave us a review on itunes.

Episode 38: Casual Saturdays – Podcast Crusaders

You thought this was a Persona podcast BUT IT WAS ME, DIO! On this installment of our Casual Saturdays off topic series, the show is hijacked by a bunch of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure fans.

Spoiler warning in advance.

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Thanks to Jintor for the show outtro.
Thanks to TrueSelf for the title card.

Piano tracks from the Podcast provided by composer Doug Farrell, check out his work here:

We’re available on the itunes store, just search “S.Link FM” and subscribe! Also you’d be doing us a big favor if you gave us a review on itunes.

Episode 37: Re-Enter the Dragon with Erin Fitzgerald

A year has past since the first time we spoke with voice actress Erin Fitzgerald, and it’s remained our most popular episode to date. So due to fan demand, we made sure there was a follow up.

This episode Erin goes into why Chie is an important role to her, shares details on how hard it was to voice the infected in The Last Of Us, and nearly makes Pan keel over by doing several Ed, Edd and Eddy voices.

Enjoy!

(PS: Apologies that we didn’t get to everyone’s comments/questions, that’s just how it goes sometimes)

Download Link (Right Click + Save as)

Thanks to Jintor for the show outtro.
Thanks to TrueSelf for the title card.

Piano tracks from the Podcast provided by composer Doug Farrell, check out his work here:

We’re available on the itunes store, just search “S.Link FM” and subscribe! Also you’d be doing us a big favor if you gave us a review on itunes.

Erin Fitzgerald is coming back on the podcast soon, get those questions in!

To date the single most popular episode of the podcast was when we interviewed Erin Fitzgerald. It’s been well over a year since that episode happened, and yet people still regularly let us know how much they enjoyed that episode, and that we should have Erin on again sometime.

Well good news, Erin’s coming back for episode 37. For the the newer listeners that may not be aware: Erin was the English voice of Chie Satonaka in Persona 4: Arena, Persona 4: The Golden, and Persona 4: The Animation. Not to mention the upcoming Ultimax and Persona Q!

So you know the drill, leave your questions below. As with every actor we have on, you can leave a question pertaining to any of their roles, doesn’t have to be Persona related!

Episode 36: Casual Saturdays – Who’s Your Teddie? (E3 2014)

On this new installment of our off topic series, we discuss everything that went down at E3 2014. From our favorite games of the show to our biggest disappointments, it’s all here. Don’t worry though, we don’t complain that Persona 5 wasn’t there. (No really, we don’t)

Download Link (Right Click + Save as)

Thanks to Jintor for the show outtro.
Thanks to TrueSelf for the title card.

Piano tracks from the Podcast provided by composer Doug Farrell, check out his work here:

We’re available on the itunes store, just search “S.Link FM” and subscribe! Also you’d be doing us a big favor if you gave us a review on itunes.

Episode 35: Spring of Birth Commentary

Have you ever wanted to watch a movie and hear those lovely S. Link FM folks opinions on it as you watch?….No? Well too bad, cause we’ve we’ve done our first movie commentary. Naturally, it’s for the first Persona 3 movie: Spring Of Birth. There are instructions in the actual audio as to how to sync up your movie and the audio.

So kick back, put on your favorite Dark Tranquillity t-shirt, and bare witness to how damn fabulous Mitsuru is. #swaggerjacker

Download Link (Right Click + Save as)

Thanks to Jintor for the show outtro.
Thanks to TrueSelf for the title card.

Piano tracks from the Podcast provided by composer Doug Farrell, check out his work here:

We’re available on the itunes store, just search “S.Link FM” and subscribe! Also you’d be doing us a big favor if you gave us a review on itunes.