The Sho Must Go On: Persona 4 Arena Ultimax | Review
The show does go on, and it’s even better this time. Atlus and Arc System Works adds more to an already packed fighter. Fans of Persona are in for a treat, and newcomers will enjoy their stay with all the available options and modes in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax.
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax continues from where the previous Arena game left. It evolves around the mysterious Midnight Channel from the First Arena game, but this time it’s different. You and friends uncover that the TV world is suddenly becoming a reality. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax does a great job of telling you the stories through text accompanied by great voice acting and anime cut-scenes which push it forward. You also find out what happens to the characters from Persona 3 as they play a much more important role in Ultimax. For a fighter, this means a lot as they have reasons to fight, and it’s not hidden in a manual or waiting for the developers to mention it outside the game. The options, while viewing the story, are great as you can read all the text or auto play it with voice overs. None of them are grating and for a fighter very well done.
You may already think Persona 4 Arena Ultimax looks difficult with all the flashy moves flying across the screen, but Arc System Works created one of the very best tutorial modes ever made. The tutorial goes through the ins and outs of the fighting mechanics. Persona fans shouldn’t be afraid to take part in Arena. It does show that you could really get fans interested in another genre just by teaching them the core mechanics. I really commend Arc System Works for doing a great job. Even though I do have a background playing fighting games, the work in the tutorial mode alone is above and beyond.
Added to the cast are Junpei, Ken and Konomaru, and Yukari from Persona 3. General Teddie returns, and also newly added Sho Minuzaki arrives as a mysterious antagonist. Sho Minuzaki gets two slots on the character select screen, one with a Persona and the other just himself. Sho, a beginner friendly character, wields two katana and so does his unknown Persona. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, as a fighter, is very unique compared to something like Street Fighter or Killer Instinct because you also have a gauge for how much your Persona can get hit during the match. Personas can come out and assist you on moves, so once it gets hit too much your access to them is denied for a few seconds. Another thing to note, some characters have unique gameplay systems that only pertain to them, such as newcomer Junpei who gets a baseball like scoring system for attack power ups during battle.
Also added to Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is Golden Arena mode, which has you fighting countless opponents reminiscent to that of a dungeon. Each floor tackles a new opponent. This may seem typical, but the Golden Arena mode adds stat boost and status effects onto your attacks. As you defeat opponents, skill points are awarded, so you can level up your strength and speed. This mode is very reminiscent of World Tour mode from Street Fighter Alpha 3 on consoles because that mode also let you level up your characters. It adds on to the overall value so once you get done with story mode or just want to play single player you can always head to the Golden Arena for challenges. Online, I did find a few inconveniences where it would keep searching for opponents. It was unfortunate having such a laggy experience to such a great game. I even had to reset my console twice, but overall it’s better to play this locally as i would expect no fighter is perfect at network play.
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is another case of catering to your fans. If you’re coming in from Persona 4 Golden or any of the previous Persona RPGs, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is like a celebration of Persona down to the menus and music. Expect to hear plenty of tracks from the game series. Visually, everything pops from the screen, and that’s a good thing. You get to see the class rooms and Inaba in gorgeous 2D artwork, and everything runs smoothly. One thing I noticed with Arc System Works game is the over scanning of the screen. It automatically defaults to it. Some people won’t recognize it at first, but if you notice, you can barely see your health bars. I would advise to go into options and display settings to fix it because, on some TVs, you might be missing half the special bar or health bar.
If you’re a big Persona fan, I would highly recommend this game. It has all your favorite characters spanning the series and is very enjoyable by yourself or with friends. You will appreciate all the work that went into it and rekindle your love for the cast. Newcomers, if you’re interested in this fighter, I recommend it. While it may look like a lot of the attacks are difficult to pull off, they do a good job of easing you into the core gameplay. It will also give you a glimpse of how all the characters are in Persona, and it might get you to buy the wonderful previous installments.
+ Fun Story Mode, Well Done for a Fighter
– Online Mode still can turn you off
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is out now for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.