Breaking from its singular RPG stage two years ago, Persona made its mark in the USA with its crossover fighting game: Persona 4 Arena. With only four buttons, two for physical attacks and two for persona (a magical being that emerges from the character’s soul) attacks, people of all skill levels are able to enjoy this game.
Now the fighter is back again with its sequel: Persona 4 Arena: Ultimax, or P4U. The name has been rebranded to fit American tastes, whereas in Japan the game was officially named Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Ultra Suplex Hold, where it was released originally early in September.
P4U is a four button fighting game that uses two physical button attacks and two persona attacks. That is pretty much all there is for description since the story really is not relevant at all. (Seriously. No one plays it. Ever.)
The game has special moves to spice up the action. A burst is an unblockable defense move that stops the attacking player mid combo, thus making them drop the combo. This gives the player an opportunity to attack their opponent and make a comeback within the round. Every character has a persona that performs different moves which allows them to be good at one of those three methods of attack.
The new game adds a plethora of new players, including side characters from previous Persona games. Junpei Iori, Yukari Takeba and Ken & Konamaru (Persona‘s first fighting game duo) join the game from the Persona 3 FES series. From Persona 4 Golden are Rise Kujikawa, Marie, Adachi and Margaret. Although apart from Rise, Persona 4 Golden characters come exclusively from downloadable content.
The final new addition is Sho, someone who has never been in a persona game before. Adding to his debut, Sho stand out with two playable versions of himself. “Minazuki” is his persona version, attacking with dual swords and his teleporting persona. “Sho” himself has no persona, instead relying on only his swords.
Finally, Persona 4 ultimax doubles its cast by introducing Shadow Mode Characters. Excluding Sho/Minazuki and shadow Labrys, all characters can also be played in Shadow Mode. In this state, characters have no awakening mode or burst and do less damage than normal. In exchange, Shadow Mode characters have more health and, to make up for the lack of a burst, they can go into “shadow frenzy,” which replaces characters’ lost burst, allowing them to chain moves almost indefinitely.
Playing the game is simple, use the four buttons to string together moves, thus “comboing.” Combo the opponent until their energy level runs out. A player must win 2/3 of the rounds in order to beat their opponent.
The game is fast and extremely technical, because not all moves will connect to one another. Players have to come up with strategies based on their opponent, as every “match up” (as in how well one character plays against another) is different. Sometimes one has to play “neutral,” which means playing in the middle of the stage. Other times they have to “zone,” which is to play from far away. There are also times where one has to rush down, which is really going at the opponent and using the fastest moves.
Persona 4 Arena: Ultimax releases in the USA on November 20. It can be preordered digitally or physically at GameStop for PS3 and Xbox 360. GameStop offers an exclusive preorder bonus including an 18-inch Teddie Backpack, Velvet Room tarot cards and the DLC characters Marie and Adachi. In addition, Margaret is due for release before the end of the year and will be $7.99 on PSN and The Microsoft Store.
by Mia Martin