Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Review
Overall 8

Atlus’ Persona series is practically a household name at this point, with RPGs, musicals, dancing games, anime DVDs, and even naughty videos to its name. The latest addition to the Persona family, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, is looking to shake up the fighting scene yet again. Is this spinoff sequel worth a second bout in the ring?

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Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Review

Atlus’ Persona series is practically a household name at this point, with RPGs, musicals, dancing games, anime adaptations, and even naughty videos to its name. The latest addition to the Persona family, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, is looking to shake up the fighting scene once again. Is this spinoff sequel worth a second bout in the ring?

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Review

The perfect spinoff is one that appeals to gamers one and all, veterans and newcomers. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax does this quite well, packing a fighting game system in line with faster-paced fighters like Marvel vs. Capcom or Guilty Gear. Quarter-circle moves are still the name of the game, but its Persona mechanic allows users to call out an ally to fight alongside their player. This adds an element of depth, offering a risk-reward system that places an emphasis on both your location and that of your Persona.

But let’s say you already knew all of that from playing the original Persona 4 Arena. Does Persona 4 Arena Ultimax bring anything new to the table? In many ways, it does. In addition to a handful of new characters cherry-picked and customized from both Persona 3 and Persona 4, there are also new stages and other bells and whistles fighting game fans have come to expect. However, the already-solid fighting game engine has gotten a few tweaks itself. Character balances and new moves are a given, but a new “Shadow” mode for most of the characters allows players to trade in the defensive “Burst” move for a brief offensive rush in the form of unlimited super moves. It might not be as revolutionary as Street Fighter III’s parry system or Guilty Gear’s Roman Cancels, but it is still a welcome mechanic.

Of course, it’s not just the fighting game system that received an overhaul. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax still has the fighting game staples accounted for (Arcade, Versus, Training), but it also toys around with other well-established modes. Golden Arena, a take on the time-honored survival mode, gives players the chance to level up their character’s offense and defense RPG-style through experience earned in bouts. Lobbies have also been added, giving players the chance to use “chibi” (read: adorable) members of the Persona cast in an arcade setting.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Review - Gamers Heroes

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Review – Gamers Heroes

The biggest addition, however, has to be Persona 4 Arena Ultimax’s story mode. Much like the story mode of the original, players can expect to spend hours diving into a custom-made story (with voice acting!) that canonically ties into the Persona 3/4 universe. Those who haven’t sunk 60+ hours into Persona 4 proper will likely be lost amidst the cameos and nods to previous games. However, those who have already reached out to the truth will appreciate its tale of the P-1 Climax, Persona fragments, and people behaving badly. Just don’t expect the deepest tale around — the lack of exploration and choice makes it less of an RPG and more of a visual novel.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is a great evolution to an already solid game. While it is disappointing to see this as a standalone release rather than a DLC expansion, the number of new features make it a solid buy for fans and fighters alike. Just expect an evolution, not a revolution.

This review of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax was based on the PlayStation 3 version. The game was purchased digitally off of PSN.