Overall - 80%
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax has remained an arcade staple for good reason - it’s got a perfect learning curve, fantastic sprite work, and oodles of fanservice. However, this lackluster port job is a disservice to the title. If you’ve never checked out the Midnight Channel, it’s a must play; however, those who have years of experience might feel like this is a rerun.
Yu, Teddie, and the rest of the Inaba crew have grand plans to enter the P-1 Grand Prix once more with this release of Arc System Works and Atlus West’s Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. This 2D fighter has garnered a cult following over the years; should players throw down with the Investigation Team once more?
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Review
For those just tuning in, the 2D fighting action of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax takes cues from Arc System Works’ other fighters like BlazBlue and Guilty Gear. Players will still be throwing down as they set out to whittle the opponents’ health down through combos, special SP skills that use meter, and knockback bursts that can get players out of sticky situations. There’s also some unique mechanics all its own, including the All-Out Attack and the One More Cancel. Newcomers need not worry, though; its gradual learning curve promotes growth while still providing the tools for high level play.
A four button system with two light attacks and two heavy ones serves as the foundation, but there’s one key thing that separates this particular arena from the rest: personas.
Much like the Persona 4 JRPG, players can summon a persona out to help them do some downright cool stuff. Whether it’s setting the world ablaze with Agidyne, unleashing a Ziodyne electric hellfire, or poisoning your foe with a Tentarafoo miasma, there’s plenty of methods of destruction to choose from. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is full of variety; this is one fighter that prides itself on its matchups.
However, one can’t just spam said personas and hope for the best – dealing damage to an opponents’ persona causes one of their persona cards to disappear. Do that enough times, and a Persona Break will occur that prevents them from pulling this ally out in battle. It adds a bit of defensiveness to play, as one needs to be mindful of one’s self and their persona. While it takes some getting used to, it’s still welcome nonetheless.
Those who are well-versed in this fighter from the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 days (you can read our review here) will be shocked to see that this title is a carbon copy of the original. The visual novel Story Mode, survival-based Golden Arena Mode, combo-based Challenge Mode, and Score Attack Mode are unchanged.
This normally wouldn’t be a bad thing, as the game provides a fair amount of variety. However, this is a direct port after eight years stateside – even a different menu or mode would have gone a long way to freshen this one up. DLC fighters, story modes, and announcers all come standard as part of this package, but it doesn’t prevent this port from feeling a bit lackluster. The release will receive rollback netcode this summer, but the lobby system from the PlayStation 4 version (and PlayStation 3 version for that matter) was not in the Steam version we reviewed.
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax has remained an arcade staple for good reason – it’s got a perfect learning curve, fantastic sprite work, and oodles of fanservice. However, this lackluster port job is a disservice to the title. If you’ve never checked out the Midnight Channel, it’s a must play; however, those who have years of experience might feel like this is a rerun.
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