Initial release date: November 28, 2013
Rerelease: March 17, 2022
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 3, Arcade game, Arcade video game, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
Developers: Atlus, Arc System Works
Publishers: Atlus, Atlus USA, Sega
Series: Persona, Megami Tensei
Modes: Single-player video game, Multiplayer video game
Genres: Fighting game, Action game, Visual novel
"Review Copy Provided By Atlus"
Persona 4 Arena was one the anime fighting game that was unlike anything other fighting game or anime fighter to ever release before. It was the first time that the Persona franchise had ever gone on to be more than a JRPG and was able to defy all the skepticism and be one of the best fighting games of the 2010’s. Person 4 Arena originally released in 2012 and was a sequel to 2008’s Persona 4 and served to not only be a sequel for P4 but also served to bridge the gap between Persona 3 and Persona 4. P4 Arena went on to become such a success that it went on to have its place at several EVO tournament events. After that 2012 release there was a 2013 release that was a sequel and upgrade called Persona 4 Arena Ultimax which was a further success that was oddly exclusive to consoles and never saw a rerelease on the PS4/PS5 or Xbox One/Series X|S until its March 2022 release. Was the rerelease just a simple port or did it add in more stuff for fans and newbies alike? We’re going to find out now in this review!
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is based on the Japan exclusive arcade 2.5 patch and features a 37-character roster which features both normal and Shadow variants along with having a substantially large story mode that gives you both the original plot of Persona 4 Arena and the plot of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax together which covers and wraps up the stories of characters from P3 and P4.
Content wise, everything in the game is unlocked from the get-go with every character available and all the color variations and PFAU glasses packs and more available from the start. There’s also the Golden Arena mode which is a special mode that pits you through several floors of which to earn some EXP and customize your character to the playstyle that you prefer to use bringing some RPG elements to the fighter. You get to build social links with various support characters and can utilize support skills to give you an advantage during fights.
When it comes to the combat, each character has two sets of attacks: a light and heavy attack along with two different Persona attacks. Combat is centered around the use of auto-combos being integrated into the core of the games mechanics which allows anyone especially newbies that may not be that familiar with fighters and allows them to stand a chance of putting up a good fight while giving veterans a slew of options and set-ups to learn and dive into.
When it comes to the online mode, the game as of this review, is utilizing delay-based netcode which was a controversial point of contention with fans until it was announced later that it would be changed out to rollback netcode in the summer of 2022. Now all I wish for is that Arc Systems Works announces cross platform play and I’m all set!
Ok so what are some of the downsides of this game? Well, if you are not a Persona fan then you won't understand anything that is going on in the story mode not to mention how much of it actually spoils the events of both Persona 3 and Persona 4 if you didn't play either of them or didn't finish them....which brings us to the second problem being that this is a sequel to a game that isn't on current generation consoles (Persona 4 is stuck on PS2 with the upgraded "Golden" version being on the PlayStation Vita and Steam) so if unless you have access to a PS2 or Vita or STEAM then you have no way of playing Persona 4 or Persona 4 Golden to be able to understand the story of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. Last downside is why is this not on Xbox when the original releases were? This is a very strange omission.
When it comes down to it, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is one of the best fighters of the previous era and coming back now at a time when Persona is more popular than it has ever been thanks to being the most mainstream JRPG series (even eclipsing Final Fantasy in the west in popularity). With it’s easy pick up and play gameplay, insanely good 2D artstyle, superb voice acting, overwhelming amount of content, and solid netcode make this one of the best fighting games out there at an insanely good price. If you’re a fighting game fan or are a Persona fan, P4AU is a must own!