months after the ending of Persona 4, Yu Narukami and his friends face a new
mystery. The bizarre serial murders that rocked Inaba have been solved, and
peace has returned to the quiet countryside town... but it doesn't last for
long. During Golden Week, a new rumor begins spreading in town about a mysterious program,
the P-1 Grand Prix, that's visible if you look into a turned-off TV on a rainy
night. On this televised fighting tournament, high school friends fight one
another to the bitter end.
When Yu and the others test this rumor, they see Teddie announcing the beginning
of the show: "May the manliest of all men come on down!" With
that, the participants are shown, one by one... The Investigation Team is
horrified to see their own faces introduced with twisted catchphrases. Could
this be another of Teddie's pranks!? The members of the Investigation Team
decide to dive into the TV once again to solve the case! What is behind this
mysterious TV show?
Welcome to the Velvet Room...
this place exists between dream and reality.
Based on the
respected JRPG series,this crispy HD-2D fighter quickly turned heads
in the 2D
fighting game realm. Known
as Persona 4: The
Ultimate in Mayonaka in Japan, and simply Persona 4 Arena in
North America, the title was produced by none other than the BlazBlue team at Arc
System Works, and it certainly shows in the game's vivid visual style and robust
2D character sprites. The game's 12 playable characters hail from both Persona 4 and Persona 3,
offering solid variety for fans of the series and also presenting a diverse
line-up of fighters for newcomers.
Hot off the heels of the console release of Blazblue: Continuum Shift Extend,
the ambitious Persona 4 Arena is yet another wild 2D fighter seemingly
setting out to distinguish itself from other more traditional fighting games. The gameplay system is
expectedly reminiscent to the likes of
Blazblue and Guilty Gear, but also presents a plethora of unique mechanics.
After running through the games Tutorial (AKA Lesson Mode), you'll
realize P4A is chock full of detailed gameplay systems. Seriously, if you
think of a gameplay mechanic off the top of your head (besides gems), there's a
good chance that it's in this game (or at least something like it).
While intimidating at first, the mechanics do offer some interesting options and
make for a pretty cool 2D fighting experience.
Similar to the likes of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (where Persona likely takes
its inspiration from), every character in the game is accompanied by their
"Persona," a summonable entity that fighters can call upon at any time during
battle. Each character's Persona has a variety of different attacks, which of
course will assist or help extend combos. Personas themselves can also be attacked and rendered unusable for a period of
time after taking a certain amount of damage. The designs of these Persona
creatures will probably look unlike anything you've ever seen
before, and are as original as they are bizarre. They all interestingly seem to "compliment" their
respective characters, not only in terms of appearance, but their play styles
Persona 4 Arena brings new
meaning to the words "anime fighting game".
player-approved "do-something-cool" button allowed new players to
easily perform cool-looking (and sometimes effective) moves and combos right off
the bat. P4A takes this idea a step further, with a full-fledged "auto
combo" system. Basically, repeatedly tapping "A" after a
successful first hit will result in a awesome-looking combo, starting with priority attacks into special moves, and
ending with a flashy super move...
and it's effective. Yes, even a chimpanzee can perform a full combo in P4A with ease!
course, the deeper elements of the gameplay system do reward the most skilled
and studious players. However, as in Blazblue... every character in seems to
have their general "gimmick"... strongly suggesting you should play them a certain
way. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of that concept or format these days, but thankfully there is some
creative breathing room available with plenty of new strategies & combos to discover.
The 4-button layout is a bit odd for a 2D fighter, and can end up feeling a
bit clunky if you're using a standard pad... especially considering some of the
ridiculous simultaneous 3-button
presses. After some practice, the movement and
combo system will start to feel intuitive, smooth and responsive. A lot of
combos in the game are actually fairly easy to pull off, but of course more
advanced ones require very precise timing. Besides the variety of flashy super
moves each character can perform, every fighter can execute a Guilty Gear-esk
"Instant Kill" move when their meter is completely full and they're low
on health. It's one of GGXX's most memorable gameplay nuances, and
transfers over to P4A's system pretty well. Some of the Instant Kill moves are cool-looking,
seem a bit rushed and less inspired.
Persona 4 Arena's large sprites animate very nicely, rivaling those from Blazblue.
The 2D sprites overlay interestingly designed backgrounds featuring mainly 3D
elements. With eye-catching hit effects and other "anime-esk" visuals
to top it all off, Persona 4 Arena is a
very sharp looking game. A lot of
things about Persona 4 Arena can just be described as "snazzy". Like Blazblue, it's pretty much impossible to play this
game and look bad as a player.
At any given time, there's a lot going on on the screen at once, and I'd
imagine that a novice
onlooker could hardly follow the action (and probably wouldn't imagine how easy
it is to pull off some of the flashy combos). If you like your fighting games with a
shit-ton of flashy lights to compliment all the completely random shit going on,
Persona 4 Arena is your game.
The fighting genre short
on HD 2D fighting games? Not anymore!
Yet again taking a page out
of Blazblue's successful recipe, P4A's Story Mode weighs in at
nearly 30 hours all together. The story is a direct sequel to Persona 4,
so anyone who has played through the original RPG (like myself) should be able
to understand what's going on at least. P4A's story mode is
your standard fare (for this type of game), featuring sharp, mostly-stagnant character
artworks on top of many different hand-drawn 2D backgrounds. As you might've
guessed, there's a lot of reading.... A LOT of reading. In fact, Story Mode could better be described as "Reading Mode".
There's text, more text, modern Japanese scenery, well dressed Japanese kids, some animated
cut-scenes sprinkled in, and... a lot more text! Then
once you finally get to a fight, it's a laughably easy battle and one round.
Then it's right back to reading text.
The most impressive aspect of Story Mode is that the character voiceovers can be
heard in both English and/or Japanese. Considering the vast amount of dialogue,
this is quite enthralling and all... but realistically, if you actually took
the time to listen to the characters speak without skipping anything, I'd
estimate you'd be waiting 30-40 minutes in between each actual battle of Story Mode...
and that's just insane.
you can quickly and easily skip all of the spoken dialogue, but I'm just making
a point here. I thought I was playing a fighting game for a minute... not a read-along
mean seriously, even most JRPGs I've played have more "action" in between
such long dialogue sessions. As someone who completed Persona 4 Golden, I find P4's
characters to be likeable... but yet, not particularly exciting, at times.
However, being introduced to the characters in Persona 4 Arena's Story
Mode before playing the RPG doesn't really do the trick to draw you in. Alas, I'd say playing
is pretty much a requirement to get the proper effect of
P4A's story mode, but even then... it's a hell of a lot to sit through, and
personally I'd rather be actually "playing" the game disc that's spinning around in my system.
No disrespect Arc System Works, the effort behind P4A's story is
definitely fascinating, and gives many Persona 4 / RPGfans
another reason to come back to fighting games.
Persona 4 Arena's other console modes include: Arcade, Versus, Score Attack,
Training, Challenge, Network, Theater and Gallery... most definitely an impressive
line-up for a new console fighter. Arcade Mode is reminiscent of
(you guessed it) Blazblue, featuring cool pre-fight interactions and
unique spoken dialogue after fights. There's also a semi-annoying announcer that
commentates as the fight unfolds. Again, all of the character voices can be
swapped between English and Japanese, both of which are entertaining to listen
to. The Arcade Mode endings sadly don't offer much besides stagnant
character artworks and reused backgrounds, but I suppose that can
be forgiven considering the effort put into game's actual Story Mode. Even so, I
expected a little more gratification after running through the Arcade Mode.
The other modes serve their purpose in breaking up the monotony of
traditional 1-VS-1 fighting, and are all designed with heart. Challenge Mode is
very similar to that of SF4's, providing combo challenges for each and
every character. These challenges also offer a full video demonstration, which
is very appreciated by players looking to master a particular character. Persona
4 Arena features the netcode as the console versions of the Blazblue
series, which is generally considered good. I haven't played too much of this
game online, but I did appreciate the cool online title feature where you can
customize your own unique "title".
Arcade, Playstation 3,
PSN, Xbox 360, XBL
July 26th, 2012
Aug. 7th, 2012
May 10th, 2013
Persona 4 Arena offers interesting
characters, a catchy & clean art style, a gameplay system that's very
with the times, and the level of presentation you'd expect from the makers of Blazblue. It may not appeal to everybody, and although it's a
through-and-through 2D fighter, the numerous and diverse mechanics are anything
but traditional. It's potentially an intimidating game to get into at first, but even a casual player
who's not interested in playing it "tournament style" can enjoy the
game for reasons I previously mentioned.
I suppose that's where I am. P4A isn't the type of game I'd ever enter a tournament
for, but I appreciate all the aesthetics, especially the
"retro" visual flare, awesome artwork, and effort behind the presentation.
After learning more about some of the characters when Persona 4 Arena was
announced, I decided to pick up
Persona 4: Golden for PS Vita. While I don't think the story or characters
are the best I've seen from a JRPG, I do think that "overall," Persona
4 is one of the best RPG's I've ever played. On that note, I highly
recommend P4: Golden to any RPG fan. Anyhow, this isn't a review of the
RPG... so let's move on!
Like Blazblue, the soundtrack of Persona 4 Arena shouldn't be
overlooked, and manages to stand out in the genre. I actually enjoy P4A's
music more than I thought I would... there are definitely some catchy tunes in
this game. Getting a remix soundtrack CD for free with a pre-order was also a
nice accompaniment... thanks Arc System Works!
Persona 4 Arena is so very... "out there"... but it's good! Many of its characters
share certain "qualities" of fighting game archetypes, but all of them
are really unlike any characters you've ever seen. Watching Kanji whooping ass with
his steel chair or Teddie (and his 73 facial expressions) flying around the
screen is pure entertainment. If you're a fan of "off the wall"
fighters like Guilty Gear, Arcana Heart, Blazblue... you
might just have one more 2D fighting game to add to your favorites. ~TFG