a decent anime fighter, if not necessarily the remaster “Persona” fans want

OWhen a beloved JRPG gets a fighting game spinoff, it would be natural to assume it’s little more than a cynical cash grab. This was refuted with the 2012s Persona 4 Arenawhich was not just a solid 2D fighter developed by Arc System Works, already with acclaimed anime fighters under its belt such as the Blazblue and Guilty Equipment series, but also allowed Atlus to deliver the rich storytelling that fans loved.

This devotion extended to Persona 4 Arena Ultimatewhich could have been just an iteration like most fighting games (e.g. Street Fighter 3: Third Strike), with a handful of new characters and mechanics to justify the release. Except in this case, it was also a proper narrative sequel, while the original Arena itself was also a direct sequel to not only the main game, but also its predecessor Persona 3.

Of course, given that its original 2014 home release was limited to the PS3 and Xbox 360 a year after their successors launched, that also meant it would have flown under most gamers’ radar, at except for the most dedicated fans. Its remaster is welcome then, not to mention a decent price of £24.99/$29.99 including all DLC, while mechanics and balancing are up to date with arcade version 2.5 .

Persona 4 Arena Ultimate. 1 credit

Part of this DLC is the ability to play through the entire story mode of the first Arena, more organically integrated into this remaster, as more character paths and chapters unlock as you play through the sprawling visual novel-style campaign. A note of caution is that if you are a newcomer who wants to read the story in chronological order, first select “P4A: Story Mode” rather than “Episode “P4″” at the top of the menu list, otherwise it will be like finding yourself starting the second season of an anime.

There is, however, a notable disparity in the structure, where Arena you would follow each character’s plot only for certain scenes to completely contradict another character’s perspective. This has been improved in Ultimaxwhich instead divides the perspectives of the story between P4 and P3 characters, with a True Ending path that opens when you complete both.

While we don’t want to spoil the story for new audiences, it will be hard to recommend the campaign to those who aren’t longtime fans of Character who want to see what it’s all about because you’re gonna end up getting some big twists from both Persona 4 and Persona 3 spoiled for you.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimate. 1 credit

Except that if you wanted to play these games first, you’ll have a hard time getting them on modern platforms as well. PC gamers were at least able to play persona 4 golden since 2020 but it’s still going Persona 3, which is long overdue for a remaster or remake. You can’t help but think that the chance to revisit the adventures of the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad (SEES) for the series’ 25th anniversary should have been a higher priority for Atlus rather than a spin-off. lesser known fighting game.

Ironically, the Switch would be more suited for UltimaxThe visual novel delivery of , although the main series has never made it to a Nintendo platform in the past. While that hasn’t stopped other spin-offs in the past, like the Persona Q series on the 3DS or Persona 5 Strikers on Switch, at least those games felt like they had more self-contained stories.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimate
Persona 4 Arena Ultimate. 1 credit

This is more of a criticism of the publishing decisions than the game itself, however. Because by its own merits, Ultimax is a solid anime fighter that faithfully adapts the series’ characters and their character moves, while delivering an energetic J-pop soundtrack that’s as catchy as the mainline games, with familiar themes included in the mix.

Ultimax further adds to the roster of 21 fighters along with the main Shadow characters. Instead of just mirror fighters, they have no characters and have weaker normal attacks, but compensate by being able to use SP attacks more frequently and aggressively.

For those who are not here for the story, Ultimax Thankfully has a variety of modes to get you started faster. There’s the self-explanatory Arcade mode where you choose your character and fight around eight matches, with a range of difficulty options. Matches are reserved by event scene dialogue that’s much snappier than story mode, which you’re also free to ignore. Meanwhile, Lessons and Challenge Modes provide hands-on tutorials that allow newcomers to learn the intricacies of anime fighters, especially with a focus on aerial attacks and moves, as well as the game’s unique Burst mechanics. If it starts to get overwhelmed, you still have the option of stringing together combos with a one-button auto-combo feature.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimate
Persona 4 Arena Ultimate. 1 credit

Another welcome addition is the RPG-inspired Golden Arena, structured like dungeons as you fight a series of battles to reach a boss at the end, while leveling up your fighter of choice, gaining new skill buffs and debuffs, and it even has a slight twist on the main games’ social link system when you select a partner character to act as your support.

But like any other fighting game, the real longevity will come from competing with other players. This remaster has every chance of rekindling interest in making Ultimax as big as it was in the tournament circuit a few years ago. This will be greatly helped by the rollback netcode, although the bad news is that won’t happen until this summer when the Switch won’t get the update at all. Who’s to say why, maybe Atlus assumes the latter is aimed at a more casual audience just for story or single-player modes – it’s worth mentioning you don’t even have to be into fighting games , as an Auto mode option essentially lets the AI ​​do the work for you in story and Golden Arena modes. Arc System Works’ repertoire has grown more sophisticated over the years with artists like Dragon Ball Fighter Z and Guilty Equipment: Strivebut this remaster proves Ultimax always deserves to be a contender.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax will launch on PC, PS4, and Nintendo Switch on March 17. Tested on PS4.

The verdict

Considering it arrived during the transition from the previous console generation, it’s good to see Persona 4 Arena Ultimax available to a wider audience. Fans of the series will love the aesthetics and storytelling while fighting game fans will find as much depth in the mechanics as any other accomplished anime fighter from Arc System Works.

Still, when there’s more demand for mainline RPGs to make their way to modern platforms, especially during the series’ 25th anniversary, it’s hard not to feel like it wasn’t the good remaster for Sega/Atlus to have prioritized, with Switch owners in particular getting the short straw.

Benefits

  • Great anime fighter with a big roster
  • Lots of stories for Persona 4 and 3 fans
  • Decent variety of modes

The inconvenients

  • Rollback netcode doesn’t come until summer (and not on Switch at all)
  • A long narrative will go over the heads of newcomers and spoil key plot points of the main entries, which are not available on most modern platforms.

About Dawn Valle

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