Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (2022) Review
Shin Megami Tensei Persona 4 was a major hit back in 2008 on the PlayStation 2 and was popular enough to get an enhanced release on the PlayStation Vita, an anime adaptation, a stage play, and spinoff games like the rhythm-based game Persona 4 Dancing All Night and fighting game Persona 4 Arena.
Persona 4 Arena, developed by Arc System Works, was such a big deal that it got a sequel with more added features called Persona 4 Arena Ultimax in 2013. Fast forward to 2022 and we’re once again stepping into the fighting game ring with a brand new port.
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax sees the main character of Persona 4, Yu Narukami, returning to the peaceful town of Inaba to spend the Golden Week holiday with his close friends and family – individuals he has formed unbreakable bonds with. The vacation is short-lived, however, as the Midnight Channel returns and now broadcasts a mysterious fight tournament called the P-1 Grand Prix.
Yu and the Investigation Team are called back into action to uncover the truth behind this mysterious tournament, all the while assisted by a few veteran Persona Users from Persona 3’s SEES Team.
The gang is all here!
This spinoff/sequel to Persona 4 is a favorite for a reason and it’s not surprising that it was brought back this year. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is the enhanced version of Arena that boasts fluid character animation, a diverse cast of fighters from Persona 3 and 4 that cater to multiple playstyles, and an amazing and catchy soundtrack with some familiar Persona music.
As someone who played the heck out of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax back on the PlayStation 3, it definitely felt like I never left.
It’s understandable to be hesitant as a newcomer because Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is definitely a game that has longtime fans in mind. There are numerous references to the previous games that certain dialogue and concepts may fly over one’s head. Nonetheless, if you’re a fighting game aficionado then these “shortcomings” can be overlooked as the fighting is still fun and engaging, clad in scintillating flashes and special effects that are pure eye candy.
If anything, the characters are interesting enough that it’s likely to spark your interest in getting to know their stories and possibly taking a look at both Persona 3 and 4 as additions to your backlog. In one of the few actual shortcomings of Ultimax, the story did feel a little predictable and less interesting compared to their RPG counterparts, but this is a fighting game anyway.
In a nutshell, the story simply serves the purpose of giving the Investigation Team something new to fight, as well as a reason for the Persona 3 characters to be in the story. Despite the nostalgia bomb of getting to see such familiar faces again, the story was not anything to write home about.
All the sauce plus extra toppings
Ultimax sports a fairly simple 4 button control scheme that utilizes the power of Personas, where 2 are for physical attacks and 2 are Persona attacks. Sounds simple enough, but since this is an Arc System Works fighting game, then you’ll know fights can get fast and frantic. Ultimax even has similar mechanics to Guilty Gear’s Roman Cancels (One More Cancel) and fight-ending Destroy moves (Instant Kills).
You’ll likely find a favorite character here – whether you play as a grappler, zoner, or rushdown fighter. You can tell that the developers also had newcomers in mind since there are also one-button combos that make the game very approachable.
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax also serves up a whole bunch of fighters to choose from among Persona 4’s Investigation Team and Persona 3’s SEES Team. That’s 22 playable fighters, including DLC characters!
One of the best reasons why this re-release of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is THE version to get is because you’re getting the complete package. The previous ports may have had new fighters like Yukari and Junpei from Persona 3’s SEES Team, as well as the Shadow versions of certain characters, but some were also DLC-only like Margaret, Adachi, and the Persona 4 Golden exclusive character, Marie.
All of the said DLC is now available from the get-go so you don’t need to worry about missing out on certain characters or alternate colors. What also helps is Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is priced at almost half the price of a brand new game at $29.99, so it’s definitely worth it if you’re looking to enter the P-1 Grand Prix.
A longtime request of fans of the game, rollback netcode is finally coming to Persona 4 Arena Ultimax and it’s definitely something to look forward to especially to the more competitive fans of the game. It’s a little bit disappointing, however, how the Switch port will be left out with only having delay netcode, something to consider if you want to stay competitive.
What We Liked:
- All DLC Unlocked
- Rollback Netcode
- Easy to pick up but hard to master
What We Didn’t Like:
- Newcomers may feel lost in the Persona 3 and 4 lore
- So-so storyline
Verdict: Buy it!
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is just as amazing as its previous release and still worth getting even after nearly 10 years. The game is a fan favorite for its plethora of fighters and slick gameplay that bears the “easy to pick up, hard to master” trademark from Arc System Works.
While newcomers may get lost in the lore because Persona 4 Arena Ultimax serves as a narrative sequel, it shouldn’t get in the way if you’re looking for an amazing fighter that still looks good and plays even better despite being a re-release.
*Persona 4 Arena Ultimax was reviewed on a PS4 and PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.