Persona 4 Arena Ultimax- Review

Arc System Works ports this classic Persona fighting game for modern day hardware...

Persona 4 Arena ULTIMAX - review
Release Date
March 17, 2022
Publisher
ATLUS
Developers
ATLUS, Arc System Works
Platforms
PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC
Reviewed On
PS4
Review Copy Provided By
ATLUS

ATLUS is quite busy bringing classic old games into modern-day consoles. Case in point, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax was originally for the PS3 and Xbox 360 all the way back in 2013 and now has been ported to the PS4, PC, and Nintendo Switch. Not that this is anything to complain about since, much like Persona 4 Golden, Arena Ultimax is a much-welcomed addition to those who have never tried the game.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is a fighting game that conveys its story through a visual novel-style narrative. Developed by Arc System Works, creators of BlazBlue, Guilty Gear, and Dragon Ball FigtherZ, the game follows familiar mechanics from these other fighting games except with a Persona spinoff.

To give a bit of background the original Persona 4 Arena Ultimax isn’t too different from the port we’re getting today. The one critical difference is in the version. In Japan, Arena Ultimax version 2.0 never left the country which has some particular changes that alter the flow of the fights.

Persona 4 Arena ULTIMAX review

For a modern-day port, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is passable. It’s a bit disappointing that there is no new content added to the game besides Version 2.0 but it is a great chance to bring back a beloved classic for fresh blood to experience. The fact that ATLUS added rollback netcode means that the online versus mode is alive once again and better than ever.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax doesn’t have many characters in its roster when you compare it to other fighting games. Though they make up for that by each being charming in their own right. I like that Ultimax combines both the original Persona 4 Arena story and its new campaign to be experienced in conjunction. No need to purchase any DLCs for additional content. I did find it questionable that you can just put the game on automatic to have battles play out for you. I’m guessing this option is there for those who wish to simply experience the narrative without having to struggle.

Arena Ultimax has a surprisingly entertaining story, retaining many of the original charms Persona 3 and 4 characters had. It’s fully voiced with the original English VAs (except for Fuuka) and utilizes a remix of existing soundtracks during battles. This is a game clearly meant for those who are already in the know of events that transpired during Persona 4.

This game also has some pretty good sense of humor. Some characters bear the title of “Egocentric Police Dick” and “Sadistic Stud-Keeping Secretary” which gave me a pretty good laugh. Despite the aforementioned shorter list of characters for a fighting game, most characters have a second “shadow form” you can select which alters their fight style and personality.

Fighting mechanics - Persona 4 Arena ULTIMAX review

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is a fighting game with a good flow. Fighting feels fluid, aggressive, and robust as expected of fighting games from Arc System Works.

It’s really fun to be able to chain up combos and use Personas strategically. Though I’m generally not a fan of the auto-combo spamming the light attack does. In Arena Ultimax, you have your physical attacks and Persona attacks. The former is fast and can generally be used at any time. Persona attacks however carry a risk to it—they’re powerful and more flexible but if you take a hit while casting one your Persona could get locked for a specific amount of time which severely limits your offensive options.

Arena Ultimax is an aggressive fighting game. Playing defensive offers very little advantage as continuously attacking fills up your meter faster allowing you to do more devastating moves. There’s even an instant-kill move you can do once your meter is filled up.

Moveset is wonderfully diverse between characters though I do hold the opinion that some are more powerful than others. The game could use a bit of balancing as there are characters with lackluster offensive capabilities and range that puts them behind certain others.

The fighting in Arena Ultimax is stylish, true to its Persona JRPG roots.

Modes - Persona 4 Arena ULTIMAX review

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax has some good modes to choose from.

Story mode allows you to freely switch between the first P4A story and its sequel so you don’t have to play one first before the other. This time you’re back to solving brand new cases in Inaba where both casts from Persona 3 and Persona 4 are brought together.

Those new to the game can use Lesson Mode under Practice which does a lot to bring you up to speed. There’s quite a bit of depth to the fighting mechanics in Arena Ultimax so it’s recommended that you go through it at least once.

Other modes include an Arcade mode where you can go round after round against Shadow Type characters, a Score Attack Mode where you fight against the CPU for the highest scores and GoldenArena mode where you can earn currency.

Currency in this game is rather superficial. You only really use it to buy P-Cards which allows you to customize your profile. Beyond that, it can be rather worthless. It’s a bit of a shame that Arena Ultimax doesn’t allow us to customize character cosmetics besides the color palettes and glasses. I would’ve loved to play as the Persona 3 cast in their original Gekkoukan High uniforms.

Verdict - Persona 4 Arena ULTIMAX review

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is a good fighting but does suffer from a few drawbacks. It’s a good port for the PS4 and is definitely a must-buy for Persona fans. Arc System Works manages to accurately nail what a Persona fighting game should be.

Persona 4 Arena ULTIMAX - review
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax- Review
Score Definition
We tell you, it’s a good game! It’s not average! It might have some problems here and there, but you have to admit it is a “Good” game.
Pros
Two entertaining stories for the price of one
A love letter to Persona 3 and 4 fans
Excellent fighting game that's easy to get into
Persona characters are back with all their lovable charm
Cons
Earning currency is superficial
Some characters feel unbalanced
7.5
Good