[PlayStation 4] Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Review

by Ceidz, Owner

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is the definitive version of the 2D fighting game released on PS3 way back in 2014. It features a solid story set after Persona 4 Golden and Persona 4 Arena. Check our Persona 4 Arena Ultimax review!

The stakes are Ultimate, the tension is Maximum, the fight is… the ULTIMAX! Experience the latest entry into the beloved Persona 4 series with a thrilling fighting twist. Join the heroes as they combat an army of Shadows in the P-1 CLIMAX!

Persona 4 Golden on PlayStation Vita was the first Persona game I played, and it ended up hooking me to the whole Persona franchise. Persona 5, which was released in 2017, is my favorite game of the franchise thanks to its unbelievable story, but I always thought that the synergy between the Persona 4 characters was always a huge step up. The relationship between Yu (the main character) and his best friends Yosuke, Chie, and Yukiko is one I’m really fond of.

I missed Persona 4 Arena and Persona 4 Arena Ultimax when they released on the PlayStation 3 in 2012 and 2014 – respectively – so I was happy when I heard Atlus was bringing back Persona 4 Arena Ultimax on PlayStation 4 with all the DLC that was previously available for the PlayStation 4 version. We are talking about the original episode called “P4” (Persona 4, occurring a few months after the events of Persona 4 Golden), another titled “P4A: Story Mode,” which is the one you are presented first, as well as other stories that unlock as you progress through the excellent story segments.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Review

As soon as Persona 4 Arena Ultimax boots, the main menu opens up, and the wow factor is already there. Once again, in true Persona fashion, the menu is amazing, with an art direction that is unique to the franchise. There are many CRT TVs stacked up, which was definitively reminiscent of Persona 4 Golden, and the background music theme sounds like Persona 4 Golden’s battle theme, which is a nice touch. Along with the optional and very complete tutorial, you can either dive into the Story Mode as stated above or go straight into the Arcade Mode, where you can fight alone or against a local or online opponent. Take note that the online multiplayer requires an active PS+ subscription.

I was a little confused since the game began when I was presented with the different episodes and modes, since apart from their name “P4A: Story Mode” and “P4”, it isn’t clearly mentioned which one is chronologically first, and second, so I assumed they were listed in the correct order.

P4 Arena Ultimax Review - 2

In Arcade Mode, there’s also a Golden Arena Mode in which you’ll revisit locations from Persona 4 Golden. As you fight in this mode, you’ll gain experience and level up. Once you do level up, you can use level up points to upgrade your character stats, which felt like the RPG on which this game is based. The Story Modes are filled with hand-drawn animated cutscenes and returning characters from Persona 4 Golden, plus a few other characters from Persona 4 Arena, which occurs a few months after the events of P4G.

There’s a huge focus on the story, and the first moments of a new Story Mode will go over events that led to the current situation. The game begins as most of the crew is chatting at Junes, a staple location of Persona 4. They are discussing a local mystery about a disappearance when it starts raining… which means the midnight channel might show up later this evening? The Story Mode is more a visual novel based on the events that happen after Persona 4, and the story is on par with the main release, which was nice to discover. I noticed the story modes re-use many assets from the previous proper Persona release, which does look a bit low-resolution on my TV. The fighting backgrounds, however, are in 3D, and some of them are animated. 

As for the actual fighting, it is what you would expect from a fighting game: you can fight using the buttons on the controllers, with each one bound to a specific action, including your Persona. As you progress through each story, you’ll eventually get better with the controls and devise special moves. Sure, you might be able to button-mash your way to victory for the easier fights, but this won’t be an option later in the game.

P4 Arena Ultimax Review

I liked how the story modes are a series of 10-15 minutes episodes that can be taken on with relative freedom. They are on a timeline, and many are happening in parallel – which reminded me of Radiant Historia (originally released on the Nintendo DS, later receiving a new chance at life on the Nintendo 3DS), which had a similar setup. There’s a general path, but you have some liberty in the order you want to tackle them. Once an episode is completed, the game automatically saves your progress.

One issue I had with the visual novel segments was that when the narrator talks, it is in white text over the screen, and it’s often very hard to read because the background underneath is of a similar color. Accessibility-wise, it would have been better if the background behind the text was darkened. As for the soundtrack, this game uses many of the amazing themes from Persona 4, which are great to hear. The game can be played with either English or Japanese voice acting, and since the original voice actors are reprising their roles, their performance is top-notch. Finally, on the PlayStation 5, there were very short loading times between each new episode or before a fight began, so do keep this in mind.

P4 Arena Ultimax Review

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is a solid visual novel x fighting game that includes all the DLC from the original release. The story and the voice acting are amazing since they follow what Persona 4 Golden did and what Persona 4 Arena presented as a continuation of the story. This one is easy to recommend to fans of the Persona franchise, fans of fighting games, or both. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is out today on PlayStation 4 with a $29.99 asking price.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Review - Story 2

This Persona 4 Arena Ultimax review is based on a PlayStation copy provided by Atlus.

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