Back in 2012, we got our hands on Persona 4 Arena, a great fighting game that brought the characters from the Persona 4 RPG into the fighting realm. Not only was the game a solid fighting game, but it opened up our eyes at the opportunities this spin-off could wield. Fast forward to today and we have yet another excellent fighting game in the form of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. Some may immediately write this off since the copy-and-paste formula that Capcom placed on the Street Fighter franchise has worn gamers down. However, there is much more to this package than just the base game. Everything has been streamlined, improved and made more user-friendly and that is just the beginning.


When you think of fighting games, you’ll often say that story takes a back seat, and in most cases; you’d be right. However, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax takes storytelling seriously and sets a shining example of the proper way to tell a compelling story while executing a fighting game. The story of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax picks right up after the events of Persona 4 Arena, which in turn picked up after Persona 4 the RPG. This connection to such a strong source material makes Persona 4 Arena Ultimax one of the best storytelling experiences in a fighting game to date.

While the story is great, if you are only playing the game for the fighting, you’ll have an issue with the story mode. All the cut scenes in story mode are not skippable and can be rather lengthy. While the developers at Arc System Works accommodated gamers wanting to just experience the story with an auto battle feature, gamers that just want to fight are stuck sitting through a lot of story. While you can still skip to the fighting in other modes, this decision to make the cut scenes unskippable prevents a number of players from getting into the single player mode to a certain extent.


Visually, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax looks great despite the game being made available on last-gen consoles. The color palate is vibrant and many of the super moves take full advantage of that palate. You’ll never be able to accuse the franchise of being overly monotone or grey. Many of the characters look just like they do in the animated series which just ties the two worlds that much closer together. If you are a fan of anime or especially the RPG, this game is going to impress you, just like the first game did.

While the visual style and story delivery are similar to the first game, there is more new content in this entry to justify its existence. There are several new characters to play as, as well as several new costumes to experiment with. Like the original, many of those characters have a theme to them which make them stand out among the large cast of characters. In addition, new mini-games were added when executing special attacks that are exclusive to each character. You’ll have to input a series of button presses that determine how much damage you do to a target. It is a small aesthetic change, but it gives each character more of their own feel and gives you a reason to play as different characters and see the story from a different perspective. While this system is great the first few times around, it does get old if you’ve been playing the game for a while and slightly affects the pace of the match. It only takes a moment, but that brief pause while the other player inputs commands can slow things down in the end.


While some of the changes reside in the character’s appearance, there are many more changes that went into the fighting mechanics themselves that aren’t as noticeable. The entire game was re-balanced based on player feedback and picking an overpowered character isn’t as easy to do. Granted, there are still some characters that just flat out win, but you always feel like you at least have a puncher’s chance at winning the match.

Finally, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax added shadow versions of all the characters you got used to playing as from the first game. The major difference here is that shadow characters do not have an awakening mode or defensive bursts. Instead, these characters get access to their awakening special at all times, their super carries over between rounds and they get a new ability called Shadow Frenzy, which basically gives you max meter for a little while. This combination of additions and removals give these shadow characters a completely different feel than their normal counterparts. It removes the one hit for a match ending blow, but it gives you more opportunities to do extra damage with normal attacks. The shadow characters are easily the best part of the game and a welcome addition to the franchise.



Overall, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is a great fighting game. Granted it had a solid base in which to build upon, but it knew what it needed to address and made it even better. Shadow characters, new characters, new costumes and a total re-balance make this game head and shoulders better than its predecessor. Sure, it doesn’t do a lot to make it easy to get right into matches, especially with the lengthy, unskippable cut scenes. However, if you can sit through some story, you’ll be treated to a deep, engaging fighting game and one certainly worth the time of any fighting fan, especially those that love Persona 4. While we don’t always get the opportunity to play good fighting games, we can’t recommend this fighting game more. It may look like a quick money grab with its similarities to the first installment, but for those that take the time and give it a chance, you’ll be surprised at how different this game really is.

This review is based on a review copy of the PS3 version of Persona 4 Arena Ulitmax published by Atlus


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Take it to the Max | Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Review
Overall Score9
  • Total Re-Balance From the First Game
  • Shadow Characters Add More Strategy
  • New Characters are a Great Addition
  • Lengthy Unskippable Cut Scenes
9Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

About The Author

Joe Marchese is the founder / Editor in Chief of New Gamer Nation. He has been a gamer for his whole life but has been focusing on his passion to deliver the industry's new to New Gamer Nation. He is an expert of video game culture and has been featured on Fox News Online. Don't be shy to reach out and let him know what you think!

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