Persona 4 Arena

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Persona 4 Arena
Persona4Arena.png
Cover for the console versions of Persona 4 Arena featuring Yu Narukami fighting Labrys while General Teddie poses in the background.
Developer(s) Arc System Works
Atlus
Publisher(s)
Director(s) Kazuhisa Wada[2]
Takumi Iguchiya
Artist(s) Shigenori Soejima (Character designer)[3]
Writer(s) Teppei Kobayashi
Composer(s) Atsushi Kitajoh
Shoji Meguro
Series Megami Tensei (Main)
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona (Sub-series)
Platform(s) Arcade, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release date(s) Arcade
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
PlayStation Network
  • JP February 28, 2013
  • NA February 12, 2013[8]
  • EU August 28, 2013
  • EU May 22, 2014 (withdrawn)[9]
Genre(s) Fighting, Visual Novel[10][11][12]
Mode(s) Single-player, Multiplayer

Persona 4 Arena, known in Japan as Persona 4: The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena (ペルソナ4 ジ・アルティメット イン マヨナカアリーナ Perusona Fō Ji Arutimetto In Mayonaka Arīna?), is a 2012 fighting video game co-developed by Atlus and Arc System Works for arcades, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. Based on Atlus' Shin Megami Tensei: Persona role-playing game series, the game serves as a direct sequel to the 2008 title, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4, additionally featuring characters from its predecessor, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3. The game was released in Japanese arcades in March 2012 and was later released for consoles on July 26, 2012 in Japan, August 7, 2012 in North America, and August 28, 2013 in Europe.[13][14] A sequel, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, was released in Japanese arcades in November 2013 and was released in August 2014 in Japan and will be released in September 2014 in North America.

Atlus requested Arc System Works' collaboration to make Persona 4 Arena with the former handling the story and the latter the gameplay. Composer Shoji Meguro returned to provide new and arranged music for the game. Persona 4 Arena became one of the fastest selling fighting games in Japan with 90% of its stock sold in its debut week. Reviews for the game have been positive with critics praising the gameplay and graphics employed while the length of the story mode was criticized.

Gameplay[edit]

Yosuke Hanamura attacks Yu Narukami using a Persona Attack. The bars in the bottom indicate the amount of remaining energy they currently possess, which is needed to perform special attacks.

As a fighting game, the controllers buttons have their own respective actions using four buttons. While characters are able to perform attacks on their own, they are also able to call their Personas to assist them during battles. Should the Persona be attacked by the opponent, the player will lose a blue card situated below the health bar. Following four attacks, the player will be unable to use Persona for a short time.[15] Some attacks can also have status elements such as poison in which the opponent suffers damage over time.[16]

Through button combinations, characters are able to perform a series of special attacks as well as defend themselves for a prolonged time. The strongest attack is the "Instant Kill" which can immediately defeat the opponent if the attack connects.[17] However, these types of techniques are limited as a result of using the "SP Gauge" which is at the bottom of the screen in the form of blue bars.[18] When the character has low life left, they enter into the "Awakening State" that refills the SP Gauge and increases the character's defense. Below the life bar there is the Burst Gauge which gives access to other forms of the Persona Attacks as well as refil the SP Gauge depending on how it is used.

The console versions also feature a story mode and an online mode,[19] with the former giving multiple campaigns that focus on a single character.[20] When first starting the game, only four character campaigns are available, requiring the player to complete to unlock more.[21] Across the story, the player is given the option of choosing answers for questions which can result in a different ending from the regular one.[17]

Plot[edit]

Setting and characters[edit]

The game takes place two months after the events of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 as well as two years after the Persona 3 FES '​s "The Answer" storyline.[22] Like Persona 4, Persona 4 Arena takes place in the fictional, rural Japanese town of Inaba. However, most of the events occur in the TV world, a dimension that reflects people's feelings.[23] In this game, the world takes the form of Inaba's Yasogami High School, which is divided in multiple areas that serve as arenas.[24]

The game features characters from both Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 and its predecessor Persona 3. From Persona 4 comes its protagonist Yu Narukami,[22] and his companions Yosuke Hanamura,[22] Chie Satonaka,[22] Yukiko Amagi,[25] Kanji Tatsumi,[25] Naoto Shirogane,[26] and Teddie, who served as playable characters in the arcade version from the original game and take part in the competition.[26] Rise Kujikawa, who served as combat support in Persona 4, serves as an MC in Persona 4 Arena and appears in the tutorial mode.[27] The group was previously known as the Investigation Team solving a series of murders in Inaba and are reunited during the game's events.[23] Other Persona 4 characters appearing in the game across the story include Yu's uncle and cousin, Ryotaro Dojima and Nanako Dojima respectively,[28] and his guides Igor and Margaret who have been aiding him ever since Persona 4.[29][30]

The playable characters from Persona 3 include: Aigis,[31] Mitsuru Kirijo[32][33] and Akihiko Sanada, who have aged in accordance with their appearances in Persona 3 and Persona 3 FES, set two years before Persona 4 Arena.[32][33] The three of them are from the Kirijo Group that investigates cases related with creatures known as Shadows. Other characters from Persona 3 appearing in the game (as non-combatants) include Fuuka Yamagishi who serves as another navigator[34] and Detective Kurosawa who was previously an officer in Persona 3.[35]

The arcade edition's boss is a new character named Labrys, a robotic girl with similarities to Aigis.[2] She was initially stated to be a playable character only in the console versions of the games,[2][36][37] but she was added to the arcade editions on March 22, 2012, with the brand new Persona Ariadne. She was joined by Persona 3 '​s Elizabeth, Margaret's younger sister, who is partnered with Thanatos as her Persona. On April 5, 2012. Shadow Labrys, the personification of Labrys' hidden feelings, also appeared in the arcade version on April 19, 2012, accompanied by the Shadow Asterios.[38]

Story[edit]

The first four story modes focus on Yu Narukami, Chie Satonaka, Yosuke Hanamura and Yukiko Amagi. As Yu returns to visit Inaba for Golden Week, he and the others witness a commercial on the Midnight Channel for a fighting tournament, the "P-1 Grand Prix", hosted by what appears to be their friend Teddie. The tournament not only involves them, but also their companions Kanji Tatsumi and Naoto Shirogane. With their friends Rise Kujikawa, Kanji and Teddie missing, and Naoto absent, Yu, Yosuke, Chie and Yukiko decide to investigate the tournament. The following day, they head into the TV and find themselves stuck in a world resembling Yasogami High School.[39] During the tournament, the group is forced to fight each other as they see illusions of their friends acting aggressive, while an impersonator of Teddie named General Teddie serves as the host.[40] An impersonator of Rise provides commentary for the fights, with the real one trapped inside the TV world.[41] They also meet Labrys, a girl without a Persona who entered the TV world, and suspect her Shadow may be responsible for this tournament. Additionally, an unknown entity starts tricking fighters into believing he is their Shadows.[42] After defeating all the opponents, the player learns that General Teddie is Labrys' Shadow in disguise, who attempts to kill the real Labrys.

Other connected storylines involve Yu's friends who are met in the tournament. The real Teddie finds himself trapped in the TV world before Yu and the others learn of the competition and discovers he has been impersonated by the host; Kanji accidentally falls into the TV world but believes the tournament is a dream;[43] Naoto is hired by public safety to spy on the secret special forces group the Shadow Operatives and follows them to the TV world, where she finds herself in the P-1 Grand Prix.[44]

The Shadow Operatives are explored in Mitsuru, Akihiko, Aigis and Naoto's story modes. Mitsuru is the leader of the Shadow Operatives, a group formed two years after the events of Persona 3 FES that battles Shadows.[45] One of their anti-Shadow weapons, Labrys, disappears when Mitsuru's plane is hijacked. Mitsuru and Aigis track her down to Yasoinaba and enter the TV world, joined by Akihiko and with Naoto in close pursuit.[46][47] As a result, they become involved in the P-1 Grand Prix. Before encountering Labrys' Shadow, Yu and Aigis also meet a woman named Elizabeth who wishes to test their skills with their ability known as the Wild Card in order to obtain a new power.[48] After leaving the TV world, Elizabeth gains insight on the nature of the Wild Card from Yu and Aigis, and she gains her own Fool Arcana, signifying the start of a journey.

Labrys' storyline features her creation and development at the Kirijo Ergonomics lab, where she was forced to fight other models of her series. She grew close to one of her sisters, #024, but was forced to destroy her too. She eventually escaped the lab, dealing a lot of damage to it in the process, and was recaptured and sealed away. After being abducted from Mitsuru's plane, she was tossed into the TV world, adopting a false personality based on that of an unknown girl in her memories while her Shadow created the tournament to let other people feel what she felt.

The final part of the game, titled "Cliffhanger", starts after the appearance of Shadow Labrys in the tournament. Once the player defeats Shadow Labrys, Labrys accepts her Shadow, which turns into the Persona Ariadne.[49] As they prepare to leave, however, the true mastermind behind everything takes control of her to attack everyone.[50] The mastermind reveals he has been working with the entity imitating the Persona users' shadows, and his objective is to weaken the Persona users mentally so that their Personas will revert to shadows. He is defeated, and Labrys is freed as the culprit escapes. Before going back to investigate the culprit, Mitsuru tells the Investigation Team group to forget about everything.[51] Labrys decides to join Mitsuru's group, while Aigis also decides to help Labrys search for the girl in her memories.[52] After the Shadow Operatives depart, Yu also reveals his intentions that the Investigation Team should continue working towards the same goal as Mitsuru.[53]

Development[edit]

The game was first announced during August 2011 in the Japanese journal Famitsu.[54] Persona 4 Director Katsura Hashino thought about making Persona 4 Arena due to his wish of creating a 2D fighting game based on the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series.[55] The staff also wanted gamers to play other types of games based on the series besides role-playing games with some of them being fans of fighting games.[2] Hashino approached Arc System Works, inspired by their work in the BlazBlue fighting game series.[55] Atlus first came into contact with Arc in August 2008 in hopes that they accepted their request to help them produce such a game.[55] As a result, the game is a joint project between the Atlus and the Arc System Works staff.[54] As of March 2012, director of the Atlus/Index side of the game's development Kazuhisa Wada gave praise to the way Arc designed the game, commenting on the 2D visuals employed by the company.[2] Rather than a spin-off of Persona 4, Hashino refers to the fighting game as a canonical sequel based on the direction from the plot such as the growth of the Persona 3 characters.[55] The choice from the Persona 3 characters have been surprising for the developers themselves, and they have also hinted the addition of original ones.[26] While the plot, script and character designs were handled by the original Persona 4 staff, Arc System Works was in charge of the gameplay.[3][56]

Wada stated that the console versions would have noticeably new content, hinting modes that are not common in fighting games.[2] In February 2012, Altus announced they would release the game in North America changing its original name, Persona 4: The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena, to Persona 4 Arena.[57] Atlus later stated that the English version would contain both the Japanese and English audio, something that had been often requested by fans according to Tim Pivnicny, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at the company.[58] Players who preordered the game received a limited run music CD.[59] It was also announced to be released on September 7, 2012 in Europe by Zen United. However, on August 22, 2012, Zen United stated there were still a number of issues regarding the development of the port, which resulted in its delay.[14] On January 16, 2013 An update from Zen United on the Persona Europe Facebook page confirmed it had received the PlayStation 3 version of the European release, with the Xbox 360 version expected soon. Once the latter has arrived both will be submitted to the platform holders for certification.

Shortly before the game's release, Atlus updated its official Japanese Persona 4 Arena website warning players not to upload videos from the game to avoid spoiling the story.[60] The Xbox 360 version suffered from lagging issues. After the game's release in August 2012, Atlus released a patch to fix the port's issues.[61] Atlus has also offered downloadable content for the home versions of the game in the form of new navigators, new color variations as well as glasses for the characters.[62]

Region-locking[edit]

The game is the second PlayStation 3 title to be region locked (with the first being Namco Bandai's Joysound Dive, a Japanese exclusive karaoke game released on the Japanese PlayStation Network).[13][63] However, it is the first region locked disc-based PS3 game. Atlus has stated that the North American release will work in both North and South American regions, with the North American and Japanese editions being nearly identical including both English and Japanese text/voice options.[64] However, the online servers are global.[65]

The decision to region lock the PlayStation version of the game has inspired mass fan outrage, with many threatening to boycott the game and company, as they fear it will set a precedent for other companies to region lock future games released on the PlayStation 3. This backlash forced Atlus USA to issue a press release, in which they state that because both the Japanese and NA versions are virtually identical and with their release dates only weeks apart, a region lock was put in place by one of the higher ups in Japan in order to prevent reverse importation (as the price of games in the United States is cheaper than the price in Japan).[32] They further stated that this will not be a reflection of a new Atlus policy.[32] After the game was released on February 13, 2013 at PlayStation Network USA, the region-lock remains the same as the retail version.

Sequel[edit]

A sequel to the game, titled Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (Persona 4: The Ultimax Ultra Suplex Hold in Japan), was released in Japanese arcades in November 2013, with a PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 release slated for August 28, 2014 (Japan) and September 30, 2014 (North America).[66] Set one week after the events of Persona 4 Arena, the game adds eight new playable characters, rebalances the old ones, and adds new gameplay mechanics.

Music[edit]

Persona 4: The Ultimate in the Mayonaka Arena Original Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Atsushi Kitajoh, Shoji Meguro
Released August 22, 2012 (Japan)
Recorded Aniplex
Genre Video game soundtrack
Length 52:55

The game's soundtrack was headed by Atsushi Kitajoh, with a small number of songs composed by Persona series composer Shoji Meguro. Two tracks are arrangements by Kitajoh of musical themes from Persona 3 and Persona 4 whilst all others are new, most notably the opening and ending themes, "Best Friends", featuring vocals by Yumi Kawamura and "Now I know", featuring vocals by Shihoko Hirata. The first CD released was Persona 4: The Ultimate in the Mayonaka Arena Original Soundtrack Original Arrange Soundtrack CD on August 4, 2012.[67] The English version of this CD was given to people who preordered the game under the name of P4U Original Arrange Soundtrack CD.[59] The original soundtrack was released in Japan on August 22, 2012 featuring a total of twenty-three tracks.[68]

Persona 4: The Ultimate in the Mayonaka Arena Arrange Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Atsushi Kitajoh, Toshiki Konishi, Shoji Meguro
Released August 4, 2012 (Japan)
Genre Video game soundtrack
Length 25:27

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 85.95% (PS3)[69]
84.38%(X360)[70]
Metacritic 86/100 (PS3)[71]
83/100 (X360)[72]
Review scores
Publication Score
Famitsu 36/40[73]
Game Informer 8.5/10[76]
GamesRadar 4/5 stars[74]
GameSpot 8/10 (PS3)[15]
7/10 (X360)[75]
GameTrailers 9/10[77]
GameZone 9.5/10[16]
IGN 9/10[21]
Giant Bomb 4/5 stars[78]
Cheat Code Central 4.4/5[17]
Awards
Publication Award
Spike TV Video Game Awards[79] IGN,[80] GameTrailers[81] Destructoid[82] GamesRadar[83] Fighting Game of the Year

During its debut week the PlayStation 3 version of Persona Arena sold 128,000 units while the Xbox 360 version sold 9,346.[84] Media Create later reported that both versions sold 90% of their stock with the PS3 selling 128,000 units and the Xbox 360 10,000 making the former the fastest selling fighter surpassing the debut of the PlayStation 3 version of Tekken 6 that sold 103,000 units.[73] As of late August 2012, the PS3 version had sold 181,578 units in Japan.[85] Shortly after the game's release, Aram Jabbari, Manager of Public Relations and Sales at Atlus, noted that critical response and sales were favorable, labeling Persona 4 Arena as "a singular phenomenon."[86]

Upon release, the game received widespread acclaim from critics, with overall aggregate scores of 85.95% from GameRankings for the PlayStation 3 version and 84.38% for the Xbox 360.[69] In Metacritic it got an 86 out of 100 for the PlayStation 3 and an 83 for the Xbox 360.[71] Famitsu gave the game a score of 36/40, based on a score of 9 from four reviewers.[87] Writing for GamesRadar, Lucas Sullivan praised the collaboration between Altus and Arc System Works in developing Persona 4 Arena calling it "the best initial entry in a fighting game franchise to date."[74] The game has been noted to be accessible by Vince Ingenitof from IGN "while keeping all the high level tournament depth intact."[21] GameSpot's Maxwell McGee agreed with Ingenitof, comparing the fighting system of Persona 4 Arena with the one from other well-known fighting games. He also commented on the variety of movements within the cast and added how finding a balance between Persona and Normal Attacks "an interesting puzzle that's constantly changing depending on whom you're fighting."[15] The Online Mode was referred by GameZone's Vito Gesualdi as the game's "most notable achievement" for how it allowed him to play with Japanese players with little noticeable lag.[16] GameTrailers stated that an amount of modes the game offered gave the player time of entertaining, but noted that the Xbox 360 version suffered from lagging issues in the Online Mode which were meant to be fixed by Altus.[77] As a result of this, GameSpot gave the Xbox 360 version a lower score than the PS3 version but later updated the review to clarify that such issues were solved.[75]

Both the game's visual and audio has also been well received by IGN and GamesRadar with the former stating the soundtrack is "toe-tappingly infectious."[21][74] The remix of various famous themes from the franchise were favorited by critics with "Reach out to the Truth" having been pointed by IGN.[17][21] The story mode received similar comments with Cheat Code Central writer Angelo M. D'Argenio commenting on how it continues the storyline from Persona 4 and its execution through voice acted scenes and anime cutscenes.[17] GameSpot noted that despite the player's lack of knowledge regarding the plot from Persona 4, the game's narrative help to explain newcomers. On the other hand, he added that the way it is presented may appeal to fans due to amount of dialogue which would persuade the player to use the arcade mode whose story is more condensed.[88] The story's display has also been compared with the ones from visual novels by Game Informer stating that the focus on multiple perspectives as well as the crossover between Persona 3 and Persona 4 characters would be a treat to long time followers.[76]

Other media[edit]

A manga adaptation of the game illustrated by AIYAH-BALL premiered in Dengeki Comics Persona Magazine on August 7, 2012.[89]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]