Persona 4 Arena

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Persona 4 Arena
Cover for the console versions of Persona 4 Arena
Developer(s) Arc System Works
Publisher(s) Atlus
Director(s) Kazuhisa Wada[1]
Takumi Iguchiya
Artist(s) Shigenori Soejima[2]
Writer(s) Teppei Kobayashi
Composer(s) Atsushi Kitajoh
Shoji Meguro
Series Megami Tensei (Main)
Persona (Sub-series)
Platform(s) Arcade, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release Arcade
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre(s) Fighting, visual novel[7][8][9]
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Persona 4 Arena[a] is a fighting video game co-developed by Atlus and Arc System Works for arcades, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. Based on Atlus' Persona role-playing video game series, Arena serves as a direct sequel to the 2008 game, Persona 4, additionally featuring characters from its predecessor, Persona 3.

The game was first released in Japanese arcades in March 2012, and later worldwide for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in July and August 2012.[10][11] A sequel, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, was released in Japanese arcades in November 2013 and was released for consoles in 2014. Persona 4 Arena was the first game of the series to officially drop the Shin Megami Tensei label for its North American release, reflecting its status as a spin-off of the main series.

Atlus requested Arc System Works' collaboration to make Persona 4 Arena, with Atlus handling the story and Arc System Works handling the gameplay. 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 were positive, with critics praising the gameplay and graphics employed, with criticism going towards the length of the story mode.


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.[12] Some attacks can also have status elements such as poison in which the opponent suffers damage over time.[13]

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.[14] 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.[15] 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,[16] with the former giving multiple campaigns that focus on a single character.[17] When first starting the game, only four character campaigns are available, requiring the player to complete to unlock more.[18] 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.[14]


Setting and characters[edit]

The game takes place two months after the events of Persona 4 as well as two years after the Persona 3 FES's "The Answer" storyline.[19] 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.[20] In this game, the world takes the form of Inaba's Yasogami High School, which is divided in multiple areas that serve as arenas.[21]

The game features characters from both Persona 4 and its predecessor Persona 3. From Persona 4 comes its protagonist Yu Narukami,[19] and his companions Yosuke Hanamura,[19] Chie Satonaka,[19] Yukiko Amagi,[22] Kanji Tatsumi,[22] Naoto Shirogane,[23] and Teddie, who served as playable characters in the arcade version from the original game and take part in the competition.[23] Rise Kujikawa, who served as combat support in Persona 4, serves as an MC in Persona 4 Arena and appears in the tutorial mode.[24] The group was previously known as the Investigation Team solving a series of murders in Inaba and are reunited during the game's events.[20] Other Persona 4 characters appearing in the game across the story include Yu's uncle and cousin, Ryotaro Dojima and Nanako Dojima respectively,[25] and his guides Igor and Margaret who have been aiding him ever since Persona 4.[26][27]

The playable characters from Persona 3 include: Aigis,[28] Mitsuru Kirijo[29][30] 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.[29][30] 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[31] and Detective Kurosawa who was previously an officer in Persona 3.[32]

The arcade edition's boss is a new character named Labrys, a robotic girl with similarities to Aigis.[1] She was initially stated to be a playable character only in the console versions of the games,[1][33][34] 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.[35]


As Yu Narukami returns to visit Inaba for Golden Week, he and Yosuke Hanamura, Chie Satonaka and Yukiko Amagi 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 reassemble the Investigation Team and search for answers. The following day, they enter the TV, only to find themselves separated and stuck in a place resembling Yasogami High School (In Kanji's case, he accidentally fell into the TV world earlier but believes the tournament is a dream).[36][37] At the same time, some of the former members of SEES, Mitsuru, Akihiko and Aigis, now part of the Shadow Operatives, an organization formed after the events of Persona 3 FES that battles Shadows, tracks one of their anti-Shadow weapons that went missing when Mitsuru's plane was hijacked, Labrys, down to Yasoinaba and enter the TV world, joined by Naoto in close pursuit, who was hired by public safety to spy on the Kirijo group. [38][39][40] As a result, they become involved in the P-1 Grand Prix as well.[41] During the tournament, both groups are 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 and an impersonator of Rise provides commentary for the fights, with the real ones getting trapped inside the TV world prior to the competition.[42][43] They also meet a mysterious girl without a Persona who entered the TV world that claims to be the student council president of Yasogami High, and suspect her Shadow is responsible for the tournament. Additionally, an unknown entity starts tricking fighters into believing he is their Shadows.[44] During the fights, 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.[45]

After defeating all the opponents, the player learns that the mysterious girl is in fact Labrys and General Teddie is Labrys' Shadow in disguise, who attempts to kill the real Labrys. In her storyline, it is revealed that she was forced to fight other models of her series at the Kirijo Ergonomics lab, but grew close to one of her sisters, only to be forced to destroy her too. As a result, she eventually escaped the lab, but was later recaptured and sealed away. After being abducted from Mitsuru's plane, she was tossed into the TV world, and subsequently brainwashed into thinking that she was human, as her dungeon in the TV World took the form of Yasogami High and she adopted a false personality based on that of an unknown girl in her memories while her Shadow, created by her desire to be understood and accepted as a normal girl and her trauma over being forced to kill her fellow Anti-Shadow Weapons, created the tournament to make others feel what she felt. Upon Shadow Labrys's defeat, Labrys accepts her Shadow, which turns into the Persona Ariadne.[46]

The final part of the storyline, titled "Cliffhanger", starts after the defeat of Shadow Labrys in the tournament. As the Investigation Team and Shadow Operatives converge and prepare to leave, the true mastermind behind the events prior to the tournament takes control of Labrys to attack everyone.[47] The mastermind reveals it has been working with the entity by imitating the Persona users' shadows in order to weaken them mentally so that their Personas would 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.[48] Labrys decides to join Mitsuru's group, while Aigis offers to help Labrys search for the girl in her memories.[49] After the Shadow Operatives depart, Yu also reveals his intentions that the Investigation Team should continue working towards the same goal as Mitsuru.[50]


The game was first announced during August 2011 in the Japanese journal Famitsu.[51] Persona 4 Director Katsura Hashino thought about making Persona 4 Arena due to his wish of creating a 2D fighting game based on the Persona series.[52] 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.[1] Hashino approached Arc System Works, inspired by their work in the BlazBlue fighting game series.[52] Atlus first came into contact with Arc in August 2008 in hopes that they accepted their request to help them produce such a game.[52] As a result, the game is a joint project between the Atlus and the Arc System Works staff.[51] 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.[1] 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.[52] The choice from the Persona 3 characters have been surprising for the developers themselves, and they have also hinted the addition of original ones.[53] While the plot, script and character designs were handled by the original Persona 4 staff, Arc System Works was in charge of the gameplay.[2][54]

Wada stated that the console versions would have noticeably new content, hinting modes that are not common in fighting games.[1] 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.[55] 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.[56] Players who preordered the game received a limited run music CD.[57] 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.[11] 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.[58] 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.[59] 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.[60]


The game was the first PlayStation 3 title to be region-locked (although Way of the Samurai 3 is also region-locked but only on Slim models), although the game's online servers remained unlocked.[10][61][62] The decision to region lock the PlayStation version of the game was met with criticism, with many threatening to boycott the game, as they feared it would set a precedent for other companies to region lock games in the future.[citation needed] This backlash forced Atlus USA to issue a press release, in which they stated that because both the Japanese and North America versions were virtually identical and with their release dates only weeks apart, a region lock was put in place by Atlus in order to prevent reverse importation, as the price of games in the United States is cheaper than the price in Japan.[63][63]


A manga adaptation of the game illustrated by AIYAH-BALL premiered in Dengeki Comics Persona Magazine on August 7, 2012.[64]


The game's soundtrack was composed by Atsushi Kitajoh, with additional music written by series sound director Shoji Meguro. Two tracks are arrangements by Kitajoh of musical themes from Persona 3 and Persona 4, while all others are original, 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.[65] The English version of this CD was given to people who preordered the game under the name of P4U Original Arrange Soundtrack CD.[57] The original soundtrack was released in Japan on August 22, 2012, featuring a total of twenty-three tracks.[66]

Stage play[edit]

The game was adapted into a live stage play that ran from December 19 to 23, 2014. Asami Tano and Yuki Fujiwara reprise their roles as Mitsuru and Akihiko from the Persona 3: The Weird Masquerade stage musicals.[67] The play was then released onto DVD in 2015 and also included English subtitles.[68] Richard Eisenbeis from Kotaku gave the play an unfavorable review, criticizing the script and the comedy gags.[69]


Aggregate score
Metacritic86/100 (PS3)[70]
83/100 (X360)[71]
Review scores
Game Informer8.5/10[73]
GameSpot8/10 (PS3)[12]
7/10 (X360)[74]
GamesRadar+4/5 stars[75]
Giant Bomb4/5 stars[77]
OPM (AU)90%
OXM (US)85%
OXM (UK)80%
Cheat Code Central4.4/5[14]
Spike TV Video Game Awards[78] IGN,[79] GameTrailers[80] Destructoid[81] GamesRadar[82]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.[83] 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.[72] As of late August 2012, the PS3 version had sold 181,578 units in Japan.[84] Shortly after the game's release, Aram Jabbari, Manager of Public Relations and Sales at Atlus USA, noted that critical response and sales were favorable, labeling Persona 4 Arena as "a singular phenomenon."[85]

Upon release, the game received generally favorable opinion from critics, according to review aggregator Metacritic.[70] Famitsu gave the game a score of 36/40, based on a score of 9 from four reviewers.[86] 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."[75] The game has been noted to be accessible by Vince Ingenitof from IGN "while keeping all the high level tournament depth intact."[18] 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."[12] 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.[13] GameTrailers stated that the amount of modes the game offered gave the player plenty of entertainment, but noted that the Xbox 360 version suffered from lag issues in the Online Mode which were meant to be fixed by Altus.[76] 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.[74]

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."[18][75] The remix of various famous themes from the franchise were favorited by critics with "Reach out to the Truth" having been pointed by IGN.[14][18] 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.[14] 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.[87] 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 longtime followers.[73]

The game was named Best Fighting Game of 2012 by the Spike TV Video Game Awards[88] IGN,[79] GameTrailers,[80] Destructoid,[81] and GamesRadar.[82]


A sequel to the game, titled Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, was released in Japanese arcades in November 2013, with a PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 release following the next year.[89] Set one week after the events of Persona 4 Arena, the game adds eight new playable characters, re-balances the old ones, and adds new gameplay mechanics.


  1. ^ 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)


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  20. ^ a b Arc System Works, Altus. Persona 4 Arena. Atlus. Yu: (Actually, the murders in last year's events happened in "another world inside the television." This world is filled with monsters called "Shadows" that are born from people's hearts. Because my friends and I gained "Personas," the power to defeat these Shadows, we were able to enter the TV screen and fight them.)
  21. ^ Arc System Works, Altus. Persona 4 Arena. Atlus. Yu: (The scenery is so unexpected that I'm at loss. This is a school... It's the music room of Yasogami High.) / ... / Yu: This, this has to be the TV world.
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  26. ^ Arc System Works, Altus. Persona 4 Arena. Atlus. Yu: (The Velvet Room... Igor... Even thought I'm barely conscious, I remember this is not the first time I have heard those names... I see. This is a dream.)
  27. ^ Arc System Works, Altus. Persona 4 Arena. Atlus. Margaret: Though you reached an end to one journey, you now find yourself here again... This shows that you will once again be faced with a question. / Yu: A question? Then something really is going on?
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  36. ^ Arc System Works, Altus. Persona 4 Arena. Atlus. Yu: What bothers me most is Teddie. He was acting like the host of that show. /.../ Yosuke: I guess we'll just have to go inside the TV and find out what's going on.
  37. ^ Arc System Works, Altus. Persona 4 Arena. Atlus. Kanji: This is just a dream! (No other explanation makes sense. I was so sleepy, I guess couldn't avoid it.) / .../ Kanji: A Grand Prix to decide the strongest fighter, huh? Heheh, that's not a bad dream at all. This is gonna be fun!
  38. ^ Arc System Works, Altus. Persona 4 Arena. Atlus. Mitsuru: The reason I formed the Shadow Operatives is to save lives.
  39. ^ Arc System Works, Altus. Persona 4 Arena. Atlus. Mitsuru: (As for what was stolen... Aigis mentioned its name a while ago. The 5th Generation Anti-Shadow Surpression Weapon "Labrys," is an older model from two generations ago.
  40. ^ Arc System Works, Altus. Persona 4 Arena. Atlus. Akihiko: Anyway. We can go inside the TV, right? /.../ Akihiko: If we want to get this Labrys back, someone has to go inside, right?
  41. ^ Arc System Works, Altus. Persona 4 Arena. Atlus. Naoto: (I take cover behind a pillar and look around for the three Shadow Operatives. Did I lose them? We all entered the same television, so we should have arrived in the same place...) / .../ General Teddie: I'm proud to announce the commencement of our bear-y own P-1 Grand Prix!
  42. ^ Arc System Works, Altus. Persona 4 Arena. Atlus. Rise: The culprit's forcing you guys fight by making you like you've gone crazy!
  43. ^ Arc System Works, Altus. Persona 4 Arena. Atlus. Kanji: You sound like you were having so much fun with the commentary! / Rise: That's a fake!
  44. ^ Arc System Works, Altus. Persona 4 Arena. Atlus. Yosuke: (...I used my Persona in that fight! But my Persona's my Shadow, so... If my Shadow left me, how could I have used my Persona!?)
  45. ^ Arc System Works, Altus. Persona 4 Arena. Atlus. Elizabeth: The power of the wild card that changes bonds into strength... I have a feeling the key lies there. / Yu: I know a little about the wild card.... / Elizabeth: I feel that the first glue to granting my wish lies within that power. /.../ Elizabeth: May I suggest that you and I fight?
  46. ^ Arc System Works, Altus. Persona 4 Arena. Atlus. Labrys: I was the one who left you all alone... No... You are me after all...! This... is my Persona...
  47. ^ Arc System Works, Altus. Persona 4 Arena. Atlus. Mitsuru: You're the true culprit behind all this. / Eerie voice: Indeed. It was I who stole Labrys away. /.../ Eerie voice: Labrys' Persona was only partially awakened, so I had a feeling her Shadow would appear if she underwent a little suffering.
  48. ^ Arc System Works, Altus. Persona 4 Arena. Atlus. Mitsuru: I advise you not to get involved in this matter any further. From here on, you should leave this to us. / ... / 'Yu: Guys, I think we can trust Mitsuru-san. We should let them handle this.
  49. ^ Arc System Works, Altus. Persona 4 Arena. Atlus. Labrys: I decided to work with Mitsuru-san. I wanna catch the darn culprit.
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