Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
|Persona 4 Arena Ultimax|
|Developer(s)||Arc System Works|
|Series||Megami Tensei (Main)|
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
|Genre(s)||Fighting, visual novel|
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax[b] is a fighting video game developed by Arc System Works and Atlus. It is the direct sequel to the 2012 game, Persona 4 Arena, which is itself a follow-up to the role-playing game, Persona 4. The game was originally released in Japanese arcades in November 2013, and was released worldwide for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2014. Unlike the previous game, it features no region locking.
Set shortly after the events of Persona 4 Arena, the story focuses on the two protagonists groups, The Investigation Team and the Kirijo Group, who are trapped in a dimension known as the Dark Hour where they encounter doppeldangers known as Shadows. As the story progresses, the cast meets apparent culprit behind this, a teenager known as Sho Minazuki. While retaining gameplay elements from Persona 4 Arena, now the player can directly choose each character's Shadow that change the gameplay elements. The game was well received by video game publications.
Like the previous title, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is a fighting game in which characters from both Persona 3 and Persona 4 battle each other using a variety of special moves, combos, and Persona abilities. Along with balance adjustments and new moves added to the returning characters, a new S-Hold system allows players to charge up their attacks. Also new to Ultimax is the ability to choose "Shadow Types" for many of the game's characters. These Shadow versions differ by being largely skill-based variants of their counterparts, employing a high-risk high-reward play style thanks to reduced normal attack damage and an altered move set with lacking defensive options. They also keep their SP over multiple rounds instead of resetting each time and possess an exclusive Shadow Rampage ability, which replaces the Burst command, giving the characters infinite SP for a limited time.
The game's story mode is now split into two separate campaigns for the Persona 3 and Persona 4 casts, as opposed to a campaign for each character. Two additional story campaigns are available: one allows players to replay the character campaigns from Persona 4 Arena, while the other is included with the Tohru Adachi downloadable content and focuses on his actions during the story. Golden Arena is a dungeon-based survival mode, in which players travel through various dungeons to increase the fighter's stats. Players can build Social Links with a navigator character, giving them skills that can aid the player in battle. Online play now features a new lobby area, resembling an arcade, where players can interact with each other.
Along with all thirteen returning characters from the previous game, eight new characters (five of which are exclusive to the console version) are added to the roster, including a brand new character, Sho Minazuki. Furthermore, many (though not all) of these characters feature a Shadow Type. Other characters, such as Fuuka Yamagishi and Theodore from Persona 3 appear in a non-playable capacity.
- ^a - First appearance console version/pre-2.00 arcade version
- ^b - Downloadable content character
- ^c - Sho Minazuki has two different character slots; one possessing a Persona and the other without. These are distinguished as "Minazuki" and "Sho" respectively in the English version, and has different Japanese pronunciations and texts in Japanese version.
- ^d - Does not have a Shadow Type
Setting and characters
The game begins a day after the conclusion of Persona 4 Arena, in the fictional rural Japanese town of Inaba. Unlike in the previous game, which focused on the TV World, the events of Ultimax occur in the real world. However, due to the enemies' interference, Inaba is shrouded by red fog and turns into a labyrinth that mixes with the places of Persona 3 such as Moonlight Bridge, Club Escapade, and Tartarus.
All 13 playable characters featured in Persona 4 Arena return in Ultimax. Eight new characters, five of whom were introduced in console version, were also added to the roster: Yukari Takeba, Ken Amada and his canine partner Koromaru, Junpei Iori, Rise Kujikawa, Tohru Adachi, Marie, Margaret and a brand new character, Sho Minazuki. Furthermore, many (though not all) of these characters feature a Shadow Type. Other characters, such as Fuuka Yamagishi from Persona 3, Theodore from Persona 3 Portable, and Nanako and Ryotaro Dojima from Persona 4, appear in a non-playable capacity.
At midnight the day after the P-1 Grand Prix concludes, the TV in Yu's room suddenly starts airing the Midnight Channel, showing a promotion for the P-1 Climax and an image of Mitsuru, Aigis, Akihiko, and Fuuka crucified, with General Teddie announcing the world's end within one hour. A black out then occurs throughout Inaba and the whole town is surrounded by red fog. The Investigation Team starts facing Shadows that steal fragments of their enemies' Personas upon their defeat.
Yu, Yosuke, and Chie reach Yasogami and are approached by Sho, who announces himself as the culprit behind the P-1 Grand Prix and P-1 Climax. Tohru Adachi, whom they had believed to be imprisoned, also appears and give cryptic clues regarding Sho's intentions to them. At Tartarus, they once again encounter Sho and defeat him, but are overpowered by his other self, Minazuki. Minazuki reveals he has gathered enough Persona fragments to summon a malevolent entity that will destroy the world. Now reunited with their teammates and the Shadow Operatives, they pursue him through Tartarus, but are assaulted by a huge group of Shadows, forcing the group to let Yu confront Sho alone. At the top of the tower, Yu stops Sho from killing Adachi and fights Minazuki, emerging victorious. General Teddie, revealing himself to be Hi-no-Kagutsuchi, possesses Sho's body and fights Yu. With Adachi's help, they are able to kill Kagutsuchi. As Tartarus collapses, Elizabeth transports everyone to the TV World where Yu reunites with his friends who all set up to find a new path in their futures.
Following this scenario, the game shows how Mitsuru, Aigis, Akihiko, and Fuuka are captured by Sho. In response, the reserve members of the Shadow Operatives as well as Labrys all head to Inaba via helicopter (save for Junpei, who ends up at Inaba by accident). After separately meeting the members of Investigation Team and rescuing their captured friends, they encounter Sho, the culprit behind Labrys' hijacking, who goads them into fighting Shadows in order to gather their Persona fragments. It is also revealed that Sho used to be one of Ikutsuki's test subjects, living in isolation and growing to resent the entire world after Ikutsuki abandoned him. During one of the experiments to make him a Persona user like Strega by using a Plume of Dusk, similar to Aigis and Labrys, another personality was born within Sho, which he refers to as Minazuki. Minazuki claims to have been born to grant Sho's wish to create a world without bonds. Labrys reaches the top of the tower and fights Sho. After defeating Sho, Hi-no-Kagutsuchi proceeds to possesses Sho's body. Labrys is able to emerge victorious against Kagutsuchi. As Tartarus collapses, Margaret transports everyone into the TV World. Sho, who is also transported, asks if she really did defeat Kagutsuchi, which she confirms, and Sho acknowledges her strength. Labrys then tries to convince Sho to join the Shadow Operatives.
After both scenarios are completed, a new chapter is unlocked, which follows the aftermath of Yu and Adachi defeating Kagutsuchi. As both Margaret and Elizabeth appear to witness the event, Sho is revealed to be alive but unable to sense Minazuki within him. He then reveals that after waking up from his coma, he discovered that Ikutsuki paid his medical expenses, leaving him with a large inheritance. Feeling lost due to only knowing how to fight, Sho eventually settled in Inaba, where he observed the Investigation Team solving the serial kidnapping/murder case in secret, believing that they might be able to understand him, only to give up. It was then that he was confronted by Hi-no-Kagutsuchi, who asked him if he wanted to destroy the world, and he agreed. Realizing Sho's only way to form bonds is by fighting, Yu starts a rivalry with him and both fight, revealing that Minazuki's persona has been passed down to Sho. After Sho's friendly departure, Margaret safely transports everyone out of the tower at Yu's request, and come to terms with Elizabeth's departure from the Velvet Room after trying to convince her to return. In the aftermath, the Investigation Team and the Shadow Operatives reunite at Junes, where they all bond together and celebrate their victory, while Yu and Labrys express their belief in Sho finding bonds of his own.
Adachi continues to undergo police questioning regarding his methods for the two murders in Inaba, but his interrogators still do not believe his account of his crimes. However, Sho brainwashes one of the interrogators into assaulting Adachi and forcing him back into the TV World. There, Sho coerces Adachi into aiding him in his plan to destroy the world. Adachi outwardly agrees, but decides to sabotage him in order to honor his promise to the Investigation Team to follow society's rules, and subtly manipulates the Investigation Team towards defeating Sho. When the Persona fragments are collected, Adachi makes his move, betraying Sho. However, Minazuki brutally beats Adachi. Adachi is rescued by Yu, and he destroys Hi-no-Kagutsuchi with Yu's aid. Adachi then returns to his prison cell and is visited by his old friend Dojima the next day.
A manga adaptation of the game was announced on February 25, 2015, via Persona Official Magazine issue #2015 February. It will premier in Dengeki Maoh magazine in spring 2015, and will be illustrated by manga artist Rokuro Saito.
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax was adapted into a live stage play titled Persona 4 Ultimax Song Project and ran from July 6 to July 10, 2016 at Theater G Rosso. The play was written by Mio Inoue and directed by Shotaro Oku, featuring music by Meguro and Atsushi Kitajoh. The play was released on DVD on November 25, 2016.
In popular culture
- In the second episode of the 2017 anime series Gamers!, the characters Keita Amano and Tasuku Uehara play the arcade version of Ultimax. Tasuku's Teddie defeat's Keita's Yu, without losing any HP. Two other characters are shown in a fight between Chie and Akikhiko.
The game sold a total of 89,000 units in Japan during its first week of release, topping charts.
Ultimax received generally favorable reviews, maintaining an average of 84 on Metacritic.
IGN complimented the changes to the fighting system, graphics, rebalanced characters, and declared that there was "even more nuance for intermediate and advanced players" and that Ultimax was "100% the sequel that Persona 4 Arena deserved." Hardcore Gamer gave the game a 4/5, saying "In terms of fighting mechanics, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax doesn’t go leaps and bounds past its predecessor, but allows for growth that helps strengthen the experience." Ben Moore at GameTrailers stated that "practically everything new in Ultimax is outstanding and the core it’s built on is just as robust and exhilarating as it was two years ago." Slant Magazine wrote that Ultimax "not only refines (and sometimes rebalances) the gameplay from Persona 4 Arena, but vastly expands it" and that the Shadow versions of the characters add "new layers without upsetting or unbalancing any of the foundational gameplay." The balance was also praised by Eurogamer. The Official PlayStation Magazine said that "There's not even the slightest whiff of cash-in here. Greatly expanded and built upon." Play summarised the game as "The combat remains some of the best and most intricate Arc System Works has composed to date."
- For PlayStation 3 only
- Known in Japan as Persona 4: The Ultimax Ultra Suplex Hold (ペルソナ4 ジ・アルティマックス ウルトラス―プレックスホールド Perusona Fō Ji Arutimakkusu Urutora-Sūpurekkusu Hōrudo)
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