Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
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|Persona 4 Arena Ultimax|
|Developer(s)||Arc System Works
|Series||Megami Tensei (Main)
|Genre(s)||Fighting, visual novel|
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, 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?), 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, Shin Megami Tensei: 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.
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.
The story is split between two campaigns: "Episode P4" focuses on the Persona 4 characters, while "Episode P3" follows those from Persona 3. Completing both campaigns unlocks the game's true ending as part of "Episode P4". An additional storyline, "Episode Adachi", is available as part of the Tohru Adachi DLC and tells the events of the game from Adachi's point of view. If the player has the Persona 4 Arena Story Mode DLC, they can access all of the previous game's stories; unlike the stories in Ultimax, these feature the same linear progression as was seen in Arena, preventing the selection of individual chapters and scenes.
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. Yu, Yosuke and Chie are each attacked by Shadows taking their friends' forms, seeking to shave off fragments of their Personas in battle. The three defeat the Shadows and meet up, then head to Yasogami High to look for their friends. Meanwhile, Rise, on a break from work, arrives in Inaba as the blackout starts. She meets Elizabeth, who senses her lack of determination due to her support-type Persona and questions her resolve. Regaining her confidence, Rise's Persona, Himiko, changes into a form capable of fighting. Teddie finds Yukiko, who is accompanied by two Kanjis; they determine which is real and defeat the Shadow. Naoto, who was contacted by Labyrs for help prior to the black out, meets up with her and the Shadow Operative reserve units to rescue Mitsuru and the others.
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. 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. They are saved by Labrys and Naoto, but 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 for good.
As Tartarus collapses, Margaret transports everyone to the TV World where Yu reunites with his friends. Afterwards, the ending shows the aftermath of each character: Yosuke goes to cram school to prepare for college; Teddie continues his work at Junes; Chie studies hard to become a police officer; Yukiko learns how to cook for her inn; Kanji studies hard to take over his family business; Naoto decides to investigate more about Shadows and Kirijo Group-related incidents and remnants; Rise returns to show business; and Yu returns home, disbanding the Investigation Team for good.
After Yu and Adachi defeat Kagutsuchi, Sho is revealed to be alive but unable to sense Minazuki within him. He reveals that after Ikutsuki's experiments on him failed, he awakened in a hospital with all his medical expenses paid by Ikutsuki. He traveled around the world until he ended up in Inaba, where he observed Yu and his friends solving the serial kidnapping/murder case. He was then confronted by Hi-no-Kagutsuchi, who asked him if he wanted to destroy the world, and he agreed. Yu tries to convince Sho not to be afraid of bonding with people, but Sho replies that he can only understand people by fighting them. Understanding this, Yu challenges Sho to one last fight and once again emerges as the victor.
Inspired by Yu's bonds, Sho insists that he will kill Yu one day and that he should be prepared, which Yu accepts as long as the others remain uninvolved. Yu reunites with Labrys, the Investigation Team and the Shadow Operatives at Junes, where they all bond together and celebrate their victory. Yu has a heart-to-heart talk with Labrys who is wondering about Sho, and both are confident that they will meet him again one day after Sho finishes his own journey.
While Mitsuru, Aigis, Akihiko, and Fuuka are discussing the culprit behind the previous P-1 Grand Prix, the car they are riding in is hijacked and they are all captured. Labrys, who hears the news, quickly recruits Yukari, Ken, and Koromaru, and they all to go to Inaba via helicopter. Meanwhile, Junpei, who missed his train stop because he overslept, also ends up at Inaba. Yukari orders him to meet at the station, but the blackout occurs throughout Inaba, and the town is shrouded in red fog and beset by Shadows. The team decides to split up to look for their captured comrades.
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 to summon a malevolent entity. 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. Chasing after Sho to the top of Tartarus, they are surrounded by a huge group of Shadows that prevent them from reaching the tower, nearly succumbing until Adachi saves them. While Mitsuru and the others fend off the Shadows, Labrys reaches the top of the tower and fights Sho. After defeating Sho, General Teddie reveals himself to be the very entity that Sho tried to awaken, Hi-no-Kagutsuchi, and proceeds to possesses Sho's body. With mental support from her friends, Labrys is able to emerge victorious against Kagutsuchi.
As Tartarus collapses, Elizabeth 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, but Sho refuses and threatens her to leave him alone before he departs. Labrys then reunites with her friends. Afterwards, the ending shows the aftermath of each character: Mitsuru plans the next steps for the Shadow Operatives; Akihiko leaves the group to become a police officer under Kurosawa's guidance; Ken and Koromaru try to live out their lives normally; Yukari and Aigis visit the ruins of the lab where Labyrs was born; Junpei resumes coaching his baseball team; Fuuka continues her engineering work; and Labrys finds out the truth about the girl she was based on.
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 finally makes his move, betraying Sho, and attempts to defeat him. However, Minazuki uses his dangerous pressure to weaken him, and he is brutally beaten, though Adachi remarks that Sho still has a chance to redeem himself like he did. Adachi is rescued when Yu arrives at the scene, and he destroys Hi-no-Kagutsuchi with Yu's aid. At the end of the story, he returns to his prison cell and is visited by his old friend Dojima the next day.
Like the previous title, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is a fighting game in which characters from both Persona 4 and Persona 3 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 4 and Persona 3 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 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
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.
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."
- For PlayStation 3 only
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