Being an old-school JRPG fan, I’m well acquainted with the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series (yes, that’s the proper full name). That being said, I fail to see how I could make the transition from die-hard role-playing aficionado to full-fledged fighting fan, just ‘cuz some recognizable characters are featured in a super colorful 2D battler. …but then again, I’ve often been in the minority before. I just accept that now.
And besides, this is more about catering to the hardcore fighting followers, who have particularly enjoyed previous efforts by developer Arc System Works. The excellent BlazBlue titles come to mind and in fact, Persona 4 Arena is technically the spiritual successor to BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger . You’ll probably recognize a lot of style and gameplay similarities and above all else, you’ll note a significant amount of depth you don’t normally find in the fighting genre. This explosion of hectic combat is really gonna tax your flying fingers, too.
Although the gameplay is obviously most similar to BlazBlue , the story does exist within the Persona realm: The storyline takes place two months after the events of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 , and we will follow what should be an engaging and even emotional plot for each character. There will be 13 characters in all and while that may sound a little low, don’t forget that it’ll take a couple of hours to complete each colorful storyline. Basically, we’ll see how each fighter views the underlying plot that runs through whole game. Yep, story plays a big role. Expected…?
As for the gameplay, you will unsurprisingly summon Personas to assist you in battle. Personas were basically magical creatures you could capture and train in the RPG iterations of the series and here, you can control them in a fast-paced setting. If your Persona gets taken out, the stats of your character are halved while the Persona goes into a healing process. This should provide a strategic element to the relatively simple control mechanic, which only involves a four-button system with strong and weak attacks. There are even single-button combos for the not-so-dexterous.
Despite that accessibility, however, there are slick features that could really make the game shine. For instance, if you’re getting pummeled, you can use your Burst combo that knocks your opponent back, stuns him or her, and gives you the opportunity to return the pummeling favor. Just remember that you need a full meter to execute the Burst, so save it until you really need it. But if that isn’t enough and you want more depth and complexity behind the standard control, there are more combos that involve the analog sticks that you can attempt to master.
Lastly, the developers are throwing in a Lesson Mode, which will take you through some of the tougher intricacies of the game’s mechanic, including the three types of guarding. The other cool part is that all 13 characters will be immediately available (no unlocking here), so you can start with whoever you like. For the BlazBlue fans, this one should be great. For the Persona fans, well…hope you like very different kinds of games!