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Trailer Review: Persona 4: The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena

By / Posted on 12 September 2011

We’ve gushed about Persona 4 before. The half-RPG / half-high-school-sim was not only captivating and remarkably evocative, but it positively gushed style and flare with an exuberance that seemed almost effortless. There is, of course, one popular genre of videogames that thrives on style even more than the Japanese Role-Playing Game: the Fighting Game.

Marvel vs. Capcom. Mortal Kombat. Super Smash Bros. Soul Calibur. These are the biggest franchises in the fighting genre, and they’re all famed for their over-the-top styling, be it in the form of ripping your opponent’s heart out through their chest, tearing the arena apart as three characters unleash all their strength on the same enemy at once, or just generally ridiculous characters, costumes and weapons. And now, the bright, colorful, and vivid world of Persona 4 joins the fighting landscape thanks to Persona 4: The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena:

The Persona team at Atlus, between finishing Catherine and starting work on the highly anticipated Persona 5, are working with acclaimed fighting game developer Arc System Works, the team behind Guilty Gear and BlazBlue, the latter of which was renowned for it’s stunningly gorgeous and fluidly animated 2D sprite art. The developer and intellectual property are clearly a match made in psychotropic high school heaven. Naturally, the material shown in this trailer is beautiful. The sprites are expressive and vibrant, the art style is carried over perfectly (with an added touch of more “digitized” television display graphics) and the movement is exactly as smooth and lively as one would expect from the BlazBlue developer.

Especially nice is seeing how the fighting styles are largely unchanged from the turn-based combat of the original. Protagonist (here humorously named “Yu”) still slashes with his sword just as effectively as Chie high kicks with her tennis shoes. Of course, it’s not a Persona game without the titular Personas, as it looks as though they will play as support and special attacks, double-teaming the opponent with your warrior of choice rather than replacing them in the tag-team style mechanic that has become so popular in fighting games ever since the first Marvel vs. Capcom. Having your Persona set up attacks while you prepare to follow them up should lead to some very interesting strategic fight mechanics.

Clearly there’s also at least one character from Persona 3 involved, and I expect we’ll see at least one other, but this is obviously a Persona 4-centric affair. There’s still a ways to go before we see this game in playable form, and there’s been no announcement for a release outside of Japan, but seeing as all of the Persona games so far have seen American releases and their most recent title Catherine set Atlus sales records, we very much look forward to getting our hands on Persona 4: The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena whenever it comes out here, whatever the title may change to.

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Derrick Sanskrit has produced critically-acclaimed work as an artist and writer for Nerve, Babble, Pitchfork, The Onion and the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, among others. He founded The Pop Aesthetic during the coldest months of his life in 2010.