Review – Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (Switch)

You have to admire Atlus’ audacity with their handling of the Persona series at times. Sure, all Persona games start off as really good JRPGs, followed by an enhanced edition with more overall content, but you just have to respect the maniacal decision of canonically following up their games with music, Musou, or fighting titles. Such is the case with Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, a sequel to Persona 4 Arena, a fighting game, which was developed as the canonical and official sequel to the phenomenal Persona 4. It has finally been re-released for modern systems, Switch included (you know, a system without a means to actually play P4), so let’s see if the transition was smooth.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Chie

No hard feelings, bestie.

Before diving into Persona 4 Arena Ultimax proper, we have to talk about the studio behind its development. Arc System Works is easily my favorite fighting game developer in the business, being responsible for games like BlazBlue, Dragon Ball FighterZ, and of course, the Guilty Gear franchise. In fact, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax seems to run on the same engine as BlazBlue, featuring similar visuals, controls (albeit more simplified in order to appeal to Persona‘s more RPG-oriented audience), and modes. Having the best fighting game creators in the industry handling your Persona sequel is equal parts bold and smart, and as a result, this game rocks.

Despite sharing so many elements from BlazBlue, this isn’t just a mere clone of that series. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax features its own combat system which is pretty easy to learn, but hard to master. Your characters can attack normally with their weapons, and then summon their respective Personas to inflict additional damage and extend their combos, with a respectable degree of responsiveness and not that many buttons being used. As always, have a Pro Controller or a third party Joy-Con with a better analog stick and d-pad, as trying to perform moves with the original Joy-Cons is an exercise in patience and masochism.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Yu

Yu being able to speak in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is proof that silent protagonists are lame.

Presentation-wise, there’s more to this game than just “a BlazBlue clone with Persona characters” in terms of its in-game graphics. It retains the same phenomenal soundtrack and voice actors from the original P4 game. The menu art style feels like it was taken straight from the Vita/PS2 gem. Finally, every single story-driven segment in any of its single player modes contains the same high-quality portraits from Persona 4. There are even some fully animated cutscenes, and they are great.

The reason for the sheer amount of dialogue scenes and voice acting is due to Persona 4 Arena Ultimax‘s defining features: its two story modes. They are the canonical sequel to Persona 4, and as expected, feature the same pristine level of storytelling, with the characters you know and love. Sure, a good chunk of these campaigns is structured like a visual novel, but it rarely felt boring. Add in the fact that the Persona 4 protagonist, Yu, actually talks on his own, and you’re actually getting an even more investing story this time around.


I mean, how can I say no to a fighter who brings a shiba inu to a brawl?

The second campaign is a direct sequel to the first one, literally being set a day after its predecessor ends. The main draw of this second campaign is the inclusion of a lot of returning Persona 3 characters in its plot. As a result, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax also features a ton of playable Persona 3 fighters in its rosters, ultimately making it feel almost like a sequel to both games, and a fanservice filled love letter to fans of both titles.

I have one main gripe with this game, however, and that’s with its multiplayer. It’s not entirely bad per se, but the issue lies in the fact its online infrastructure does NOT support rollback netcode, making it feel a bit more dated and clunkier than most fighting games out in the market. As a result, I have to actually suggest grabbing Persona 4 Arena Ultimax for its single player content instead. I legitimately do not feel this will have a future as a competitive fighting staple, despite the cool premise and controls.


Controlling your character and summoning your Persona at the same time is a lot more intuitive than you would expect.

Gripes aside, I loved Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. I commend Atlus for releasing a fighting game as the sequel to what I consider to be its best Persona game ever, with tight controls, neat visuals, and most importantly, a fantastic story that will please each and every single Persona fan out there, be them fighting game fans or others. Even if the main game isn’t available on the Switch (and at this point, I don’t even know if it ever will), having this fighting banger on-the-go is worth the investment. Now, can we have a fighting version of Persona 5 as well?


Graphics: 8.0

Even if its sprites lack a few frames of animation at times, it still looks good enough, especially on portable mode. The game’s story mode is shown on visual novel type scenes, which retain Persona 4‘s high-quality artwork. No complaints here.

Gameplay: 8.5

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax features a fighting system inspired by BlazBlue, but a bit more simplified and a lot more intuitive. It’s approachable for newcomers but very hard to master. As always, it struggles a bit with the Joy-Cons’ poor design, but it does wonders despite its hindrances.

Sound: 10

The Persona 4 soundtrack you know and love, and a crapton of really great voice acting. How could I give it anything other than a 10?

Fun Factor: 9.0

Not exactly the best fighting game in terms of its multiplayer capabilities, but it’s hard to care about it when it’s packed with so much single player content. It’s the sequel to the amazing Persona 4, after all. And a damn fine fighting game in its own right.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is available now on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax was provided by the publisher.