Ah the new fighting game smell! I can’t stop myself– ok well I have– I didn’t go in for Skullgirls or Arcana Heart nor the Tekken vs Street Fighter malarkey–but I have a weakness you see, even if a game is so far from targeting my demographic group of ancient occidental old men, if I hear it’s good, I just have to try the fucker. Despite the fact that Virtua Fighter 5 is Marianas Trench deep and I have yet to come close to mastering even one character and despite the fact that while I have played 40-50 matches of KOF 13 online, I haven’t even scratched the surface of that game in the least. These two reasons alone, not even counting Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Blazblue, are enough to say “never buy a new fighting game,” but again, I cannot stop.
So here we have Persona 4 arena by the same people that did Blazblue (and hence Guilty Gear) and it’s about some high school kids that go inside their fucking televisions and fight each other in some strange show. They fight with swords and guns and folding chairs but more importantly, they fight with these strange robots called ‘personas.’ Now, just like Guilty Gear and Blazblue, it’s expected that the plot of any fighting game in this type of insane genre will also be insane so there you have it. Going inside TV’s, fighting on TV, using strange robots (are they robots?), saying stupid stuff in high pitched voices, beating up their friends and asking if they are OK afterwards, etc. Anyway the game is based on some extremely popular RPG series that I’ve never played. While the character designs are great, they just have to LOOK good, it doesn’t really matter what they say or do because despite any type of ‘plot’ it’s still just a fighter and that’s all it has to be.
Gameplay wise, from my initial plays, I would say the game is a bit less insane than the Guilty Gear series and certainly less than Blazblue. One thing that is noticeable off the bat is the ease of combos. You can pull off some insane combos with just pressing the same button and with some mix ups, the combos can hit into the 30’s pretty easily. I haven’t studied the system enough to really know why or how this works, but I shall because, so far, it is quite a fun game. While I like Blazblue and really liked King of Fighters 13 for awhile there, there is something about each that just doesn’t grab me–both are very very difficult games to get good at. KOF has never been combo friendly by design and Blazblue is really a massive amount of memorization because combos are so long and most of the good ones have multiple cancels within them. Whether it’s the hop-tech in KOF or just the insane amount of combos you have to pull off to win in Blazblue, I’ve been in the market for something that is a bit more grounded, but that doesn’t have the screen mobility constraints as Street Fighter 4. Granted, kids going inside TV’s and fighting each other is pretty off the wall, but the fighting system, maybe because of the easy combos, doesn’t smack me in the head like Blazblue saying “you will never be good enough at this to enjoy it” yet.
The roster is mostly chicks with various weapons with a few dudes peppered in there. There’s only one effeminate guy in the group which is good because, you know– Bridget from GG was a pretty tough pill to swallow when you found out ‘it’ was a boy– and with so many female characters, I was afraid this would turn into an Arcana Heart/ Skullgirls that I would simply embarrassed to play in front of the family or friends. There are enough dudes to go around and while not filled with grim swordsman that I would like (ala Last Blade), there are some GIANT AXES in play to make up for it, in fact two of the characters are named AXE. Since these are high school kids, it’s not like any of them are very badass, but some of their personas ARE. One design looks like a greek statue holding a globe with the chest cut out and a dude sitting inside on a chair another is a massive demon that bursts out of the ground. The personas aren’t on screen all the time, but when they are it’s pretty fawesome.
So fuckall I am glad I got this. I’m probably going to only get to play against my kids but I will go online and get my ass kicked this weekend. Every once in a while you will get matched with someone that is near your level of play so I’m hoping that happens. If not, it’s fun to see the fireworks as one gets run down.