The Curious Case of Persona 4 Arena Reviews


Currently, I’m in the midst of reviewing Persona 4 Arena for Splitkick. Yes, I did end up caving, which should a surprise to no one. Though I have a clear idea of where I want to go with my review, I wanted to see how others approached reviewing this RPG/fighting game mash-up.

While the general consensus is positive, reviewers are coming at this game from wildly different perspectives. Sites like Shoryuken, and 1Up are putting most of their emphasis on the fighting game aspect of it, while others like Giant Bomb, and Joystiq are focused on how this progresses the franchise’s lore.

Here are some choice quotes that show how varied the perspectives are:

Perhaps more controversial is the inclusion of ‘automatic combos’, done by pressing A repeatedly. While these are an obvious nod to less experienced players, they have some strategic depth. Most auto combos aren’t optimized for damage or positioning, but they build notably more meter than a normal combo, so there may be times where even someone with good execution will want to use one. – Shoryuken.com

What a shock it was, then, to be thrown head-first into a developed, storied world with characters I’ve never known and places I’ve never seen, only to come out the other side deeply invested and hungry for more. Without a doubt, no fighting game has ever made me care about its characters like this.

Persona 4 Arena gave me feelings. – Joystiq.com

From meter gain, to emotions evoked from the story mode, criticisms really run the gamut on this one. I haven’t seen reviews shake out like this in a long time, if ever. If you’re interested in finding out what I think about Persona 4 Arena, my full review will go up soon on Splitkick!


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26 thoughts on “The Curious Case of Persona 4 Arena Reviews

  1. Mike R August 12, 2012 / 10:11 AM

    Nice!! I just came here to see if you were gonna do this review. The Machinima Live stream was hype and Im leaning towards getting it but am gonna wait for your review just in case. Thanks Jett!!

    • Jett August 12, 2012 / 3:53 PM

      Thanks for the comment!

      Aiming to have the Splitkick review ready sometime this week. In the meantime, do you have any specific questions about the game I can answer for you?

  2. Mike R August 12, 2012 / 7:18 PM

    Cool I’ll be looking for it. Yeah I would like to know if it has a record and playback feature in the lab?

    • Jett August 12, 2012 / 10:24 PM

      It does have that, and then some. Recordings can be saved into 3 separate slots, and if you want, can randomly play back the routines to try and attack/defend against them.

      • Mike R August 12, 2012 / 10:37 PM

        Oh wow that’s awesome!!! I figured you were gonna say sadly it does not. And with those playback features that’s too cool. I’m gonna pick this one up for sure now. Thanks for the info and im glad you caved in on taking a break from fighters lol. Its an addiction and ur sick as hell bro!!

      • Jett August 12, 2012 / 11:09 PM

        Glad I could help! Hope you enjoy it!

        As for taking a break, it is still very much in effect. I didn’t say I was taking a complete break from fighting games. However, I am very much not in Goku’s hyperbolic time chamber; training up for a major tournament or anything as serious as that. Taking a break from that serious has been therapeutic, as it can really wear you out. Now when I hop into a fighting game, I’m mostly just looking for some casual fun for a few minutes.

        I’ll play Persona for review, but likely won’t try and get gdlk at it

  3. jsicktheslick August 12, 2012 / 7:28 PM

    Very interesting analysis. I am I terested in this one too, and didn’t even think about sites reviewing it differently. I think personally if be interested in the RPG aspects more than the fighting if I were reviewing it. Speaking of which, I look forward to reading your review.

    • Jett August 12, 2012 / 10:22 PM

      I’m not overly familiar with the franchise, so my review will slant heavily towards the fighting game side. There is no shortage of fan service in the game, though much of it is lost on me. In particular, the story mode I think will be very divisive among fans of the RPG vs. fighting game fans.

      • jsicktheslick August 15, 2012 / 1:10 AM

        Strangely, I heard somewhere (not sure if it’s true) that the story in the game was actually cannon. Not really sure how that plays out…

      • Jett August 15, 2012 / 6:41 AM

        Story mode is interesting in its execution. It starts out with a handful of characters, and it essentially tells the same story from each of the character’s perspectives. As you play it, you open up new characters and uncover new wrinkles in the story. From what I’ve seen, it’s great fan service, and essentially a visual novel.

        However, there’s almost 0 fighting in this mode. You’re essentially fighting one round per hour, and spending the rest of the time scrolling through text. I could imagine myself really digging it if I was invested in the story, but it wasn’t for me.

  4. Mike R August 13, 2012 / 10:33 AM

    That’s right you did say that I took it wrong. That last tournament really took it out of you huh? Or that’s the impression i got. So let me ask you was it worth it? I had read ur article some time back about how you were kinda stuck at a level of play and you really had to buckle down and commit to getting as good as you are now? I don’t think i will ever be that good but i am committing to getting to at least a decent level of play. Like you said if you cant beat down the Single player on the hardest difficulty then your not ready to play a real competitor. Just because the computer is predictable and if your execution is spot on then the computer doesn’t have a chance. So I’m aiming for that goal, we will see if its still fun when i get there. N e ways I think it would be cool if you did a piece on the journey or maybe something about the tournament scene. Stuff you agree with, stuff you don’t, the hardships of committing (see me beating on my fight stick cussing at my tv at 3AM, in the lab no less, waking my wife up on the couch cause she didnt want to go to bed by herself). The piece you did on how to survive a tournament was a cool look into it and i enjoyed it. Cheers!!

    • Mike R August 13, 2012 / 10:46 AM

      Oh hey I apologize. I went back and re read the article. Everybody needs some time off every now and then i don’t blame you. Maybe some time in the future after you’ve had some time to rest consider doing a piece for us scrubs that don’t know what its all about. (tournament scene i mean)

    • Jett August 13, 2012 / 11:24 AM

      Was it worth it?
      To me it was. I got farther in the Toryuken tournaments than I did at T12, so there was a measurable difference. However, the big measure to me was just my overall ability to compete with that group of people in that environment. At T12, I was nervous as hell, and had some major holes exposed in my overall skill set. It really upset me that this happened, so I worked really hard to address those issues in the next one. At Toryuken, I was not nervous at all, and the problems that hindered me then did not come into play this time. I’m most proud of the fact that the work I put in to address those issues worked, and I performed better overall because of that.

      I think it would be cool if you did a piece on the journey or maybe something about the tournament scene
      Your points about agree/disagree…I don’t really disagree with anything as far as the tournament format goes. And for commitment, 99% of fighting game tournaments are open to all comers, regardless of skill-level, so commitment comes down to how much you want to put into it. Not really much to cover there. However, if you can give me 5 more specific questions you’d like answered about the tournament scene, I’ll answer them in detail in a post. 🙂

  5. Mike R August 13, 2012 / 12:15 PM

    Yeah I knew they were open to the general public. Ive heard of guys showing up just to have something to do knowing they weren’t up to snuff. I guess i don’t really have n e thing specific that im just totally perplexed about but here’s some things that I would find as a interesting read.
    How does a game make it to the tournament level?
    Do the Game developers or publishers ask for your guys opinion about in game features?
    Any perks to being a tournament level player? (I don’t mean every scrub that walks through registration) Like im sure Combofied and filipino champ and the likes have some perks. But I also know that’s not the typical experience, but neither is being the number one ranked player in the country but you did it!!
    How do they decide on where to have tournaments for seed points…I mean I dont get it i would have to be a millionaire to be able to travel to those places to get enough seed points to make it to evo and not have to fight through every Joe shmuck there. I know others that kinda wondered how this works.
    N e ways i don’t think that’s five just some stuff I think would be cool in the future. Your site has a wealth of information n e ways and coming off of a taxing “season” its prolly the last thing on ur mind and I would prolly feel the same lol. Get back to that P4A review i really want to see what your impression is!!

    • Jett August 13, 2012 / 1:25 PM

      Thanks for taking the time to write those up! I’ll definitely answer those in a full post. Look out for it soon!

    • Jett August 13, 2012 / 6:23 PM

      What fighting games are you currently playing? Also, how did you get interested in the whole fighting game scene?

      • Jett August 14, 2012 / 11:17 AM

        No problem. It was fun to write 🙂

  6. Mike R August 14, 2012 / 10:51 AM

    Right now I’m basically playing everything that has a big audience just because id like to play casually locally and I’m having a hard time finding people. If I do find a club or a monthly bar fight event i don’t wanna not be able to play cause I’m not familiar with whatever they may be playing. I’m in Oklahoma and there is a Soul Caliber following to some extent but i really don’t care for 3D fighters.
    My buddy Chris lives in Dallas and he turned me on to fighters i guess more then any one. He was in a casual fight club deal and has played for some time. When I became disabled from a car wreck two years ago he spent hours and hours online with me playing Street Fighter and guess it just kinda kicked off from there. We had both been aircraft mechanics for over ten years when we started working together in Texas and met by chance, really cool cat though.

    • Jett August 14, 2012 / 11:13 AM

      Sorry to hear about the car wreck. I hope you’ve been able to push through.

      What system do you play Street Fighter on? I have it for both 360/PS3. You can add me: jettFTW

      • Mike R August 14, 2012 / 4:44 PM

        360… But no way am I signing up for that man im not on that level but am really gonna focus on P4A I went ahead and scooped it up after you told me about the playback options. Before boderlands 2 comes out ima renew my gold membership and ill send ya a friend request if that’s cool…i do have Sleeping Dogs reserved so ill be picking that up today!! Are gonna review Sleeping dogs?

      • Jett August 14, 2012 / 4:53 PM

        Yeah that’s cool. Any time 🙂

        No plans to pick up Sleeping Dogs, but I cannot wait for Borderlands 2 to destroy my life.

  7. handsnface August 14, 2012 / 2:04 PM

    So what do you think of Persona so far? People love in the the states so far. I haven’t played it yet, but it looks fun when I’m just spectating.

    • Jett August 14, 2012 / 2:52 PM

      Historically, I’ve stunk really bad at Arc System Works fighting games. Find them overly complicated. With Persona, the bar is just low enough for me to get a grasp on the basics and enjoy on a base level, though I’m interested in diving deeper into it. Overall, it’s really good. It will be interesting to see if it can keep its momentum up in the community, or maybe even surpass BlazBlue/Guilty Gear in popularity.

      • handsnface August 14, 2012 / 2:57 PM

        Seems headed in that direction so far. It’s early but there’s a lot of momentum for this game.

        I’m glad to hear it’s not overly complicated. The update to BB is supposed to include some new systems but turn down some of the execution barrier. Have you heard about it?

      • Jett August 14, 2012 / 3:16 PM

        Admittedly, I haven’t really been following the latest BlazBlue news. I’ve seen that a major update is coming, though I tuned out that series after I bought Calamity Trigger, and Continuum Shift, and still had no idea what I was doing. If there are in fact, changes to make that series easier to play, I’m all for it.

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