Fight… for your right… to Persona.
You know that feeling when a game shouldn't be the genre in which it's being played? Do you know when an RPG is supposed to be an action game, or when a shooter should really be a racing game? Well, you'd think Persona 4 should be an RPG, but not if you play Persona 4 Arena first. Yup, it's that slick.
Akin to the graphical brawls of BlazBlue and Guilty Gear, whose developer is also Arc System Works, Arena is a straight-up fighting game with crazy-weird attacks (like your Persona charging forward to attack in place of your chosen character) and the technique/button-mashing confusion that comes as a result of multiple-press combos and visual assault. It's a glorious spectacle, and this time it feels more technical than in previous fights I've experienced.
There isn't much that was shown. About 13 different characters were playable and only a few environments to be had, but the characters were from both Persona 3 and Persona 4. Each of their personalities and tarot card arcanas were embodied in their fighting style; AIGIS was obviously fighting with added weaponry—that is, her gatling gun—whereas Chie focused more on the various martial arts styles she acquired from her favorite fighting movies.
With each character showcasing their individual traits from the previous RPGs and the frantic pace of some revered animé-esque modern-day classics, hopefully this will stand out as a unique way of showing new players into the Shin Megami Tensei universe. [Persona 4 needs all the love it can get, even if it's just the Persona 4 animation it's based on, available on Hulu Plus. ~Ed. Nick]
It's not exactly a traditional SMT title, but Arena played exactly how it looks: all at once smooth, classic, clean and beautiful. The sprites are detailed down to the pixel and simply glide across the screen. This is definitely a title to watch out for. With an August 7th release date for the US, we're lucky that we won't have to wait too much longer.