Second thing I want to mention here is Persona 4 Arena. Wheee!

By total random coincidence this weekend also happened to be the week I got a copy of “Persona 4: The Animation” which, as you might imagine, is the anime version of Persona 4. Caveat: You have to enjoy the appeal elements of Persona 4 to enjoy the show, but that said… “the Animation” is an absolutely *fantastic* translation of the game into a TV format, at least as far as the few episodes I’ve seen. It is SHOCKINGLY close to the source material, even as far as the weird little calendar prompts when the scene changes to “Tuesday, Raining” or the display of the hero’s social link / stat pentagram at commercial breaks so you can see how his extroversion stat or whatever is coming along each episode. It was a trip down memory lane to watch things like the “jumping into TV in Junes” moment again.

SO… back to the fighting game. I haven’t played the new Mortal Kombat so I haven’t yet experienced “the most ridiculously thorough single player campaign” in fighting game history. Because I haven’t experienced this, I have no problem calling P4:Arena “the most ridiculously thorough single player experience in fighting game history”.

You’re either into this or you’re not. Much like Persona 4, there is more than half an hour of pressing X and reading text BEFORE YOU EVEN HAVE YOUR FIRST FIGHT in the fighting game. Just think about that for a sec. The Scenario designers went buck wild here, unrestrained.

It’s like this: Do you like the Persona crew? Would it make you happy to spend tons more time with these characters, laughing your ass off? Reminiscences from Yu Narakami about the whole business with the TV land from last year, phone calls with Yosuke, nurse porno jokes, hanging out with Dojima and Nanako. Getting the band back together. Oh yeah, wait, and fighting. Somewhere. But mostly it’s about hanging out. Me? I love these characters. Showing up to spend time with them again is the reason I bought the damn game in the first place. So I’m totally happy about this.

There is an “arcade mode” that shortcuts all this of course, for people who just want to get stuck into P4:A and start mixing it up, and interestingly “arcade” seems to have a paralell (but not exact copy) of the “story mode” plotline, so you have to play through both to get the full picture. The story part is just for people who like “story” in their fighting games. Arcade is different.

… and the fighting. Wow!

2 buttons for character, 2 buttons for Persona. It’s not about the complexity of the button inputs, it’s about how these systems interact. Always been curious about how Yosuke and Juraya would actually look if they were fully animated, flying around on the screen in all their gorgeously cell-shaded glory? Want to know how Kanji’s huge hulking persona throws down against, say Aigis from P3? Well, you can see that now.

Don’t even get me started on the color commentary, because it’s fantastic. Default is to have Rise up at the top of your screen with the mic like a boxing umpire, throwing out blow by blow dialogue as your characters trade bon mots and leap around. So much personality is injected into everything it’s ridiculous and regularly laugh-out-loud funny. Even the interface elements are stylish as hell, as you’d expect from a Persona game… and of course all your favorite music from P3 and P4 is here and remixed up.

Basically, it’s a fantastic experience for people who fall into the “likes Persona / likes fighting games” category, of which I am one. Can’t wait to get home and play some more.