The Arc System Works booth and its Yurlungur sized line didn’t let players get much hands-on time with Persona 4: The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena. The Amusement Expo next door was much more accommodating, so I was able to play the demo three times.
All of the fights were against the computer and started with Chie as the opponent. I selected Yu, the protagonist from Persona 4, as my first character. Just like the PlayStation 2 (and soon PlayStation Vita) game, he’s armed with a sword. Compared to Chie and her high kicks I had significantly more range, but Chie is a master rusher.
Persona 4: The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena uses a four button control scheme. A is for weak attack, B is strong attack, C is Persona attack, and D is persona rush. The most basic combo is A –> B –> C. The persona rush move sends your persona at an enemy sort of like a partner character. As an extension of Yu, Izanagi gives him about an extra body length of range when using a persona attack. All of the special attacks are done with various button rolls. Yu can dive towards enemies with his sword or shoot lightning with Zio. Arc System Works stuck with the source material by basic specials off skills and spells from Persona 4. Yu’s super move is Ziodyne, a powerful lightning spell that saps 50 SP. You don’t need chewing souls to recover SP in this game, hitting your enemy fills up the super gauge.
More advanced commands are dual button presses. A+C is your general escape command and can be used as a hop if you hold down. A+B is a berserker rush which can launch an enemy in the air (after a Persona 4 style dust cloud) or knock them down. Once in the air, you can juggle your opponent if you’re facing the right direction. B+D is for a reversal action. This drains some of your life, but makes you invincible for a second. Yu’s is particularly useful since he does a shoryuken style rising cut that cancels an opponent’s combo. Since Arc System Works made this game there are roman cancels called One More Cancel (A + B + C) that consume 50 SP. A + C + D is for a versatile Burst move that can either recover your HP gauge, break away from a combo, or if you do it during an assault you can extend the attack.
In the first round, I took quite a beating from Chie. Near the end of Yu’s life a cut-in popped up and Yu went into awakening mode. This move doesn’t cost anything, it’s a comeback of sorts that expands your SP gauge to a maximum of 150 and unlocks a new super move. That didn’t help me win that round, though! With Yu, I found the key to beating Chie was spamming B+D whenever I got trapped in a combo and then linking the aerial sword slash with a sword dive.
I didn’t make use of the awakening until I played as Chie. She has the most supers out of any character with Charge, God Hand, and Agneyastra, her awakened super. Chie’s usual move is having Tomoe summon a great hand from the sky. Agneyastra sends a shower of meteors on enemies. I think I’d compare the attack to one of Storm’s ice attacks from Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Yosuke teams up with Jiraiya for Garudyne, a move that turns him into a moving a green tornado. Kanji’s super begins with him tossing his opponent in the air and as s/he falls to the ground the mighty Take-Mikazuchi rushes in for a juggling Juggernaut punch. Personas deal more damage and in the case of Take-Mikazuchi take up a lot of screen space. Why not spam the persona buttons? Because there’s a meter up top that limits persona usage. Overuse your persona and you won’t be able to summon it for a period of time. So, make sure you use Kanji’s folding chair during battle (seriously, that’s his weapon).
Yukiko is an interesting character. She can throw fans by default and is armed with fire spells like agi. Her reversal is Dia which creates a healing aura around her, but what makes her perhaps more useful is her fan flail attack. Press A + B and Yukiko waves her hands and fans like a toddler on a rampage hitting anything in her path. Connect and you can send an enemy flying with a launcher and then follow up with a flame throwing persona attack.
All of the Persona 4 leads have alternate costumes and some are quite surprising. Yu’s alternate has dark hair. Chie’s has dark tan skin, which gives her a ganguro look. Yukiko’s alternate makes her a blonde cheerleader with a pink outfit.
Arc System Works is known for their anime style graphics and Persona 4: The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena looks fluid on the Taito Type X2 hardware it was running on. The game is due for release in arcades this spring with a console release slated for summer 2012.