Fighting games don’t get much love these days, they are perceived as a relic of past times, something that was once enjoyed in the arcades of old, but no place for them in your living room. Which is a shame, because there’s so much to love about Persona 4: Arena, produced as a joint effort between Arc System Works( the genius minds behind Guilty Gear and BlazeBlue) and the persona team at Atlus. For the uninitiated the Persona series is a subset of the long running Shin Megami Tensai RPG series which while popular in Japan, never made a huge impact over here, these games are the epitome of JRPG goodness, game play depth mixed with a fascinating story, and just enough anime to make slightly embarrassed to be caught playing them.

So that’s the gist of a normal Persona game, now take that concept and throw it in a blender with Guilty Gear and Blaze Blue, add salt, and what you get at the end is one of the most gorgeous looking games to hit shelves this year. It’s all rendered in 2D with so much flash you could probably just waste an hour looking at it before you actually start playing. Everything is sleek and polished to a fine degree, you can just sense how much care was put into even the most mundane aspects such as the menus and the like.

But of course all the visual pizazz and well designed menus would mean nothing if the game play was not there, but luckily P4: Arena delivers in spades, There are 13 playable characters, and unlike most fighting games on the market, all 13 of them share a combined pool of basic moves, which makes newbies feel at home no matter which fighter they decide to go with. These are supplemented by Each individual character having their own special set of moves along with their “Persona” which essentially functions as a second fighter on the field, which can lead to some incredible combo moves if you know what to do with them, adding a little tactical flair to spice things up a bit.

All in all this is definitely worth checking out, whether you’re a fan of the fighter genre and have always been a little wary of the “anime fighters”, or you a fan of the persona series this might be the entry you need to get into the fighting game scene!

Persona 4: Arena  is released: TODAY.

Overall: 9/10

~Phil Oxland