Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is coming to North America and Europe this year, tiding over series fans until Persona 5 and Persona 4: Dancing All Night drop in 2015.
Ultimax is a direct sequel to last year's Persona 4 Arena, itself a canonical follow-up to Persona 4, an RPG. Like Persona 4 Arena, Ultimax is a fighting game complete with combo meters, counters, and special moves. The first game was well-received by the fighting game community, making an appearance at EVO 2013. We loved it, awarding a 9.0 out of 10.
Even if you're not into fighters, from a broader story perspective, Ultimax is extremely interesting. As mentioned, Persona 4 Arena's story--a rather in-depth, lengthy campaign--is canon in the series timeline and connects some narrative threads between Persona 3 and Persona 4. With Ultimax coming mere months before the release of Persona 5, it stands to reason that Ultimax could foreshadow or set the stage for events in the fifth core installment. After all, the series as a whole is seeming more interconnected with every release.
There's also the matter of Ultimax's aesthetic. From font to background art, there's a heavy theme of red all over the debut English trailer. Persona 5's director, Katsura Hashino, has already confirmed that red is Persona 5's primary color, just like blue for P3 and yellow for P4.
It's just a hunch for now, but there's also the matter of Persona 4 Ultimax's seeming antagonist: new character Sho Minazuki, a pun-cracking sword expert with two scars and vivid red hair. Read this excerpt from the official Ultimax press release (thanks, Gematsu) and see what you think:
"Arc System Works is bringing the sequel to the award-winning tournament fighter Persona 4 Arena to the PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system and Xbox 360 in 2014! A few days after the P-1 Grand Prix concludes in the first Arenatitle, the city of Inaba gets enveloped in a thick red fog and Mitsuru, Akihiko, Fuuka, and Aigis are shown as prisoners on the MidnightChannel. The Investigation Team from Persona 4 and former SEES from Persona 3 must once again fight to their limits in the new P-1 Climax tournament to rescue them and finally uncover the true culprit behind the deadly tournaments.
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax will improve on the award-winning fighting game formula with battle-altering 1-hit special attacks and new characters, including Yukari Takeba and Junpei Iori from Persona 3 and a brand new character, Sho Minazuki. Not a lot is known about Sho other than his goofy nature and being an unstoppable force in both puns and combat. Two swords, two scars on his face, red hair and red mist in Inaba? Surely it can’t be coincidence that he’s standing in the way of the Investigation Team. And to make matters worse, it seems he can control a Persona…"
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is launching on PS3 this fall in North America and Europe.