Video Game: Persona 4: Arena
aka: Persona 4 The Ultimate In Mayonaka Arena
Summon the Fighter Within.
Rivals, they are...friends, yet powerful foes! The desperate fighting program amongst high school students! A new legend is about to start!Persona 4: Arena
— The P-1 Grand Prix Introduction
, or Persona 4: The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena
in Japan, is a fighting game sequel to Persona 4
and, to a lesser extent, Persona 3
, developed by Arc System Works
under the supervision of Atlus
' Team Persona
. The gameplay is similar to BlazBlue
with the stand system from the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
The game is set three months after the end of Persona 4
and two years after the end of Persona 3
. Life has returned to normal for the Investigation Team from Persona 4; that is, until Teddie suddenly turns up on the Midnight Channel to announce the "P-1 Grand Prix", a bombastic fighting tournament to determine just who is the strongest Persona-user in the world. Noting a strange shift in Teddie's personality, the Investigation Team decide to reunite and make sure this is
nothing more than a friendly competition.
Meanwhile, the remnants of S.E.E.S. from Persona 3 have formed a new organisation dedicated to the continued suppression of Shadow activity across the world. When a piece of valuable equipment goes missing from a Kirijo Group lab, three members of the Shadow Operatives- Mitsuru, Akihiko and Aigis- track it to Inaba and stumble across the P-1 Grand Prix. Finding the tournament to be suspicious, the trio decide to investigate it for themselves.
The game hit Japanese arcades in March of 2012, with a console release
of July 26 and August 7 in Japan and America, respectively. The European release date was eventually confirmed for May 10 2013
, being published by Zen United
The Arcade build of the game began with 10 characters, but 3 more were added through timed releases (Labrys, Elizabeth and Shadow Labrys). The complete roster is as follows:
- From Persona 4: Yu Narukami, Yosuke Hanamura, Chie Satonaka, Yukiko Amagi, Kanji Tatsumi, Teddie, Naoto Shirogane
- From Persona 3: Mitsuru Kirijo, Akihiko Sanada, Aigis, Elizabeth, Labrysnote
- Original Generation: Shadow Labrys
Has a sequel, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
This page contains spoilers from both Persona 3
and Persona 4
. You Have Been Warned
This game provides examples of:
- Accent Adaptation: Labrys's original Kansai dialect is presented as a Brooklyn accent in English.
- Action Prologue: The Shadow Operatives are introduced defusing a hostage situation (Aigis), Saving a government official from Shadows (Mitsuru), and defeating a couple of muggers barehanded (Akihiko) in their respective prologues.
- Elizabeth's story begin with her battling Erebus and easily winning.
- Actor Existence Failure: As with Persona 4: The Animation, Igor's role in Arena was severely reduced compared to the previous games given the death of Igor's Japanese voice actor in 2010. In fact, Igor's only lines in Arena are reused audio from Persona 3 and Persona 4.
- The dub carries this on as well, as the dialogue from Dan Woren was also reused (although he's not dead) to prevent problems with the audio.
- Aerith and Bob: The majority of the characters have pretty standard Japanese and Western names, but there's also Aigis and Labrys. Of course, they are Robot Girls, so it's fairly justified.
- Alien Lunch: In Chie's joke ending, after defeating Akihiko over a Beef Bowl from Aiya, she happily digs into it... and passes out. When she comes to, the case is solved and everyone's at the food court, and she wonders where her Beef Bowl is. Yu berates her for eating something she found in the TV World.
- Ambidextrous Sprite: Zigzagged. Akihiko has different scars on both arms and a different bandage on each side of his head, so he has two portraits depending on which side he's facing. Mitsuru, who has Peek-a-Bangs, only has one. The actual sprites for battle are ambidextrous as well.
- An Axe to Grind: Labrys and her Shadow wield big, rocket powered ones. Shadow Labrys as well.
- An Ice Person: Interestingly, despite three ice-based Persona-users, only Mitsuru has any actual ice skills. Elizabeth also has an ice skill, along with every other element.
- And the Adventure Continues: For pretty much the entire cast, setting the stage for a sequel.
- Labrys and Aigis decide to look for the girl Unit #024 wanted to meet, the "mother" of the anti-shadow weapon series.
- Elizabeth awakens to the Fool Arcana, signifying the true beginning of her journey, and sets off to find companions who would join the former elevator attendant on her quest.
- Misturu and the other Shadow Operatives decide to continue their investigation into the Malevolent Entity and the circumstances of Labrys' kidnapping.
- Despite being ordered by Mitsuru to not get involved any further, Yu and the Investigation Team promise each other they'll visit Tatsumi Port Island again soon and begin their own investigation into the new mysteries.
- Artificial Stupidity: As expected from fighting game AI, this trope appears in full effect in single player modes:
- Regardless of difficulty setting, characters will not block or evade Instant Kill attacks in story chapters.
- Score Attack, despite its infamous difficulty, is winnable by exploiting the AI's tendencies and certain universal gaps in pressure, allowing for perfect scores against some characters.
- And some Score Attack opponents are infamous for their idiocy: despite Score Attack Yosuke having permanent Sukukaja, once he reaches Awakening he frequently spends 50 meter to activate Sukukaja; Shadow Labrys will always begin the round attempting an All out Attack, which she can be thrown out of, and upon recovering from the grab, she'll attempt the same attack to the same result for the entire match; and Score Attack Naoto attempts to use her counter Furious Action to block even unblockable Instant Kills. Even Elizabeth can net a perfect victory when defeated by certain characters, and she can be repeatedly persona-broken due to the AI's lack of concern for Thanatos. Of course, without these holes, Score Attack would be nearly unwinnable, making this a case of Tropes Are Not Bad.
- Ascended Extra: Labrys, who debuted in a Persona 3 Drama CD.
- Badass Cape: Akihiko wears one, complete with a hood. Both Chie and Mitsuru consider it ridiculous, for different reasons.
- Bag of Spilling: Only Yu, Aigis, Akihiko, and Mitsuru still have their Ultimate Persona, and Yu only gets to unleash Izanagi-no-Ookami for his finishing move. No one in the game addresses this fact, though it was stated back in Persona 2 that Persona revert to their initial forms if not used often. Also, while Yu uses Izanagi as his standard Persona and Izanagi-no-Okami for his finishing move, Aigis does the exact opposite: she uses Pallas Athena as her standard Persona, which she devolves into Palladion for her finishing move.
- Big Damn Heroes: Fuuka of all people gets one, breaking the Malevolent Entity's control of Labrys from outside the TV. Even the villain is impressed.
- Bittersweet Ending: Labrys is saved, the Investigation Team and Shadow Operatives have become friends, and Elizabeth takes another major step on her quest... but the Malevolent Entity is still out there, and promises he'll be back soon.
- Bloodless Carnage: Unsurprisingly, given everyone has a Guardian Entity. Still, the game features characters with swords, knives, steel chairs, metal claws, axes and guns fighting each other.
- Boss Remix:
- Yu's Reach Out To The Truth (P4 Arena ver.)
- Aigis' Heartful Cry (P4 Arena ver.)
- Boss Rush: Score Attack mode, which pits you against the main roster, with special buffs (Yosuke in eternal Sukukaja, Naoto lowering your Fate Gauge with even normal attacks, etc.) and a final battle against Elizabeth.
- Brand X: Japan Airline Network instead of Japan Airlines.
- The laptop Naoto is typing on in her ending has Xaio written on it.
- Break the Cutie: Labrys's story.
- Brick Joke: Yosuke comments early on in the story that he had Teddie leave the exit from the TV world out in case anyone on the team ever accidentally fell into their TV while sleeping. It later turns out this is exactly what happened to Kanji.
Yosuke: I mean, think about it. What if we were half-asleep and fell into a TV when Teddie wasn't over there...? Isn't that a scary thought?
Chie: Like anyone would be that clumsy!
- Bridal Carry: Aigis picks up Kanji this way after defeating him in her storyline, much to his embarrassment. She is also much shorter than he is.
- The Bus Came Back: Despite having moved back to the city as planned at the end of the original game, Yu returns to Inaba during the Golden Week break to investigate the P-1 Grand Prix with the rest of his friends. He even puts back on his old Yasogami High uniform for investigating inside the Midnight Channel.
- Button Mashing: Borrowed from BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, rapidly hitting the A button will execute a basic character-specific combo ending in a super if you have the meter for it. You also need to keep tapping both attack buttons after a successful All-Out Attack for more hits and damage, and you need to do at least 15 hits (17 hits in Ultimax) this way for the knockback finisher to slam the enemy into a wall for additional combo opportunities instead of just knocking them back.
- Calling Your Attacks: The Investigation Team and Shadow Operatives went native for the fighting game world; they call out their attack names or a Catch Phrase while performing one.
- Call Back:
- Camera Abuse: In keeping with the TV motif, one of Shadow Labrys's supers has Asterius smashing its fist into the TV screen, and one of her win poses has Asterius break through the screen completely.
- One of Kanji's Victory Poses has him throw his folding chair at the screen.
- The game over screen is another example.
- Canon Immigrant: Labrys from the Persona 3 Drama CDs, making her way to the main series in this game.
- Canon Name: The protagonist's name was chosen by the player in the original Persona 4, but in The Arena he's officially called Yu Narukami.
- Character Tics: Some of the P4 Characters have a habit of repeatedly checking the time whenever it rains at night. Old habits die hard, it seems.
- Cherry Blossoms: The scenery effect for Yukiko's Instant Kill.
- Classical Mythology: Labrys makes use of these motifs to fit with the rest of the Persona 3 cast, and it's just as symbolic as ever.
- Labrys's Persona is Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Crete and half-sister of the Minotaur. In the myth, when Theseus came to end Minos' tradition of sacrificing seven men and women to the Minotaur every seven years, Ariadne gave the hero a sword for combat and a ball of string so he could find his way out of the Labyrinth later. Ironically, when Labrys is thrown into the TV, she creates a Labyrinth and Minotaur of her own.
- Shadow Labrys's berserk form is Asterius, better known as the aforementioned Minotaur. Likewise, Shadow Labrys is the monster inside her own version of the Labrynth, Labrys's dungeon, being brought sacrifices in the form of the Investigation Team and Shadow Operatives.
- Class Representative: What Labrys claims to be, despite being a robot.
- Classified Information: The Shadow Operatives refuse to disclose their mission objectives to the Investigation Team because they don't want to get them involved (er... well, more than they already are). Mitsuru actually says this at one point in her story in a conversation with Rise regarding Labrys after she was kidnapped by her Shadow. It never works as the Investigation Team know a few things that the Operatives don't (such as how shadows behave in the TV world) which they use as leverage to get answers.
- Cliff Hanger: Each of the "true" routes in story mode will stop on a "To Be Continued" cliffhanger the first time through, and can only be completed after unlocking and then clearing Labrys's route.
- Color Motif: Arena has Persona 4's yellow.
- Combat Commentator: Rise serves as the default one. Fuuka, Teddie, Mitsuru, Aigis, Yosuke, and Nanako are all unlockable options.
- To a smaller extent, finishing Arcade Mode with a character allows them to do the "Round X, fight!" announcement instead of the normal guy.
- Meanwhile, Margaret serves as announcer for the Character Select screen, giving info on the cast.
- Comeback Mechanic: Awakening, which happens when a character is nearing the end of their vitality gauge. They become more resistant to attacks, fill their super meter by 50 points and increase the maximum to 150 (which means they can execute up to three supers consecutively), and can use their "Awakening" supers.
- Continuity Nod:
- Elizabeth's Instant Kill is the same 9999 damage Megidolaon she uses as a Bonus Boss in Persona 3. It even includes a Persona 4 version of the unconscious icon.
- Yu's Instant Kill is summoning Izanagi-no-Ookami and using Myriad Truths, the same ultimate move he used to finish off the true final boss in Persona 4.
- At the end of his Story Mode, Akihiko say that one day he plans to quit the Shadow Operatives and become a police officer, in a Discontinuity Nod to his role in the non-canon Persona -trinity soul-.
- The island beach in Arena where Labrys wishes future generations of her sisters will find happiness is none other than Yakushima beach, where Aigis meets the Protagonist and other SEES members years later in Persona 3.
- Labrys' and Aigis' stories reveal that the material used as the basis of the Anti-Shadow Weapons' souls is a Plume of Dusk, an Easy difficulty-exclusive Auto-Revive item in Persona 3.
- Persona 4 Temperance Social Link Eri and Yuuta can be seen in Junes early on in the game.
- Aigis' story mode mentions a police report with testimony from Adachi from the end of the game, though he is not named.
- Funky Student, the kid with the Afro who gave you quizzes back in Persona 4, can also be seen working in Junes early in the game.
- Rise's manager is once again Inoue, her manager from the Lovers Social Link in Persona 4.
- Anti-Shadow weapons can understand dog talk, just like Aigis in Persona 3.
- Crisis Crossover: The main plot places The Investigation Team and The Shadow Operatives in the same situation of investigating the P-1 Grand Prix and Labrys.
- Critical Status Buff: After a character's HP drops below a certain point, they'll enter an "Awakened" state, during which the damage they take is reduced, their SP meter is increased by 50, and more powerful supers become available. This only applies to Normal-type characters in Ultimax.
- Crosshair Aware: Naoto's Instant Kill. They're stationary, but if the opponent touches any of them, the attack goes off.
- Curbstomp Battle: As this cutscene shows, Labrys is really good at what she does.
- Death from Above:
- For his Instant Kill, Akihiko uses Caesar to drop his opponent onto a miniature version of Earth, and then performs a Colony Drop punch on them from orbit.
- Yu's Instant Kill has him using Izanagi-no-Okami to summon a giant lightning bolt to crash down upon his opponent.
- Deadpan Snarker: Aigis slips back into stilted robot speech in order to snark. "I comprehend." Mitsuru takes it as a sign that she's becoming more human.
- Defeat Means Friendship: In a strange case, Shadow Labrys clouds the senses of those inside her dungeon and uses illusions to make the friends think they're saying horrible things to each other. It's only once the two contestants finish battling that they can interact with their friends normally again.
- In a straight case, happens in earnest after every fight between the Investigation Team and Shadow Operatives, and once Shadow Labrys is defeated she too becomes a Persona.
- Also lampshaded and then invoked by Chie in Aigis' storyline.
Chie: If this was some fighting manga, we'd beat the tar out of each other, then shake hands in the end as best friends. A powerful enemy can become a powerful friend, you know. Friendship can do amazing things.
(sticks out her hand)
- Despair Gambit: The Malevolent Entity wants to break the Investigation Team and Shadow Operative's wills, so all their Personas will turn into Shadows again. It fails, as both groups have already learned The Power of Friendship.
- Difficult but Awesome: Mitsuru has shades of both. She has the least available attacks out of any other character and clunky Persona attacks that can easily leave her open against agile fighters such as Yosuke and Yu. Of course, the moves she does have Freeze characters in place. (In a fighting game like this, this can mean the difference between victory and defeat, as being stuck in one place for more than five seconds is more than enough time for an opponent to hammer you, especially in Score Attack Mode) and her normal A-button combo is more than enough to Bum Rush an opponent into a corner, despite not doing much damage.
- Kanji. He's slow, has limited mobility and is one of the most poorly designed grapplers in recent memory. That being said, playing him patiently makes him completely and utterly unstoppable, as his entire game revolves around taking advantage of the opponent's mistakes. On top of that, as this dude demonstrates, he can hit confirm into his command grabs pretty easily with the right combos.
- Aigis as well. A lot of her moves are unusable unless she goes into Orgia Mode. The problems with using Orgia Mode? The mode has a time limit (that temporarily disables Orgia Mode if it runs out) and completely changes how Aigis moves; instead of normally walking and running, she uses her thrusters to boost herself. Attacking during an Orgia dash causes aerial attacks to occur instead of standing attacks that normally happen if a character is moving. Once you get past that hindrance, she's a powerful characters who can deal tons of damage with very long strings of combos.
- Naoto as well. She's a Zoning\Keep-Away character in a combo-centric fighter. She doesn't have the best damage output, she doesn't have the most health, and she's generally considered lower on the tier lists. That said though, she has lots of options for zoning, keep away, and combos all in the same character, she has a nice selection of traps she can use to pin down her opponent, she has a pair of supers that instantly kill the opponent no matter what their health is in the right situations, and, to top it all of, she can take advantage of SMP Loops to do EXTREMELY high damage combos.
- Shadow Labrys counts as well. She has some of the lowest health in the game and her gameplan is crippled without the use of her massive "Persona" Asterius. Asterius is also the most awkward Persona to use in the entire game, as it's constantly out and is not tied to Shadow Labrys herself when it attacks as well as requiring the player to make it block itself. Once mastered, though, she is one of the resident gods of mixups, using staggered attacks from both Shadow Labrys herself and Asterius to keep the opponent blocking until she can find an opening in their defenses. She and Asterius can also set up situations where it's impossible to block the attack of one without getting hit by the other. She even has some massively damaging combos thanks to her powerful Awakening supers. The kicker? She is the only character in the game who can combo into her Instant Kill.
- Elizabeth is an extreme case. She has the lowest health in the game, has few usable defensive options, and is rather slow to boot. She is also crippled without her Persona, Thanatos, and practically has to be in Awakening in order to be at her most powerful. That said, once mastered she is a force to be reckoned with, as she has a variety of deadly projectiles, command throws, status effects, a pair of instant death traps that she can force her opponent into, the ability to heal herself (a trait only two other characters have) and one of the most powerful non-instant death moves in the entire game.
- Dramatic Irony: A lot of details from the story modes are only explained in certain scenarios and leave the other characters confused. Once you've played any particular story mode, you know that other characters are going to be making mistakes.
- Naoto interprets Mitsuru's limo as serving some secret purpose since it stands out so badly, but the truth is just that she failed to specify an inconspicuous vehicle.
- Mitsuru, on the other hand, doesn't know Labrys is running around confused and initially thinks the hijacking and subsequent tournament were an escape attempt and revenge. The story mode for characters like Yosuke makes this plain, however.
- For her part, Labrys' story mode is mostly backstory and is only unlocked later, so when a mysterious voice offers to 'help' her the audience knows that this is a bad idea and a trick by the Malevolent Entity.
- Dual Wielding: Yosuke and his kunai.
- Dub Name Change: Many of the special and super moves with unique names in the Japanese version were renamed into preexisting skills in the English version.
- Elizabeth's "Momento Mori" super was changed to "Ghastly Wail".
- Chie's insulting title, as used during matches below her lifebar and in the battle intros, is changed from "The Carnivore Who's Discarded Womanhood" to, "The Spunky Dragon With Deadly Legs". The story still uses the Carnivore title in dialogue, though.
- Eldritch Location: The Sea of Consciousness where Elizabeth spends her off-hours, and where she finds Erebus and the Golden Gate. The TV World of Persona 4 has also, at least temporarily, reverted from the idyllic landscape of the former game's True Ending to its TV studio appearance.
- Elemental Powers: Like in the series, each Persona specializes in one element. Elizabeth specializes in all of them.
- Shock and Awe: Yu, Kanji, and Akihiko, although the latter doesn't use it as extensively as the former two. It's a minor deal of segregation from Persona 3, since Caesar only uses lightning magic and drops his only physical skill early on.
- Blow You Away: Yosuke and Yukari.
- Playing with Fire: Yukiko and Junpei.
- Light 'em Up and Casting a Shadow: Ken and Koromaru respectively specialize in these, while Naoto uses both.
- An Ice Person: Mitsuru, and Chie gains ice abilities in Ultimax whereas she did not have them before. Teddie also has an ice-wielding Persona, but he doesn't use them, opting for Confusion Fu instead.
- Elites Are More Glamorous: The Special Assault Team is deployed to a hijacking, although the NPA orders them to pull back.
- Emotionally Tongue Tied: Kanji towards Naoto in his story mode. He does about as much as he can to confess to her before running off, claiming he's going to 'run some laps'. And this is while he thinks it's a DREAM.
- Excuse Plot: In arcade mode, Teddie replaces the Midnight Channel with his P-1 Grand Prix tournament, and invites all the Persona users into the TV world to prove who's the best. Though it does turn out that "General Teddie" is actually the disguised Shadow of Labrys, a Kirijo Group anti-shadow weapon trapped inside the TV world, putting it in line with the plot structure of Persona 4 and explaining what the Persona 3 cast members are doing there.
- Evil Twin: Mitsuru thinks Teddie is using this as an excuse in regards to General "Teddie" in Teddie's story.
- Fangs Are Evil: The illusions in the Persona 4 Arena manga tend to have small fangs.
- Fighting Clown: Teddie. Amongst humans and human-shaped Robot Girls, Teddie is a walking cartoon bear with silly animations.
- Fighting Your Friend: The P-1 Grand Prix has the Investigation Team and returning S.E.E.S members all going at each other ostensibly to decide who's the ultimate Persona user. Don't worry, it's all to save another victim trapped in the TV World.
- Final Boss: Shadow Labrys in Arcade mode, SNK Boss Elizabeth in Score Attack mode, and The Malevolent Entity in Story mode.
- Fire-Forged Friends: What the Investigation Team and Shadow Operative members become by the end. Labrys counts as well.
- First-Person Smartass: Yu and Youske.
- Flanderization: The in-universe character introduction trailer makes sweeping generalizations about the fighters' personalities, as The General wants to annoy them. Additionally, several characters' previously minor quirks get blown up to insane proportions:
- Akihiko's favorite food being 'Anything with Protein' in P3 becomes an overblown obsession Played for Laughs.
- A less funny aspect about him being blown up is him being something of a Blood Knight; here, he's fresh off the heels of a global quest driven by an unhealthy desire to become stronger, whereas those who played his game may recall that not fighting so obsessively and to no end was what spurred both his Character Development and Polydeuces' transmogrification into Caesar. It's jarring to see, and it's lampshaded via Labrys' illusions and by the Malevolent Entity in his story mode.
- Chie's favorite food being steak in P4 mutates into her being willing to blow the entire investigation to chase after a beef bowl.
- Fog of Doom: The red fog that appears in Ultimax, which works similarly to both the TV World and the Dark Hour by disabling electric power and altering the real world in addition to making the use of Personas easier.
- Forgot About His Powers: Yu and Aigis barely utilize their "Wild Card" abilities to switch between different Persona, even when doing so would give them a clear advantage.
- Fragile Speedster: Yosuke, who is the fastest character in the game, but has poor strength and defense. Aigis has access to devastating speed and mix-ups in Orgia mode but below average health and poor range on most moves, meaning Aigis players frequently have to block until they can safely activate Orgia and close in on an opponent, all while making sure to deactivate Orgia before they overheat.
- Yosuke is now free from this trope in Ultimax, as one of his new moves gives him hard knockdown (allowing for more damaging combos) and his damage has been increased. He's now considered to be the best character in the game — a combination of the buffs to Yosuke and the nerfs to other characters make him the most obnoxious opponent in the game. (His playstyle relies on, well, being as annoying as possible.)
- Funny Bruce Lee Noises: Chie, being who she is, drops a few ATATATAs and WATCHAs here and there.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: Goes both ways. In the Story Mode, the majority of fights involving Labrys have her be in permanent Persona Break, because she only gets her Persona near the end of the story. On the other hand, Mitsuru has an intro where she enters the battlefield with her 10-doored limousine, and she's apparently able to bring it to closed spaces like a classroom or an announcement room.
- Genre Savvy: At the end, Mitsuru tells the former Investigation Team members to be aware of the enemy out to get them, but to leave the job to the Shadow Operatives instead of abandoning their normal lives for it. Yu, unwilling to let someone else take responsibility, makes a subtle sign to his friends to concede the point, and reinstates the Investigation Team the next day. Mitsuru, however, realizes what he's doing immediately, and admits to Naoto that there's little she could have done to dissuade them anyway.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: In Kanji's conversation with Teddie:
Kanji: I'll give you one hell of a beating, just like last year. I hope you're ready!
Teddie: I-I Don't remember you giving me anything like that! What did you do without me knowing!?
- Yosuke and the Nurses. Most especially in his ending: "How did this conversation go from welcoming to wanking in three steps??"
- Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Elizabeth straight-up invades the plot during Story mode, leaving Yu very perplexed at this strange, all-powerful Velvet Room girl appearing in the middle of the tournament with no warning, no regard for what else is going on and little-to-no explanation for why she's here.
- Giving Someone the Pointer Finger:
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Akihiko has a very tidy looking scars all over his body.
- Gratuitous French: Mitsuru.
- At the end of her Instant Kill:
- Or for one of her win poses:
Mitsuru: Très bien
- Guide Dang It: Some of the methods needed to 100% story mode are rather obtuse (namely, there being a secret scene in Yu's story that gets unlocked if you only pick the top choice for every choice in his story).
- The Heartless: The shadowy, ghostly students that serve as "audience" to the matches are the Shadows of what little remains of the minds of Labrys' sisters, which she inherited when she was given their memories during her combat preparation. They have so little ego left that they only exist to watch friend fight friend.
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: At the end of each character's story (except for Labrys and Elizabeth), Labrys is taken over by the true masterminds of her kidnapping and disappearance into the TV World, either through hacking by someone with an "Eerie Voice" or by possession by the "Malevolent Entity".
- Improbable Weapon User:
- Kanji, though this time he's only using a chair.
- Yukiko, with her paper fans.
- Elizabeth, who, as before, fights with a book and the cards inside it.
- Teddie, who uses TV sets, boxing gloves that come out of his mouth, giant anvils made from his body, and fireworks, along with his standard Wolverine Claws.
- Informed Ability: The Wild Card has sort of become this for Yu and Aigis. While the game still emphasizes the Wild Card's Power of Friendship, the ability to use multiple Personas is absent note . The game even claims several times that both Yu and Aigis go all out for their fights, which should imply that they switch to their more powerful Personas, such as Yoshitsune or Messiah.
- Ironically, there is a character in the game that does use multiple Personas (including Yoshitsune) that isn't technically a Wild Card—Margaret, who instead of having her own focused Persona simply chooses multiple ones from her compendium.
- Interface Spoiler: Good luck avoiding the fact that Fuuka Yamagishi is in the game. Her name appears in the voice cast and the DLC page features the new character art.
- Jack of All Stats: Yu, who is a balanced beginner-friendly character. At least in Ultimax, thanks to balance changes. In the original Arena, "the Narukami sweep vortex" and his near-unreactable high-low mix-ups left Narukami in a tier of his own above the rest of the cast.
- Just a Machine: How the scientists who experimented with Labrys and her sister models treated them. This is also how the Eerie Voice treats Labrys after taking control of her.
- Joshikousei: The base concept for Labrys, as she's created a world for herself where she's both a Yasogami High student and the Student Council President.
- Kamehame Hadoken: Yu with Izanagi, when using Ziodyne.
- Lag Cancel: In this game, it takes the form of giving yourself a "1 More!" attack, complete with icon, as if you had struck the enemy's elemental weakness in one of the previous games. This allows you to cancel the recovery of most moves on hit or block in order to avoid retaliation.
- Lampshade Hanging: Mitsuru's catsuit and white fox coat combo and Akihiko's shirtless and cape combo got plenty of these.
- Lemony Narrator: Fumihiko Tachiki in Japanese and Patrick Seitz in English. The promos even has the Narrator giving the characters insulting nicknames, which they, naturally, complain about.
- Lightning Bruiser: Akihiko, who is strong, fast, and has decent defense. But, he has very poor range and his Persona's abilities aren't that great compared to the rest of the cast.
- A Load of Bull: Shadow Labrys' Reverse Persona, Asterius.
- The Man Behind the Man: The Malevolent Entity and The Eerie Voice were behind Labrys being kidnapped and thrown into the TV world, in order to further their own Evil Plan.
- Market-Based Title: The English release dropped the literal title translation of "The Ultimate in Midnight Arena" for just "Arena", given the Gratuitous English would have stood out more for native English speakers.
- Meaningful Name:
- Labrys is also the name for a type of ancient Cretan double-headed axe.
- One reading of Yu Narukami approximately translates as "quiet thunder god".
- Kagutsuchi is the name of a god whose mother died giving birth to him, a fitting name for the Anthropomorphic Personification of "breaking bonds".
- The Men in Black: The Shadow Operatives have the general appearance of this, wearing with Badass Longcoat Suits, Cool, Sinister Shades, red ties, and earpieces.
- Mighty Glacier: Kanji, who has the most health but is the slowest character in the game.
- Mini-Boss: The Malevolent Entity.
- Mood Whiplash: All the joke endings, as well as Teddie's normal route, where after the serious battles for Labrys' heart, Teddie ends up fighting Kanji just to impress Labrys with his manliness.
- Motifs: Both Izanagi and Athena bear symbolically important motifs from Japanese and Greek Mythology: the Chrysanthemum Seal (on Izanagi's shoulders) and the Bust of Medusa (on Athena's shield and breastplate). The Chrysanthemum Seal is the royal seal of the Japanese Royal Family, who are said to be direct descendants of Amaterasu, and in turn, Izanagi. The Head of Medusa is a symbol of protection and power used by the emperors of Greece, which is said to ward of evil and misfortune as it is said to ensure Athena's eternal protection.
- My Name Is ???: Labrys initially. Also the Malevolent Entity and the Eerie Voice.
- Mystery Magnet: Lampshaded. Yosuke thinks that he's going to have to start calling Yu "the mystery maker", since trouble seems to follow every time Yu shows up in Inaba.
- Mythology Gag:
- Each character has a set of DLC pallete swaps that serve as individual shout outs to Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, and three from Persona games:
- Yu: Ky Kiske, Ragna the Bloodedge, P3 Protagonist + Orpheus, Ryoji Mochizuki, Nanako Dojima
- Yosuke: Chipp Zanuff, Jin Kisaragi, Eikichi Mishina + Hades, Jin Shirato, Junpei Iori (Ultimax costume)
- Chie: Jam Kuradoberi, Makoto Nanaya, Yukari Takeba + Io, Fuuka Yamagishi, Marie
- Yukiko: Anji Mito, Carl Clover + Nirvana, Chidori Yoshino + Medea, Yukari Takeba, Rei
- Kanji: Potemkin, Iron Tager, Baofu + Odysseus, Akihiko, Theodore
- Teddie: Faust, Taokaka, Jack Frost + Pyro Jack, Koromaru, No one in particular
- Naoto: May, Hazama, Yukino Mayuzumi + Durga, Ken Amada
- Mitsuru: Axl Low, Litchi Faye-Ling, Maya Amano + Artemis, Margaret, Yukari Takeba (Featherman R costume)
- Akihiko: Slayer, Bang Shishigami, Takaya Sakaki + Hypnos, Takaya alone, Chie Satonaka
- Aigis: Justice, v-13, Metis + Psyche, Labrys, Fuuka Yamagishi
- Labrys: Baiken, Lambda-11, Aigis + Palladion, Female P3 Protagonist, Yukari Takeba
- Shadow Labrys: Sol Badguy, Mu-12, Eriko Kirishima + Nike, Marie, Yukiko Amagi
- Elizabeth: Dizzy, Relius Clover + Ignisnote , Joker + Joker-Nyarlathotep, Shinjiro Aragaki, Nurse Elizabeth
- One of the titles you could put in network is "Souji Seta", the name of Yu Narukami in the manga adaptation of Persona 4.
- When picked as your personal announcer in VS or Network mode, Rise will shout either "Duel One! Let's Rock!" or "Rebel One! Action!"
- Yu's room in the story mode now has a Jack Frost figurine and a Catherine calendar.
- Several BlazBlue terms can also be equipped as titles (such as the title itself or even Kokushimuso (Litchi's Thirteen Orphan))
- At one point in Akihiko's arcade mode, he responds to Chie's threats by saying: "Which one is it, Heaven or Hell?"
- Nigh-Invulnerability: Elizabeth. After she "loses" a match, she does not fall to the ground unconscious like everyone else. Instead she lies down on her book, watching her opponent with an amused smile. And after anyone fights her in their story mode, the winner is left gasping for breath, while Elizabeth stands up, dusts herself off, and thanks them, before leaving, unharmed and not even winded.
- No Hugging, No Kissing: None of Persona 4's several optional Romance options are outright included in Arena.
- Nonuniform Uniform: Discussed in Yukiko's story when Yukiko notices that Labrys is just wearing a standard issue school uniform. When Labrys asks if the teachers get mad about all the customization, Yukiko realizes that they don't seem to care.
- Noodle Incident: You never do find out exactly what your character's Jerk Ass illusion says to the opponent in any of the story modes, leading to some amusing moments afterwards.
Naoto: I understand. We were shown illusions to goad us into fighting each other.
Mitsuru: In that case, I'll... well, I'm willing to forget all the things you said about my body.
Naoto: Wait, what?
- After Naoto defeats Kanji in the former's story mode, Kanji is blushing and stuttering constantly. His misfunction involves having trouble being himself, and his insecurity about his ability to knit, and Kanji has a huge crush on Naoto. Put one and one together...
- Not Himself: A running mystery throughout the story. Rise and Teddie would never make their friends fight each other, the good guys would never taunt their friends before a match, and a person's Shadow shouldn't be able to manifest at the same time as their Persona. The entire thing turns out to be one big Despair Gambit being run by Master of Illusion Shadow Labrys and Master of Disguise the Malevolent Entity.
- Not Just a Tournament: It's not just a tournament, it's the Midnight Channel dungeon of Robot Girl Labrys. It's also being manipulated by someone known as the Malevolent Entity.
- Off the Rails: Liz's story mode. It feels like a parody of Mary Sue fanfictions, but with entertaining comedy, as this all-powerful nigh-god just waltzes onto the scene and takes down whoever she feels like, with no regard for the other events going on within the story, save for her participating in a fighting tournament and her vague agenda of finding out about the wild card power. It follows its own plot, in which she is trying to come up with a way to save the protagonist of Persona 3, but at the cost of coherence with the other characters' stories. Rule of Funny precedes all here.
- One-Hit Kill:
- Continuing Arc System Works tradition, the game has instant kills in the form of "Mortal Blows" (localized as Instant Kills). Not counting the original Guilty Gear where you could spam them as much as you want until the opponent failed to counter one and allowed you to win the entire match instantly, they have the most lenient requirements out of any Arc System Works fighters: while they require 100 SP to perform and they can only be performed if doing so would win the match, your opponent does not need to be have low health for your insta-kill to work (like Guilty Gear) and there's no permanent cost associated with performing them such as disabling your Persona or Burst for the rest of the match like in BlazBlue: thanks to the Offensive Burst, which completely fills the SP gauge, you even can do things like using them twice in rapid succession.
- Both Naoto and Elizabeth also have classic SMT series insta-kills (Ma)Hamaon and (Ma)Mudoon as super moves:
- Naoto's can only cause a One-Hit Kill if she has brought down her opponent's Fate counter to zero, otherwise they do no damage.
- Elizabeth's are fixed traps that will always cause instant death if they hit, but take 10 seconds to activate and disappear when she is hit.
- Overt Operative: The Shadow Operatives, whose existence and motives are supposedly kept secret to the public. Mitsuru and Aigis arrive at Inaba in an Absurdly Long Limousine and end up having trouble finding a discreet parking spot. The less said about how they and Akihiko dress, the better.
Don't tell me you came from the airport like that… Does the concept of keeping a low profile mean nothing to you?
Mitsuru-san, I believe we have lost the right to complain about that…
- Platonic Life Partners: Mitsuru and Akihiko, just like in Persona 3.
- Playing with Fire: Yukiko with Konohana Sakuya, coordinating the Persona's fire attacks with her fan. Ken and Koromaru have a fire super as well. In keeping with the original role-playing games, the super begins from Koromaru's position, not Ken's — it was Koromaru who learned fire abilities, not Ken.
- Junpei and Shadow Labrys also have fire-type attacks (Flame of Hades), but nothing as overt as Yukiko's Agi and Maragi attacks.
- The Plot Reaper: Unit #024.
- Playing with Syringes: The Kirijo Group during Labrys's back-story, as usual.
- Potty Emergency: In Chie and Yukiko's story, Yosuke gets into this problem after being defeated by either one.
- Preorder Bonus: Pre-ordering the game gets one Persona 4 Arena Original Arranged Soundtrack with remixes of various character themes.
- Pretty in Mink: Mitsuru wears a white fur coat over her catsuit.
- Previous Player-Character Cameo: Aigis, Mitsuru, Akihiko, and Fuuka all show up over the course of the story. Mitsuru and the other Shadow Operatives are searching for a precious "item" stolen from the Kirijo group. While Elizabeth wasn't a playable character in the previous game, she stumbles upon the P-1 Grand Prix on her continuing journey to find a way to bring back the protagonist of Persona 3.
- Promotional Consideration: Parodied. The Atlus and Arc System Works developer credit screen that can be seen when the game starts up is in the form of the Promotional Consideration screen that appears before a majority of Japanese TV programs, with a different character reading the standard "This program is brought to you by the following sponsors" announcement each time.
- Puppet Fighter: Everyone who has a Persona. Which amounts to everyone but Sho. The C and D buttons allow the characters to control their Personas separate from themselves, though the amount of control the player has over their Personas varies.
- Shadow Labrys attacks in coordination with her persona, Asterius, and can order it to block — helpful, as Asterius is always on screen.
- Region Coding: The only disc-based PS3 game with it enabled.
- Revenue Enhancing Devices: The announcers are normally unlocked by doing things like clearing Story Mode, Arcade Mode, the Challenges, or Score Attack. But for those who don't want to bother, you can just unlock them through paid DLC. Additionally, there are several palettes that are available only through purchase.
- Robot Girl: Aigis and Labrys are both robots with the appearance of human girls, in this case so they can develop human egos and thus manifest Persona.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Akihiko's and Mitsuru's… unique… outfits garner a lot of commentary by the rest of the cast, and may be a playful knock-on-the-head towards Arc Systems' other works.
- Saved by Canon: The extended true ending of Persona 4: The Golden shows the entire Persona 4 cast to be alive and as close as ever several months after the P-1 Grand Prix incident. Yosuke even makes a nod to this game, noting that Yu/the Protagonist didn't really get a chance to relax when he visited Inaba during Golden Week.
- Scenery Gorn: The Announcement Room is this whenever Shadow Labrys is involved. The room soon reveals a blood red factory with various android parts hanging around, moving on the conveyor belt, or in the incinerator in the background.
- Seen It All: Both the P3 and P4 cast have this, though it shows more for the Investigation Team given that the action takes place inside the TV world, their home turf.
- At the end of the P-1 Grand Prix, both Labrys and the Shadow Operatives wonder why the P4 cast are acting so nonchalant about what they just went through. Their answer basically boils down to "We've seen this shit before".
- Sequel Hook: At the end of Arena, both the Shadow Operatives and Investigation Team make plans to investigate the "Malevolent Entity's" identity and motives, which leads into the events of Ultimax.
- Shock and Awe: Akihiko with Caesar, Kanji with Take-Mikazuchi, and Yu with Izanagi all use electricity-based attacks.
- Arena's tournament, the P-1 Grand Prix, is a play on the name of the discontinued Japanese kickboxing championship tournament, the K-1 Grand Prix.
- General Teddie's Whole Costume Reference to M. Bison.
- Chie has a poster of Bruce Lee in her room, though Lee's eyes are blurred out and the picture says "Blue Three"note on it.
- One of the posters in Yosuke's room is a shout out to AKB48.
- The Arena announcer calls Naoto "Body of a child, the brain of a genius!" a play on the "Body of a child, the brain of a detective!" Tag Line for Detective Conan.
- In the intro to Akihiko's story mode he's accosted by a pair of thugs, one of whom pulls a gun on him. In Akihiko's words, "The problem is that he has to point the gun where he wants to send the bullets, and I can see him doing that."
- Aigis' supers heavily resemble Captain America's Hyper Charging Star and Doctor Doom's Sphere Flame in the Marvel vs. Capcom series.
- When asked about her accent in the English version's Story Mode, Labrys responds with "do you understand the words comin' outta' my mouth?!"
- Kanji's Awakening Super is the Persona version of the Shining Finger. A blatant nod to his Japanese VA's previous and well-known role.
- The Shadow Operatives were first addressed (at least before revealing the group's name) as The Menin Black.
- Players with watchful eyes can spot Linkin Park, Nickelback, and Dragonforce albums in Yosuke's bedroom.
- During arcade and story mode, Teddie uses the phrases "cutting a promo" and "no-sell," both which are "insider slang" in Professional Wrestling.
- SNK Boss: Everyone in Score Attack mode, but Elizabeth in particular.
- Yosuke has permanent Sukukaja and can chain his Moonsault attack an unlimited amount of times.
- More of Naoto's attacks drain your Fate meter, allowing her to use her One-Hit Kill attacks sooner, her SP gain is increased, and in Ultimax, she no longer has to wait for her pistol to reload.
- Yukiko has permanent level 8 Fire Boost and Fire Break, in addition to all fan attacks shooting three fans at once.
- Teddie gets a massive damage boost, and his Circus Bear Limit Break is altered to move impossibly fast and attack three times.
- Kanji also gets a general damage boost, making all of his throws do 3 times as much damage as normally.
- Chie has permanent level 3 Power Charge, meaning that her special attacks and Limit Break attacks do ridiculously high damage.
- Mitsuru gets a damage boost and almost all of her attacks freeze, charm, or both. Note that this ailment effect includes breaking throws.
- Akihiko has permanent Lightning Fists, his Cyclone Meter is always set at level 3 (level 5 in Ultimax), and his damage is boosted.
- Aigis has infinite Orgia Mode, 999 bullets each round, and does increased damage.
- Yu Narukami's special attacks are automatically boosted with no SP cost, his damage is increased, his attacks are faster, and all of his specials can cancel into each other.
- Shadow Labrys has increased damage (especially with attacks that require her Persona), and her Brutal Impact Limit Break can interrupt combos.
- Labrys' axe is always fully charged, her persona attacks that involve planting traps in the ground teleport to your location, and she gets a damage boost.
- Elizabeth takes this far into Up to Eleven territory. Her passive ability, Invigorate, gives her 100 SP in roughly four seconds, she gets near triple her normal HP (20,000), her One-Hit Kill traps come out instantly and can't be interrupted, she casts Diarahan upon Awakening (now with invincibility and blowback properties) and if given a chance, and her damage is boosted to insane degrees, Ghastly Wail in particular now dealing 7500 base damage (44,444 if the opponent is inflicted with Fear).
- Spin-Off: In terms of gameplay at least. The story itself continues where Persona 3 and Persona 4 left off.
- Sprite/Polygon Mix: Sprite characters and polygon backgrounds.
- Spy Catsuit: Mitsuru's new outfit.
- Status Buff: Carried over from the RPGs. Yukiko has Fire Boost/Amp (passive skills in the RPGs) and Elizabeth has Mind Charge.
- Standard Status Effects: Also carried over. Certain attacks can inflict Poison, Confusion, Silencenote , Charm, Fear, Rage, Paralysisnote , or Freezingnote . Yukiko also has the Fire Break spell. In Ultimax, Elizabeth can inflict Negative Penalty (normally only inflicted through running away for too long) on her opponents.
- Super Mode: Several. Chie has Power Charge, Yosuke has Sukukaja, Aigis has Orgia mode, Akihiko has Lightning Fists.
- Supernatural Gold Eyes: Velvet Room inhabitants, Shadows (most prominently, Shadow Labrys), and the Malevolent Entity are all supernatural beings that share this trait.
- Terrorists Without a Cause: Fully played with. The hijackers were brainwashed to carry out the hijacking, revealed at the end to be by the Malevolent Entity.
- Theme Music Power-Up: Mist starts playing every time a character successfully uses their Instant Kill.
- Theme Naming: The name of Labrys's Boss theme, The Ultimate (The Arena in international versions), keeps with the names of Persona 4's Final Boss themes The Almighty and The Genesis.
- Time Skip: The game takes place a month and a half after Persona 4 and two years after Persona 3.note
- Tracking Device: Naoto uses one on a fleeing van in the beginning of her story mode.
- Trailers Always Spoil: Labrys being...well, as identified in the manual is a spoiler for the the first four character's arcs. Also First Episode Spoiler.
- Truth in Television: The SAT captain said that he hasn't faced off against armed hijackers in 10 years. While true, the calculations are wrong since the last hijacking was in 1999 on ANA Flight 61. Which means that it's suppose to be 13 years since the game is set in 2012. The low rate of hijacking cases is due to the strict anti-hijacking law enacted in 1970 after the Japanese Red Army staged their first hijacking in Japan during the Cold War. The maximum penalty is death just for being involved. Least you can expect is life in prison.
- Tournament Arc: The story begins with Teddie announcing a tournament to determine who's the ultimate Persona user. As with most tournament arcs, things get more complicated from there.
- A Twinkle in the Sky: Chie's Galactic Punt Instant Kill, much like her Galactic Punt assist in Persona 4.
- Un Entendre/Entendre Failure: In Yosuke's Story Mode, when he comes across Chie, she immediately requests to eat him. Yosuke spends a few moments trying to figure out if she meant it sexually. She meant it literally. Then, when Yosuke brings it up after their battle, Chie thinks it's he who is trying to say something sexual.
- Unexpected Character: Labrys from the Drama CDs of Persona 3.
- Unexpected Gameplay Change: Did anyone expect the latest Persona game, a series of RPGs that are a spinoff of yet another series of RPGs, to come in the shape of a fighting game developed by Arc System Works?
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Something Akihiko picked up in his two years of training.
- Walking the Earth: How Akihiko has spent the two years since the end of Persona 3 across the globe to perfect his punch and become the greatest fighter. He's back in Japan because Mitsuru invited him to investigate the tournament with her.
- Weapon for Intimidation / Shoot Him, He Has a Wallet!: The hijackers were reported to be using pistols, which gave the SAT legitimacy to intervene. But the NPA ordered them to pull back and boy did they do the right thing when the Shadow Operatives were deployed. The hijackers were hypnotized to do the attack and the pistols were nothing but air guns.
- Wham Episode: The Malevolent Entity's human accomplice taking control of Labrys just when it looks like the case is over.
- Wham Line:
Kanji's Shadow(?): Did I not push him far enough? No, I didn't make any mistakes...the power he drew from his bonds was just stronger. There's still something missing to turn a Persona back into a Shadow...
- What the Hell, Hero?: Most of the joke ending outcomes. The Investigation Team were not pleased that Chie chose an Aiya Beef Bowl (turns out to be Alien Lunch) over the real matter at hand, while they chew out Kanji for still treating things like a dream... well except Naoto, who's more or less flustered. As of Yukiko, they would be calling her out, if it wasn't her forcing down her horrible food and causing them to skip out Golden Week afterwards due to sickness. We still laugh at it anyway.
- Whole Costume Reference: General Teddie's outfit (Japanese Delinquents style hat, golden skull and lightning bolt motif, purple cape, etc) is a Shout-Out to M. Bison from Street Fighter.
- Who You Gonna Call?: The National Police Agency created the Shadow Operatives to act as a covert civilian anti-paranormal unit in the wake of the events of Persona 3/4. It's official name is the Shadow Response Unit under the NPA's Security Bureau.
- A Winner Is You: Used in Elizabeth's, Labrys', and Shadow Labrys' arcade modes. All the other characters have a cliffhanger ending for their arcade modes (which is meant to get you to play P4A's story mode), but the three aforementioned characters end in an actual "CONGRATULATIONS!" screens with their character images. Elizabeth herself compliments you on beating Arcade Mode and using her tricky and clever special moves. (Labrys and Shadow Labrys give more "conventional" congratulatory messages.)
- With Catlike Tread: A visual variation. The Shadow Operatives try to act covertly for their mission, but the Kirijo Group apparently doesn't see the problem with sending a limo to a rural town. The actual members aren't much better, what with Mitsuru's and Akihiko's rather eye-catching outfits, and Aigis being completely undisguised. The latter even tries to bring it up only for Mitsuru to immediately refuse to let her.
Mitsuru Kirijo: All I told them was to give us a car with "enough space"…
- Wrestler in All of Us: Kanji and Take-Mikazuchi.
- Yellow Lightning, Blue Lightning: Every character with electric attacks has unique color associated with their electricity, affecting even the paralyzation sparks. Yu has blue, Kanji has yellow, Akihiko has indigo, Elizabeth has purple/pink, and Adachi has blood-red.
- Yin-Yang Bomb: Ken and Koromaru's Instant Kill involves the two of them blasting their opponent with Hama and Mudo spells.
- You Remind Me of X: The Shadow Operatives sometimes make references to the events of Persona 3, often comparing the Dark Hour and Tartarus to the Midnight Channel and the fake Yasogami High School. Mitsuru in particular notes similarity between Yu and the Persona 3 protagonist, and Elizabeth also states that Yu heavily reminded her of Aigis.