Ultimately, Ultimax urged me to give in.
As someone who’s first real step into the world of Persona was with Persona 5 back in 2019 and then Persona 5 Royal in 2020, I have amassed an ever growing backlog of Atlus JRPGs. Admittedly, I never finished my playthrough of Persona 5 which was mostly because I was holding out hope for a Nintendo Switch port of vanilla, especially with Joker in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and with Royal on the way. It never happened. So with the worldwide release of Royal in 2020 it was time I finally finished the game that had already stole not only my heart, but a couple dozen hours of my time.
After finishing P5R, my desire to delve deeper into the series had reached a new height and I needed to ascend that peak. It was then I should’ve downloaded Persona 3 or 4 but instead I decided to download Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection and although an enjoyable way to revisit some of my favorite jams and experience some of the charm and music from Persona 3 and Persona 4, that could only satisfy my salivation in specific ways. I needed a better solution. I needed to charge my Vita, but the potential of a current generation port continued to swirl around in my oversized head. After all, P4G was now on Steam and it was performing well so that had to be a sign of things to come, right?
Knowing I wanted to play Persona 4 Golden at some point, I continued to daydream of a Switch or Xbox port, or at the very least a way to play it on my PS5. Caught in the undertow of a fantasy where this reality would exist, I kept putting P4G off hoping that eventually I’d wash ashore with my hopes being realized. But amidst the mostly self-inflicted anguish of languishing over two games I could easily play on Steam or my Vita, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax decided to get itself ported to PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch and with that my hunger was curbed, for now. A welcome way to feed my feral goblin brain until the ports appeared or I caved.
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is not only a formidable fighter that stands firm with solid mechanics, it etches itself into my brain with dazzling detail dripping from the pixels on the combatants and solidifies itself with memorable melodies echoing out from P3 and P4 during an intense battle. It’s truly glorious that we are able to get a port of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax in 2022 since it was originally released in Japanese arcades in 2013 and many fighting games get harder to play when they get locked into an older platform, looking at you Capcom Vs. SNK 2. So the ability to be able to revisit a classic fighting game, with stable online and rollback netcode, is a welcome addition to my library.
It wasn’t until Persona 4 Arena Ultimax got ported last year to PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch that I decided enough was enough, I was going to bust out my Vita. Although, my friend Ken urged me to instead start with Persona 3. So I did. Enough rounds of late night Ultimax will do that to you. Whether it was Jesse‘s Teddie leaping out of televisions to ruin my day, Eric‘s Mitsuru kicking her heal into my chest to send me back to the custom lobby, or Ken’s Junpei taking my love for baseball and quite possibly ruining it, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax managed to ignite a desire beyond my reluctance as the fantasies of a port slowly became irrelevant. Ultimax is bursting with so much charm and detail that’ll make you fall in love with these characters again– or in my case for the first time. It’ll make you say, screw a backlog let’s buy more games. It’ll also really make you wish there was either Persona 5 DLC or a new Persona fighting game announced, because I so badly want to go to work with Makoto and Morgana against my friends. Fingers crossed that when Persona 6 comes out we get a P5/P6 fighting game shortly thereafter.
Needless to say, Ultimax— and friends helping me overcome my endless port pining– made me realize I should stop waiting for ports of these games and take advantage of having access to them on my Vita. So there I was, about halfway through Persona 3 and then Atlus announced ports of P3P, P4G, and P5R for Xbox and Switch. I was amped up. I felt like the eighth shot of espresso just hit and I could hear pixels. I knew it meant I was going to table my Vita playthrough while I waited for the ports, but I knew that meant that not only my selfish self could indulge in these JRPG desires I’ve had but that others who may not have access to these games otherwise could enjoy some of the best in the genre. I’m not saying you should thank me, but also you’re welcome Persona fans. All it took was me giving in for Atlus to turn around and say give us your money a second time— because they knew I would.
Now with the wide availability of all three of these Persona JRPGs, there’s no reason you shouldn’t dip your toes in if you have one of the now many platforms they are available on– especially if you have Game Pass. I’ve already started my new Persona 3 Portable playthrough on Xbox because when there’s an opportunity for achievements I am a weak and silly man. I would also head Ken’s advice and start with P3P if you think there’s a chance you’ll play all three, or maybe start with Persona 5 Royal and if that game captures your heart the way it did me, you’ll have all the more desire to tackle Tartarus shortly thereafter.
Persona 5 Royal is one of my favorite games of all-time, and I held off on playing it for far too long. Don’t be like me. I could drone on about other games or series that I have held off on playing, hoping for that mystical Switch port and in many scenarios I am still waiting. Persona has freed me from the faux shackles I had leashed myself to and I urge you to reconsider if you’ve fallen to the same fate and the titles you’re interested in are available to you some other way. Although, bringing old games forward isn’t a new concept, Atlus typically doesn’t but has been slowing making parts of its catalogue more available and I hope this trend continues because Ultimax was a game that I had fond memories of playing on my Xbox 360 and being able to revitalize my fondness for the fighter almost a decade later is an emotion worth chasing.
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