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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Persona 4 Arena wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.
This game is all about fighting, although it is mostly in the context of characters competing in a professional fighting tournament. There is an underlying storyline with a more nefarious plot and players are cast as the good guy trying to get rid of this evil force. However, the frequent profanity and malevolent dialogue spoken by all characters in this game lead to an overall message that isn't positive.
Positive Role Models
Players assume the role of the good guys in this game, but they act more as though they are motivated by self interest as opposed to the good of others. Even the protagonist characters use swear words from time to time, so although there is nothing grossly reprehensible about the main characters in this game, they also would not qualify as great role models.
Ease of Play
The gameplay style of this title is a bit different than most fighting games because instead of battling one-on-one against an opponent, players also fight with a mystical companion known as their "Persona." Opponents also have Personas, so it is more like a two-on-two battle. To be successful in this game, players need to develop strategies in which they attack both on their own and with their Persona, which sometimes requires the use of complex button combinations. Opponents get more difficult as the game progresses, to the point where players cannot simply win by haphazardly pressing buttons on their controller. Practice and strategy are essential, and players need to invest time and focus to understand the intricacies of these controls.
Violence & Scariness
Violence is essentially the only element of gameplay in the entire game. This is a fighting game, so players go from battle to battle, with the only interruptions marked for story sequences and dialogue, over which the players have no control. The fighting is against other characters and their magical persona, and involves martial arts as well as weapons such as machine guns, axes, and magical bursts. The fighting is mitigated by characters who are extremely fantastical in nature, as are the various magic spells and over-the-top cartoon-like attacks. In addition, characters do not emit blood when attacked, and when opponents die they simply disappear and the game moves on. There is, however, one arena in which blood splatter is part of the background.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some of the female characters strike suggestive poses from time to time, and the dialogue contains various references and innuendo to sexuality, with lines about dirty magazines, characters trying to "score" with one another, and use of the word "breasts."
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Profanity is regularly heard throughout the dialogue, including the words "ass" and "s--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
There is one character who smokes cigars.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Persona 4 Arena is a fighting game set in the surreal fantasy world of the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona video game franchise. Players battle a series of characters and monsters from the previous games in the series, along with their partner known as a "Persona." The battles contain various types of attacks, including punching and kicking, along with weapons like swords and guns and much more fantastical attacks, such as magic spells and colorful bursts. While no blood appears during the actual combat, one of the fighting stages contains blood spots in the background. The female characters sometimes pose in provocative positions, and there is dialogue that contains sophomoric sexual innuendo. In addition, one character is depicted smoking a cigar.
Is It Any Good?
Persona 4 Arena is part of an extremely niche video game series. Anyone not intimately familiar with the previous installments of the role-playing game franchise will likely be overwhelmed by this title. On the flip side, those who are fans of the series will enjoy the vast selection of characters and creatures that are included in this game. While the storyline is intricate and goes down a lot of winding roads (just like other titles in this franchise), it doesn't really pull players in quite as much because the gameplay is focused solely on combat as opposed to exploration and puzzle-solving. Nevertheless, this game is designed to bring the Persona characters into another genre, and it does that very well. This fighting game isn't for everyone, but anyone who is already a fan of this series will be pleased with all that it has to offer.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.