Feature: Top 5 Indie Characters for Smash Bros.

Who’s your favorite “Nindie?”

Recently, it was announced that Smash Bros. for Wii U and for 3DS would be getting some DLC in the form of characters Mewtwo and Lucas, as well as some costumes for the Mii Fighters. It was also announced that a new poll would go live where you could vote for a character- any character- to be dded to the Smash Bros. roster down the line.

With that new information in mind, it seems like a lot of indie developers want in on some of that sweet Smash action. I’ve decided to compile a list of five of those characters that you should vote for in the poll. You can feel free to vote for your favorite game character here, but I recommend waiting until AFTER you’ve read my article, in case it gives you a better idea.

5. Commander Video

The star of the Bit.Trip series got his start on the Wii Shop back in 2008. The series has been going strong, with Bit.Trip Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien releasing as a Wii U launch title. To show that Nintendo has some love for the Commander, he even appears as a trophy in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. While he may not have a lot on the surface, if you factor in some of his other Bit.Trip games for themes, he could have some cool retro pixel powers and throw bars of gold at his opponents.

Maybe he could just replace Sonic since he’s a better runner anyway. SHOTS FIRED!

4. Shantae

Shantae has been around since the Game Boy Color. Her creators at WayForward have developed a ton of great games on the Nintendo platforms, and I considered a fair number of their characters from games like Mighty Switch Force, but it always came back to Shantae having the better move pool and being more recognizable. The half-genie would be a well-deserved addition to the Smash Bros. roster.

3. Max

Another indie developer that every Nintendo fan should know is Renegade Kid. Their games Dementium and Moon proved that the DS could do a lot with a little, and on the 3DS, some of their best work has come in the form of Xeodrifter and Mutant Mudds. From all of those, I chose Max from Mutant Mudds for his retro-goodness and variety of moves. From an Up+B rocket pack recovery to an arsenal of water canon-based moves, he’s got a lot to offer.

2. Shovel Knight

The Cyan Shoveler is almost -too- well suited for Smash Bros. He has an arsenal of abilities to borrow from his game’s unique boss line-up, a series of his own power ups, and a built in palette swap in the form of alternate armors. There’s no reason for him to not already be in the game, as far as I’m concerned.

1. Quote

It’s hard not to call Cave Story a Nintendo fan’s ideal indie game. At least it’s one of mine, so that’s why Quote got the number one spot. The adorable robot from the Cave Story series is a one-boy-army packing all sorts of weapons that could be converted into the Smash Bros. formula. My favorite idea is his recovery: make it a Down+B combination where he busts out his machine gun and fires it downwards to push up into the air! Plus, the floating island he hails from would make an excellent stage. Imagine fighting on platforms hanging over the game’s signature dark blue clouds with the full moon while the title music plays. Glorious.

But those are my five “Nindies.” What indie character would you/have you voted for to get into Smash Bros? Leave a comment to discuss!

Review: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D

Feeling fine at the end of the world.

 

Few games are able to invoke a true feeling of dread and foreboding. Most games try to give you a sense of urgency in the story, but the gameplay mechanics are either artificially constructed or just ignore the problem entirely. That evil army looming just on the cusp of the country will never quite get here until you reach points X, Y, and Z in the storyline. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D forgoes all of that, and gives you one of the most dreadful and sad Zelda games in the franchise’s history.

Granted, it was able to do that back in 2000 when the game came out, but now it does so while cleaning up a few odds and ends to make for a better, slicker experience.

If you missed it the first time around, Majora’s Mask is a departure from what would be considered the standard Zelda experience. The moon is falling and threatens to kill everyone in the strange land of Termina unless Link can find a way to stop the Skull Kid who started it with the help of an evil mask. Rather than focusing on a grandiose tale of good versus evil, Majora’s Mask is about people dealing with the hardships that have come to their lives, and the inevitable end of them right around the corner. It’s a rich set of personal stories with the apocalypse serving more as a backdrop than the primary focus.

That being said, you never lose the sense that “No really, this is going to end.” There is a persistent doomsday clock counting down the remaining 3 days you have until the moon ends all life in Termina, and potentially the world. This countdown clock isn’t just your typical gameplay level countdown, found in games like Mario and Sonic, but serves a grim reminder that the end is coming. The most you can hope to do is reset time for 3 days in order to take another stab at saving the world. With the rise of the genre in recent years, it’s not unfair to favorably compare this system to “roguelikes” and their need for the “perfect run.” You’re never really going to have one perfect run for the whole game, you’ll need a number of them for clearing dungeons and gaining the equipment you need to take back with you to the start of the cycle to move further in your overall goal.

This system is going to be the thing that makes or breaks most people’s enjoyment of the game. Some people are going to run into an instance where they have to redo the majority of a dungeon because they didn’t make it in time, or they’re going to just get bored with having to relive the same 3 days in Groundhog’s Day fashion. That’s okay, it’s not going to appeal to everyone, and you should know going in whether or not you think it sounds like fun. If it does, though, let me assure you that it is done superbly well. The world runs like clockwork, and you’re given just enough tools to keep track of it while still allowing you to discover all the minutia of detail hidden around Termina. It’s a great system, and one that I’m surprised hasn’t been attempted since.

Just like in the Ocarina of Time remake on 3DS, the bottom touch screen adds a lot to fix the issues with going into menus and dealing with the busted interface of the 64 games. Now, you can assign items with a quick drag of your thumb, and even have an extra slot you can assign masks and items too. It’s an improvement over the old system, but I’d honestly prefer it if Masks could just be equipped directly from the mask screen without having to assign them to a button. it’d be a bit more annoying for the rare puzzles that require you to transform between forms, but for 95% of the time, it would make mask equipping snappier.

The game also looks markedly better than it did in 2000, though that should be a given with any remake. Colors are more vivid, but don’t sacrifice the game’s overall dark style. If anything, they enhance it with a better contrast to the doom and gloom hanging overhead. Character models all look more like your foggy memory wants them too when you look back on Majora’s Mask, so it may not look immediately better. But trust me, I’ve done the side by side comparisons, and the difference is night and day.

Majora’s Mask has always held a special place in my heart for it’s pathos. It holds a real sadness in it’s story, and doesn’t always give you the happiest of endings. But the endings are always cathartic. They end exactly as they should, even if it’s not necessarily how you would want them too. Sometimes, people aren’t coming back, even when you save the world. It’s a harsh, but beautiful reminder of loss and sorrow told in an ultimately interesting story. It would be my hope that if you took anything from this story, it would be that feeling of sadness that makes you smile. That’s how I felt when I played it, anyway.

What Majora’s Mask did back in 2000 was break a mold that was only made for the previous two games. Like Link’s Adventure before it, it decided to try something new and different. Even in the areas where you think it might fail, I believe the game should be rewarded with your time and your efforts to see it through. It truly is a remarkable game that I would not hesitate to recommend to anybody looking for a change in what has become the traditional Zelda story beats. It will be a trip into a strange, new world, that I believe you will find utterly enchanting.

Have you had a chance to play The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask? What did you think? Sound off in the comments for your chance to be a part of the discussion.

***Reviewer Pro-Tip*** If you plan on playing this game, just remember one thing: You can play the Song of Time backwards, at any point after getting your musical instruments, to slow the speed of time. Why this isn’t just the default speed of the game, or made more apparent is beyond me. But it’s there, and it will likely help you further enjoy the game. You can also play the notes to the Song of Time twice in a row to skip time forward. I hope this helps!

Breakdown: Persona 5 Trailer

We’re not in Inaba anymore.


Atlus recently launched a full trailer for Persona 5, and it looks grand. You can watch it above and then join me below as I discuss some elements of the trailer that caught my interest.

The most interesting thing is that the protagonist and his friends appear to be ne’er-do-wells in this game. That’s a stark contrast to the goody-goody detective squad we’re used to in Persona 4. They appear fancy free and happy about their nefarious deeds. Another stark contrast to Persona 3’s ultra grim cast. The evidence is all over the place in this video that the main character is a Lupin the 3rd style thief, perhaps with some good intentions, but a thief never the less.

For starters, we see him breaking into a ritzy joint and then have to escape, only to be caught by what I assume are the police. It also appears that he isn’t welcome into The Velvet Room, as we see him behind bars and guarded by his eye-patch sporting Velvet Room attendants. The goal of The Velvet Room is to lead guests to their destiny, it’s never said that they have to like their guests. I think this is a great new dynamic, if this is truly the direction they’re going.

Something else that caught my attention was the way the menus move. Storekeepers don’t just remain idle while you flip through different menus, they reposition themselves with swift, dynamic actions every time you select a new option. It’s not much in the way of changing gameplay, but visually, it’s absolutely stunning. Elements like this are what separate the Persona series above their contemporaries, and even still, Persona 5 is smashing it’s predecessors into the ground.

There are elements of Personas 1 and 2 that are reappearing in this game, judging from the trailer. You can equip a melee weapon and a gun, which I believe was also in Shin Megami Tensei IV and/or Strange Journey, so you could start to see applications if you’ve played either of those. Also, in an attack sequence, you see that the party isn’t fighting Shadows but is in fact fighting Personas/Demons. This was how things were done in the original two Persona games, so there’s a good chance that we’ll be seeing demon communications return as well. It also might mean that the Persona you start with is your Persona throughout the game, rather than trading him off for a Pixie in the first 15 minutes of your first dungeon crawl. I’m very excited to see how this all will work in the coming months as more is revealed about the game.

As a side note, that new All-Out Attack animation is simply breathtaking.

I think it’s important to talk about the cat character, whose name I do not yet know. We see this character in the trailer transform from a regular black cat into a super cartoonish cat burglar character. It looks like Atlus learned the importance of an easily recognizable mascot character with Teddie, and they seem to be retreading those grounds. I’m curious to see what this character’s story is about, but I can’t help but be a little cynical as to the design and need for such a character to begin that.

Finally there’s that little transformation sequence at the end. It’s kind of sinister looking, and the main character’s eyes even turn yellow. We’ve seen characters with yellow eyes before, but I can’t help but notice that’s the same color as a Shadow self. However, Shadows can’t summon Personas (long story short: they’re the same thing), and there’s clearly a Persona Summoning sound at the end. This is more than likely just how the main character summons his Persona, rather than swallowing the business end of an evoker or flip kicking a card.

Those are some of the things I noticed in the trailer. Did you catch anything I might have missed? What did you think of the trailer? Have you acquired maximum excitement for Persona 5 as I have?

As a bonus for sticking with me through this article, here’s the trailer to Persona 4: Dancing All Night for the PSVita. It’s a rhythm game featuring remixes of Persona 4 songs and looks fantastic.

 

Feature: Games in Review for 2014

My Top 10 Games of 2014

Game of the year awards are dumb, so here’s mine:

10. Persona Q

One part Etrian Odyssey, one part Persona, all parts amazing JRPG action on your 3DS. There’s nothing about Persona Q not to love. I don’t have a lot more to really say about it other than if you’re a fan of JRPG’s at all, you really need to check this game out.

9. Transistor

The creators of Bastion hit their second game out of the park with Transistor. The sci-fi noir setting is beautifully complimented by it’s synthetic soundtrack and gorgeous art style. Together, it’s easy to get lost in the world. One of the things that struck me about the gameplay was the way the damage penalty forced you to try different combinations with your abilities, which in turn opened me up to new ways to play. I never really had a one combo that I stuck with because I was always reinventing them. It was a truly unique experience.

8. Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight isn’t just relying on a nostalgia kick to lure you in and take your money. It’s using classic game design and melding it with modern gameplay conventions to make for a truly unique experience that will satisfy 8-bit game lovers and modern game lovers alike.

7. World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

I didn’t think Blizzard could top Mists of Pandaria in terms of the quality of their content, but it turns out I was wrong. Warlords brings with it a killer storyline, better dungeons, and the biggest reason ever to log into the game every day: garrisons. There’s so much to do, so many improvements to older systems (like professions), and so much to see that I think this is, without a doubt, the best expansion for Warcraft yet.

6. Smash Bros. for Wii U

Anybody who knows me probably won’t be surprised to find this on my list. I’m a huge fan of the Smash Bros. series. Not only is it a fantastic game, it’s a wonderful reflection over the past decade and beyond of Nintendo that reminds me why I love that company. Yeah, maybe it’s just Nostalgia Simulator 2014, but god damn if it isn’t one of the best looking games this year.

Everybody wants 60 frames per second and 1080p visuals on their new PS4 and XBOX One, but it’s sitting right here on last-gen level technology running without a hitch. It’s thanks to a solid artistic vision and technical know-how that this game looks better than almost anything I’ve played this year.

5. Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker

It may not have been the biggest game, but Captain Toad still filled a big hole in my gamer heart with color, laughter, and legitimately clever puzzles. I’ve spoken before about what this game means to me, so just suffice it to say that I have no qualms saying it’s one of the best games to have come out in 2014.

4. MarioKart 8

Until Smash Bros. came out, I hadn’t spent as much time with friends in any other games combined as I did with Mario Kart 8. And I still enjoy going back to it, especially thanks to the incredibly high-quality DLC they released in November. The absolutely gorgeous visuals, the gripping gameplay, and the amazing design of the tracks keeps you coming back. Battle-mode aside, which is the worst the series has ever seen, Mario Kart 8 stands well above it’s predecessors in a long line of pretty great games.

3. PT

I’m not sure whether putting this game on this list says something about me, the horror game wheelhouse at large, or the video game industry at general, but here it is. I’ve effectively nominated a movie trailer on YouTube for Best Picture at The Oscars in saying that PT, which literally stands for Playable Teaser, was one of the 10 best games last year.

PT was a great horror experience. You walk through the same hallway over and over again, slowly noticing subtle changes each time, and watching as things descend into madness. The atmosphere is top-notch compared to full-price horror games, relying more on mood and subtlety than jumps and loud noises. But most impressively, it got me excited for the first Silent Hill game in over 5 years, as it turns out this whole experiment was one big teaser for the upcoming Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro production, Silent Hills.

2. Bayonetta 2

Every bit as insane as the first game, and in most cases: more so. The smooth, yet chaotic combat returns with stunning visuals, a bonkers story, and even an interesting multi-player mode to check out. Character action game fans need to take note: this isn’t just one of the best games of the year, it is among the best in the entire genre.

1. Hearthstone

To clarify, this list isn’t me trying to rank the 10 best games, it’s just ten great games that came out this year that I played and that I want you to play. So while the previous nine weren’t ranked in any particular order, I did consciously put Hearthstone at number one for no other reason than because it’s the game that I really have loved the most and spent the most time with in 2014. Between the Naxxramus single-player content and the Goblins vs. Gnomes expansion, I’ve had a stellar time with Blizzard’s free-to-play card game, and will continue to do so well into 2015.

There you have it, the ten best games that came out last year. If you have any you’d like to throw in, please feel free to do so in the comments. This is all in the spirit of getting people to play better games, and unfortunately I couldn’t play everything out there. But I’d love to see what other recommendations of games I should play that you have.

Discussion: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

The impact of color in the darkest nights of winter.

Like many people, I have issues. Specifically, I suffer from regular depression, and it’s compounded during the winter by Seasonal Affective Disorder. I don’t say that for pity, or because this is about to be a rant about what a unique snowflake I am. I say it because I know I’m not the only person who does, and I hope that by reading why Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (and by relation, other Super Mario games) mean so much to me during these long nights.

There’s something that Nintendo’s EAD studio puts into their art design that I haven’t been able to fully articulate in words, which is why this article is inundated with pictures of the game Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. It looks infinitely better in motion, but I just want you to try and see what I see; color, simplicity, and a certain glamor that is unrivaled in the video game industry. This subtle, inviting visual style makes Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker a safe place to be, even when things are at their most hectic. It’s a trait shared with the game that spun off this series, Super Mario 3D World, also for the Wii U. Last year, that was that game that kept making my jaw drop with every level’s visual design bursting with color on the screen. This year, though, it’s all about Captain Toad.

There’s something nostalgic about the colors Nintendo uses, and the way they use them. And I’m not just referring to the “oh Nintendo just relies on nostalgia form their previous games to make money” mentality that a lot of people have fallen into, complete with untold amounts of cynicism and blindness to other developers who do the same thing. It’s a real nostalgia that brings back memories of Christmas and seeing all the houses decorated in an array of brilliant lights, shining atop a field of fresh snow. It reminds me of fireworks blasting in the warm June sky. Every scene is a rush of positive memories and emotions that come flooding back, and so each level fills me with fuzzy feelings. How am I supposed to not like a game that does that? It is literally giving me the feeling that this time a year does so well at suppressing, and makes it nigh impossible to feel sad.

At some point I should mention that Treasure Tracker is about playing the titular Captain Toad and running through small, floating dioramas in order to find gems and collect the star at the end of every stage. Most stages have a fairly simple point A to point B puzzle to get the star and move on, but the real challenge lies in hunting down every gem and completing each level’s secret mission. It’s fairly simple, but the puzzles ramp up to brilliant early on, and get genuinely difficult before too much longer.

The games aren’t perfect. Captain Toad has some issues with juggling the Game Pad and the main screen, especially when it comes to interactions with things like wheels that need to be turned. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m too busy gorging on warm fuzzies to identify the problems this game has. I just want you to know that I don’t think they matter in the face of the brilliant, pocket-sized spectacle Nintendo has created here.

If you’re facing some Winter doldrums, or are just in need of something a little less bloody (and a little more functional out of the box), I cannot recommend Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker enough. Though I would recommend you hold off if you haven’t played Super Mario 3D World first. Like any spin-off, it just makes the experience more meaningful if you’ve covered the source material first.

How about you? Have you had a chance to play Captain Toad? What do you think? Drop a comment and let me know!

NaNoWriMo Update

The first draft of Book 1 has been completed, and I am now moving over to Book 2 of my story. The site will continue to remain quiet while I work on my novels for NaNoWriMo. But feel free to stick around, because when I get back, we’re going to be talking a lot about Video Games!

-Randy Marr

NaNoWriMo Break.

The Midnight Roost will be on hiatus for the month of November as I participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). My apologies for not regularly updating the site during this time.

To learn more about NaNoWriMo click here!

To watch my progress, click here!

To read the rough draft of my current novel, click here! Please keep in mind that it is super rough draft. We’re talking pre-alpha. I’m just stream-of-conscious putting stuff down into a halfway competent narrative to meet my 1600 words-a-day goal. So be kind!

Thanks!

-Randy

Video Games Live: Level 4 Now Up On Kickstarter

Quadruple Value Offered For Every Pledge Level.

It appears that Tommy Tallarico is trying to make lightning strike again as he’s using Kickstarter to fund the fourth full-length album featuring your favorite video game music performed by live orchestras from around the world.

The Video Games Live concert series has existed for over a decade, now, and has yet to show any signs of slowing down. It’s been all over the world, seen by millions live, and shown on PBS. Now, three full albums later, the great minds behind Video Games Live need your support to keep this train rolling.

“The music industry has changed a lot over the past 13 years since we started Video Games Live, and no record company was willing to take a chance on risking the money needed to create the project to the high quality and standards that it needed to be.  The traditional record companies didn’t believe in the concept and they thought we were crazy… but the outpouring of fan support from around the world was incredible and inspirational.  We proved to the world that people DO care about video game music and we believe that lightning can strike twice,” said creator Tommy Tallarico.

You can see rewards and details on the Kickstarter page yourself, so I’m not going to sweat the small stuff. But I do happen to know that some of the video games that will be featured on this album include Earthworm Jim, Donkey Kong Country, World of WarCraft: Warlords of Draenor, League of Legends, Cave Story, and more! This looks to be Video Games Live’s biggest and best album yet.

What do you think? Will you be supporting this new album? Have you ever been to a Video Games Live concert before? Leave your stories in the comments.

 

Review: Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

The P-1 Grand Prix comes to a very worthy climax.

I want to clarify one thing before we get into this review: I’m terrible at fighting games, but I’m great at Persona. Ergo, I’m coming at this beast as a person who isn’t capable of getting too heavy into the technical side of the fighting game. If that’s what you’re looking for in a review, I’m afraid I cannot help you. However, if you want to know how this package is for what I imagine is the average Persona fan, then I’m the guy you want to talk to.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is the sequel to Persona 4 Arena, where the concept was to bring together cast members of Persona 4 and Persona 3 and bring them into a fighting game scenario. Like it’s predecessor, Ultimax manages to deliver in every way on that concept, and does so by running down a checklist of improvements and nailing every single one.

The core gameplay, developed by Arc System Works (BlazBlue, Guilty Gear) is as typical a fighting game as you can get. Each character has unique movesets, there are super bars that you build up by beating on your opponent, and the first person to lose all their stamina loses the match. It’s all fairly cut and dry, and anybody who’s picked up any fighting game should be able to get the basics. What makes the Persona 4 Arena series unique is that there’s a low barrier of entry. Moves are relatively easy to pull off without any super complex button and joystick maneuvering, and even the most novice of player can feel special just by hitting X a bunch of times and watching the auto-combo’s fly. This may seem cheap, and on a certain level, it kind of is, but any advanced player that really digs into the meat and potatoes of this game can easily overcome those auto-combos and lay down the law. I know this because I’ve played online and the X button did nothing to save me.

The big draw to this series for me is the story mode. If you haven’t played the original Persona 4 Arena, you’re going to feel quite lost as this is a direct sequel in every way. (Fortunately, you can buy the story mode to the original game as DLC to this game and play it first! It’s cheaper than buying the whole first game if you don’t need to.) Without getting into a whole lot of detail, it’s better in both presentation and quality. A strange red fog rolls into the real world, causing all technology to shut down like a mixture of the Midnight Channel and the Dark Hour, leaving our Persona-summoning protagonists befuddled. Their confusion doesn’t last long, however, as General Teddie shows up to inform them that they have one hour to reach the mysterious tower that has appeared over Yasogami High to save their captured comrades before the world ends.

Rather than picking every character from a select screen and replaying essentially the same scenarios again and again, you’re given a set of story threads that you can bounce between. It’s a large cast, so it makes sense that people are split up, but not having to see the same cutscenes and stories play themselves out like they did in the first Arena is a welcome change. There’s still the gratuitous amount of event recapping to keep you up-to-date on the scenarios, but even that isn’t as egregious a problem as it was in the first game. The events hanging over the giant “To Be Continued!” of the first Arena are neatly tied up in this one, but that isn’t to say there aren’t a bunch of new mysteries drummed up first. Overall it’s as engaging a plot as ever, and more well presented.

There are a few new modes this time around, and most of them are kind of throw-away fighting game modes like Score Attack and training challenges. However, one new feature might be interesting to some; it’s called Golden Arena Mode. In this, players pick a character and start going through “dungeons,” fighting CPU opponents and actually gaining experience. Experience grants levels, which in turn grant special abilities and stat boosts. Anybody who has played Persona 3 or 4 will immediately recognize the layout and concepts behind this, and it’s a pretty interesting way to spend some time playing the game. Ultimately, though, there’s no real hooks other than just maxing out your character’s stats, so I found that while this mode was interesting, it didn’t add a whole lot to the experience. It may have been better tied into the story mode, which itself lacked a great deal of fighting, but then that would have been dragged on for perhaps too long. It’s difficult to say, but it is a neat experiment regardless.

The DLC in this game is a bit harsh, especially considering how much of it was day one. On one good hand, anything you bought from the previous game carries over, so if you have the voice packs, alternate color packs, or glasses packs, those all carry over for the existing characters. However, you’ll still need to buy new packs to add colors and eyewear for all the new characters. You can also buy the story to the original Persona 4 Arena, as I mentioned earlier, which is kinda handy. But from there there’s also a ton of new voiceover DLC, music DLC, and character DLC. The characters are, in my opinion, the most terrible DLC in terms of game content for a number of reasons, namely setting up tournament play potential behind a secondary “paywall.” That said, the characters they offer are really good, so I’d have to advise getting them. Just know that’s going to be extra money you’re going to spend on an already full-priced game. It’s a bit much, and I can’t help feel like a lot of it is unnecessarily held out to make a few extra bucks. If DLC like this is something that turns you off, I have to think that you’ll be soured by the smattering of offers they have in this game. However, if you like DLC to extend your content, then perhaps you’ll be bellying up to this all-you-can-download buffet.

In the end, Arc System Works took a checklist of everything that makes a better sequel to a game, and made sure to hit every box. They cleaned up the visuals, they added more music, they added more stages, they added more characters, and they improved on their previous modes while adding new ones. In short, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is everything I loved about the original, and then some. The gratuitous amount of DLC for a full priced game can be a bit off-putting, especially when characters are involved, but everything else about this game is exactly what it needed to be to make a better sequel.