Releases for the week of July 22-28:
Persona 4: Arena
Online Price: 6,630 Yen ($84.90)
Region locking controversy be damned, Persona 4: Arena is a fantastic game and one of the most enjoyable fighters I've played in years. The game is jam packed with content that's guaranteed to make Persona 3/4 fans smile and giggle with glee. Take for instance something as small as the UI design. The menus are super stylish and do a great job of invoking nostalgia of the previous two numbered titles. The main menu shuffles between different character sprites chilling out in Inaba, and if the Persona 3 cast is onscreen, the game automatically plays music from P3. It's a small detail that adds a lot to the whole experience.
I've talked to great lengths about the quality of the fighting engine here, so I'm just going to hop over that. The story mode is a real crowd pleaser that I recommend only to folks who have beaten Persona 4. The game also has quite a few Persona 3 spoilers as well, so consider yourselves warned. Other content includes a rather robust and difficult challenge mode, a solid training mode and an introduction that teaches game basics to new players. I purchased the PS3 version of the game and after playing some thirty matches online, I can safely say that the game runs smooth as butter here in Japan. Whether that's the case in western territories is still up in the air.
As far as fighting games go, you'd be hard pressed to find a new release as feature rich as Persona 4: Arena is. The fighting is complex and strategic but has a lower barrier of entry for players who just want to have a good time. Are you a big fan of Persona 3 and 4 but aren't so hot at fighting games? You can buy P4:A for the story mode alone and still get a good bang for your buck.
Import only if you have a console that matches the region you're purchasing from.