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Normal and Shadow Type Characters

When picking a character at the character select screen, players can choose between Normal Type and Shadow Type versions of most characters. This is similar to the Groove System in Capcom vs. SNK 2.

  • Elizabeth, both versions of Sho, Adachi, Marie, Margaret, and Shadow Labrys do not have Shadow Types.
  • Labrys does have a Shadow Mode, so there is Shadow Type Labrys (with Ariadne), as well as Shadow Labrys (with Asterius), which can be a bit confusing!

Each version plays slightly differently and has access to unique mechanics:

Normal Type Shadow Type
Awakening Yes No
Life Normal Normal+2000
A+C+D Input Burst Shadow Frenzy
Auto Combo New Old
SP carries between rounds No Yes
Attack Damage 100% 80%
Awakening SP Skills only when Awakened any time
Instant Kill Yes No
  • New characters such as Yukari and Junpei have the same auto-combo between Normal and Shadow Types.

The implications of these changes can drastically change how players approach these characters. For example, Normal characters instantly become more threatening once they reach Awakening: they gain access Awakening Supers as well as 50 SP to use them, as well as Awakening's defensive bonus. Shadow characters must decide between conserving SP to unleash Shadow Frenzy at an opportune time or using their SP for Awakening Supers, Guard Cancel Attacks, etc.

Consider each version carefully when selecting a character -- you can't switch types until the match is over!

SP Gauge

The SP Gauge normally versus when in Awakening. Only applies to Normal Type characters!

The SP Gauge starts each round at 0 and has a max of 100. SP grows over the course of the match through attacking, defending, and other actions. If a character enters Awakening, then the max becomes 150, and the character automatically gains 50 SP.

For Normal Type characters, the SP gauge resets to 0 and Awakening is removed at the beginning of each round, so it is a good idea to use all available SP each round.

For Shadow Type characters, SP does carry over between rounds, so it may be beneficial to conserve SP at the end of one round so you can use it to unleash Shadow Frenzy at the beginning of the next round.

Gaining SP

Gaining SP is pretty simple: do just about anything! Attacking, blocking, and even getting hit all give you SP. You can also completely fill your SP gauge by hitting the opponent with a Max Burst.

Shadow Type characters gain SP much faster compared to the normal counterparts and SP even carries between rounds!

The amount of SP gained per hit in a combo scales with the combo. The exact details about this scaling are currently unknown, though attempts at determining the formula have been made.

Reduced SP Gain

After performing attacks that consume SP (such as Skill Boosts, One More! Cancels, Guard Cancel Attacks, and Instant Kills), the amount of SP you gain from standard actions will drop significantly for a limited amount of time (speculated to be 90% reduction for 180 frames), similar to systems found in BlazBlue and Guilty Gear.

Combos that are started during this time will suffer reduced SP gain throughout the entire combo, even if it lasts beyond the cooldown window.

The following actions trigger reduced meter gain: SB skill attacks, SP Skill Attacks, SB SP Skill Attacks, One More! Cancels, One More! Bursts, Instant Kills, Guard Cancel Assaults, and Guard Cancel Evasive Actions -- more simply, any act that uses resources will cause meter cooldown.

Shadow Labrys's Titanomachia super is an exception to this rule, as the super's duration allows her to gain SP normally and then use that meter to inflict even more damage.

First Attack

Getting the first hit in a round gives a bonus 10 SP to the attacker in addition to the normal SP gain of the attack. If both players trade for the first attack, then both players get the bonus! If a throw is teched, the player who initiates the throw will receive the meter bonus -- initiating a throw counts as a hit, even if the throw is broken by the opponent. Consequently, it's common to see Shadow-Type characters go for a throw at the start of a round, as even if the throw is teched, they'll receive the meter bonus.

Skill Boost

Narukami's SB Zio. Notice he flashes blue.

Skill boost attacks are similar to EX attacks in games like Street Fighter 4. These attacks cost 25 SP and enhance a character's special attacks by giving them new properties, such as increased damage, reduced recovery, new attack angles, or something entirely unique.

When performing a Skill Boost, the character will briefly flash blue and a blue silhouette will trail him/her until the move ends, hits the opponent (if the special is a grab), or is interrupted.

SP Skill Attack

Narukami performing one of his supers. The characters are frozen in place briefly.

SP Skill Attacks (commonly known as super attacks) cost 50 SP and are giant, flashy attacks. They usually do lots of damage or have other interesting properties such as invincibility.

Normal Type characters have at least one super that is disabled until he/she enters Awakening, but Shadow Type characters do not suffer this restriction.

When performing a super, the characters will briefly freeze in place (commonly known as "Super Flash" or "Super Freeze"), the background will change, and the character's portrait will appear in the background briefly.

You can also perform super cancels in order to create bigger, more damaging combos.

Supers are great for use as combo enders thanks to a property called Minimum Damage.

SB SP Skill Attack

Similarly to Skill Boost specials, supers have powered up versions called SB SP Skills that cost 75 SP.

These enhanced versions typically gain enhanced properties such as increased damage, the ability to inflict an ailmemt, or reduced recovery and/or start-up allowing for new combo routes!

The character will flash blue during startup, as with SB Skills.

Shadow Frenzy

GO TO HELL! Narukami enters Shadow Frenzy.

Shadow Frenzy is a mechanic exclusive to Shadow Type characters that allows for fancy combos. Press A+C+D with 100 SP to activate Shadow Frenzy. The SP Gauge turns into a purple timer with 100 points and Shadow Frenzy ends when the time reaches 0. During Shadow Frenzy, you can:

  • Cancel any special or SB attack into any other special or SB attack.
    • Each special/SB attack can only be used once per string.
  • All normals are jump-cancelable on hit and block
  • Perform attacks that cost SP at the cost of reducing the amount of time:
    • At neutral, the timer decreases by 1 point every 12 frames.
    • Performing a SB Skill immediately reduces time by 6.5 points.
    • Performing SP Skills and Awakening SP Skills immediately reduces time by 12.5 points.
    • Performing One More Cancels, Guard Cancels, and Guard Cancel Evasive Actions immediately reduces time by 25 points.

You can cancel into Shadow Frenzy off of most attacks, similar to using One More! Cancels or Bursts, and can easily confirm most hits into damaging combos.

When Shadow Frenzy is cancelled into, the start-up is very fast, but if performed at neutral, the start-up is slightly slower (unverified). Both versions are fully invincible until the animation ends. Visually, Shadow Frenzy's activation is similar to a One More! Burst, with the Shadow character posing as if Bursting and shouting a unique line.

If the round ends while a character is in Shadow Frenzy, then half of the remaining Shadow Fury time is converted to SP at the start of the next round (if applicable, rounded down).

Guard Cancel Attack

P4Arena GuardCancelAttack.png

Press 6+A+B while blocking to perform an attack with guard point against all attacks and throws that blows the opponent away on hit. Guard Cancel attacks cost 50 SP and can help a player who is in a defensive position reverse the momentum of a match. All Guard Cancel Attacks can be One More! Cancelled and One More! Bursted to avoid their lengthy recovery time.

Combos that start with a Guard Cancel Attack cannot kill the opponent regardless of how much damage they deal. The opponent will always survive with at least 1 HP. This applies even to instant kill supers such as Naoto's Hamaon!

Guard Cancel Evasive Action

P4Arena GuardCancelRoll.png

Similar to Guard Cancel Attack, press 6+A+C while blocking to immediately cancel your attack into an Evasive Action, commonly called a Guard Cancel Roll. Just like a Guard Cancel Assault, a Guard Cancel Roll also costs 50 SP and serves the same purpose -- to escape the opponent's offense.

Each character travels a predetermined distance during a Guard Cancel Roll, but Guard Cancel Rolls generally travel further than the character's normal Evasive Action. For characters with weak Guard Cancel Assaults (easily beaten, poor hitbox, especially slow, etc.), Guard Cancel Rolls offer a new option to reverse momentum.

Guard Cancel Rolls cannot be One More! Cancelled or One More! Bursted, same as standard Evasive Actions; however, Guard Cancel Rolls are often the only way to escape certain unblockable set-ups that can't be beaten by Guard Cancel Assaults!

One More! Cancel

It even works with projectiles!

One More! Cancels are analogous to Roman Cancels in Guilty Gear or Rapid Cancels in BlazBlue and cost 50 SP. Press A + B + C after your attack either hits or is blocked by the opponent to cancel the recovery of the attack and immediately return to a neutral state.
One More! Cancels can be used to extend combos, cancel the recovery of long attacks to make them safe from counter attack, or to reset block strings in order to continue attacking the opponent. Note that if you whiff an attack (the attack does not touch the opponent at all), then you cannot perform a One More! Cancel.

There are a few attacks that cannot be One More! Canceled at all, such as Bursts, Kanji's super command throw, and Furious Actions. Additionally, many supers can be One More! Cancelled on block but cannot be One More! Cancelled on hit.

Instant Kill

This fight is over... as long as the opponent doesn't block.

Instant Kill attacks are aptly named: they instantly defeat your opponent! Press 222+C+D to perform your Instant Kill (Shadow Labrys instead uses 222+A+B). Each character's Instant Kill is unique and has very different properties, but most have significant amounts of startup invincibility.
The character portrait will flash white when an Instant Kill is available. There are a few specific conditions that must be met in order to be able to perform an Instant Kill:

  • Must be match point for you (if you win the round, you win the entire match).
  • Must be able to use your Persona (no Mute or Persona Break).
  • Must have 100 SP available.

Visually, you will notice that the background is different compared to supers and most cause the HUD to disappear when they connect.

Instant Kills are not comboable (you cannot combo into an Instant Kill), are almost always blockable attacks (if unblockable, then they are easy to avoid by jumping, hopping, or another form of movement), and significantly disadvantageous if blocked or whiffed. While cinematic spectacles, Instant Kills are seldom practical save for their lengthy invincibility and for punishing very, very slow supers.

Persona Gauge

P4Arena PersonaGauge.png

The card shaped symbols below each character's life gauge represents each persona's life. A card is lost each time the character OR his persona is hit (including by zero damage attacks such as Bursts and escaped grabs) when the persona is visible.

Characters do not have the same number of cards: for example, Elizabeth has 6, Akihiko has 2, and Sho has none! Most characters have 4, as in the previous game.

Persona Break

P4Arena PersonaBreak.png

If all cards are lost, then the character enters Persona Break. While in Persona Break, attacks that require a Persona, such as C and D attacks, some Specials and Supers, and Bursts are all disabled.

During Persona Break, the Persona Gauge will slowly refill over time. The more cards a character has, the more time Persona Break will last! The basic formula is:

seconds Persona Broken = # persona cards + 5

Some characters rely on their Persona to do the vast majority of their attacks, such as Yukiko, while characters like Akihiko do not rely on their Persona nearly as much. Sho can't enter Persona Break, as he does not use a Persona at all!

# Cards Time P. Broken Characters
0 0F Sho
2 420F Akihiko, Ken
3 480F Chie, Kanji, Labrys, Yosuke
4 540F Aigis, Adachi, Junpei, Minazuki, Mitsuru, Naoto, Rise, Yu, Yukari, Margaret*
5 600F Marie, Teddie, Yukiko
6 660F Elizabeth, Shadow Labrys
8 540F Margaret*

Despite having eight cards, Margaret recovers from Persona Break as if she had only four cards.


A recovering Burst Gauge and a full Burst Gauge.

Bursts are a special type of invincible attack available only to Normal characters that are performed by pressing A+C+D while the Burst Gauge is full. When Bursts are unavailable, a black "B" will be shown instead. This "B" will slowly fill up over time and as you get hit. Once it's full, you can Burst again. The status of the Burst Gauge carries over between rounds, meaning if you Burst at the end of a round, the Burst Gauge will be empty at the start of the next round, and you must wait until it refills to perform another Burst. Consequently, Bursts are a precious resource and the risks of using one must be considered carefully, or else you may not have it when you need it next round!

An empty Burst Gauge takes 90 seconds to refill if you don't do anything. It is very unlikely that you will have to wait that long, as the following help refill it:

  • Hitting the opponent with your Auto Combo. The last normal (typically 5AAA) refills approximately 1/8th of your Burst Gauge.
  • Getting hit will raise the Burst Gauge slightly. It seems to be proportional to the damage taken/ number of hits received (unconfirmed).

Type Startup Total Time Invul Frame Adv. P1 P2 SMP
Reversal Burst 16 67 1-25 -19 ?? ?? ??
Max Burst 14 44 1-21 +2 ?? ?? ??
One More Burst 14 35 1-24 +10 ?? -200 ??

Bursts in Persona 4 Arena have different properties depending on which type of Burst is performed.

Max Burst

Full SP if it hits! Refills Persona Cards too!

Pressing A+C+D while in a neutral state (meaning not attacking, blocking, or being hit) will perform a Max Burst (also known as a Gold Burst). If the opponent is hit by a Max Burst, then the opponent will be blown back and your SP and Persona Gauge will fill to max. The Burst Gauge will also automatically start from 25% full instead of completely empty.

You can not combo into or from a Max Burst:

  • Attempting to hit an opponent in hitstun with a Max Burst will whiff. You cannot combo into Max Burst.
  • You are invincible to all attacks after getting hit by a Max Burst until you recover. Thus, it might be advantageous to simply lay on the ground until you naturally recover; however, this gives your opponent more time to set up an offensive, so you must weigh the risks/benefits of this tactic.

Defensive Burst

C-C-C-Combo Breaker!

Press A+C+D while blocking or getting hit to perform a Defensive Burst (commonly referred to as Blue/Green Burst) that blows the opponent away on hit and deals no damage. Defensive Bursts are used to interrupt your opponent's combo or pressure and allows you to prevent damage or reset the momentum of a match. Performing a Defensive Burst completely empties the Burst Gauge.

Defensive Bursts can be Disabled

Burst Gauge available versus disabled

There are times when Defensive Bursts are disabled, even if your Burst Gauge is full:

  • When being thrown.
  • When being hit by a Super Attack or Instant Kill.
  • When your Persona is disabled due to Persona Break or Mute.
  • When being hit by certain attacks, such as Aigis's Megido Fire or Kanji's Bet Ya Can't Take This!

The Burst Gauge will be crossed out in these situations.

One More! Burst

Make deadly combos or cancel your attack to make it safe.

Press A+C+D while performing an attack to immediately cancel your attack into a One More! Burst. One More! Bursts completely empty the Burst Gauge. Not all attacks can be canceled into a One More! Burst; for example, all Furious Actions and certain supers can not be One More! Bursted, and some attacks can be One More! Bursted on block but not on hit.

One More! Bursts have the following properties:

  • Launch the opponent into the air on hit, allowing for an easy combo extension.
  • Partially reverse damage scaling, meaning further hits in the combo will do more damage than they otherwise would.
  • Creating otherwise impossible combo routes and combos that cannot be Bursted out of by an opponent, allowing for devastating damage.