'I felt my chances of winning EVO were small, but I kept training' - Chou on what makes Persona special, fighting origins, version changes and more

Posted by Nicholas 'MajinTenshinhan' Taylor • August 10, 2015 at 7 p.m. PDT

After the explosive EVO this year, we here at EventHubs made an effort to reach out to champions in the main stage games of the event. Our third interview we're publishing is with the champion of Persona 4: Arena Ultimax, Chou.


In this interview, Chou talks about his fighting game origins, reasons for picking Ken, version differences and what's so special about Persona 4: Arena Ultimax.

Please note that this interview was conducted in Japanese, and can be read in its original language at the end of the article. Find a snippet of the translated English version (courtesy of myself) right below.
MajinTenshinhan: How long have you been playing fighting games, and what was your first fighting game?

Chou: I've been playing fighting games since I was in grade school, so I guess that makes about 17 years?

Street Fighter 2 was my first. I was happy just managing to do special moves, so I kept playing until I was able to beat the final boss, M. Bison, and really started liking the game.

As for playing fighting games in arcades and starting to think about them in a competitive sense, that would've been around high school, so about 10 years ago, which was also when I first started partaking in tournaments. At that time, my game was Guilty Gear XX.
Hit the jump for the rest of the interview.
MajinTenshinhan: At EVO, you weren't just the winner, you were also the only Ken player in Top 32. Why did you pick Ken as your character, and how good do you feel he is?

Chou: I had experience from games such as Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, where assists are prominent, and started using Ken because of that. As I kept playing him, I felt that people weren't counter him as they do with more regularly used characters, which made me feel he was a pretty unique character. It felt fun, so I kept using him.

Compared to other characters, I think he's still one of the strongest. Yosuke, Shadow Naoto, Ken and Teddie are the four most exceptional characters, I think.

MajinTenshinhan: In arcades, Persona 4: Arena Ultimax is currently a different version than the one on consoles, which was played at EVO. How did it feel having to switch to a version with completely different balance than the one you are used to playing?

Chou: They made changes to the game system when it comes to the Shadow characters in the current arcade version, which I think made the game more fun, but I had to stop playing it for a while, and only play on my home version, which felt kind of tough.

But, I kept seeing my dream of winning EVO in front of me, and even though I felt my chances of making that dream come true were small, I kept training with the home version. Many times, I kept thinking "Man, can't they just update to the latest version, already?"

MajinTenshinhan: After winning EVO, do you think that you will be traveling more to international tournaments?

Chou: I think it will be difficult to manage it with my work schedule, but if I have the chance I'd be up for the challenge.

MajinTenshinhan: What do you think about the competitive future of Persona 4: Arena Ultimax?

Chou: I think that it's a game where there are many opportunities for comebacks, and if you read your opponents' movements correctly you can inflict big damage, which makes it fitting for tournaments, since there are many different elements to get hyped up about.

Especially in the current arcade version, there are situations where combos can do so much damage, which heightens both the nervousness and the fun factor, I think.

MajinTenshinhan: What is it that you like about Persona 4: Arena Ultimax over other fighting games?

Chou: There are many good defensive options in the game system, which make it difficult to lose, but I also feel that there's so much risk to the game if your opponent reads you correctly, and there are constantly chances to inflict great damage on your opponent, which makes the game really fun to play.

With the awakening system in play, there are situations where you might purposefully want to lose life, or situations where you'll purposefully do less damage to your opponent so they won't get Awakened. All these delicate details really make the game stand out, which I think is great.

Huge thanks to Chou for agreeing to do this interview with us and also huge thanks to Akiki for helping me get in contact with Chou to begin with. Please look forward to more interviews with EVO champions in the coming days.

Continue below for the Japanese version. 下に日本語版があるので、ご覧ください。

魔人T: いつから格闘ゲームをやったんですか? そして、はじめての格闘ゲームは何ですか?

: 格闘ゲームは小学生からやってます。17年ぐらい前からでしょうか。
ストリートファイター2ですね。必殺技が出るだけで喜んでいて、最後のボスのベガを倒せるようになってやりこんだ気になってました。
ゲームセンターで格闘ゲームをして、ゲームに競技性を感じ始めたのは高校生頃、10年ぐらい前で、初めて大会に出たのもこの頃です。タイトルはギルティギアイグゼクスでした。

魔人T: 超さんはEVOで優勝しただけじゃなく、ベスト32の中で唯一の乾使いでした。何故乾と言うキャラクターを選びましたか? それに、乾を他のキャラクターに比べればどれほど強いと思いますか?

: UMVC3など、アシストのあるVSシリーズでのゲーム経験が生きると思い、乾を使い始めました。プレイしていくうちにペルソナキャラクターに共通して発生する読み合いが発生しない、特殊なキャラクターだと感じ、面白く感じて使い続けています。
他のキャラクターと比べても最強クラスだと思っています。花村、影直斗、乾、クマの4キャラは非常に評価しています。

魔人T: 『ペルソナ4 ジ・アルティマックス ウルトラスープレックスホールド』は今アーケード版とPS3/X360版は違うバージョンです。EVOで普通と違うバトルバランスのバージョンでプレイするのがどの気分でした?

: 現在のアーケード版では新たにシャドウシステムが強化されており、かなり面白いゲームとなっていましたが、それをしばらく辞め、家庭用版をプレイするのは少しつらいものがありました。でも、ずっと夢見ていたEVO優勝という夢を叶えられる数少ないチャンスと思い、家庭用版をやり続けました。
早くバージョンアップしてくれたらなと何度も思いました。

魔人T: EVOで優勝した今、これからもっと海外の大会に行くと思いますか?

: 仕事とのスケジュール調整があるので難しいですが、チャンスがあれば挑戦したいと思います。

魔人T: 『ペルソナ4 ジ・アルティマックス ウルトラスープレックスホールド』の大会のゲームとしての将来はどう思いますか?

: 逆転要素が多く、相手の動きを読めれば大きくダメージを取れるゲームなので盛り上がるポイントもあって大会向けのゲームではないかと思います。
特にアーケードバージョンは特定条件のコンボダメージが高くなっており、緊張感も楽しめる仕様になっていると感じます。

魔人T: 超さんは他の格闘ゲームに比べれば『ペルソナ4 ジ・アルティマックス ウルトラスープレックスホールド』のいいところは何だと思いますか?

: 防御システムが一つ一つは強く負けにくいものが多いのですが、読まれたときリスクがとても高く、大きなダメージを取るチャンスがそこらじゅうに転がっているところがとても面白く感じます。
覚醒システムで、自分の体力をわざと減らしたり、わざと減らないコンボを相手に狙っていったりと細かいやりこみが光るのもいいですね。


Previous interviews:
Rico Suave.
BE|KaneBlueRiver.

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