Fighter Spotlight – Yu Narukami
Spotlight Date: November 16, 2016
Spotlight Character: Yu Narukami
Character Series: Persona 4 Arena
Character Game: Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
The main character in a fighting game series is usually tasked with leading the example of how the meta of the game should be played. Well just like Street Fighter’s Ryu and Ken, as well as Tekken’s Mishima family, Yu Narukami is definitely fitting the part of a leader.
While Narukami fits the “loved by all” stereotype, he is the type of character that is hard to hate on. Even though he has many tools in his disposal, his options and strength are still very much fair and not by any means cheap, at least not in the Persona 4 Arena realm.
Characteristics – Narukami’s style and assets are perhaps best summarized by being able to look at pretty much any situation vs any character and say “okay, I got this.” Yes, he’s that type of character. Some zoning? Zio’s on deck. Rushdown? Check. Range? Absolutely. Mobility? Raging Lion and Swift Strike will suffice.
With so many options in his arsenal, Narukami is rarely not the one to dictate the tempo of how a fight goes. Fire balls, quick as well as rangy normals, ground and air mobility, and overall solid damage. Narukami’s flexible fighting style helps him in adapting to pretty much any scenario thrown at him.
He’s perhaps the most complete character in the cast considering how well rounded he is, however he is outmatched in speed, power, and range in certain match-ups, but due to his flexible nature, Narukami is never truly at a distinct disadvantage, only conceding a small momentarily edge.
Despite sounding like the greatest fighting game character ever created, Narukami, compared to many other characters in the P4AU series, is not by any means “cheap.” He just happens to be an extremely solid character. There are no real gimmicks when playing Narukami, his straightforward nature is to make it hurt, but you’ll see it coming. He may have some creative techniques or set-ups in his arsenal, but nothing deeming unfair.
Player Suitability – If you want control and strong, yet balanced fighting style, then Yu Narukami is for you. It won’t be a guaranteed victory, as Narukami is provided with exceptional tools, but timing and adaptation are crucial keys required in his success. However, when selecting Narukami, you can rest assured that there is no other character on screen that absolutely has his number.
When picking the main character of a fighting game, the games true meta is usually played through him, and the lessons learned with Narukami are indicative to how the Persona 4 Arena games are played. Being able to dictate your own tempo is possible with almost every character in the series, but Narukami’s use of his advantageous tools are perhaps the truest example of the game’s meta.
The ability to control space, be it on the ground or in the air, is a crucial key to success for every character in the series, and although he may not be fastest on the ground or the strongest in the air, Narukami’s ability to hold his own in comfort when the opportunity calls for it, is something the rest is very wary of.
Character Specialist – There are two players that come to mind when I think of what a true Narukami plays like; Those players being Aguro and Shikki. Looking at Aguro first, his Narukami is perhaps the more aggressive Narukami, his confidence in Narukami’s ground game, lends him to take risks that most wouldn’t dare to. Aguro can play the spacing game exceptionally well too, but his overzealous nature sometimes is also his Achilles’ heel.
Shikki on the other hand, sports a Narukami style that is very much focused on patience and defense, only to strike on the opponents’ frustration at the correct moment. The extensive knowledge Shikki has of what Narukami can and cannot do in a certain situation is remarkable in itself, however being able to translate those scenarios and act accordingly in those abrupt moments is perhaps to the only edge I give him over Aguro’s Narukami.
Although I categorize the two as 1A and 1B, if I had to choose one player to watch when learning how to play Narukami, it would have to be Shikki. Shikki’s play is so ascended that although the combos are the same, and the set-ups are similar, the way Shikki thinks ahead during the match, is something genuinely special to watch.
Having the ability to wait and rely on defense, especially when playing such a high powered offensive character is quite impressive, and when coupled with pristine execution and amazing situational reactionary skills, Shikki’s Narukami is as good as it gets.
Summary – Even though he is a popular selection among mashing novices, and skating through the ranks early on is quite easy with him, to really succeed with Narukami, solid play and mixed-in creativity is a must. He may have the best tools in the game, but timing and instances in which you use them are a big part of what makes him so good.
Despite being straight forward, and having a more traditional nature to him, Narukami is loads of fun when you play him right, whether he’s slashing his sword in the air, or persona sliding on the ground, Yu Narukami is a character who is quite the joy to play. He might hold all the cards, but it’s tough not to root for such a nice guy.