I haven’t written about P4U here since its arcade release, and I randomly got inspired to write about it after having a conversation with some friends about fighting game character archetypes. P4U is a game that I’ve been playing on the side since its US console release. It’s pretty fun, though I wouldn’t consider it to be a very good fighting game. It’s definitely decent for a fighting game’s 1st iteration though. But that’s a post for another time.
Elizabeth(the character I play) has some amazing damage potential and pretty decent range on many moves. But she is generally considered to be one of the weaker characters in the game. Some people even rate her as the worst character, though I don’t really agree with that assessment. Elizabeth as a character has a lot of deficiencies, the most obvious of which is the lowest health in the game. But there’s also stuff like generally poor normals, the worst guard cancel and F-Action in the game, weak defensive options, slow movement, a strong reliance on her Persona to do everything, and a limited moveset.
Now, even though her most obvious weakness is the shitty life total, it’s actually not the most important. It’s just a small factor that contributes to her being a weak character. Imagine that a patch gets released, which only increases the amount of health Elizabeth has. I’m willing to bet that it wouldn’t change anything, and that Elizabeth would still be bad. Why? It’s because the other weaknesses I listed are far more important, and they all have the same running theme: a lack of options.
When I say lack of options, I really mean lack of options in all areas: defense, offense, and neutral. One thing I’m willing to bet is that the game developers intentionally gave her limited options in order to prevent her from being too strong. And it’s because she has some qualities that sound really strong on paper, like Invigorate constantly giving her meter, practical ways to heal life, and ridiculous damage output. I used to wonder why Elizabeth has a non-functional guard cancel, but it makes sense if you think of it this way. The developers were probably thinking, “She’s constantly getting meter, so it would be really silly if her guard cancel was as good as the others”. Taking away options and/or neutering available ones for certain character types is actually very common in fighting games, and we see it all the time for grappler characters. For example, because their playstyle is based around the threat of a command grab when getting up close, they are usually given poor mobility. But in Elizabeth’s case, I feel that the developers really went overboard in neutering her options.
She has the same weakness as Yukiko in that her offense is almost entirely Persona based. So when she gets Persona broken, she pretty much has no options and has to run away. In addition, most of her best moves have this horrid combination of 1)slow startup and 2)tons of recovery. For example, her 5b seems like a really nice normal, since it has great range and has a disjointed hitbox. But the whiff recovery is just horrendous. To give an idea of how bad it is, if she whiffs it, every character in the game can jump into an airdash at her and she will still be in counterhit state. The effect of this is that she has to make a big commitment when mounting any kind of offense. In other words, high risk high reward. Now, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with this concept, but it’s a problem when you have other characters like Chie and Aigis who can run some strong and extremely safe offense while Elizabeth’s offense puts herself in just as much danger as the opponent. When you block/guess correctly against Chie mixup, you escape and the situation resets to neutral. When you guess correctly against Elizabeth mixup, you get to punish her since all of her moves have a million recovery frames.
In neutral, Elizabeth is one of the slowest characters in the game. j.b is easily her best move, as it actually has decent recovery and some characters have an awkward time fighting against it. But for some reason it doesn’t hit high and some characters(like Narukami) get to just antiair it for free. Garudyne is the only air move she has that can manipulate her air trajectory, and thus it’s sometimes the only way she can avoid getting antiaired for free by the cast. What I said earlier about everything requiring a big commitment applies to her neutral game too. Most of her bad matchups(Mitsuru, Yosuke, etc) are like that for this reason. To take the Mitsuru matchup as an example, both characters have very similar optimal ranges, but at every point Mitsuru’s options are faster and more importantly, are safer. So Mitsuru can just play very safe and not take any risks, poking away and keeping Elizabeth at the max range of her normals while Elizabeth has to rely on stuff like random yomi j.d to get something started.
I also want to note that Elizabeth has a fair number of useless, or rarely used moves. In fighting games(the 2d ones, at least), every move usually has a use, and sometimes you might see a character have one useless move. But in Elizabeth’s case, she has quite a few. My friend James Xie even jokes that Elizabeth spent so many hours trying to fuse a Thanatos that had all four elemental dyne attacks that she just accepted the leftover useless moves. Mamudoon is completely useless, and Mahamaon is almost useless as well, although its invincibility can sometimes be used to get through things like Akihiko’s Maziodyne. 2d is another move that is completely pointless in some matchups, but does see some use against characters who have counter type F-Actions(Naoto, Chie, Teddie).
So in essence, Elizabeth is a great example of the importance of having options in fighting games. It doesn’t really matter how much damage a character can do when options are just so limited. I kind of doubt there will be a P4U sequel or new patch(as the trend seems to be with non-flagship ArcSys titles). But in the off chance that there is, there are a number of changes I’d like to see done for Elizabeth!
The main theme behind this post was Elizabeth’s general lack of options, so obviously the most important change I’d like to see is for her to have more options! This can be done in a number of ways:
- Give her more attacks. One suggestion I have is a new normal. Since j.a’s hitbox isn’t very good at hitting air-to-ground and j.b doesn’t hit high, it would be great if she would get a new air normal that a)hits high and b)has a good downward hitbox. Maybe like a j.2a or j.2b command or something. It would also give her a true high/low mixup in those corner C Maragidyne setups too
- Make existing moves faster and/or safer. If she can’t get any new moves, then at least the recovery on her existing moves can be improved so that she doesn’t have to commit so hard. 5b and 5c would need this the most. One thing that I’d like to change about 5c would be to make it a one-hit move that can get a special followup if C is hit again(5cc). Kind of like C-Kohaku in Melty Blood. This would solve two issues she has with this move, as it would give her more options off of 5c as well as improve the recovery
- Give her more movement options. If she can’t get any of the above two, then she should at least get more mobility options so that she’s harder to antiair and/or lock down. Stuff like a divekick, fastfall, or even a teleport would be nice
Would be nice but not really needed
These suggestions would also be very useful for Elizabeth, but they’re not as important as the ones above.
- Change 2d. If you had asked me about my opinion of her 2d in the first few months of the game’s release, I would have said that this move was useless. Nowadays, I can see that this move has some use, but it’s still an overall weak tool. One suggestion that my friend pulsr made was to make it so that the status effect changes depending on Elizabeth’s current amount of meter. Kind of like her F-Action. It would certainly make 2d more useful, since Poison isn’t that great of a status effect in this game
- Allow her to inflict Silence. Silence is a very useful status effect in Persona, and for some reason Elizabeth can’t inflict it. So maybe her F-Action can be changed so that Silence would be a possible ailment
- Give her another Mind Charge. Currently, both the A and B versions of Mind Charge do the exact same thing. Since duplicate moves are silly, I’d like for the B version to do something completely different. One thing I thought that would be interesting would be to make B Mind Charge restore a Persona card. Elizabeth loses cards easily, and she is pretty much powerless when Persona broken so this would be very useful. Mind Charge also has the great property of acting as a Pause button for Elizabeth, so this would be a way to give the move more utility when Elizabeth is already in Awakening
- Give her a functional guard cancel. Please.
- Make her F-Action unbreakable. Her dp is super slow and doesn’t do any damage. It doesn’t need to be throw breakable too
- More health. I know I said earlier that her low health is not that important, but it would be nice to have more. The reason I mention this is because it doesn’t make sense for Elizabeth’s character type to have low health. I play low health characters in other games(Millia in GG, Archetype Earth in Melty Blood, Morrigan in Vampire Savior), and it makes sense for them to have crappy health because of the type of options they have. Generally, characters are given low life when they have significantly more options than the cast or when their movement is on a level where some characters cannot keep up. Elizabeth has none of these, so it doesn’t make sense for her to have the lowest health in the game.