Last week was a fairly slow news week given the holiday and all, you may have heard of it--it's called Thanksgiving, which meant that the cavalcade of Persona-related announcements captivated the Internet's attention. The problem is, most of the glory went to the long awaited Persona 5, the numbered installment in Atlus' spin-off that surpassed the original. (Look up Shin Megami Tensei sometime. Shin Megami Tensei IV should still be on sale.) When really, the attention should have been going to Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth.
A more blatant cash grab has yet to be seen in the realm of niche gaming. We see it all the time with bigger titles, but usually the smaller companies like Atlus don't stoop this low. Yet, this bold move, which is surprisingly nonsensical, is giving us a gem. The potential is so great because this is going to be so weird.
I realize that's a fairly bold statement, given how little has been revealed about Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth. Still, I'm confident in my assertion that this is both a cash grab and a glorious opportunity for the kinds of storytelling crack you normally only get in fanfiction. Let's start with the premise. Persona Q is a mashup, which doesn't seem that bad. Persona 3 and Persona 4 are still very hot properties, given the number of rehashes, spin-offs, anime series, and movies inspired by them. However, the way Persona Q is setting things up should be a hint that something is very wrong in a very good way.
See Persona Q promotional picture one as an example. People who have played Persona 3 and/or Persona 4 should notice something's a little off here. I'll give you a moment.
This scene could not happen, given the events of Persona 3. It just couldn't. Which means Persona Q is going to at the very least have Minato, the Persona 3 protagonist, as a possible playable character. Fingers crossed for his female counterpart, Minako, and maybe Shinjiro too. If Minato can be there, anything goes.
Next is the timeline. Persona Q takes place in Yasogami High School. Given the appearances of the Persona 3 in the initial images and trailer, it's happening while they're students. This is another no-no, as Persona 4 takes place two years after Persona 3. Persona 4 Arena showed us the others had all moved on. I suppose a more reasonable explanation for their attire could be that someone told Akihiko and Mitsuru that their clothing in the fighter was absolutely ridiculous, but it's more likely due to some kind of zany scheme.
Not to mention that Persona Q could also be considered part of the Etrian Odyssey family. It's a first-person dungeon crawler with turn-based battles. Parties consist of five characters, which appear to be made up of a mélange of people from both games. My kingdom for the revelation that there will be mapping on the touchscreen.
But that doesn't even compare to the best part of all. Despite the change in pace, Persona Q will be a Persona game, and that means normal-life events during the day, in which characters from Persona 3 and 4 will get into school-daze hijinks with one another. Given the chibi art style and the promising Persona 4 Arena encounter between Chie and Akihiko, it seems we're being set up for the most hilariously weird scenarios in Persona history.
Especially since the story will differ, depending on which Persona crew's story you decide to follow when Persona Q begins. Players will be able to go with the SEES veterans of Persona 3, or the people of Persona 4. Sorry, but they don't get a clever nickname. It's double the pleasure.
It's almost like Atlus just decided to throw up its hands and let anything go. There are no excuses. No attempt to class up this joint. The company knows people are crazy enough about Persona 3 and 4 to buy multiple versions of the games, read the manga, and watch the media adaptations. May as well make their heads explode by putting the two games together for a merry dungeon romp.
It's refreshing and, oddly enough, could make for a great game. It won't take too long to be sure. Even though Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth was only just announced, it already has a June 4, 2014 release date in Japan. It's practically guaranteed a US release, which means we'll all get to enjoy some wacky adventures with our favorite JRPG high-schoolers soon.