A few years ago Atlus released "Persona 3", taking their obscure hardcore occult RPG series Shin Megami Tensei out of the realm of the super nerds and into the mainstream realm of the regular nerds. Then they released "Persona 4"*, an even more popular game that launched this series into super stardom. The obvious thing to do at this point was pull out all the stops, double down, and sell out like a madman. We had "Persona 4" fighting games, we had "Persona 4" animes, before this year is out we will have a crossdressing rhythm dance game on the Vita, and there was whatever the heck "Catherine" was supposed to be. But can you do both? Can we not have a shameless cash-in that is also a fairly decent JRPG in its own right?
Onto the subject for today. "Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth" for the Nintendo 3DS is a shameless cash-in on the 3DS that is also a fairly decent JRPG on it's own right. The plot here is that a magical time dimension opens up in a Japanese high school summoning two groups of teenaged Shadow-fighting heroes with the power to control Personas. Now if you do not know what a 'Persona' or a 'Shadow' is, then "Persona Q" is not the game for you. As a matter of fact, even if you have only played "Persona 3", this is not the game for you. "Persona Q" is exclusively a fanservice romp for fans of both games. And not just casual fans. I am talking about the kind of fans that have subscribed to the subreddit, listen to a live album of the "Persona 4" battle themes every day, and are currently creating really creepy Deviant Art drawings of themselves and their selected underage video game waifus.
Story-wise, "Persona Q" is actually rather light until the final dungeon when events actually get real. There is no grand save the world narrative, just characters you have met before chilling in one location. There is no obvious villain, so the heroes take their sweet time defeating the four labyrinths that hold the four keys that are imprisoning them. And really, what is the rush? Everybody here are friends of each other or friends of the player, so why not have a party? Basically this game is just a cast of some of the best characters in JRPGs letting their bubbly personalities bounce off each other. I don't recall enjoying "Persona 3" altogether (my review is rather bitter upon my re-read) but I was pleasantly surprised at how happy I was to see Aigis, the cute doggie, and even Fuuka again. If you are not getting those warm and fuzzies at the sight of your old Senpai in colorful chibi make-over, I really cannot sell this game to you.