The Nintendo Switch has been out for a couple years and it’s a hit! You can play at home! You can play on the go! It’s got a wide and varied selection of game genres to partake in! And today’s game…well, it’s not on the Switch. It’s on the 3DS, which is all but rendered obsolete by the Switch. Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth, though, proves that even older gadgets might have a little life left in them yet.
During what seemed like a routine expedition into Mementos, the Phantom Thieves find themselves lost. Stranded in a mysterious movie theater with no way out, the Thieves discover that the movies are becoming a little more real than they used to be – in other words, they can actually step inside and roam around! By entering the films and battling some old and new foes, the Phantom Thieves will meet returning friends and come closer to solving the mystery of the theater. Also Theodore from Persona 3 Portable shows up wearing a popcorn costume. This game is great.
If you’ve played the original Persona Q, you’re getting more of the same here. There’s nothing wrong with that! Taking the Etrian Odyssey formula and applying some Shin Megami Tensei flavor to it is a combination that worked then and it works now. Naturally, having the full casts from Persona 3, 4 and 5 teaming up and interacting is great as well, especially watching them all interact and bounce their personalities off one another. Kanji from Persona 4 remains the best, incidentally.
Gameplay-wise, you’re running around in a dungeon, mapping it manually and hoping you don’t get ambushed and killed by either random enemies or visible boss-level FOEs. In battle, you’re using various physical attacks and Persona abilities to try and hit enemy weaknesses; doing so will Boost the attacking character, offering them free spells, guaranteed critical hits and priority actions. As is typical for SMT, hammering away at weaknesses is absolutely critical to survival, and failing to do so later will almost certainly kill you.
Over time, you end up with an impressive variety of characters, so mixing and matching the various heroes is bound to play a role in your success. You’re encouraged to use options other than your favorites both by the varying weaknesses of the enemy groups you encounter and by certain characters becoming motivated and earning a stat boost. Further customization is offered by the sub-Persona system, offering a greater spread of abilities and some health and SP boosts, and you can obtain more sub-Personas through battle and fusion. Optimizing your characters is a lot of work but also plenty of fun, and conquering a previously-impossible enemy is pretty satisfying.
Persona Q2 also hearkens back to its predecessor in terms of how it looks, with plenty of chibi-style Persona antics to go around. The aesthetic here is on loan from Persona 5, so expect plenty of slick style that’s surprisingly complementary to the cutesy art. Enemy designs show up from all over the series, as well as the odd newcomer here and there. Also, yeah, it’s a Persona game so the music is absolutely fantastic; there’s even a variety of battle themes that you can pick between. Little touches like that are great.
You like SMT games? You’re golden. Big on dungeon-crawlers like Etrian Odyssey? Yup. Patient and willing to die in order to make progress? You’re at home here. Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth has got something for RPG fans of all stripes, and it’s a great last hurrah for the 3DS…assuming that’s what it is, because it sure seems like that handheld’s just never going to die.