Video Game

This Is Persona Q

I’m a fan of Japanese school children.  Sounds weird when I type that out.  I’m more a fan of Japanese school children fighting world debilitating darkness, which I assume is better, though I admittedly enjoy manipulating their various social engagements while taking shopping trips to the mall.  For a mace.

Persona Q has only one of those things: the children.  If you’re at all familiar with the Etrian Odyssey series, you’ll be at home here.  I’ve not played them, though I mean to remedy that oversight, as the mix of modern and “old school” gameplay tickled my fancy in all the right places.  Having to physically draw a map in order to keep your bearings brings me back to my early gaming days.  Persona Q adopts the Etrian formula of first-person dungeon exploration, mapping out your progress, solving puzzles, and facing increasingly difficult enemies with (seemingly) overwhelming odds.  The marriage between these two series is a good one, incredibly smooth in transition given Persona’s equal penchant for dungeon exploration and stacked odds.  While the social links of the Persona series have been done away with for this outing, there’s enough nods to them and series favorites to keep fans happy.

Q takes place within the frame of 3 and 4, allowing players to approach the story from the perspective of your chosen cast.  I’ve always been partial to 3 – though 4 is great – so that’s the route I went, and I understand some story beats will be different depending on which you decide on.  Eventually, the two teams merge, and you can use characters from both in your party at will, which is great.  The interaction between the two is wonderful, poking fun at some of the overlapping similarities within the characters and titles, while also being careful to highlight their differences.  Social Links are replaced with a “Stroll” option, which are cutscenes aimed at giving a break from the dungeons by having characters spend time with one another.  Think small side-stories.  One had, I believe, Junpei trying to establish himself as a ladies man with the girls from 4, which, spoiler, he fails miserably at.

Series enemies will be familiar too.  The Shadows as they’re known here all look the same, act the same, and come beautifully animated.  Persona fusion is still a necessary aspect, one I liken to an adult (or “adult”) version of Pokemon in a strange way, breeding demons with the powers you need to overcome that obnoxious Shadow in the 3rd Labyrinth who can’t seem to stop spamming wind spells for two seconds to let me breathe.  It might be a little overwhelming for newcomers, but old Persona fans will slip right in to old habits, and old mainstays.  There’s plenty to do – side quests can easily eat up an unnecessary amount of your time – but exploring the various labyrinths and unearthing the plot in this mysterious school you’ve all been ported to will be where the bulk of your hours get lost.

I suppose one complaint could be the repetition.  It wasn’t repetitious for me, mind, because put me in a Starbucks line for more than two minutes and I’ll go Falling Down on the place, but grinding for days in the dark harvesting curious parts for a new sword does little to stir my feathers.  Priorities.  Some of the cutscenes can also be a little over-long, though that mostly falls into a “whatever” category for me.  They’ve got nothing on Metal Gear, but neither does the extended Lord of the Rings editions.

Totally recommended to fans of role playing games, Persona games, Etrian Odyssey games (I assume), Japanese kids, and fun.  And pain.  Some of that too.  I’m still working on Fantasy Life, and see myself working on it for the foreseeable future, but once that wraps, I might have to give an Etrian Odyssey game a go finally.  The number of 3DS titles I desire is getting out of hand.

Video Game

This Is The 3DS

Being an adult is 90% awful.  Statistically.  What you’re never told about being an adult when you’re younger is taxes and work and commuting and bills and Holiday Parties and obligations you didn’t sign up for (like Holiday Parties) and being excited by a new vacuum cleaner.  The other 10% of adulthood is great.  A week ago, I had a sudden urge for ice cream, so I got in my car, drove to the store, and bought ice cream.  Then, I had ice cream for dinner, like an adult, and I put chocolate syrup on it.  And it was fantastic.  That sliver of great is small – wafer thin – but when it’s on it is on.

Closing in on my mid-30s and owning a 3DS hovers somewhere in the middle.  It’s a phantom percentage.  A Venn Diagram of degrees, overlapping ever so faintly between awful and great, wherein I own and love my 3DS, but I don’t whip my 3DS out in public (amongst other things), given a strange social stigma hovering around the machine and the maturity of the individual holding said machine.  Now I’m not really one for maturity as a barometer for a person’s accessibility or overall judging worth, but the argument can be made you shouldn’t be forty and wearing a DEEZ NUTS t-shirt with a squirrel on it.  Hypothetically.  When my wife and I were in NYC this past August, you can be certain I made a trek to Nintendo World – my first – and it was a lot like what I assume making the Hajj to Mecca is like.  And in there I was among my people, even if I wanted to keep those people at arm’s length.  While there, though, the overlap hit, and I found myself lusting over plush Links and Donkey Kong wallets, sock-caps made from the hollowed-out skulls of countless Squirtles, and I knew, knew, I had a card with my name on it tied to a bank account with my name on it in order to buy all the Links and Kongs and Squirtles I could handle, and with that same understanding I knew, knew, there was no self-respecting way I could, closing in on my mid-30s, be seen in public with any of them, and not feel my butthole pucker every time I left the house.  Some of that’s on me.  Absolutely.  Some of that is fully self-induced and a product of me maybe not being comfortable enough in my own skin.  I get that.  But too, I believe in the way a sense of right and wrong is woven deep down into our DNA, there is a little bit of truth to my puckering too.  An overlap, if you will, of right and wrong, adult awful and adult great.

Here’s the thing though.  I love my 3DS.  It’s the only “console” I own for gaming.  I’ve owned all of them from the last generation back and done so happily, but I decided, finally, to get a PC, to use it, and to forgo the cycle of hoops and everything else gaming on a console seems to have become over the years.  And the 3DS is just fun.  It’s great.  I have my RPGs, my side-scrollers, my odd nitch-titles, and of course I know consoles have them too, but this just seems… happy?  I don’t know.  I’ve been playing a lot of Fantasy Life lately – of which I plan on reviewing soon – and it’s wonderful.  I spend evenings after work creating furniture and picking Healweed.  Seriously, how great is that?  That’s where the 10% comes back.

I don’t know how to close this out.  Just something I’ve been thinking about, and though it’s not strictly a review of the 3DS, it counts enough.  It’s also a review on the perils of aging.  But some of the good stuff too.