The heroine from Persona 3 Portable gets a raw deal in the Persona world. She is an interesting character with her own distinct storyline, Social Links, and presence, but she is often ignored. She didn’t even get to appear in Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight, even though Theodore, Labrys, and Sho showed up as DLC. Persona Q2 changes that. This game gives her the attention she deserves. In fact, one of the best things about this Etrian Odyssey-style dungeon-crawler is that it really feels like she shares the limelight with Joker, making her one of Persona Q2‘s most important characters.
Atlus immediately shows us how much Minako, which is what I’ll be calling the Persona 3 Portable heroine for the rest of this for the sake of simplicity, matters. Persona Q2 begins with the focus on the Phantom Thieves. When the group is in Morgana’s van in Mementos, they stumble into this other world where the events of movies are coming to life. They immediately find themselves in Kamoshidaman, a film where Kamoshida, the gym teacher from Persona 5, is a superhero who decides who in the world is "good" and "bad." While you kick things off with much of the Persona 5 cast, including Goro but excluding the temporarily captured Makoto and Haru, the next major addition is Minako. The second she appears, she adds an entirely different kind of influence than Joker. At the same time, she is established as both an experienced fighter and welcoming presence. The moment we see her on the second floor of the first dungeon, we see her single-handedly fighting the sorts of Shadows that we previously needed a full to handle.
Once she has been found, the group heads to the theater lobby to reunite with Theodore, the person who asked the Phantom Thieves to search for Minako in the first place. The two immediately share a happy reunion. Then, we get to see just how positive and friendly Minako can be. She immediately gets along well with the Persona 5 cast, showing a sense of familiarity and openness that Minato, from Persona 3, doesn’t exactly have. This is especially highlighted in her interactions with Hikari, the withdrawn girl with the white hair and megaphone who otherwise tends to rely on Nagi, the elegant woman with black hair and a flower in her hair, to speak with the Persona-users. Minako takes the time to introduce herself to Hikari and try to form a relationship in a way Joker and the Phantom Thieves didn’t. It isn’t that they were unfriendly or ignored her, but Minako really makes a point of having a brief one-on-one conversation with Hikari that fits with the outgoing and warm personality hinted at in Persona 3 Portable.
The interest and assertiveness Minako shows is a great contrast to Joker, who is more stoic and measured here. Continuing with Kamoshidaman, shortly after officially joining the team and heading into the dungeon, Minako calls attention to the outfits the Phantom Thieves are wearing. She asks if the change involves some sort of magical girl transformation, which is very her, and asks if Joker and the characters like their outfits. She then talks about how she would like a disguise of her own and elaborates on the Evokers used by SEES members in Persona 3 Portable. When it comes to the boss encounter, there is a portion where she literally jumps down on Kamoshidaman and stomps him. It’s a sort of good-natured enthusiasm.
The distance present between the introduction of Minako and the rest of the Persona 3 cast gives her even more time to be established as a major and worthwhile character. The first movie, Kamoshidaman, is largely about the Persona 5 cast. Junessic Park, as you can tell from the title, is a dinosaur movie where the Persona 4 cast is introduced. It is only in the third dungeon that the rest of the members of Persona 3 appear. This means she has all of this time where she gets attention. Also, the narrative decision to have all characters appearing in story segments, even if they are not in the immediate party, is a wise one. It lets you have constant insight and input from everyone. As more characters join, we see more sides to her personality.
Persona Q2 makes the Persona 3 Portable heroine matter. She isn’t an afterthought or an optional storyline. She is acknowledged as a major protagonist. For a long time in the game, she is shown off as a major star that often makes it feel like she is as important as Persona 5’s Joker. She plays major roles in the story, in boss fights, and in different event segments, even if you choose not to use her, because of the way the game incorporates all cast members. And, since the other members of the Persona 3 cast don’t appear until later in the game, we have a lot of time to appreciate her as a representative for that installment.
Persona Q2 is immediately available for the Nintendo 3DS in Japan.