In the original Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, the dungeons were unique, but not exactly tied to the original Persona games. Rather, each labyrinth is connected to a certain sort of school festival theme or concept. Like the second one styled after a romantic cafe and the third after a haunted house. In Persona Q2, things get a little more connected to the characters and themes we know and love from the actual Persona games, all while still taking us to different places and time periods. It maintains a sense of connection while drawing from famous movie tropes.
All three of the initial Persona Q2 dungeons make sure they pull in familiar Persona characters, either major allies or iconic foes, to make their movies more appealing. Rather than generic themes, like Alice in Wonderland. So when things begin, we revisit a fight against the corrupt gym teacher Suguru Kamoshida again. Except here, in a dungeon known as Kamoshidaman, he is a superhero who turns a whole city against us. Haru and Makoto are captured! Spotlights can appear in the dungeon, immediately sending Kamoshidaman’s minions after us in a general enemy fight if we don’t deactivate them. Kamoshidaman has the same narcissistic personality traits as the actual Kamoshida, combined with his vindictiveness. By bringing him in as our antagonist, there is a greater motivation to show him who is the real boss and what actual justice looks like.
The second dungeon, Junessic Land, is a prehistoric dungeon where the members of Persona 4 join the story. (Hence the great Jurassic Park pun with Junes shoved in there.) Here, we have a group of herbivore dinosaurs with a detrimental pack mentality. The majority rules, and one who goes against them is just wrong. Unfortunately, the star of this movie is a helpful Yosukesaurus who just wants to do what is best, but finds he can’t do what he really wants to because that is not what all of the other herbivores want. This means that, even though he wants to help our group and even does aid in the rescue of the actual Yosuke, this dinosaur version keeps getting pulled in opposite directions. We feel a stronger connection with this character, even though we only just met him, because he reminds us of our Yosuke. We push forward to help free him.
The third dungeon, A.I.G.I.S., pulls double duty with its references. Two of the NPCs encountered call back to Persona 3. One is a robot named Ribbon. Rather than the generic robots around her, she looks like Aigis. She is also unique, as she is sentient and has a sense of self. It hates itself for being different and everyone around wants her to conform, even an enemy that looks like Shuji Ikutsuki and is in charge of the robots, but the party is on her side. We rally around Ribbon and want to help her survive and thrive, because she reminds us of the robotic ally already on our side. Knowing that we need to keep delving into that dungeon to help keep her safe and continue her development into an actual being can make all that dungeon crawling feel worthwhile.
What is especially great about all of these dungeons is, even though they have all these past Persona characters that make us care about them, they all do have common themes. Like Persona Q, each of Persona Q2‘s labyrinths are connected. They eventually pull together to share elements of an overarching story. Their themes all mean something. By having other people we care about and know in them, it might make someone pay more attention and catch the connections that become clearer once the fourth dungeon is unlocked.
It is these ties to three games that makes the Persona Q2 dungeons more exciting. The three first movies aren’t carrying over certain story segments. However, by bringing back familiar allies and villains and making them a part of the story, it may make people want to investigate every inch of them and see where the stories go. We remember what Kamoshida was like in Persona 5, and his villainous turn here isn’t out of character. Having Yosukesaurus as a major character in Junessic Land makes the story more personal, because it feels like the herbivores are picking on Yosuke. In A.I.G.I.S., championing a robot that looks like Aigis and fighting against an overarching A.I. that looks like Shuji could drive you forward. These extra cameos and connections offer a greater sense of purpose than Persona Q‘s dungeons did.
Persona Q2 is available on the Nintendo 3DS in Japan.