I know I’m a year late to the party, but I started playing Persona Q earlier today and came to the conclusion that (like the title states) I actually enjoy drawing my own dungeon maps. Apparently the Etrain series was on to something that I totally missed out on by avoiding them like the plague.
Shin Megami Tensei is an entire universe of games that I’ve been intrigued by for a while, but I passed on Persona Q last year for.. whatever reason. I just so happened to be in the market for a 3DS case when I noticed Amazon was selling the Wild Card edition of Persona Q at half price–which includes a 3DS zip case, a deck of tarot cards, a saucy art book, and the soundtrack. You could say fate brought us together (or something).
I also had no idea that Persona Q was a mash-up between the characters of Persona (3 & 4) and the dungeon crawling, map drawing, FOE fighting, punishing nature of Etrain. But hey, I’m familiar with at least half of the source material, so I’m not totally oblivious.
Jumping in to to the game, I chose the Persona 4 hero and endured an hour’s worth of dialogue before getting my feet wet. The first-person dungeon crawling took me back to Persona: Revelations on PSX, navigating each floor tile-by-tile to the clickety clack of my heroes footsteps. The difference, however, is that I had to use the bottom screen to draw my own map, rather than watching it fill in automatically.
“Ah fuck,” I said. Along with the series’ notoriously frequent random encounters, I figured having to pause every few seconds to sketch the perimeter would be a time consuming chore that I had no interest in doing. Drawing a map. That doesn’t even sound fun.
So I tip-toed my way through the first dungeon, You in Wonderland–an Alice in Wonderland themed hell with hidden passageways, clocks, and extremely powerful card monsters patrolling about. I’d walk down a hallway, trace its outline on the grid, and drag-and-drop icons for things like treasure chests, item locations, or doorways. Since the overpowered giant cards had specific patrol routes, I’d also color the floor tiles red so I could remember their location on a return trip later on.
I was actually having fun.
When I reached the end of the first floor, I was rewarded with a treasure chest.. that I couldn’t open. The reason? I hadn’t filled in 100% of the floor’s map. This is generally where I’d groan and say “fuck it, I don’t need it”, but I could just refer to the map I’d been drawing and see exactly where I forgot to explore. Self fistbump.
I was actually proud of myself for being so thorough, notating all of the time-saving hidden passages that dulled the sting of backtracking. When I left the dungeon to sell unwanted items and replenish my health, I knew exactly how to get back to floor 2 without hassle.
And that battle music. THAT BATTLE MUSIC!
I’m clearly enjoying myself; that goes without saying, but the features I’m digging the most aren’t from my beloved Persona series. They’re from a series of games that I’ve neglected since day one.
I’m sorry, Etrain Odyssey. You’ve made me a believer, although I hear your games are soul crushingly difficult. I promise I’ll start paying attention to you, baby. Hell, Etrain Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl is on sale this week for $10 on the 3DS eShop.
If I only weren’t juggling Persona Q and Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride. I’d buy you. I’d buy you so good.