First Impressions: Persona Q – Shadow Of The Labyrinth (3DS) ~ Crossin’ Over At Least Once

Nintendo.com micrositeWikipedia entry

When I’m playing console exclusives, I love it when said exclusive does something unique that is difficult to replicate on other consoles. That’s why I love exclusive to the Nintendo (3)DS or Wii U so much. Since, most of these games use the console gimmick extremely well. And today I want to take a look at a game in the Persona series that crosses over with one of my favorite Nintendo handheld exclusive series, Etrian Odyssey. But, that isn’t the only cross-over in this game. Oh no, the cover of this game already spoils that. The characters of Persona 3 and 4 are meeting each other. Are they meeting each other for a tense and amazing adventure or will this an adventure you can skip over? Let’s talk about it while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your thoughts and/or opinions on this game and/or the content of this article.

Crossin’ over at least once

Like I said in the intro, Persona 3 and 4 characters are meeting each other. And you can choose with which cast of characters you start playing. Since, I played a decent chunk of Persona 4 Golden and haven’t played Persona 3, I decided Persona 4 cast to start out with.

So, in this game, your cast somehow gets transported to a different dimension. Something that’s really cool is that the opening of the game depends on the cast you chose and fits the world and themes of the original game like a glove.

As soon as you enter the first dungeon, the storylines merge and are almost the same. In the first dungeon themed after Alice in Wonderland, you meet two strange characters named Zen and Rei. Both have amnesia both know that the dungeon is extremely dangerous. It doesn’t take long before they join your party to explore this strange world.

A world where the normal Persona rules are somewhat flipped on their head. Now, the hero lost their Joker ability which caused them to wield any Persona and now everybody has the same unique additional ability. They all can wield a 2nd Persona that they can choose and change.

On top of that, in this strange world, there are several dungeons. The main hub of the game is a school where a strange clock tower is standing in the middle of the courtyard. What is that clock tower doing there, and how can they unlock it? That’s what are heroes are trying to find out.

Explaining more about the story is bordering on spoiling parts of the game. So, if I have sold you on the game, I think you should take a look at it. Now, you don’t need to have played ANY Persona before jumping into this one but some jokes, references, and story bits will go over your head if you haven’t played Persona before. So, yes, this game is extremely welcome to veterans and newcomers.

Now, the voice talent of in this game is beyond amazing. Listing off all the voice actors and their credits would make this article not only go off track quite fast but also get extremely lengthy. The excellent voice acting make the story even more enjoyable. I especially love the little voice clips in the dungeon and during fights since they give the game so much more character. I love it in Etrian Odyssey and I love it here.

Let’s draw that map

If you have played any Persona game before, you’ll feel right at home in this game. It’s your typical dungeon crawler with themed dungeons with a lot of RPG mechanics. And if you have played any Etrian Odyssey games, you’ll feel right at home as well.

Just like Persona 5 Strikers was the perfect mix between hack-and-slash and the Persona formula, this game is the perfect mix between Etrian Odyssey and Persona.

Something that’s quite unique in Etrian Odyssey is that it’s a dungeon crawler where you have to draw your own map to some degree. The game draws out where you walk automatically, but you have to draw where the walls are, place the location of doors, treasure boxes, traps… You even have to take notes.

FOE’s return in this game as well. And let me tell you, in this game they aren’t a pushover. I really advise you to avoid them at all costs. FOE’s are huge monsters which roam around the dungeon on a set path. Each FOE has their pattern and quirks, and sometimes you have to manipulate them to solve an environment puzzle.

The FOE’s are the only enemies you’ll see roam around on the bottom screen map. All the other enemies are encountered by exploring the dungeon. Like in Etrian Odyssey, you have a counter at the bottom left of the top screen that indicates how close you are to a battle. Battles in this game are turn-based. Something that really annoyed me in Etrian Odyssey is the MP management. For some characters, it is too easy to run out of MP and be useless. Unless you either heal that MP with the rare and/or finite amount of times you can heal that in the dungeon or their MP is just drained way too easily.

In this game, a solution to that problem has been found. In this game, each character that has a second Persona equipped, gets a low but certain amount of MP at the start of each battle. And not only that, when you have a critical hit OR hit the weak spot of an enemy, the next round the character won’t use MP. And you can chain this in a combo if you learn the weak spots of each enemy. So, it’s quite helpful to learn who is weak against what and create the best team and couple them with the best Persona’s.

The difficulty curve of this game is somewhat unforgiving. There is no auto-saving in this game when you reach a game over, you’ll have to restart with the last save. Thankfully, you can lower the difficulty at any time in the hub if you are stuck at a hard enemy or boss unless you have chosen the highest difficulty.

In this article, I have mentioned a Persona several times. Allow me to explain this to people who don’t know what Persona is. Depending on the Persona game, the theme is a bit different, but basically it’s a monster created out of strong emotions that’s bonded in a way to somebody. This bond allows them to use special abilities and magic during battle. You can read and discover more about the concept on the Persona wiki but beware spoilers on that page.

Risk and reward systems

This game isn’t easy, even on the lower difficulty settings. You really have to think on your actions and be mindful on what you are doing.

Should I save my money since the higher your level, the higher the healing costs become OR should I buy this strong weapon/armor? It’s just an example of the thought you have to put into this game. This game nails that fine balancing act of being challenging and rewarding.

At the end of the first dungeon, you meet the other cast of characters. This doubles the amount of useable characters in this game. And this makes this game very replayable to a certain degree. While the lay-outs don’t change of the dungeons, you can only carry five characters in a dungeon. And that means that you can make each playthrough of this game quite different.

Now, something I really miss from the Etrian Odyssey games that isn’t in this game is the simple fact that you can’t floor hop. Remember when you almost finished the whole map in Etrian Odyssey and you found the entrance and exit, so you can warp to that floor’s entrance/exit almost immediately? That isn’t present in this game. On the other hand, this game has a mechanic I wished was in more Etrian Odyssey games. You can choose the color of the elements you place on the map. So, you have way more options in placing things on the map making it a lot easier to mark for example certain traps or moving tiles.

Being able to draw the map myself is one of the biggest selling points to me of the Etrian Odyssey games. In a way, you draw a part of the UI. Speaking of which, the UI in this game is extremely solid. It took me no time at all to learn the controls of this game and get going. The fact that this game also has amazing visual presentation is great as well.

The attention to detail is superb and gives the game such a great atmosphere. Visually, this game is eye candy to me. To such a degree, that when I tried this game with the battle animations disabled in the option menu, I felt that this game was missing something. While I totally understand that the game and battle system might be a bit too slow with them on for some people, I love how accessible this game is with the option menu.

Not only the visual presentation and animations are amazing, but the soundtrack is on point. It hits all those strong beats you are used to in a Persona game. It also reminded me sometimes of the Etrian Odyssey games and I got nostalgic sometimes.

Something to be wary of is that the Nintendo 3DS eShop is closing in the really near future. This game has some DLC as well, expanding some features. Mostly, they add some optional additional Persona’s or voice packs. So, if you are interested in this game and want all the content… But warned that you have until late August 2022 to do it.

And with that said, I have said everything about this game I wanted to say about this game for now. If you enjoy dungeon crawlers, Persona, RPG’s and/or Etrian Odyssey, I urge you to give this game a chance. To be honest, I fell in love with this game and all it quirks. While this game isn’t for everybody and certainly the difficulty might turn some people off, I have a hard time to say anything negative about this game.

This game is a must-play for every Persona and Etrian Odyssey fan in my opinion. I can’t wait to see where this game is going next, and I’m also quite hyped that this game has a sequel Persona Q 2 – New Cinema. Which I might review in the future. But for now, I have the original to beat here. So, I have to wrap up this article, publish it and after that I can get back right into this game trying to finish it.

And with that said, I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Gamers Thoughts: The sense and nonsense of game genres

genre-mind-mapIn theory I would have this topic for a podcast. Yet, when I suggested this to Dark_Legend and Q, they told me to first write an article about it. So, this is the article that were serve as the base for the podcast. Also, this will be the last gamer’s thoughts for a short while. Since I want to avoid that one category of articles gets too many new posts in a short while. It’s just to have a bit more variaty in what I write. So, I started to write an article about this and that one got deleted. Because I thought it would be better for a podcast. Now, there will be big differences with my original thoughts and this article. Since in the time between the original writing and the podcast idea, I did a bit more research on this subject. So, hopefully I won’t be “shot down” for mistakes. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this subject and or this article. It might possibly be a part of the podcast. Who knows? 

RPG games are the thriller movies.

D&D dice1So, in the past I wrote an article about RPG’s. It was an answer to Ryu’s article about what makes a good RPG. Now, how does that article relate to the question of today? Well, what if you ask yourself, what makes a game a RPG game?

The most obvious answer is a game where you play a role of a character. You level up and you see the character develop in a story. So, at this point, can’t you already guess where I’m going with the title of the article?

Before I started this blog, I wrote a Dutch blog about myself and the games I played. On there, I wrote one article where I tried to prove that the Legend Of Zelda series is a RPG. Now, I have enough reasons why I think that it’s very possible.

While you think about it, I think you can put the pieces together yourself why the series can be a RPG. Now, is it a RPG? Quite clearly, no. The series has big influences of the RPG genre, but that doesn’t make it a RPG.

While I was talking to Q to make this a podcast subject, he said something very true. “The rules are just too vague.” That’s what he said. I wrote it down with my notes. RPG games are the thriller movies. Almost every game has RPG elements. Could RPG just be a too wide term?

Action Adventure games or Point-and-Click?

Dark-Flight-1Now, question time. Name me one adventure game that isn’t an action game as well. Simple! Freddi Fish, Myst, Broken Sword 1 & 2… Okay, that was easy wasn’t it? Now, name me one adventure game that isn’t an action game OR a point-and-click game.

Now, I do believe there are those rare games out there that fit my description, but it got just a whole lot tougher to answer the question.

Some genres are almost combined every time. I can’t think of any single genre that has only one genre. Before anyone makes a comment about casual games, let me prove you that it would be wrong. Take Tetris for example. That’s a popular casual game. But it’s also a puzzle game. Or Minecraft, it’s a casual game as well… Nope, it’s a sandbox game too.

Clones with a twist!

Clonetroopers_all_colorsNow, let’s take Bejeweled as an example. This game is a casual, match3 puzzle game. At it’s core, Candy Crush is the same game. The only big difference is that there are more styles of gameplay. Did you even know that one of the first Match3 games was called SameGame? Here is the WikiPedia entry.

In a way, each genre has it’s “example” game. If I ask to name a shooter, it would be safe to say that most of you reply with something among the lines of Call Of Duty. Honestly, I think it isn’t safe to say. Since in the shooter genre, you have a flood of amazing titles that have a big fanbase. To name just a few: Doom, Wolvenstein, Killzone, Medal Of Honor, Gears Of War…

In every genre you have an “example game”. From that game, developers make some unique changes to the formula and try to make a game. It might be a bold statement, but I think there is some truth in it. Some games, mostly the mediocre ones, are called something among the lines of “just another shooter” or “clone of game X”.

Once in a while, you have these games where you can’t really put a genre on. I think of “Gone Home” and “the Stanley Parable”. These games are more experiences then games? Or am I wrong here?

We need more genres?

9a781ac4de4bd7695c2b08b7bcc1d011If somebody tries to make a list of very game genre that exists, I think you would still be able to prove that person wrong. Since we could find a new genre every day. Even in the list that WikiPedia gives you, I can name a few genres that aren’t included. Take a look for yourself. Props to the original writer to add the visual novels. Since that’s a highly underrated genre.

Let’s take a look together. Now, I miss games like genres like: Tower Defense, Turn Based Strategy… To just name the ones that directly pop into my head.

And here I found a more complete list. You would think that it’s complete. Allow me please to prove you wrong once more. They didn’t include: visual novel, sandbox, dungeon crawlers and MMORPG’s. But it’s an interesting site to take a look at.

That site lists a decent description of the genres and a list of games that are part of that genre. Now, take a moment and look at the amount of genres we have. Also, take into a count that the list is incomplete. Isn’t this silly? We don’t have many “main” genres, but if you look to the sub-genres; it’s an overflow!

Closing words

So, I think I’ll close this article off here. I think that a podcast would really be quite nice to talk about this subject. While I honestly do think that genres make sense, I have proven that there is a lost of nonsense with it as well.

Feel free to follow me on my social networks. That way you will be kept up-to-date with my latest articles and such. Also, you will be notified when we publish the podcast.

Anyways, thanks for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I did writing it. I’m really looking forward to the actual podcast! Also, I hope to see you at one of my next articles!

Gamer’s Thoughts: Curse of a critic – Part 2

20130114-ask-a-criticLink to part 1

I told you guys that I wasn’t done yet with this subject. I wanted to write about my personal experience of being a critic. Be warned, there are some serious consequences when you want to become a critic. Since now-a-days, everybody wants to become a reviewer. They think that they can make it in the reviewing scene. A million blogs are popping up left and right, all trying to be different from the last. I try to be different by talking about more then just games. I post a creepypasta once in a while or I talk about the gaming market. On this blog I truly try to write about the games I’m playing in my gaming life. Not the latest of the latest. But I have talked about that in great depth in the first part of this article. Anyways, though intro has been written. Time to invite my readers to comment on this subject and or this article. 

I “can’t” enjoy anymore.

MW-BD501_sm10th_20130531161626_MGHonestly, I has been quite a while since I had a feeling that I truly enjoyed a game. Now, don’t get me wrong. All the games I have played, I enjoyed my time. What I mean here is that I always think about how I’m going to convert it into an article.

If you are following me on Twitter, you might have seen that I took a weekend off from my life basically. I went on a trip together with my mom towards the Ardennen, a region in the south of my country, Belgium. It’s a beautiful natural landscape. You can compare it to a mountain village in a certain sense.

While I was there, I managed to keep myself to my promise. I didn’t think about my Twitter, blog or anything else in my life. I only took my PSP to have something to play in the car. It was a 2 hour trip after all. Not counting my mobile phone, that’s the only electronic device I had on me. I had a notepad and various pens. You don’t want to know how full that notebook is now.

You have been warned

logo_samaxreviewsmoviesWhat I’m getting too is this: a warning to everybody who wants to start reviewing or writing a blog as a hobby or professionally. First of all, don’t try to be too professional in the start. You will give the impression of trying too hard. You must still enjoy what you are doing after all. Since you’re own curse will haunt you soon.

And secondly, you will need to find a way to relax on your own way. If you take it as serious as myself, and you try to write for an audience, you will think about what to write next. When I’m playing a game, I make mental notes of what I want to talk about in my article. It’s strange, but you are always thinking as a critic. You will need to get used to that.

Finally, start in a group. Don’t ever start writing alone. While I have started this blogging adventure myself, I had my forum where I could post my links too. They would read and share it to support me. Be sure that you have people who are interested in advance. Otherwise you will be writing for the visitor who is looking for information of a certain game.

It’s a numbers game.

Arpegi 2 YearsIn the end, being a blogger, YouTuber or any kind of entertainer ends up in a numbers game. Every subscriber or follower counts. Now, pay attention, you have these people who follow you on Twitter to get more exposure. I did an unfollow run a while back. My feed was spammed by too many different people. And after my unfollow run, I saw my follow number drop quite a bit.

I hit me then. The numbers are extremely important to us. We make a special video when we reach a special number of followers. But think about it. How many people actually do follow you. I admit that I have a ton of people I follow on YouTube that I have seen a few interesting video’s off, but I can’t keep up.

That’s what I notice with some of my blogger friends. They want to keep up-to-date with everybody they enjoy. People like myself, the guys on ButtonSmashers… and in the end, you don’t read or watch every single thing.

Be warned in advance guys, you can’t keep up with everything! So, don’t be afraid if you don’t have great numbers at the start. Try to keep stable numbers instead of occasional high numbers. If you try to aim high directly, you will fall deeper then you started.

Also, one of the biggest issues I faced was addiction. I got addicted to higher numbers. Yes, that even counted for my Steam library. I wanted to play more and more games to try and entertain you guys. Now, if there is one thing I want to warn the starters about is, try to keep time for yourself. You don’t have to share every single thing or game you play. In the end, it will bite you in the ass. People will ask your opinion and you will give yourself more work then you want to do.

To close off…

I might revisit this subject in the future. But to close off this article, I want to give you guys some helpful hint when you want to start out your own blog or grow your own project.

Be honest with yourself and your audience. If you need a break, let your audience know. If you loose people because off that, don’t let it get you down. If you need a break, take one!

Also, keep doing what you are doing. If you don’t get the exposure you deserve, keep working for it. You’re break might be around the next corner. It might happen one day that your article gets picked up by a more professional writer or YouTuber. So yeah, be patient.

Anyways, that was everything for now. Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed reading my article as much as I enjoyed writing my thoughts here. I hope to see you here another time. 🙂

A Manga Cat’s views

Taken and adapted for cats from Ever So often

As we are all Cats here I won’t spare any purrs (yeah I know bad pun lol), so down to business. As of my first post here on Nekojonez’s gaming blog, I have not posted anything else and for that, I do apologize to you my fellow cats. I have been working on some new content and as you may know, I do other stuff like podcasting, but I did not post them here as I believe if I am going to post something here it has to be specialized and not just a blatant copy of what I have somewhere else unless it is relevant. The Podcast I do is a mix of many different things and so it won’t be posted here unless Neko is a guest on an episode and in such a situation he tends to post it himself. If my little cat brother wishes it then I will post some other content that may not concern gaming like manga reviews but this is a gaming blog so I doubt that would be appropriate.  Anywho I’m here now and I hope you all forgive me and lend me your paws. 😉

Neko's a gaming cat unlike me.
Neko’s a gaming cat unlike me.

UPDATE:

What I have been working on is a new series called From Manga to Video Game. It will be the focus of most of my new writing. As the basis for a few of my new articles, it will be a way for me to stretch my limbs as a writer. If you are a regular reader of the BSB you will notice that even though I am more active than I have been over the closing half of last year I am still not putting out nearly as many articles as I use to when we first started the BSB in 2012.

I keep telling others the reason that I’ve not been writing as much is because I have not been completing as many games and that my focus is mostly on manga these days, which in fact is primarily true, but it is not the only reason that I have not been publishing as much as I use too. Notice the use of the word Publish. I say publish because I write almost every other day.

The sad fact, however, is that I either leave most of my writing incomplete or never publish it because of my weird form of quality control that I impose on the content I create. With numerous articles, videos and podcast raw data on my PC, it should be a synch to take a few and publish them, but when what I have does not match the vision I have in mind there is a very limited possibility of me sharing it with others. This factor of my writing also bleeds over into other things I do which got me the nickname the over-planner.

 Preview of some of my full content folders.

Preview of some of my full content folders.

So this week I have started to use my laptop to maximize the number of articles that I write so that I will have a larger pool to pull from when I am looking for content to publish. The first of these articles was inspired by my bro Neko who recommended as I am reading a lot more manga than the number of games I play that I should write an article about what manga would make great video games (see how smart my bro is). At first, I thought of doing a top 10 style list, however, as I sat down on the loo to write I realized that I wanted to turn it into a series and focus on each manga separately.

In this breakdown series I will write about manga that has not been made into games yet. If a character from that manga has made an appearance in a game, for example, the Jump ultimate series, but the manga has not received a proper stand-alone game then I still count it as that manga not having a game. I think almost all manga can be converted into excellent video games just as long as the developers remain close to the source material and develop it in a genre that suits the game in question. I look forward to the first “From Manga to Video Game” in the next 24 hours of this Social Cat’s views being published.