Before reading the following, keep in mind that I have only played from the Persona 3 hero’s perspective.
3. You in Wonderland
First impressions are very important, and I must say, You in Wonderland provides a great idea of what to expect from further progression. Creepy atmosphere, music to match…
(also refer to 1-09 “Sweets and Cards” and 1-11 “Shadow in Wonderland”, which are, in my opinion, creepier than the track above)
…wacky enemies including FOEs, and plenty of exploration and puzzles ahead. You could also consider it the tutorial labyrinth in a way, because it provides a basic understanding of the game’s mechanics, not to mention the end of it introduces characters from the other Persona game. I don’t know about the whole thing of the game forcing you to fight with those other characters on the fly (from P3 perspective, P4 hero, Yosuke, Chie, and Yukiko fight Card soldiers alongside you)…and the boss? I don’t know. I didn’t know what to expect from a boss fight, so I just went all trigger-happy with my SP right off the bat, which is probably what made the battle bothersome more than anything, especially with the minion summons that I did not expect (although, looking back, such behavior befits the Queen of Hearts). At least the whole crossover thing didn’t occur for the whole boss battle, but rather just a brief moment.
All in all, You in Wonderland is a neat tutorial labyrinth that provides a good idea of what to expect, although, because it’s a foundation, it’s not that stellar as a whole.
2. Group Date Café
Definitely the highlight of Group Date Café is the personality quiz that allows you to find a “destined partner”, and the best part is it can be retaken as much as possible after the labyrinth is completed. As much as I wanted to test all of the possibilities, I figured that would be too much work and instead referred to someone who had it all figured out. (link for reference) From what I tested (i.e., Aigis and Koromaru), I find it funny how the forged image can sometimes present the protagonist as a bride and the candidate as the groom (because all the other outcomes I had—Fuuka, Elizabeth, and Rise—had the protagonist as the groom). It’s understandable with Aigis, because her role is as a bodyguard to the P3 hero, but with Koromaru…eh…how can a Shiba Inu hold a human? I believe I’ve only scratched the surface of the nonsense involved here, but it’s already adequate in humor.
Oh, and I’ve mentioned before (specifically in Spontaneous Saturday 8/29/15) how interesting the boss is. It’s definitely the most fun boss I’ve fought in the entire game, although I don’t know what to expect from the final boss because I haven’t even reached it yet.
That said, the artistic aspects of Group Date Café—atmosphere, music, pre-boss enemy design—are pretty meh overall. Nothing too outstanding about them…at all. I will say, though: the change in atmosphere and music by the third floor is a well-placed reminder that there is danger ahead, and that it’s not all fun and games. (It’s part of a game, but that’s beside the point.) In addition, this particular labyrinth happens to be the only one of the main four in which the save/exit gear is on the penultimate floor rather than the final floor. Still…the labyrinth definitely has its good points, but it’s not the best.
1. Inaba Pride Exhibit
Aw, yeah, what better way to celebrate conquering a haunted school building…hospital…thing than with a festival? To make it better, floor 2 really brings the hype music.
The puzzles in Inaba Pride Exhibit mostly involve carrying a torch around, passing through gates, and avoiding gourd-like FOEs and muscular FOEs along the way. Regardless of the puzzles, the hype music, the vibrant atmosphere, and the wackiness of the FOEs inspired me to move forward, complete the labyrinth, and get ready to beat the game. An especially good point about this labyrinth is…the final floor. Rather than being all vibrant and hyped up, it’s a dark and dead night in which the festival has passed and everything has fallen silent (apart from an ominous tune in the background). It is, in my mind, a symbol that all good things must come to an end and that the story is about to shift gear from its overall frivolity to something more serious…and deep. I won’t spoil it, as much as I want to elaborate upon the labyrinth boss (although I will note that a different BGM is used for this particular boss, which, as much sense as it makes, is a bit of a downer).
I do, however, have a few statements against Inaba Pride Exhibit. For one, the enemies, while no more annoying than the ones in Evil Spirit Club, are still relatively annoying. A few in particular that bother me are the Immortal Gigas with Bestial Roar that sometimes (in a seemingly unpredictable manner) attacks twice, the samurai with ridiculous bulk, the “cyclops” thing with Life Wall, the tower thing that spams Lullaby Song, the Okina with Mahama, the tree that has a tendency to ignore Pain-Eater (and, thusly, has caused Chie to take more hits than expected from Agidyne), the dice with their status-inducing slashes and self-destruct sequences, and the Opulent Hands with their Spiderweb, Lullaby Song, and dice-summoning abilities.
More importantly, the FOEs are extremely frustrating, even comparing them to those of Evil Spirit Club. Two of them (namely, the orange gourd and Festival Dudes) have what seems to be cost-free healing in Diarahan, the Festival Dudes use Crazed Slash to deal ridiculous damage to the team (although Pain-Eater alleviates this somewhat), the Sweaty Guy has Bestial Roar, and, worst of all, the green gourd has a frustrating repertoire of Mahamaon, Lullaby Song, and Tentarafoo. Honestly, fighting that darn thing for the first time and trying to keep my team alive at the very end was one heck of a pain.
Still, it all makes sense, and Inaba Pride Exhibit is a great way to conclude what was thought to be a four-labyrinth tour and segue into something significantly more serious. Honestly, I have no complaints aside from the annoyingness of the enemies, and, I must admit, that is a pretty lame complaint.
- Evil Spirit Club – Scary FOEs (especially Lovely Doll), Corrosion + all-encompassing spell users, Bestial Roar users (
more like Worstial Roar amirite), Life Wall users, and several complications that actually required me to look up hints (namely the restroom door, the algebraic puzzle (which I was overthinking because of the letters), and the “Convey a Secret Message” request) made this a really annoying labyrinth. As if it couldn’t get any worse than that, the Lovely Doll is scary for more than just jump-scares; it evades every second attack unless you can bind its Agility, and it has Mamudoon. I also have to say the boss of the labyrinth was a step down from the overall scariness of the labyrinth and from the previous boss. Kill the nurses (start with the healing one), kill the doctor. Plain and simple. Heck, I think the only thing I can say good about Evil Spirit Club is about the puzzle where Rei navigates through the darkness. Trial and error puzzles like that are just my cup of tea. In fact, I remember back when I still lived in Canada that in Pokémon Gold/Silver I actually had to help someone with the west-most puzzle in Ice Path. Anyway, I’ve presented my reasoning as to why Evil Spirit Club is my least favorite labyrinth in the game.
- Clock Tower – It’s not a labyrinth per se. It may be designed like a labyrinth, but I say it doesn’t count. I mean, plot-wise and in terms of structure/substance, it’s in its own league compared to the main four labyrinths. (Plus, I haven’t fully explored it yet.)
À la prochaine! (Until next time!)