Persona 4 Dancing All Night Review
*Disclaimer* The reviewer was given a review code by the publisher. This does not impair judgement
Publishers: Atlus(JP/NA), NIS America(EU), Bandai Namco Entertainment(AUS)
Platform: PS Vita
-Saturday Night Persona Fever-
I enjoy the many different genres within the video game industry with the exception to the sports genre (can’t stand those). Rhythm games in particular, are strange to me because I tend to never play enough of them, even though quite a few titles exist today. Prior to shaking my groove “thang” in Persona 4 Dancing All Night, Final Fantasy: Theatrhythm Curtain Call was my last music themed soiree. See, I’m a visual kind of guy where a game’s art style alone could pull me in and thus, when Atlus announced the PS Vita exclusive Persona 4 rhythm title, I thanked my lucky stars that I already owned the handheld.
Ever since my introduction to the Persona series with Persona 4 Golden, I often proclaimed that P4G‘s soundtrack is among some of the best musical scores in video games history. Based as a spin-off to the Persona series, which is considered to be a sub-series to Megami Tensei franchise, Dancing All Night follows the events of what happened during Persona 4. Even though the game makes tons of references to the events of Persona 4, which includes the fighting game spin-offs Persona 4 Arena and Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, Dancing All Night serves as a great entry point for newcomers.
The gist behind the plot revolves around Rise Kujikawa’s pop idol world where Yu and the gang must express their emotions to Shadows (series monster baddie) via dance; ultimately rescuing pop idols who have been dragging into the ‘Midnight Stage’. DAN could easily be considered a standalone title since the game’s plot relatively stays within its own world.
Now unless players don’t give one iota about the plot events and want to just focus on the music itself, Dancing All Night is a solid experience that will require rhythm and quick fingers. Persona 4‘s soundtrack was great enough but with the help of various artists such as Yuu Miyake, Daisuke Asakura and series regular composer Shoji Meguro, remixed songs join the roster of original tracks from the Persona 4 series for players to groove along with.
So how does Dancing All Night compare, gameplay-wise, to other games within the genre? In my professional opinion, DAN does an outstanding job of pulling players into the music with the gameplay format. When the music begins, players will see star shaped objects moving towards the edge of the screen. At the edges of the screen are symbols for a specific button input. Once the star reaches one of these inputs, players must correctly pressed whichever symbol the star matches up with.
For example, if a star is about to line up with the “triangle” input, I had to time my press in order to achieve a “Perfect” result. Performing inputs at an untimely fashion can result in either “Great”, “Good” or a “Miss” result. In total, there are three star notes for players to grow accustomed to: regular notes, unison notes and hold notes. Unison notes require the player to press two inputs at the same time, while hold means to press and hold the correct input until the end of the note arrives.
In addition to the three types of star notes, there are two types of rings that will sometimes appear throughout the song. A regular blue ring helps contribute to the player’s overall score and what’s known as a “Fever Ring” plays an important role. By constantly collecting Fever Rings, what’s known as “Fever Mode” will happen at a specific junction during a song. During Fever, the stars and rings will start to come at a frantic pace and if conditions are met, a dance partner may even appear on stage. And don’t worry missing a few rings or so because these only affect scoring, not the player’s “health”.
At the top of the screen is the Hype Gauge, which monitors how the audience is reacting to the player’s performance. Getting too low in the red causes the song to stop immediately, resulting in a failed state. Even if players manage to reach the end of a song, if the gauge is not at green or better, the level won’t be completed. The overall goal for players is to keep the audience as hyped as possible; the happier the audience, the higher the score. Plus, if a high enough score is met, whichever character is dancing at the time will have his/her Persona appear; adding to the musical performance. With that said however, I am disappointed with how little of a role Personas have in the game.
In all other renditions of Persona 4, use of Personas played a critical role and yet, Dancing All Night uses these mystic beings as mere stand-ins or a metaphoric pat on the back. Instead of just having Personas in the game for the sake of having them, incorporating Personas into the gameplay makes more sense. How cool would it be to see characters dancing with their Personas on stage, just like they do with their dance partners? I’d much prefer that approach then just having the Personas do their little instrument solo and disappear soon after.
There are two main attractions Dancing All Night offers to players: Story Mode and Free Dance. It goes without saying that story mode follows the events pertaining to the ‘Midnight Stage’. The format is broken up between visual novel-style dialogue scenes and the actual gameplay. As someone who went through most of the Persona 4 series, the story felt entertaining, almost nostalgic at seeing these characters once again. There are moments of filler-like content where characters seemingly talk about nothing too important but this probably won’t matter to a majority of people like myself.
When people buy a rhythm game, they don’t always want to spend their time reading but rather dancing the night away. For when the mood strikes, players can resort to Free Dance, a mode where story takes a backseat to the real star of the show: feel-it-in-your-bones music. The game includes a total of 29 songs but when counting the DLC tracks, they brings the total track roster to 41.
DLC is fairly cheap with the most expensive songs being $5. I feel as if the songs themselves are worth getting potentially. Two of the DLC tracks adds new characters in addition to the music. Tohru Adachi hails from the original Persona 4 title but I won’t give any spoilers as to what his role was. Then as a bonus crossover, Hatsune Miku from the Project DIVA series makes her idol appearance. Both of the character/song bundles costs $5 but ultimately, it’s the player’s decision whether or not to spend the extra cash.
+High Replay Value
-Poor Persona Usage
Even after spending 20+ hours of enjoying Persona 4 Dancing All Night, I can see myself coming back time and time again. The beauty of rhythm titles is that music will always be relevant and adding interactive elements doubles the expiration date, if not eliminates it completely. So in all honesty, a game like this can potentially be timeless, especially for fans of Persona 4. For the people who have not yet experienced a Persona titles, I definitely feel as though this game can serve as a great entry into the franchise. It’s light, entertaining and perfect for newcomers. Now get moving to the beat already!
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