Written by Twisted Ideas
It seems like the Investigation Team can’t catch a break. They solved a supernatural murder investigation, fought in two fighting tournaments and where even sent back in time. Now in Persona 4: Dancing All Night they find themselves defeating evil with the power of song and dance. Is this rhythm game a good look for Persona?
Platform: PlayStation Vita
What is it about?
After the events of Persona 4 Golden, Rise asks her friends to join her in her comeback performance during the Love Meets Bonds festival. The team learns how to dance with Rise, as her idol go missing. Yu, Rise and Naoto are first to discover that the urban Legend regarding the Love Meets Bonds website may be connected to the disappearances as they’re pulled into the website onto the Midnight Stage. They soon learn that not fighting but song and dance is needed to save the day.
How does it play?
Persona 4: Dancing All Night is a rhythm game composed of several remixed and arranged song from the series. The game is played with the buttons or touch screen, having a similar layout to tablet/phone rhythm games like Love Live. Your goal is to hit enough notes in the rhythm of the music to pass.
There are six note zones, three on each side of the screen where notes fly towards. Standard notes simply need to be pressed once, hold notes need to be held for its duration and unison notes need to be hit on both sides of the screen. Every note is graded based on your timing affect your score. Fever Rings are rings that expand over the note zones; they’re optional and won’t break your combo if missed. They will occasionally be rainbow-colored and say “Fever”. Hitting three of these rings triggers Fever Time at a later point in a song. If you play well enough your partner will join your dance during Fever Time plus Good ranked notes won’t break your combo.
Songs are cleared by impressing the five shadows on the top of the screen by the end of a track. They start as neutral and anything below green or glower shadows will be a failure. It’s matter of how well you finished rather than the overall performance.
There are two main modes in Dancing All Night: Story mode puts the game into context while easing you into the game and free mode lets you play songs at your leisure. Songs will unlock once new songs are beaten. Money earned from songs can be used to buy costumes and accessories for dancers to wear. Items can make songs easier or harder while affecting the score and money earned. Replays of your best performances are automatically saved for every song and difficulty and you can also watch the choreography of a song without the distraction of the game or background.
How does it look?
Dancing All Night is the best that the 3D character models have looked in the series excluding the upcoming Persona 5. They’re very sharp, vivid and clean. They may look better than even the 3D models in Catherine, done by the Persona Team a few years ago.
The characters have updated and stylish clothes with new drawings for the story mode. Most characters have about a dozen costumes give or take a few. Some costumes feel out-of-place but some look fantastic.
The music videos are essentially choreography and a lot of flashing backgrounds. They aren’t too creative beyond that. The Bond Time dance routines with your partners look great. Some characters have dance styles that match their personalities or general training. It is hard to watch the dancing while playing though but that what the replays are for.
How does it sound?
The soundtrack is composed of songs from the series and new originals. Many tracks are remixed as the some tracks were originally very simple, have slow tempos or short. Lyrics are added to some songs or mixed fit different genres like, rap, jazz, techno, etc. Some songs are mixed more than once and sound different while being recognizable.
There is a ton of voice acting done for the story mode but there’s also some during songs too. The characters and dancers will chime in with compliments or concerns throughout a song. The lead commentator is chosen at random and their speech is consistent with their character. This can be distracting or annoying for some but you can turn this option off.
What do I think?
Persona 4: Dancing All Night is a simple and fun rhythm game. It’s easy to learn with a solid soundtrack. I was surprised to see a story mode and happy to know how much work the developers put into all of these spin-off games. Arena, Q and now Dancing All Night are very respectful to the series giving the characters new dimensions and expanding their stories. The story mode is silly but it has heart just like Persona 4 did.
I appreciate the reference to Bust-A-Groove, an old PS1 rhythm game classic. When Fever Time was mentioned in the game and followed shortly after by the phrase “bust a groove” it was nostalgic. That is a game that I want to see as a PS1 Classic.
My one real complaint is how harsh the game is on higher difficulties. The judgment for missing is high making songs hard or impossible to pass after a point. It takes hundreds of notes to impress the shadows but a few misses can easily put you in a failing state in a matter of seconds, especially if you’re easily rattled by missed notes.
I understand why it’s so harsh; it’s because the game is easy. The game isn’t as tricky as it could be, even on Dancing All Night Difficulty. Once you’re used to the gameplay then only the most complicated songs should give you problems. Good ranked notes noticeably affect a shadow’s mood. The window for Good ranked notes is huge. You can easily get by taking Good note than misses even if your combo breaks often.
Should you get it?
Persona 4: Dancing All Night isn’t the hardest rhythm game in recent years but any fan of the series, genre or anime music should check this out. Fan will enjoy the fresh sounds of the remixed tracks and the respect to Persona 4 is given in many aspects. I hope that this comes out for tablets in the futures for the many people who don’t own a PS Vita. Persona is a niche series and it would benefit if they would at least expand to other platforms with their spin-off games.