When Atlus first announced Persona 4: Dancing All Night back in 2015 on the PlayStation Vita, I was quite perplexed. As a fan of the series, I wanted to see the Persona series continue to evolve and release more games…but a rhythm game really? At that point we already had two fighting games and a dungeon crawler but while I hesitated at first, after getting some hands-on time with the game I was actually quite surprised at how much I actually enjoyed the game and now fast forward three years and now Atlus is releasing not one but two more Persona Dancing games with Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight.
While Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight can be purchased separately, I’d recommend getting the Endless Night Collection which also includes a digital copy of Persona 4: Dancing All Night for the PlayStation 4 meaning you get three titles for $99.99 which is $20 cheaper than buying the games individually. For this review I’ll be covering all three titles, with a bigger focus on Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight.
If you wanted to play the games in order, you’d start off with Persona 4: Dancing All Night as it features a story mode that is set one year after the events of the game. It centers around Rise Kujikawa’s return to Idol life and recruits the Investigation Team to become her backup dancers for an upcoming concert, the story is nothing really special but does have some cool moments. Really though, you can enjoy the games in any order as P3D and P5D actually feature no narrative experience with the characters being summoned by their Velvet Room attendant to outperform each other. Yes, you were only summoned to dance as Elizabeth along with Caroline and Justine have wanted to prove their superiority to each other. It’s pretty weak but then again my main reason for wanting to play this game wasn’t the story.
It’s all about the music!
The music in the Persona series is absolutely amazing, it’s hard to pick my favorite from the three since each one features a few tracks I love listening to over and over. That’s a good thing especially in this game since there are various remixes of my favorite songs, some that are just amazing and others that are ok or didn’t really resonate with me but that’s not a negative thing, to me as it offers variety with each game having a little over 30 tracks each with various difficulty levels to challenge yourself.
I decided to start things off with Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight completing every track on Easy and Normal, then jumping over to Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight to do the same and finally finished things up with Persona 4: Dancing All Night to complete the game’s story mode. It wasn’t until after I finished all three games that I decided to take on the challenge of Hard and All Night (hardest difficulty) mode as it also had its benefits. As Person 3 and Persons 5 don’t feature any type of story mode it instead is replaced with a mainstay of the Persona series the Social Links. You unlock these by meeting certain requirements and serve as a way for you to interact with your teammates outside of the bit of dialogue you get in the game, seeing these scenes reward you with costumes and accessories to customize your characters as well as giving you either Challenge or Support boosts to use.
I wasn’t really fond of the Social Link scenes, they can be amusing but don’t have any real scenes needing to be in the game to pad things out a bit but after reaching a certain Social Link level you can enter your teammates room which you didn’t get to do in the main games so that’s something cool. Overall, Social Links felt a bit lacking and didn’t feel like it had any real pay off in the end which was a bit of a shame.
Show me your moves!
Being a rhythm game, your objective is pretty simple as you need to hit the corresponding button at the right moment. Seems simple enough, on-screen prompts appear as notes and hitting it at the right moment gets you a perfect, a bit early and you will get great, too early or late and you will get a good, completely miss hitting the button and you get a miss. It doesn’t take long to get familiar with the notes and the beats in the easier modes and once you feel like your up to the challenge it just comes down to getting used to the speed of the song and paying attention to the prompts that appear. At one point I decided to switch over from my 55″ TV to my 32″ inch monitor to make sure I got a much better view of the screen during play on the harder modes and it made things quite a bit easier to focus on the notes but that might just be me, then again playing All Night Mode I still failed a lot of the harder songs. I think that was something the Vita had going for it especially when you have multiple notes spreading out in quick succession.
I had a few issues with the game, one could be considered nitpicking the other something that did impact the game. While your characters are dancing on screen they will often talk to each other or encourage each other and it does sometimes get to be annoying when trying to focus or listen to the music, it’s something you can get around or deal with but it did get on my nerves a little too much. As for the other main issue, it has to do with certain tracks that use anime cutscenes or have too much going on in the background which can distract and make it look like the game is lagging or even distorting at times, it can mess up your timing and it does happen on a few songs every so often.
Customization is King…
As you unlock more and more Social Links, you are rewarded with new ways to dress up your characters…well at least in Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight. In Persona 4: Dancing All Night you actually use the money you earn by completing songs to buy your outfits and accessories. The more you play the more options to dress up each character become available. It’s quite fun seeing your characters perform in different outfits, their dance moves won’t change but placing an Igor or Tanaka Mask on a character does make it hard to keep a straight face sometimes, you might not like all the costumes but its nice to see variety.
Earlier I also mentioned the Challenge and Support boosts which you can unlock. Challenge Boosts can help increase your score by adding a challenge such as mirroring or swapping around the on-screen prompts, while the Support Boosts will decrease your score as you gain a bit of help such as keeping your Combo going even if you get a Good. It a nice little addition that can help you out on tougher songs or give you a challenge on easier songs to keep things interesting and it felt very well implemented.
Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection isn’t for everyone, its target mainly to fans of rhythm games and more importantly fans of Person series who enjoy the characters and the music. It’s not exactly the Persona spin-off game I would normally want to play but it has so much going for it that you can play this for long lengths of time or just casually come back and play it every so often which is something I quite enjoy. It’s worth playing, the soundtrack on all three games are just fantastic.