Persona 4: Dancing All Night
- Street Date:
- September 29th, 2015
- Reviewed by:
- Elizabeth Henges
- Review Date:1
- September 22nd, 2015
- Game Release Year:
- PS Vita
Digital Vita version reviewed.
There is little doubt to just how popular the 'Persona 4', of the niche Shin Megami Tensei series, has become. Since its release on the PlayStation 2 in 2008, the game has had endless amounts of praise heaped on it, an expanded 'Golden' Vita re-release, and even non-fans of the JRPG genre tend to enjoy the 70-hour long trip to Inaba.
As expected, this has led to a fair amount of spin-offs and other media for 'Persona 4', hoping to provide fans with more of the world they love. From the fighting game 'Persona 4 Arena Ultimax' to the dungeon crawler 'Persona Q', there is no shortage of Persona content for fans… and this month may bring us the oddest spin-off yet in 'Persona 4: Dancing All Night', a 'Persona 4' flavored rhythm title with a canonical story to it.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
'Persona 4: Dancing All Night' is a sequel to the original 'Persona 4', taking place a short, but relatively undefined time after the JRPG. Rise is making her comeback as the superstar Risette at the Love Meets Bonds Festival, and in commemoration of the bonds she's made, she casts her friends (or rather, the rest of the 'Persona 4' cast) to dance with her during the show. However, as the concert's date gets closer, the mysterious disappearance of the members of Kanamin Kitchen, the other stars of the Love Meets Bonds Festival, leads to a new mystery for the Investigation Team to solve…
Of course, 'Dancing All Night' isn't just a typical rhythm game that has players playing through tracks for the heck of it—instead, the game's Story Mode provides a complete and new story to the Persona franchise. This mode takes about eight to ten hours to complete, and takes fans through most of the game's songlist while providing some context as to why 'Dancing All Night' exists in the Persona universe. The story itself, while predictable, is not bad, and doesn't overstay its welcome, nor does it fall into some of the narrative traps that the 'Persona 4 Arena' titles fell into, making it the stronger plot overall.
Given the genre, though, the rhythm mechanics are the more important part of this package. 'Dancing All Night' has you using the face and directional buttons to tap to the beat, requiring players to focus on the sides of the screen to hit the right button at the correct time. It sounds easy, but it takes a bit getting used to, and songs require some serious coordination on the tougher difficulties. In fact, the jump from Normal to Hard is almost unfair, requiring a large jump in skills to complete the relatively long songs. But those that really just want to enjoy the story do not have to fear, as all Story Mode songs are set to Easy difficulty; the harder difficulties are reserved solely for Free Play mode.
I feel that while there's nothing wrong with 'Dancing All Night', there's really nothing there for anyone but big-time 'Persona 4' fans. Given that it's a sequel to the original, the tracklist consists completely of remixes from 'Persona 4', and practically everything about the game caters to the fanbase. A lot of this charm will be lost on those that aren't invested in 'Persona 4' and its world. This is all great for fans, but those looking simply for a rhythm game will have no reason to try the story and will have no nostalgia for the tracks that are remixed. Then again, cosidering the considerable popularity of 'Persona 4' (and '3' and '5'), 'Dancing All Night' should have a decent sized audience, and might even be a gateway drug into 'Persona 4' proper.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Clear visuals are important for a rhythm title, and 'Dancing All Night' has crisp and clean graphics to make playing through the songs fun and easy on the eyes. During the songs, the characters dance to their own unique style, and it's both entertaining to watch while not being so distracting that notes are hard to see and hit. It is worth noting, though, that the characters' dance routines do not change, so repeated attempts at the same song has you watching the same set of moves every time.
Outside of the songs, cutscenes play out in a somewhat typical format for the genre that 'Persona 4' spawned from. Players are treated to 2D anime-style portraits on static backgrounds, with the occasional cut to an animated scene. The character portraits are well drawn, and each of the 'Persona 4' characters have new outfits, which freshens up their looks a bit from the original title and 'Persona 4 Arena'.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
The original 'Persona 4' had a great soundtrack, and 'Dancing All Night' remixes some of the more iconic tracks from that game to use here. The remixes are overall good, though I ended up not liking a few of the more hip-hop based remixes. Of course, on the other hand, the Junos remix track is downright amazing, so essentially the good and the bad balances itself out.
I will note, however, an audio quirk that quickly grated on my nerves. During the tracks, the dancing characters will grunt and talk, with the other party members watching commenting on how awesome the dance is. This would be fine if it only happened once and a while, but these quips and noises happen constantly throughout the song, and are repeated often throughout the course of the game. They quickly become tiresome to listen to, and even distract from the song, becoming an annoying trait to the title that cannot be turned off.
Aside from the Story Mode, players can also go into Free Play and play the various tracks at their leisure, and on a difficulty that's not just Easy. Additionally, P$ can be used to purchase new items and accessories, which are first unlocked for purchase by completing certain requirements (such as completing a certain amount of songs with a character). Ultimately, though, these are only incentives for those that really enjoyed everything the Story Mode had to offer, as there is very little brand new content to speak of. But, as with most rhythm titles, if the core of the title (the songs and the mechanics) entertains you, there is plenty to keep you busy for a while.
'Persona 4: Dancing All Night' is a good game, but it's also a game that's likely only going to appeal to a specific subset of people. Mainly, it's those that are really into the world of 'Persona' and the characters of 'Persona 4' are going to be charmed by this title, and Atlus has made 'Dancing All Night' exactly with that in mind. Unlike 'Persona 4 Arena', whose fighting game mechanics can still have a widespread appeal, this rhythm game is regulated to a more narrow audience. That's an important and viable choice. The game is by no means wanting for personality, but those that aren't invested heavily into the 'Persona' franchise might be better off looking to another rhythm title to satiate their needs.
All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More
about our gear.
Puzzled by the technical jargon in our reviews, or wondering how we assess and rate HD DVD and Blu-ray discs? Learn about our review methodology.