‘Persona 4: Dancing All Night’ proves a successful encore

Kanamin (18)

Persona 4: Dancing All Night
Developed by Atlus
Published by Atlus
Available on PS Vita

The Persona franchise has always been known for its great stories, eccentric characters, and fantastic gameplay. The developers of Persona, Atlus, have been stretching the characters of Persona 4 to their absolute limit. From a fighting game (Persona 4: Arena Ultimax), to a remix of the main game (Persona 4: Golden), and multiple anime adaptations there has certainly been plenty of time spent with Teddy. All that said, perhaps the next logical step was a rhythm game featuring the lovable characters. Thankfully, Persona 4: Dancing All Night continues the trend Atlus has of exploring a new genre while also being an exciting and fully featured game.
Rise

So how do the gang from Persona 4 get themselves into dancing? Well one year after the events of Persona 4: Golden, they have all met up once again to help Rise as backup dancers for her big come back tour. Just a few days before the festival is set to begin, a rival idol group, Kanamin Kitchen, disappears into a shadow realm. The Persona team does what they do best and attempt a rescue of the missing idols. This time they will use their newly acquired dance moves to heal the evil shadows lurking in the shadow realm. Also, never fear, their Personas are here to provide some much appreciated musical accompaniment.

With a premise as silly as defeating evil with dance moves, comes an equally outrageous storyline. While fans of the series will likely be satisfied joining the Investigation Team once again, those hoping to make this their first foray into the Persona series will likely find themselves lost. The story plays as a graphic novel with long sequences of talking heads interspersed with rhythm game challenges. It is all a very frivolous affair with a love-overcomes-all mentality and is perhaps the lightest overarching story for a Persona title in some time. 

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Persona 4: Dancing All Night has an interface that is confusing at first, but allows the characters, like Naoto, to shine.

Story and characters are something Atlus excels at so the bigger question lies in the rhythm gameplay. Persona 4: Dancing All Night creates a system of six buttons framed by two semi-circles. It takes some time to get used to this new button orientation since it is significantly different than the recent Project Diva games or Rock Band titles. After a little time, it becomes second nature and makes a lot of sense since it allows the characters on screen a chance to show off their dance moves as opposed to being covered by icons.

The secret to the rhythm game interface is the “Fever Mode”. When enough sequences are tied together the game has specific moments in the song when characters will either be joined by others in a dance duet or the background will take on a significantly different look. All of these moments are really exciting for fans of the franchise and do a lot to make this particular game stand out among the crowded rhythm game field. While non-fans might not find anything here to get really excited about, there is still a quality rhythm game underneath all the Persona trimmings.

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Perhaps the biggest slight against Persona 4: Dancing All Night is the soundtrack library. With under thirty songs and many being variations of similar tracks, there is barely enough here. Even with promised DLC, the collection of funk, house, and disco music fails to truly be diverse. This being a rhythm game, it would have been nice to see a few more tracks. There is also an item shop that can be used to purchase additional costumes and items that change how the tracks are played. The costumes range from standard uniform changes, maid outfits and Christmas suits, so they offer plenty of extra laughs.

While the story and fan service will be plenty to keep fans happy, it is the core rhythm game that will interest newcomers. It would have been nice to see a more diverse music list and a heavier story, but what is here will bring hours of entertainment. If you have a Playstation Vita and enjoy rhythm games, Persona 4: Dancing All Night has enough flair and originality to be worth a try. It just all works significantly better if you already have an affinity for Persona.




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