I’d like to start things off by explaining that I’ve never played a Persona game before (visual novels), let alone any type of rhythm game aside from Guitar Hero, so when I heard about Persona 4: Dancing All Night I was initially uncaring. Released in Japan on June 25th, 2015, Atlus and Bandai Namco announced that this dancing spin-off of Persona 4 would be coming to North America on September 29th and PAL regions on November 6th. Though it’s a shame that PAL players will have to wait so long (or import), this Canadian got his hands on a copy and has to admit that the game is quite fun but has its ups and downs.
Persona 4 Dancing All Night: Playstation Vita
Publisher: Atlus, BANDAI NAMCO
Release Date: 29 September 2015
Price: $49.99 [Disclosure: Game copy supplied by Developer/Publisher]
Considering the fact that I have never played a Persona game (I might just now), the story was quite enjoyable; It had plenty of twists and turns and kept you guessing. The characters were each unique and had their own little quirks but some of the voice actors didn’t seem to understand the role or dialogue too well and it came off as disjointed and laughable at certain points. Other than this, the characters’ design and models looked fantastic, suiting the theme and overall tone of the series. It’s meant to be fun and express each character’s unique qualities, through their clothing and dance routines.
Yu is a take-charge kind of guy but cares for his friends which are expressed through his dancing (the player can see the choreography through the pre-play menu). Sure, there is fan service in here where the costumes and dancing moves come in but it seems to suit certain dancers perfectly. Rise is confident with her dancing and what it means to be an idol, it’s clear that she teaches the rest of the crew with her assertive yet seductive dancing. It’s also clear right from the get-go who these people are.
Even if the player hasn’t played previous Persona games, what the game does well is, it enables them to jump into the story of the gang right off the bat and understand their personalities. The game also introduced new people to the series, including the idols of Kanamin Kitchen and the problems that plague their everyday life. As the group is transported to this “other world” they encounter the insecurities of each girl as this malevolent being taunts them along the way.
Now to talk about the main feature of the game, the dancing. Players utilize the outside buttons of each respective 4-set buttons, as well as the joysticks/touchscreen. Notes appear in a variety of different ways from the middle towards an outside ring on the screen, requiring you to hit it when it falls in line. This variety of notes include regular, sustained notes, and paired notes in which you press the opposite sides’ buttons together. Another neat feature, but not necessary for succeeding in a stage, is the joysticks, which produce a scratch (DJ term). These scratches help by getting the crowd excited and back to cheering you on to success. You flick the joysticks in any direction in order to achieve these scratches or, if you’re totally badass, you use the touchscreen on the front and pretend to be an actual DJ. The only frustrating thing about this type of gameplay is that it doesn’t matter how many notes you hit, it matters how pumped the crowd is by the end.
By successfully hitting these notes and achieving Greats or Perfects, and also hitting the scratches, you will bring the crowd to your side. If the crowd isn’t amped by the end of the song, due to, say, mess-ups near the end of what is otherwise a perfect playthrough, you’ll still fail the song. This can be really frustrating for the player as they felt they did a good job up until the very ending, understanding what gets the crowd going is essential to the gameplay. Build up enough energy and you can produce Fever and have a dancing sequence with an AI partner of your choice. The choreography for the dancing is really well done and suits each dancer (back to how they express their personalities), so to see these little Bond sequences is quite entertaining. If you don’t hit the notes or achieve enough energy for Fever, however, you won’t be able to see these sequences. Trying to get a perfect combo well get you a King Crazy!! score, something that tantalizes the player to want to achieve.
Normal difficulty should be a chore for people not familiar with these types of games, let alone Hard mode. After buying all the Items in Shopping you will unlock All Night difficulty, which is one of the hardest modes in any rhythm game I’ve encountered. This is definitely a challenge for the best of the best out there who are in tune with their inner rhythm, but with all the visuals in the gameplay, it can get so chaotic that you lose track of where the notes begin and the cinematics in the back end. Everything is so colourful and can really throw you off.
One thing that is left desired in this dancing title is some form of multiplayer, whether co-op or versus. This would have jumped the game up on the scoring board because with multiplayer compatibility players would have enjoyed this game even more. The developers could have included a cooperative mode for players who want to play the tracks while alternating notes. Also, if a versus was implemented then players would have been able to compete online against one another, just to see who can achieve a higher score than the other, somewhat like how Guitar Hero operated.
Another interesting game element is the costumes for each of the characters. Many of them that are included are from previous games while others are just plain risqué. This adds for more replay value as you try to scrounge up enough money in order to get them all, along with accessories. The accessories are quite dull though, they’re almost the same items used for every character, adding very little variety other than different glasses or sunglasses. There are also items that were mentioned earlier that can add unique twists to the gameplay, such as reversing the notes or dramatically slowing them down. This can add to the replay value, and also help to get money faster as you apply Effects that make the song more difficult.
The Trophies for the title are pretty straightforward, nothing is really difficulty based but some are time-consuming to achieve. It’ll take some grinding in order to get enough money in order to buy everything from the shop, and even then players will have to meet certain criteria in order to unlock a buyable item (Ex. use this item in a song in order to unlock another item in the shop). Otherwise, these shouldn’t be a hassle as none of them is difficulty-based.
In conclusion, this game will have you Dancing All Night because it is fun and you won’t realize the time going by. With difficulty settings for all types of players, even those who are rhythmically-challenged, you won’t feel like you’re being overwhelmed; unless, of course, the colours and dancing sequences don’t disorient you to miss a note. The characters’ designs and models look fantastic, but the music score could have been better.
The addition of some form of cooperative or versus multiplayer would have made the game amazing, but sadly players only compete through the leaderboards. The costumes and items in shopping were a nice touch but the accessories were bland and repetitive. The Trophies are achievable but can be quite grinding and annoying, having to keep track of which Bond Fevers have been done with who.
Persona 4 Dancing All Night
- Good story with lots of twists and turns, good exploration of different insecurities
- Great costumes ranging from previous games’ outfits to the wackiest to the fan-service
- Beautiful character designs and models, as well as well-drawn visuals
- Fun dancing choreography and tracks
- Trophies are straight-forward and to the point
- No form of cooperative or versus multiplayer
- Can get disorienting with colourful visuals and flurry of notes
- Poor voicework at many parts
- Needs more tracks and less remixing of the same ones