Review: Persona 4: Dancing All Night (PlayStation Vita)

Persona 4: Dancing All Night: Official GBAtemp Review

PlayStation Vita 3,021 views 5 likes 13 comments
Reviewed by Michael Willis, posted Sep 28, 2015, last updated Sep 28, 2015
Sep 28, 2015
  • Release Date (NA): September 29, 2015
  • Release Date (EU): November 6, 2015
  • Release Date (JP): June 25, 2015
  • Publisher: Atlus
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Genres: Rhythm
  • ESRB Rating: Teen
  • PEGI Rating: Twelve years and older
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
Persona 4: Dancing All Night is a rhythm game developed for the PlayStation Vita and is yet another spin-off in the long-running Persona series, which is subset to the Shin Megami Tensei series. This spin-off takes place after Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, which is another spin-off that features the cast of Persona 4.
Michael Willis

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Dancing to the rhythm!

Persona 4 is still probably my favorite game of all time. I was a latecomer to the series and didn't really get into it until Persona 3 Portable hit the PSP in North America. From then on, I was hooked. That same year, immediately after I finished up P3P, I purchased Persona 4 and fell even more in love with the series. The characters, the story, the music -- it had everything for me. Then came the dreadful wait for Persona 5...

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To keep us busy in the meantime, Atlus has released several spin-offs in the series. Two fighting games featuring the casts of both Persona 3 and 4, a new dungeon crawler from the team behind the Etrian Odyssey series, and a...dancing game..? The moment this game was announced, many fans immediately dismissed its existence, including me! But that was a long time ago and I've gotten over that! 

The problem I have with these spin-offs is the fact that every character's personalities have become simplified in a way. What I mean is, the characters in the spin-offs don't feel like the same characters from the games. For example, Chie Satonaka is just a kung fu, meat lover and that's just her throughout the entire game. For fans that have played the original game, they would know that there is more to her character than just that. Unfortunately, that complaint carries over to this game's story as well. What's that? This game has a story? It sure does! It's over 12 hours long too. Time to start reading!

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Story time with Margaret!

A month has passed since the epilogue of Persona 4 Golden, peace has returned to Inaba. Yu Narukami, the protagonist from the original game, is now living in the city and decides to meet up with his friend Rise Kujikawa, an idol returning to the world of entertainment. Together with the rest of their friends in Inaba, the group plans to perform in one of Rise's performances. Around this time a strange rumor has spread around the city. Rumor has it that if a strange video is viewed at exactly 12:00AM on a certain website, the viewer will be transported to the 'other side' never to wake up again. Things become even more hectic when the members of "Kanamin Kitchen," Rise's junior idol Kanami Mashita's group, mysteriously disappears. This incident causes Yu to summon his friends and reform the Investigation Team to solve this new mystery.

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The adventure begins as the members of the Investigation Team are pulled in the world of the "Midnight Stage" which looks similar to the "TV World" but is a completely different world that carries the rule where no one can see each other and where everyone is safe. But not all is well, Shadows, creatures born from humans that carry with them negative human emotions, also roam this world. Making things worse, these shadows cannot be defeated with the Investigation Team's Personas due to the rules of this strange world. The only way the group hopes to stand a chance is through a dance battle! Together, the group battle the shadows, rescue the missing idols thrown into this world and further solve the mystery of the Midnight Stage.

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Often times, I found the story to be really slow in the pacing department. It takes a fairly long time until the first dance section. From that point on, the game really gets going. Honestly, I'm not really a fan of the visual novel storytelling here but it moves a lot faster than the Arena games do. Maybe it could have been told a lot better, but I'm not really expecting much from a rhythm game. It serves its purpose.

Just Imagine The Step!

The rhythm sections are really where this game shines. The gameplay is extremely simple, all that's required is to tap the notes once it hits one of the corresponding target areas. The left side of the target area corresponds with the direction buttons, up, left, and down, while the right side corresponds to the triangle, circle, and X buttons. Once the note overlaps one of the Target Areas, press the corresponding buttons to break that note. Seems simple enough, but the game also throws a few curve balls as well. The Hype Gauge appears at the top of the screen and is a measure of the audience's excitement levels. If you end up missing more than a few Notes, the Hype Gauge will drop affecting the results in the end. If the Hype Gauge completely drops, it's game over and the stage automatically ends. There are also two other Notes as well that add more to the game, the Unison Notes and the Hold Notes.

Unison Notes are colored purple and are stretched left to right. They are broken by pressing the two connected buttons at the same time. Hold Notes are colored green and are broken by holding down the corresponding button and releasing it the second the Note reaches the target.

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Fever Time allows for the Hype Gauge to be increased more easily, and decrease less. It even allows the partner character to come on stage and dance as well. To activate Fever Time, players will need to "scratch" three Fever Rings. In order to do that, they will need to flick either the left or right stick whenever a Scratch Ring or Fever Ring overlap with the Target Area. Thankfully, missing either one does not affect the score at the end but it's better to grab the Fever Rings as soon as they appear since they only appear a limited number of times.

At the end of the dance, the result screen is displayed. If successful, the amount of money gained corresponds to the difficulty and clear grade. The money earned from dances can be used to shop for a various number of things such as items, costumes, and accessories. Items are used to help players during free dance. For example; Assault Signal allows the Hype Gauge to increase more easily during Fever Time. Costumes are used to customized your favorite characters in many different types of outfits. This game does not joke around when it comes to costumes. There are so many to buy in the initial game and a load more coming via DLC. Accessories are also available to be placed on characters such as glasses, headphones and many more.

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Persona 4: Dancing All Night can be seen as a love letter for fans of the series. The music is phenomenal, the graphics are very colorful and crisp, and the amount of ways to customize a character is impressive. While it is a bit disappointing that there are only a small number of songs compared to other games in the genre, Dancing All Night has a ton of content to keep players hooked for a long time. 

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Don't Miss It, Baby!

Verdict
Pros
+ Incredible music
+ The costumes and accessories are really fun to play with
+ Looks amazing
Cons
- Story is told visual novel style and can be a bit boring
- Only about 27 songs which is extremely low in comparison to other games in the genre
9 Presentation
This game is oozing with style. The main menu greets players with a lovely tone and stylish presentation. The character art featured in the story is crisp, vibrant, and overall, beautiful. It doesn't stop there either, the characters featured in the rhythm sections are also visually impressive. It's amazing how good this game looks and feels.
8 Gameplay
Free Dance is where I spent most of my time in the game. The rhythm sections are incredibly easy to pick up meaning newcomers get right into the action without feeling too stressed out. The game does feel a lot easier compared to the Hatsune Miku series but don't let that stop you from giving this a spin!
8 Lasting Appeal
A 12-hour long story mode, tons of accessories and costumes to collect, and many songs to unlock. There's also many more songs and costumes coming in the form of DLC later this year to keep you playing for a while.
8
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Persona 4: Dancing All Night is an amazing rhythm game with incredible music that even had me singing along. While I didn't really like the storytelling or the low amount of songs in the game, I still enjoyed my time spent with the game.
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