Wednesday 4 November 2015

Persona 4: Dancing All Night Review (PS Vita)

Persona 4 has certainly turned out to be a flexible franchise for Atlus. In the last few years we have had wide ranging spin offs from the core JRPG game. It started with fighter Persona 4 Arena and then the Etrian Odyssey crossover Persona Q. Now we have another genre to add to the mix with this rhythm action game. 

Dancing All Night is told to the player by Margaret (from the Velvet Room in Persona 4), and takes places about a month after Persona 4. It’s a very strange story (even for Persona), and revolves around the idea that Persona’s pop icon Rise is putting on a show with the other cast of the game being invited along as backing dancers. It gets weirder. 

Soon another female group named Kanamin Kitchen (each member is named after a type of meat), start going missing and the team are drawn back into the strange Midnight world. Only this time it’s the Midnight Stage not the Midnight Channel. They soon find that they can’t attack their enemies as violence is banned and all the shadows that inhabit the world are tied together with a strange yellow ribbon. The ribbon brain washes them and traps them into the rhythm of a strange and eerie song that keeps playing. Of course the only way to break the spell is to fight back with music and dancing.

We completely love the fact that everything is played straight with all the characters taking this deadly seriously. It’s completely insane and entirely better for it. After a slow start the story rolls along at a good pace and there are a ton of excellent anime cut scenes implemented to draw you in (though I’m not sure we needed to keep seeing down Rise’s top at every opportunity in them).

If you don’t want to go through the story the game can also be played out as individual songs which when completed unlock tougher tracks and other bonuses such as dance partners. It’s a good way to practice while also allowing for quick hits of fun which suits the Vita very well.

The presentation and structure is excellent so it’s a good thing the actual game underneath it is strong as well. The action takes place with one of the heroes in the centre of the screen dancing and stars flying out towards the left and right edges. Players then have to hit the corresponding buttons that they pass in time to the beat. This utilises three of the buttons on each side of the Vita and gets pretty hectic as you progress. 

Notes soon begin to change to require more complex inputs with buttons needing to be held and pressed at the same time as well. There are also extra points and a ‘fever’ circle that shoots out from time to time that requires the tilt of an analogue stick in order to hit it as it fills the circle surrounding the play area. Filling the fever gauge allows for special events to happen at certain points in the song and adds up to big points.

It’s a solid and fun system and the notes hit precisely with no input lag. The graphics behind the scene are also excellent and keep things lively. The music itself is a collection of various types of Japanese style music from pop to dance and a hint of metal and there’s nothing here that’s going to ready grate on you with the best songs being rather good. 

Overall, Persona 4: Dancing all Night is a good rhythm game in its own right. It obviously has a fairly niche market to aim at and I’m not sure we were all crying out for ‘Persona does rhythm action’ but now that it has we’re rather glad it did. It’s humorous, breezy fun and suits the Vita perfectly. It might not be the next Gitaroo man or Ouenden but it’s certainly something that fans should enjoy and it’s clearly had a ton of effort put into getting just right. Newcomers will likely be completely lost though.

Overall 8/10

Colour Blind Issues - No
Review Code - Yes

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