Persona 4: Dancing All Night (PS Vita) Preview

By Nikola Suprak 16.09.2015 1

Review for Persona 4: Dancing All Night on PS Vita

Persona has really become Atlus's version of the Mario games as of late. Like the iconic plumber, there really seems like no genre the series is afraid to tackle. After successfully spawning a dungeon crawling spin-off and a couple of fighting games, the developer decided that it hadn't really tackled a weird enough genre for an RPG to spin off into. Thus, enters Persona 4: Dancing All Night, a rhythm game exclusive to the Vita, and set to be released at the end of September. It feels a bit odd jumping in for the first time, especially for a long time fan of the Persona series. It is unlike anything that has ever been done before, and at the same time feels oddly familiar. After finally getting hands on with the anxiously awaited Persona 4 spin-off, it can be confirmed that this almost perfectly captures the feel of a more standard Persona 4 release, even if this time around the only thing Yu Narukami is battling is a bad case of boogie fever.

The game takes place shortly after the events of Persona 4 Golden. Rise has since returned to her life as an idol, and Yu and the others quickly get roped into a case involving a missing member of a popular J-Pop group and a strange video said to transport people to the "other side." Think sort of The Ring if after the girl crawled out of the well she broke into an impromptu dance number. There is this interesting campiness behind some of the scenes, but at the same time this definitely feels like a very real story in line with the other stuff in the Persona universe. There is the same charm and solid dialogue that the series is known for, and the opening premise is a really intriguing one. The story segments put around the dancing seen so far are certainly very meaty, coming with long portions of plot and development that actually builds the story. This isn't some throwaway tale tacked on as an excuse to connect the songs together, and it will be interesting to see how this story unfolds.

Screenshot for Persona 4: Dancing All Night on PS Vita

The rhythm segments seem fairly straightforward in execution, making it quite easy to jump in almost immediately. Button prompts move out towards the edges of the screen, and when they overlap with the target area, pressing the indicated button will reward points based on how close it was to the target. There are six different target areas for each of the different buttons, requiring the use of three direction keys and three shape buttons. There are a couple of other tricks to mix things up, including prompts to hold down a button for a specific length of time and some to press two buttons at once. The system works very well, and although the handful of songs played so far on easy are all fairly simplistic, it will be interesting to see how the challenge ramps up on the harder two difficulties.

One minor concern is that it can become difficult to keep track of the button prompts during the more rapid moving segments of the song. They all move out from the centre of the screen to one of six different corners, and it gets very easy to lose one amidst all the chaos. It becomes almost necessary to hold the screen back a bit further to see the action a bit better, and even then a note or two is likely to slip by on the first couple playthroughs of the song. With the notes dragging the player's eyes so many directions at once, it is also nearly impossible to follow along with whatever dance the character is performing on-screen. The eyes are drawn to edges of the screen naturally due to the location of the button prompts, making all the fun stuff occurring in the centre difficult to follow. Luckily, the developer seemed to realise this as it has included an option to immediate re-watch the scene after the performance for those that were hoping to see all of their favorite Persona 4 characters dance their hearts out.

Screenshot for Persona 4: Dancing All Night on PS Vita

Even with these couple of minor issues noticeable from almost the beginning, there is no denying the infectious replayability of the title. With the exception of the aforementioned issues, the early results of the gameplay are extremely promising. The timing is executed brilliantly with the rhythm of the song, and button inputs are very responsive and accurate - two of the biggest pitfalls of many rhythm releases. There are several songs, even from the first handful of ones the game offers, that basically beg to be replayed, and the simple nature of the gameplay leads to the urge of trying the same song again, but this time doing it even better. It looks like a perfect title for playing a couple of songs at a time, and then coming back later and trying several more. This is the kind of title rhythm fans can really get lost in, offering up a solid core concept around Persona 4 characters and songs.

While unable to get a look at the full track list just yet, the early songs included are fantastic. The tunes are catchy, with the best ones being downright infectious and almost demand an instant replay just to get that foot-tapping goodness playing again. The track selection is absolutely key for any rhythm game, and the early tracks pass this crucial test with absolutely no difficulty. There is some really nice diversity from song to song, to the point where each one sounds unique and it doesn't feel like playing through endless variations of the same track. There is some of that, of course, but it isn't a focus of Persona 4: Dancing All Night and, for the most part, it cranks out a great variety of interesting tunes with ease.

Screenshot for Persona 4: Dancing All Night on PS Vita

Along with the sound, the visuals are excellent. The title screen has this wonderful '70s-movie aesthetic, preparing for all the delightful camp to follow. The colours and visuals really pop on the Vita's screen, and while a little bit of the interesting aesthetic from the menu screen is missing a bit from the rest of the game, the overall visuals are very appealing. The dancing is a bit dull at times, and while the game is great to look at from a technical standpoint, a lot of the dances sort of blend together and don't have that same character from a design standpoint. This may (and hopefully will) because less of an issue when more songs are played with a greater range of characters, but as it stands the dances themselves aren't terribly interesting to look at just yet.

Those looking for a robust adventure are also in luck, as Persona 4: Dancing All Night certainly comes complete with its fair share of content. In addition to the pleasingly meaty story mode, there are plenty of free dances to jump into and participate in with multiple levels of difficulty to each one. There is also a store where upgrades and new outfits can be purchased, in addition to a variety of in-game medals that can be earned for completing certain tasks. It is hard to say right now how long this whole thing will last, but there is certainly a lot to see and all of it is worth checking out at least once.

Screenshot for Persona 4: Dancing All Night on PS Vita

Final Thoughts

There is much to be excited about for Persona 4: Dancing All Night. Even from early impressions, it is very easy to tell this isn't some lazy rhythm game with Persona imagery draped over it to sell it to fans of the series. This is a really competent rhythm game at its core that has the added benefit of everyone's favorite Persona characters and a storyline that feels right at home (if a bit campy) in the Persona universe. Slick gameplay, an excellent smattering of tracks, and vibrant visuals - what's not to like? It will be hard waiting to see all the secrets the game has in store, but this certainly looks like a title worth waiting up all night for.

Developer

Dingo Inc.

Publisher

Atlus

Genre

Rhythm

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I want it!

I play games... sometimes.

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