If I had one guilty pleasure when it came to video games it would most likely have to be rhythm games. I never had much talent in the ways of music so I never had much to do with the musical arts, opting to hit things really hard instead. When Rockband and the like first started coming out I found them intriguing but I’m an 80’s man myself so sometimes song choices were thin. Then DJ Hero came out and I enjoyed that far more than I should have… or at least until DJ Hero 2 changed up the formula and ruined it. Then the entire music empire crashed and I watched GameStop try to sell entire Rockband kits for only thirty dollars. A number of games using synthetic singers and idols (the Japanese idol craze being something I still don’t understand) have come out in recent years but only in Japan. While I prefer the music in Japanese I find it difficult to play something I have to figure out by smashing buttons. Hatsune Miku eventually made it to America and that was great, F2 didn’t seem as good to me but it was something.
Persona 4: Dancing All Night is kind of a bizarre mash up of rhythm game and RPG. Make no mistake that it is a great game and possibly one of the best on Vita for some time. Not that this is the first time Persona made a bizarre sequel but anything is better than Persona 4 Arena. Persona 4 Golden and the series in general are well known as an action RPG that has been around for many years. So lending its characters out for a game like this seems like kind of an odd move but it works much better than expected. The game isn’t much to look at but to be fair the idea is to listen not to watch. Much of the game, whether gameplay or story sections, is made of the same dozen backdrops and characters all have the same few base appearances. There are a few animated cut scenes that bring me back to the old Persona but they are few and far between. In gameplay everything looks virtually the same with a semi-different background and a slightly different dance but I didn’t really pay much attention to that.
The story is alright, much like Persona 4 Arena it is kind of pieced together in order to add more characters and explain why they can’t do things like normal. While interesting it wasn’t exactly hard to figure out what was going to happen next. Until the end at least where they pull a surprise villain out of nowhere just to throw off my streak and piss me off. I don’t want to spoil the end but unless that is supposed to be a well-known thing in Japan I call bullshit on pulling that final boss out of thin air. There is a lot of talking in between actual gameplay and it is kind of padded out but it still serves some purpose and turns out really well in the end. I wish it had a Japanese option though but the English wasn’t as bad as usual dubs. There are a number of characters but it really doesn’t make a difference except for in the case of costumes. Costumes are interesting; especially for female characters… for reasons I shouldn’t have to explain. The most disappointing thing though is how there is almost no Personas. I realize the plot kind of wrote them out but still they could have had a bigger part.
Like most rhythm games the basic gameplay is simple to get down, it’s not until the difficult levels where it gets ridiculous. The basic gameplay in this seems easier than most since it doesn’t even use all the buttons on the controller. Near the end it became more difficult mainly because it just sped up more not that it actually made things more difficult. I also had trouble with notices covering up my next note from time to time but it can’t be helped. It wasn’t until I unlocked the nightmare difficulty that it mixed things up to an almost alarming level. There are various mods and help items which you only have to buy one time which is nice. Some of the difficulty mods I found almost completely unusable. One mod specifically that made all the notes invisible but increased money by 800%; a huge payout if you can memorize the entire thing… or match it on YouTube but one mistake and you’re screwed. It became unnecessary though because I was able to platinum the entire game in only two days with little grinding beyond a couple of much easier mods.
The bulk of the game is the music obviously and it is really good, a kind of electronic remix of a lot of past songs from the series and some new ones, around 27 total I believe without DLC. Not bad considering they all had to be made from scratch basically. While many of them are catchy I couldn’t help but feel they never reached their full potential. Many of the songs I kept wondering when they were going to let the beat drop and just really tear loose but none of them ever did. There are a few songs on the list that appear twice with slightly different beats which is an easy cop-out and I really hope the developers didn’t really think that would skate by unnoticed. So really the number of playable tracks is probably closer to 20 than 30. I assume most tracks were done by the same person because most of them sound the same if not very similar. A few kind of break away from the pack and are more interesting for it.
The major difference between this and Miku is that you can’t switch singers in the Dancing All Night. The main singer is fixed and even the backup dancers are fixed for the most part. This seems like a missed connection since the character isn’t even doing the singing, just a lot of annoying talk in the background that just interrupts the song. There isn’t any kind of creating mode either since most songs are so tightly choreographed there is no possible room for anything else. In the end though it is still a good game, maybe great as far as rhythm and Vita games go; it also works perfectly fine on the PSTV so I was able to get some use out of that and bug all my neighbors at the same time. It is kind of short as games go and would be shorter if the dialogue wasn’t so obnoxiously long. If you enjoy the music though then you can get plenty from just that and mods; it’s just too bad these characters won’t be making it to Persona 5. I wanted to put up some of my own footage by Atlus nailed my Youtube account faster than I thought possible so this trailer will have to do.