Condemn O.R. Condone – Persona 4: Dancing All Night (PlayStation Vita)


There are few series out there that can pull off warranting spin-off games, and even fewer that have spin-off games that are even worth checking out. However, the Persona series is no stranger to spin-offs, with it already being a spin-off of the Shin Megami Tensei series. That makes Persona 4: Dancing All Night the spin-off of a spin-off, and this time the series is tackling the dance genre.

If you’ve played Persona 4 Arena Ultimax or its prequel then you’ll understand the basic premise of this game: incredibly bizarre events occur that thrust our beloved Persona 4 characters into a situation where they must all band together for the common goal of thwarting whatever evil awaits them. The events that follow are usually incredible silly and serious simultaneously, but you go along with it because that’s what this series is all about. This time, though, there will be no fighting, but dancing.

The game takes place about a month after the epilogue of Persona 4, with Rise Kujikawa returning to the entertainment industry. Things don’t stay normal for long, though, as a strange internet video seemingly sucks the J-Pop idol group Kanamin Kitchen into an unknown world without a trace. Thus, Rise asks Yu Narukami to summon the old crew to reform the Investigation Team to try and save the pop idols and figure what the frig even happened.

So, what follows is lots and lots of character dialogue that the series is known for, with some dancing levels thrown in every now and then to remind you that this is, in fact, a game. The set up is very similar to Arena Ultimax, as you have a level tree with branching narratives that follow certain characters as the story progresses. The game doesn’t give you the option to choose which narrative you want to follow first, as it instead takes you along a set path and hops back to the beginning of a different side of the story once the current one ends.

Unfortunately, the story on hand here isn’t all that good, with an overall narrative that is overflowing cliches and characters that are constantly spelling every single slightly vague plot point out. I know that this game isn’t M-rated like Persona 4 is, but sometimes I was really wondering if the devs thought I was 3 years old with how much spoon-feeding they were doing with the story. Thankfully, the characters themselves are still mostly very likable and you can’t help but overlook the times where they fall into their “We can do it if we all work together!” speeches.

Out of all the different types of gameplay that the entire Megami Tensei series has tackled, Dancing All Night has to be the biggest departure yet. There are no true battles to speak of, instead we have brief dance levels where one of the characters dances along to a variety of different J-Pop songs while we hit button commands to the beat of the song. The gameplay is very simple, as button prompts begin from center of the screen then move towards the edges where you must press them when they reach the circles. The buttons you have to press will appear closest to the ones on the actual Vita, making it easier to understand what is going on despite the button prompts not moving in a linear path like say Dance Dance Revolution.

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Like in most music games, you get more points if you hit the notes at the perfect time. The more perfect notes you hit the higher your score will be, though if you miss too many times you’ll be booed off stage and will have to try again. If you do really well you have a chance to unleash “fever”, which summons another Persona character on the stage to boogie with you.

However, my biggest complaint about this gameplay is that it isn’t very challenging, and simply isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. No matter if you hit all the button commands or none of them, your dancer will never falter and the flashy and well-choreographed dance number will continue regardless. It also seems really strange your dance moves just kind of happen while the evil shadows watch on, as I would have much preferred a dance off. Imagine a Bust-A-Groove style game where you and someone else and an opponent are dancing against each other and you can summon your persona to throw off their rhythm? THAT would have been sweet! Instead, the only real use that the Personas have is that they cap off each song with a little solo of whatever instrument they have. It’s entertaining, but there was potential for so much more.

If you’re looking for a real challenge then hop into the game’s free play mode and play the songs on hard. Seriously, the difficulty bump from normal to hard is BIG and makes the campaign seem like a cake walk.

Still, as simple and easy as the standard gameplay may be, it’s still addicting and thankfully the soundtrack is able to pick up the slack most of the time with some really catchy tunes. There’s also something ridiculously intriguing about watching characters who have been through the messed up events of Persona 4 dance like complete idiots. Seriously, the Persona series is the only series that can pull off this kind of a spin-off without causing people to show up at Atlus HQ with pitchforks and torches. Bizarre is at the very root of this series’ DNA, and Dancing All Night is just another vein branching off from this wild and crazy heart.

Persona 4: Dancing All Night isn’t a game that I would recommend running out the door to get, but those out there who love dancing games and the Persona 4 cast they should definitely pick this up. The gameplay might not be anything revolutionary, but it can still be extremely addicting in short bursts. There’s also another very hefty story and dialogue to sift through, though it isn’t satisfying from a narrative perspective as much as it is from a character one. Overall, if you don’t know what the hell a Persona is this definitely isn’t the game for you, but hardcore fans with an open mind are sure to have a new obsession in the form of Dancing All Night.


Author: Mike Guarino

On the internet I am known as the one who operates everything on Condemn (OR) Condone. Some have questioned whether or not I am a wizard, but trust me, dear reader, I am but a man!

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