The Persona series made its first foray into the rhythm game genre with Persona 4: Dancing All Night released in 2015. The fanservice-turned-video game was upbeat and fun, despite being bogged down in an attempt at a cohesive narrative (i.e. fighting shadows with dance moves). Not to be left out in the cold, Atlus gathered up Persona 3 and Persona 5 to undergo to the same treatment. Mind-amplifying pistols and treasures have been traded in for slick choreography and silly accessories, but does it work well?
The new Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection comes with Persona 3: Dancing In Moonlight, Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight, and a digital PS4 copy of Persona 4: Dancing All Night. The following review will encompass the P3 and P5 titles only, as P4:DAN is simply a PS4 version of the original Vita game.
There are many things that feel the same with both games, but several more pieces that are thankfully different. One such change is the story. In P4:DAN, characters from the game were literally using dance moves to defeat enemies and uncover the existence of an evil shadow taking over a concert. The plot was a slog to get through and is luckily completely dumped in the sequels.
Instead, Dancing in Moonlight and Dancing in Starlight decide to just run with the silliness, plopping the characters in this new set of circumstances with the flimsiest of reasons. This works perfectly well for the rhythm game aspect of each title and is greatly appreciated. Rather than having a set story with chapters, content is divvied between characters as ‘Social’ events. Watching these conversations between the main characters and their team can unlock accessories, buffs, or debuffs. Completing songs with these newly acquired items will in turn unveil more Social interactions with characters and so forth. That being said, each interaction is fully voiced and are quite fun to run through. They are fun, lighthearted, and very much retain the charm of Social Link conversations carried in the original games.
Gameplay wise, nothing has changed much from Dancing All Night. The rhythm portion is a six-button layout with the thumbsticks incorporated to hit Scratches and Fever Time rings, where characters will launch into a dual dance to rack up higher points. The only change in this perspective from the P4 dancing game is the buff and debuff system. Extra support or challenge modifiers can be unlocked from Social Links and enabled per song. For example, players can set the incoming notes to be slow moving, which will add a bonus percentage to their final score on the track. It’s a fun extra that makes tackling a song in the higher difficulties a little more manageable.
The most important part of the game has also seen a vast improvement: the track list. Persona 4: Dancing All Night garnered a lot of negative feedback due to it being bogged down in multiple remixes of the same songs, tampering a lot of the variety. Thankfully that has changed with both the P3 and P5 iterations, with both titles boasting a healthy song run with several remixed versions. Each song generally has a set character to dance to it, but players eventually get the ability to choose and accessorize certain partners to cut a rug with during the tune. There are also a few music video entries and costumes that serve as unabashed fanservice that players may enjoy.
Surprisingly, it feels like the music from Persona 3 fits a lot better in the rhythm game trappings than Persona 5. The jazzy, smooth jams of Persona 5 are oddly ‘translated’ for use in gameplay and resulted in a lot of frustrating resets to learn the unusual beat cadence. Persona 3 however, fits perfectly with its hip-hop soundtrack and the remixes make for more than a few ear worms. This will ultimately be up to player preference, but as far as music offerings are concerned with Moonlight and Starlight, Moonlight carries the more solid track list for playthroughs.
The games also suffer from the same annoying issue that P4:DAN had, in that the characters will repeat the same lines of dialogue multiple times within a single song. It’s not a terribly big deal, but it gets quite annoying hearing Mitsuru say “Not bad!” over and over again during a track. All in all, Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight are simple and fun. They’re not the best rhythm games out there, but they are shameless in their fanservice and feel like titles meant to capture a much more casual audience.
For those on the fence about which to pick, Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight has the more solid soundtrack, while Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight tended to have the funnier Social Links. Whatever choice, they both use the same input system, so there’s nothing missed as far as gameplay is concerned. The Endless Night Collection is a solid pick for those that want to enjoy both games and haven’t had a chance to play Persona 4: Dancing All Night on the Vita (or just want to experience it on PS4 instead).
Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection final score: 4/5
Persona 3: Dancing In Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight will release on December 4. Both games will release on Playstation 4 for $59.99 and Playstation Vita for $39.99 respectively. The PS4 version of Persona 4: Dancing All Night may only be purchased as part of the Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection for $99.99.