Persona 4: Dancing All Night

It’s been forever since I last wrote about a game, but I picked this up to tide me over until P3D/P5D and I feel the overwhelming need to vent about it lol. (I actually type out posts like this all the time, but I usually delete them after rereading and wondering what the hell I was thinking)

Disclaimer: I played the JP version and I don’t know what was changed for the English release. I don’t have any of the DLC or updates because my Vita is on NA store.

I don’t outright spoil any plot points, but depending on your definition of “spoilers” you might not want to read this if you haven’t played the game.

My first observation was that this game is nigh unplayable at max brightness (notes blend into the background and it’s just chaos). Now, this isn’t that bad because you can lower the brightness in the settings. But it defaults to max and the settings don’t have explanations, so I didn’t even realize it meant background video brightness until I saw YT videos with dimmed BGs… Other than that, the gameplay is fine. I wish there was an offset setting, though I know it’s not a big deal on a handheld. I hope Atlus knows that it’ll be mandatory for PS4 versions though.

The personas whipping out musical instruments at the end if you do well is really cool. I like that a lot. Too bad P3D/P5D don’t have it (although I wouldn’t want to be the person that has to come up with one for Johanna either). To be honest, after Sega acquired Atlus I wanted the next Persona dancing games to be Project Diva-style, but I guess that was too much to hope for.

The scoring is weird as hell. The pseudo-health bar only affects early fails; you can reach the end of the song and still get Not Clear if your performance wasn’t good enough–but this has nothing to do with score. A Not Clear can easily have a much higher score than a Brilliant with the same settings, which is mind-boggling to me. Speaking of score, I wish they would’ve used a more varied grading system, because when everything lower than perfect is all the same “Brilliant”, it’s hard to figure out which song needs practice the most.

I disliked how you have to play certain songs on Easy/Normal to get the platinum, but at least it’s just a minor time sink. The platinum itself is hilariously easy since you don’t even have to play on All Night difficulty and it doesn’t take that long to buy all the items if you use handicaps.

The story was… OK. The first few chapters are a formulaic slog. Honestly it didn’t get interesting until the second-last chapter, and in the end it was all pretty predictable. I’m obviously no stranger to VNs but it just seemed really tedious to go through. It’s weird because this game is about idols and I love idols, but I could not get into these idols (aside from Rise who I already loved). For those that don’t know, the idol group introduced in this game is called Kanamin Kitchen and their gimmick is that they refer to themselves as different types of edible meat (because the industry preys on them). Yeah. Oh, and their surnames are all directional puns (真下, 右島, 左山, 上杉, 中原) but they don’t actually correlate to anything.

Anyway, idols. First there’s Kanami (CV: Kotobuki Minako) from Rise’s s-link in P4, who is now the center of this group, represents beef, and wears McDonald’s colours. Why did they name an idol group after one member? Isn’t that awkward as hell for the other 4? Also, for some reason, her hair changes in both style and COLOUR between her casual style and her performing style. I guess it could be a wig, but… why?

Next is Tamami (CV: Uchida Aya) who is overly aggressive and represents chicken. I was surprised to see her voiced by Ucchi cause she sounds pretty mean, but in retrospect, she does have the same hair colour as Kotori, and her outfit is Bokuima colours… Representing lamb is Tomoe (CV: Honna Youko), the typical mature/sexy type, and pork is Sumomo (CV: Omigawa Chiaki) the loli. Last is the prince-type Nozomi (CV: Ishihara Kaori) who represents horse meat. These 4 side characters all face their shadows the same way the P4 team did, but there’s no build-up to any of it and I found myself not caring about any of them.

I’m honestly shocked that Atlus was able to add 5 idol characters that don’t appeal to me at all. At least Rise is still good (and dancing Nanako is the purest of angels).

The music festival in the story is called “Ai meets Kizuna”, which got a chuckle out of me. I was definitely impressed by the number of CGs for such a short story campaign. The 3D models were also very nice (maybe the small screen helps?). Now I’m kind of glad that P3D and P5D won’t have a story mode, since this one really did not impress. Hopefully the character commus will be fun!

The music was great, but when is Persona music ever not great? Now I’m going to have P4 music stuck in my head until P3D/P5D come out…

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