I realized this morning that I’ve posted on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and now today on Friday. This is in stark contrast to my announcement that I’d be posting three times a week (Mon/Wed/Fri), but in my defense I thought yesterday was Wednesday. You’ll have to forgive me, in my unemployed state the days have been running together. In light of that today’s post is going to be slightly different, as I am out of schedule and a little burnt out on all the reviewing. Rest assured I’ll be back on Monday with another review, and I’ll be moving into first impressions of the Fall 2015 season as well. For today though I’d like to move into a first impression of…
Persona 4 Dancing All Night
As you may have guessed from the music posts I’ve made, I am a fan of rhythm games. For me there’s something hypnotic about pushing buttons to the sound of a beat, and rhythm games offer quite a bit of challenge in their scaling difficulty modes. From the vocaloid game “Project Diva f” on my Vita, to “Love Live School Idol Festival” on my phone, I love the ability to listen and play along with music. This is why I was so excited for “Persona 4 Dancing All Night” (P4DAN) when it was announced. My excitement was further compounded by my history with this particular video game franchise.
Persona 4 itself is a game I have covered, and you’ll remember from that post how much I adore that game. In terms of my best games of all time it rates very close to Chrono Trigger, and if I actually sat down and debated with myself it might come out as my number one game. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the characters of Persona in a different title, but this is the first one I’ve picked up outside of the original series. The prospect of my favorite characters, in one of my favorite genre’s, with some of my favorite video game music was WAY too good to pass up. It’s as if Santa and the Easter Bunny came together on Halloween during my childhood to create a mega-holiday.
Now that I’ve spent two paragraphs gushing about my anticipation for the game, let’s dive into the question on all your minds. Does it stack up to the anticipation? Well dear readers the simple answer to that is, “yes so far it does”. Remember this is a first impression so I can’t say for certain whether the whole game stacks up to the hype, but so far I am enjoying it. The story mode plays out like a visual novel, though admittedly more like a visual novel of an 80’s dance movie. Due to the inability to change the voices to Japanese, we are treated to some very cringe inducing dialogue about “expressing yourself through dance” and “being true to yourself”. Decent messages I suppose, but delivered in a way that would only fit in a movie for teenagers. To be fair I wasn’t expecting much in that department. After all what other story could there be with a game about using dance to save people from a Borg-like ribbon? Allow me to explain.
SPOILERS! The story, so far as I have seen it, is par for the course of the Persona games. Rise (best girl) is on her comeback tour with an idol group called Kanamin Kitchen. The rest of the investigation team from Persona 4 are going to be backup dancers for Rise in the upcoming Love Meets Bonds festival (LMB). During an practice run of the event Yu (protagonist), Naoto, and Rise come across a rumor about an online video that plays at midnight and makes the viewers vanish. Weary about any midnight media urban legend (see Persona 4) the three investigate this rumor only to find it true. Rise is called by a malevolent voice to join a collective bound by a strange ribbon. This ribbon-bound collection of shadows shares the will of the voice, and plays a song that saps the strength and will from the listener.
In a twist fit only for a rhythm game, only the dancing of Yu saves the three would be victims from their Borg-like assimilation. After his dance his Persona is released playing a bass guitar that destroys the ribbon, and frees the shadows bound by it. Early on the group finds out that in the world they were sucked into, (The Midnight Stage), violence isn’t allowed and they’re rebuked when they try to summon their Persona’s for fighting purposes. This is the reason they give for the “combat dancing” portion of the game. After the dance they are harshly sent back to the real world, but not before Rise detects a member of Kanamin Kitchen in the world of the Midnight Stage. With another mystery on their hands the investigation team of Inaba reforms to find out who is kidnapping idols, and what exactly the Midnight Stage is.
In terms of the actual rhythm portion of the game, the controls are intuitive enough to be interesting. Instead of using the full compliment of buttons you only use ↑ ← ↓ and ▲ O X along with the analog sticks. The screen is arrayed so that the notes move from center to the outsides of the screen, and the area where you catch the notes is on the side with the corresponding keys you press. Periodically a circle will move out that you can catch with the analog sticks, and if you do this enough times another member of the cast will jump in and dance with your character earning you bonus points. You are scored based on how many notes you hit and how well you hit them. The hierarchy of note catches is Perfect > Great > Good > Miss.
One thing I was surprised about was the amount of support for the game already. P4DAN hasn’t even been out a week and they already have a “free week” up where they offer a limited time free download of DLC costumes and music. They’ve also already patched the game, so kudos to the development team for following through with the release. The remixes of the classic Persona 4 and Persona 4 Golden tracks are fantastic as well. I got the CD’s of the soundtrack and I’ve been listening to it since I got the game, especially when writing posts like this! To sum it up, this is an amazing rhythm game with decent visual novel elements. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves the Persona franchise, or any fan of rhythm games (just power through some of the shittier dialogue). I’ll have a full review of this after I finish the story mode, but until then…
Arigatō my fellow BrOtaku!