Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection (PS Vita) Review11/12/2018
After sinking nearly 90 hours into the incredible PS4 hit game Persona 5 I was extremely eager to catch up with the Phantom Thieves and listen to the superb soundtrack of the game again by getting my hands on Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight within the Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection that also contains Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight based on characters from the PS2 classic (and later enhanced for PS3 and PSP) – Persona 3.
Persona games tend to have a very catchy and memorable soundtrack which most certainly suits creating a rhythmic-dancing game around them and this initial idea came to be with Persona 4: Dancing All Night which came exclusively to the PS Vita back in 2015. I only spent a short amount of time with Persona 4: Dancing All Night but it plays almost identically to Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight so I was able to pick up and play with ease. I had never played Persona 3, having only being introduced to the Persona franchise with Persona 4: Golden so I was intrigued to see if Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight would have the same lure and appeal as Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight. Those who purchase the collection for PS4 also receive a port of Persona 4: Dancing All Night and it’s a slight shame that a digital code for the game isn’t included with the PS Vita version too, but then it does have a cheaper price point to reflect this. Both Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight can be purchased separately on either PS4 or PS Vita, however, Persona 4: Dancing All Night is only available on the PS4 as part of the collection and not sold separately. Also, the PS4 collection has PSVR compatibility but as I’ve only played the final version of the game on PS Vita I can’t give any feedback on how this experience plays out.
As stated, if you have played Persona 4: Dancing All Night you will immediately be able to pick up and play Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight as they are all identical in their rhythmic mechanics, where you have the D-pad icons of Up, Left and Down on the left hand-side of the screen and the button icons of Triangle, Circle and Cross on the right hand-side. These buttons need to be pressed in the correct order when the note line up with the icon on the screen and there are a couple of variations in button pressing as some notes require you to hold the button down while another has you pressing two opposite buttons at the same time. You have the option on PS Vita to be able to use the touch screen to hit the notes, however, I found it much easier to just use the buttons instead. There are also prompts called ‘scratches’ which won’t affect your combo if you miss them, but they will increase it by one if you time it correctly, using a simple swipe on the screen. You can also be joined on-screen with a partner character dancing with you, if you collect enough rainbow coloured scratches before the allotted ‘Fever’ section in the songs timeline appears. This adds to help boost your score further.
On Easy mode, I found it not that hard to get a ‘Brilliant’ score on all the tracks within the games, however, if you raise the difficulty, the timings and speed of hitting the notes can get very frantic and make for a real challenge. I did find the jump between Easy and Normal mode to be quite huge as well but of course ‘practice makes perfect’ and it wasn’t long till my brain and thumbs were more in sync and I was back in the zone nailing every beat. Playing on the PS Vita was surprisingly very responsive and I was fortunate to spend some time playing both games at EGX earlier in the year on the PS4 and in comparison I’ve found it much easier to play them on the smaller PS Vita screen, as with a large TV it can be quite difficult to track the notes, especially when the speed ramps up.
Those that have played Persona 5 will know how incredible the art design and visual style is, not only for the main gameplay but for the menu screens too. I’m happy to state the style returns for Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight and looks just as funky as I remember. It does make me wonder why we never got Persona 5 for the PS Vita as it’s so suited to a handheld system but that’s another story for another day. Fans of Persona 3 will be very happy to see their favourite characters get a new lick of paint in Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight, and even though the art style isn’t as memorable as Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight it’s still a very pretty and edgy game to look at. The character animations in both games, while they are dancing, are stunning, if not a little goofy at times. However, not all levels will have you as a character dancing. Some show cutscenes from the main games and also live performances from the Persona concerts. I did find one level unusual and kind of lazy in both the games as it’s literally just the ending credits for the main games. Not a problem if you enjoy the song but as it includes the ending credit visuals playing in the background, it, therefore, has some pretty massive spoilers if you haven’t completed the main games. I guess most people who pick up these titles will have completed them anyway, but I still didn’t expect to see the final ending credit visuals of the main games within Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight when really it would have been quite easy to have done something different.
Of course with a rhythmic-dancing game the songs are the real highlight of and with the Persona series you are always going to be on to a real winner here as each game has been gifted with amazing soundtracks. Both Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight not only include memorable songs from their respective main games but also some new remixes for a few of them too. Though I had played Persona 5 and loved its jazzy soundtrack, I actually found that the music of Persona 3 suited the rhythmic-dancing genre much more, largely as the tracks are of a faster pace and I, therefore, found myself more drawn to playing Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight because of this. If you fancy sitting back and just enjoying the music and the characters dancing, you’re in luck, as upon completing a song you are able to re-watch it and this is especially useful as you miss an awful lot of the quirky animations whilst trying to concentrate on hitting the notes. I did find it a shame that both games don’t have more songs and levels within them. At only 23 levels, of which as stated previously, some of the songs are remixes, it’s really not enough compared to other games like DJMax Respect in this genre, that boost a very healthy 147 songs. This is especially disappointing seeing as both Persona 3 and Persona 5 have a lengthy set list for their official soundtracks with 58 songs on the P3:OST and 110 songs on the P5:OST and to fully complete and unlock the collectables within both dancing games you will be replaying levels an awful lot, so more variety would have been very welcome.
If you haven’t played Persona 4: Dancing All Night or got it as part of the PS4 collection this slightly controversial decision won’t affect you, but there is no visual novel story mode within Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight, which will deeply disappoint fans. Persona 4: Dancing All Night was so much more intriguing because it gave a canon story following the events of the main game. Instead, Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight feature an identical “story” premise where you are brought to the Velvet Club following the events of their respective games and it’s stated you are in a dream and won’t remember what has happened once you awake. Without a dedicated story mode character interactions instead, take place in the ‘social’ mode of the game in which these interactions can be unlocked by completing certain tasks assigned to each character. This can be by attaining a certain number of ‘brilliant’ scores or by playing with a number of customisations. There are plenty of tasks to complete and not only do you unlock the social moments you also unlock a wide variety of character costumes and accessories as well as gameplay modifiers which can be used to customise the songs where you can either equip support modifiers, such as, getting a score boost for hitting a ‘Fever’ scratch, or challenge modifiers instead where if you don’t hit a scratch it will count as a miss and break your combo. Depending on which modifiers you have equipped will affect your overall score – having a support modifier will decrease your post-dance bonus while having a challenge modifier equipped will give an increase in your bonus.
Having these tasks to complete makes the game feel much more arcade-like and is a clever way of padding out the game and keep people playing for longer, as of course, fans will want to unlock all the social moments and see the character interactions. Most of these moments are really well-written and witty, however, a note of caution as they do tend to reference events within the main games, so be mindful if you haven’t completed them. Though I enjoyed the social interactions, I do feel that a proper story would have made the games much more memorable and appealing to fans. I would struggle to recommend these games to fans that don’t enjoy rhythmic-dancing games. Those that do, will have an awful lot of fun and I did find that even though I had no previous association with the characters of Persona 3, playing Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and meeting the characters for the first time, didn’t impede my experience or enjoyment of the game and only really made me wish I had played the main game. I really hope at some point we will get a remaster of Persona 3 as my PSP is unfortunately long in its grave. I’m sure if this collection or Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight as a stand-alone title sells well, then it would make sense to cash in on the success and create a remaster. I will keep my fingers crossed!
Finally, there is cross-save functionality so you can share the same save file with both the PS Vita and PS4 versions of the games. Unfortunately, unlike the PS4 collection, there is no PS Vita physical edition which is a little disappointing, especially as we are still months away from the cut-off point of Sony ending production of PS Vita physical copies by March 2019. As with the main game counterparts, both games also come with the English and Japanese voices, which will nicely suit whichever preference you have.
Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection is not only a visual and audio delight but is great fun to pick up and play for fans of the Persona series and rhythmic-dancing games alike. Though you might not get as many songs as other games in the genre like Project Diva Future Tone and DJMAX Respect, you do get much more personality and presentation with such a strong cast of characters and the amusing interactions between them. The collection is incredibly approachable for newcomers to the genre, and for veterans, there is plenty of challenge within the harder difficulty modes. Unfortunately, those expecting a story mode in the vein of Persona 4: Dancing All Night will be sorely disappointed but don’t let that deter you from getting your blue-suede shoes on for an immensely satisfying experience.
Formats: PlayStation Vita (review code kindly provided by publisher) and PS4
Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection£89.99
- Stunning soundtrack and gorgeous visuals
- A memorable cast of characters
- Initially easy to pick up and play but challenging to master
- Cross-save functionality between PS4 and PS Vita
- Unlike P4D there is no visual novel story element
- Limited amount of songs and remixes
- No physical version for the PS Vita