Game Review

by Richard Eisenbeis,

Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night & Persona 5: Dancing Star Night

PlayStation 4, Playstation Vita

Description:
Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night & Persona 5: Dancing Star Night
In the midst of their world-saving adventures, the characters of Persona 3 and Persona 5 awaken to find themselves in separate versions of the mysterious “Club Velvet”—a nightclub existing outside of time and space. There, each group of friends spends one endless night training to defeat the other team in the dance battle to end all dance battles!
Review:

Following in the footsteps of 2015's Persona 4: Dancing All Night, Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night and Persona 5: Dancing Star Night are a pair of rhythm/music games that showcase the awesome soundtracks of Persona 3 and Persona 5 respectively, including a large selection of excellent remixes in addition to the original songs.

The gameplay is identical in both games: after choosing a song and difficulty, stars flow from the middle of the screen to six points on the outer border of the screen. When the flowing stars line up with any of the border points, you push the corresponding button on your controller. If you miss too many of these, you will fail the song and have to start over. In addition to the stars, rings also expand from the middle of the screen. If you want, you can flick your controller's analog stick when these line up with the six points to increase your combo, but there is no penalty for missing them.

There are also special “fever rings.” Hitting enough of these rings triggers a special section of the song. Normally, each stage's playable character dances alone in the background while you focus on timing your button presses to the flying stars, but in fever mode, that character is joined by one of their friends for a short dance as partners.

There are a fair amount of modifiers that can be applied to the gameplay beyond the standard difficulty settings. Some make the game harder—e.g., making the stars disappear as they move—while some make it easier—e.g., hitting all the ring notes automatically. Each of these “challenge” and “support” modifiers is unlocked by doing something in the game, from seeing a certain story scene to completing or failing a song in a specific way. The process of unlocking them all adds a surprising amount of variety to the gameplay.

In total, there are 25 different songs in each game (plus several more available as DLC that can be played on either game). The songs in these games are unlocked in groups, so once you clear a group of four or five songs, the next set will be available to play. While Persona 4: Dancing All Night had a story mode where the plot was told as a visual novel interspersed with music gameplay sections, Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night and Persona 5: Dancing Star Nightare structured very differently. The story of the game is told through conversation scenes between the protagonist and each of the other members of your team.

Each team member has a total of eight conversations to unlock, though how these scenes are unlocked is different for each character in within their respective game. For example, Yukari's are unlocked by using different costumes each time you play a song. Akihiko's, on the other hand, unlock based on your cumulative number of max combos as totaled at the end of each song. Content-wise, these conversations tend to follow a pattern of sorts. In between training sessions, two of the characters are talking about something from serious concerns to trivial things they secretly enjoy. Then you approach and join in the conversation, occasionally choosing your own reactions to what is being said. Most of these conversations are enjoyable fluff, but a few offer some real insight into the characters.

Perhaps the most interesting reward for unlocking these conversations is where they take place. While the first five conversations for each character take place in Club Velvet proper, the remaining three conversations take place in recreations of each characters' respective bedroom. After these conversations end, you are able to explore each one in first person while playing a short mini-game. If you have the PlayStation 4 version of the game and a PSVR, you are even able to explore each room in VR.

Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night and Persona 5: Dancing Star Nightmake for an interesting pair. Instead of feeling like two distinctly separate games, they are basically two different versions of the same game, much like Fire Emblem Fates or any given generation of games in the core Pokémon franchise. While the characters, conversations, and music are different, the framework that binds them together is identical.

The gameplay system during the songs is unchanged. Likewise, the prerequisites to unlock both conversation scenes and gameplay modifiers are the same—meaning the flow of both the story and gameplay are carbon copies of one another. The accessories you can equip on the characters while they dance in the background are also shared between games (though the full-on costumes are unique). Even the menus are the same, despite their admittedly different coat of paint.

If you're playing just one game or the other, this isn't a problem. However, if you're playing one game right after the other, many of the explorative aspects like figuring out how to progress are lost. It's like having a piece of chocolate cake and a piece of vanilla cake. Either is great alone, but eating one right after the other is not nearly as satisfying.

All in all, Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night and Persona 5: Dancing Star Night are excellent music games with a solid gameplay system and rocking soundtrack. If you are a fan of Persona 3 or Persona 5's music, you'll definitely enjoy these games. Likewise, if you're a diehard Persona fan and just need to see every interaction possible between these characters, you'll find a lot to love here. However, these are very much games for hardcore fans, so if you have no connection to the franchise whatsoever, you'd likely be better off getting your introduction to the world of Persona somewhere else.

Grade:
Production Info:
Overall : B+
Graphics : A
Sound/Music : A+
Gameplay : A
Presentation : B

+ Great set of Persona songs bolstered by excellent remixes
Unlocking everything twice in the exact same way across both games is a grind

Director:
Noriaki Akitaya
Masashi Ishihama
Series Composition: Shinichi Inotsume
Script: Jun Kumagai
Storyboard:
Toshinori Fukushima
Seiji Harada
Tatsuya Igarashi
Masashi Ishihama
Tomohisa Taguchi
Episode Director: Seiji Harada
Unit Director:
Toshinori Fukushima
Masashi Ishihama
Yoshifumi Sasahara
Music: Shoji Meguro
Original Character Design:
Kazuma Kaneko
Shigenori Soejima
Character Design:
Satomi Ishikawa
Keisuke Watabe
Art Director: Toshihiro Kohama
Chief Animation Director:
Akiko Asaki
Koji Haneda
Toru Hasegawa
Mizuka Takahashi
Animation Director:
Hiroaki Fukuda
Isamu Fukushima
Toru Hasegawa
Tomomi Ishikawa
Tomoaki Kado
Keisuke Katayama
Sayaka Koiso
Hideoki Kusama
Yuki Nakano
Mika Sawada
Michinori Shiga
Yusuke Shimizu
Takuya Tani
Keisuke Watabe
Masaya Yasutome
Yuuko Yoshida
3D Director: Tetsuya Watanabe
Sound Director: Satoki Iida
Producer: Kazuki Adachi

Full encyclopedia details about
Persona 3 the Movie (movie)
Persona 5 (TV)

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