Per­sona 4: Danc­ing All Night

EDGE - - PLAY - Vita Out now Atlus

With the im­mi­nent soon to put Kanji, Yukiko, Ted­die and co into re­tire­ment, Atlus has squeezed one more ti­tle out of its mystery-solv­ing teenagers: a rhythm-ac­tion dance game that should, in the­ory, be a cheery send-off.

Tra­di­tion in­sists oth­er­wise, how­ever. An over­long, hor­rif­i­cally paced story mode gives the team an­other su­per­nat­u­ral mystery to solve, this time in­volv­ing the mem­bers of an idol pop group who have been kid­napped and taken into a shadow world. Here, en­e­mies are im­mune to a style duff­ing up, but a con­fi­dent dance per­for­mance will see them off. Luck­ily, the In­ves­ti­ga­tion Team have spent their sum­mer hol­i­days practising for a stage per­for­mance, and have de­vel­oped some pretty nifty dance moves.

Oc­ca­sion­ally, you’ll ac­tu­ally get to use them. The bal­ance of rug-cut­ting to yarn-spin­ning is tipped to­wards the lat­ter: it’s al­most half an hour be­fore you first set foot on a dance­floor, and a few min­utes later you’re tap­ping through reams of di­a­logue again. As a work of fan ser­vice, and one last op­por­tu­nity to spend some time in the com­pany of a like­able cast, it seems fair enough. But it’s a poor fit for a rhythm game, one that might have been bet­ter sub­ti­tled Hit enough spe­cial rain­bow-coloured scratch mark­ers and a part­ner will jump on stage to briefly throw shapes. Even when danc­ing alone you’re of­fered noisy words of en­cour­age­ment from all your off­screen pals

Thank­fully, Free Mode strips things back to the bare es­sen­tials: se­lect song, dif­fi­culty, dancer and part­ner, and away you go. Do­ing so ex­poses the lim­ited song se­lec­tion – just 27 are on of­fer, and there are du­pli­cates too, with remixes from the likes of Akira Ya­maoka ( and Yu Miyake ( More songs, and char­ac­ters, are avail­able as DLC, and there’s plenty of re­play value in the higher dif­fi­culty tiers, but it’s hardly a gen­er­ous offering. Sud­denly that over­long story mode makes a lit­tle more sense.

Once the beat drops, how­ever, con­cerns sub­side. This is a novel rhythm-ac­tion sys­tem, in which icons fly out from the cen­tre of the screen in one of six di­rec­tions. Dif­fer­ently coloured icons sig­nal si­mul­ta­ne­ous or sus­tained presses, while a blue ring sig­nals a ‘scratch’, trig­gered with a flick of an ana­logue stick. It can be dif­fi­cult at times to pick out beat mark­ers amid the tech­ni­colour stage back­grounds and fran­tic chore­og­ra­phy, but the glee­ful en­thu­si­asm of the per­for­mances means you won’t be frown­ing for long.

Not for ev­ery­one, will suit play­ers who love rhythm ac­tion enough to over­look a lack of con­tent, or who love enough to for­give the length and leaden pace of its script. The few whose tastes lie in the cen­tre of that small Venn di­a­gram will see this as the high­est form of fan ser­vice, and a play­ful leav­ing do for the In­ves­ti­ga­tion Squad.

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