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In Japan, Persona 4 Dancing All Night has already arrived by now, but for those of us in the west it’s still a few months out. During my time with Atlus at E3 this year,  I saw a lot I couldn’t wait to get my hands on. Dancing All Night was definitely my gem of E3 though, as I caught myself hovering around for another chance with the demo long after my scheduled time with the game. I have to admit, I originally only preordered the game simply because it’s something Persona 4. I already fill my rhythm game needs with gratuitous amounts of Project Diva F, and really had no interest in trying to master another. However, looks like my plans have changed now.

I had a hard time picturing it as anything other than a generic rhythm game, but Dancing All Night is anything but. The setup was rather different, and directional buttons appear from the center of the screen and move outward. It’s a change from Project Diva’s sort of scattered approach and the more monotonous  follow-the-line formula other rhythm games follow.

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I think I prefer the Dancing All Night formula over anything else I’ve played. There’s always so much going on in the background of Project Diva, it’s hard to see sometimes due to the directions constantly landing in the center of the screen. The Persona rhythm game doesn’t suffer from this, as everything takes place closer to the edges of the screen.

Just from the perspective of a Persona fan, it’s great fan service. As someone who liked the absolutely nonsensical happenings of Persona 4 Arena, I’m happy there will be some sort of silly plot explaining why Kanji is breaking it down along side his classmates. That wasn’t something I had expected, and had already just accepted it as a baseless rhythm game, but there will be some driving force behind it all.

That’s definitely not what will be selling me on the title though, as Persona 4 Dancing holds its own just as a rhythm game. The backgrounds are absolutely fantastic, and watching Nanako dance along her big bro had to be one of the highlights of my time with the game. There’s also everything else that makes it a Persona 4 game in Dancing All Night, in addition to the return of the cast, there are shadows. They lined the back of the stage with outlandish antics, and I began to encounter that problem I have with other titles in the genre, dying because the background is so entertaining.

And what would a rhythm game be without some sort of reward for your high score? Dancing All Night gives you the opportunity to summon a persona after acing a level. If your score is acceptable as Yu Narukami, prepare to watch Izanagi impress with some bass.

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After seeing Dingo removed from development, I was nervous about the final product, but finally getting my hands on the game reestablished my interest in Dancing All Night. I left E3 almost wishing I hadn’t played, because with it still months out in the states, I’m now tempted to import and end up with two copies. My only complaint with the game is a cameo from Persona 3’s Mitsuru Kirijo never happens, but since Adachi has already been announced as DLC, I may let that fault slide.

Persona 4 Dancing All Night is out now in Japan, and has been given a place holder date of September 29th in North America. The Disco Fever Edition is still up for preorder for a limited time from Amazon

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