Review: Persona 3: Dancing In Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing In Starlight

A few years back we got a taste of a rhythm-based game set in the Persona universe with Persona 4: Dancing All Night. I reviewed that game on the PlayStation Vita and came out craving another game like this. In 2018, we’re getting two new games – Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight. Spin-off games are sometimes a hard sell. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. Luckily, this series is not only fit for spin-offs, but the music is so good that it deserved its own series. Then again, the Persona series spun off from the Shin Megami Tensei series.

Jazzy Good Time

This series is full of catchy tunes and memorable characters. Not only that it’s easily one of the most stylish games from it’s menus to the battle system. Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight feel less like two separate games and more companions to each other. What it comes down to when you’re deciding which version to buy is what set of characters you prefer and the music you liked the first time. Each game features 25 remixed tracks that play the same.

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No matter what you choose, the setting is still the same. You and your team arrive at the Velvet Room and meet Elizabeth in Persona 3 or Caroline and Justine from Persona 5. Starting with a limited catalogue, the more you play and the better you do, you earn new tracks and character customization items. Of course, depending on the difficulty setting you to decide to go with reflects the speed and intensity of the gameplay. On easy, the game is a breeze but on hard, you better get warmed up because things happen at a frantic pace.

Keep on Groovin’

See, gameplay in both titles is the same. Your character takes the stage and the song begins. Paying attention to the icons that fly by is crucial to success. A ring with inputs mapped the controller buttons expands as it moves outwards. By matching the button to the ring’s output and timing your button press, you’ll range from doing Good to Excellent. Other buttons inputs might ask you to hold the input then tap the input or double tapping an input. Fever Mode triggers if you Fever Mode triggers if you flick the L3 or R3 sticks up or down as the ring hits the right spot. When Fever Mode begins, other members of your team join in on the dance routine and your score multiplies.

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I never had any issues with the layout of the system. When bumping the difficulty from Easy to Normal to Hard, each level introduces new note combinations and can fly by. Notes sometimes fly so fast that they seemingly overlap, and I ended up missing my mark due to how fast the dance routines built to.

Dance Fever

Unlike Dancing All Night, both Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight do away with a story mode. Instead, we get the basic setup within the Velvet Room and both the SEES Team and the Phantom Thieves need to dance to earn the title of best dancers. There are, however, Social Links that give us some interesting cutscenes between the cast and these sketches unlock gear and items for use.

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Shoji Meguro’s music is iconic. That’s not news. Seeing his music remixed and spun into other genres is a good idea but when both games only have 25 songs to dance to, and with multiple remixes of the same song, it’s disappointing. We don’t need three versions of the same song, and lazily adding cutscenes from the game isn’t exciting. One particular song that stood out for being rehashed three times is Rivers in the Desert, a song from Persona 5 that’s got the original, a remix and a live version that wore my patience thin. It’s a great song, but when I have to play it three times I wasn’t impressed.

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Ultimately, the biggest deciding factor is who you like more and what soundtrack resonated better with you. Other than that, these are the exact same. If you can afford the Endless Night Collection, which not only includes both Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight but also Persona 4: Dancing All Night. This collection is the only way as of this review to play Dancing All Night, so considering that, it might be the best way to experience these. If you love rhythm games, this is for you. If you love Persona, this is for you. Both entries are satisfying and deliver a wonderful experience and seeing both the SEES team and the Phantom Thieves once again is a delight.

[Copies of both games were provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]