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GAME REVIEW | Getting Your Groove On With 3rd & 5th "Persona" Casts

A lot of tension and high-stake action happens in the worlds of Persona, to the point where you kind of feel bad for these young characters. What's a group of high schoolers out saving the world to do to blow off some steam and find a little joy in life? Surprisingly, the location of such a calm and relaxing break from missions and the like winds up being on the dance floor, in the forms of Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight.

Taking place in their respective Velvet Rooms, Dancing in Moonlight and Dancing in Starlight places the casts of the third and fifth Persona games in a fun dance competition. Like most rhythm-based games, the object of these two titles is to press the buttons at the precise moment to tally up points and continue lengthy combos. The closer you become King/Queen of the Dance Floor, the more Social moments and costume accessories you can unlock to keep the story and dance variety going. And when the groove hits these characters, that's when the challenge begins.

One cannot help but be hypnotized by the killer maneuvers showcased by the likes of Ana, Yukari, Morgana, Junpei, and the rest of the cast of either game. Though I'm not 100% sure, most of the dancing seems to be animated using some motion-capture aspects, as the fluidity of the characters looks all too real. So much so, that I couldn't help but feel impressed by the breakdowns and spins performed by both of the crews of Persona 3 and Persona 5. However, that's where this game tries to get you to lose your focus on the real task at hand: hitting those buttons at the right time.

When the music plays and the characters dance, players will have to hit the right combination and style of button play. These are your run-of-the-mill presses, holds, and the occasional double or triple taps. In some instances, you'll be given the option to also initiate a record scratch, one such kind initiating your Fever meter. Fill that meter enough in time, and a partner or two may find themselves joining you on the dance floor.

The gorgeous visuals that shine through as you play add to the challenge of hitting the buttons at the right moment. As such, one's concentration skills will be at play as you try to go with the flow of the sound while trying your best not to get distracted by what's on the screen. From my experience playing both titles, trying not to be entranced by the cool dance moves and badass animation that shines throughout is easier said than done! Moonlight and Starlight have style and pizazz all over themselves, making it easy to hypnotize the most advanced rhythm gamer while barely even trying!

Control-wise, it's pretty easy to handle the button layout given in either game. As both titles are the same when it comes to gameplay, you can easily jump between the two and not have to worry about relearning how to keep a combo going. Since it only takes advantage of the three most-left and most-right buttons (as well as the L/R or sticks), the smooth motion as you jump from command to command is set up well enough so as to not risk tiring out your thumbs. With that being said, a rhythm game like this is dying to have a Dance Dance Revolution-styled dance pad to play on, and it's a shame that such an option is unavailable.

While it may seem weird for either cast from their respective Persona game to just dance away, one cannot help but get shakin' with the soundtrack that's blaring throughout these two titles. Using remixed versions of the original soundtrack, the tracks that hit your speaker will no doubt get any party hopping all night long! With an impressive cast of remixers such as Lotus Juice, Jazztronik, and one-half of the legendary m-flo Taku Takahashi, the music from Dancing in Moonlight and Dancing in Starlight easily makes it the best tunes you'll find in any video game in 2018!

As the soul of both games rests on the dance floor, it's in the Velvet Room/Club Velvet where the brains of the two titles resides. Chatting it up with the various characters in each title gives way to some silly anecdotes and philosophical conversations. (Okay, maybe not TOO philosophical, but smart nonetheless.) Though it may not dive too deep into the lore of either Persona 3 or Persona 5, it does add some sort of character development to the cast while being entertaining at the same time. In a way, these dancing titles remind me of either the beach or pool episodes of any anime you can think of: it's kind of filler for the sake of fan-service, but it's fun to bear witness to nonetheless.


  • Excellent soundtrack
  • Great banter between characters
  • Fun gameplay mechanics


  • Lacks dance pad control options


I don't know what it is about putting Persona characters in a dance contest, but for some reason it always seems to work wonders! Dancing in Moonlight and Dancing in Starlight showcase both strong rhythm gameplay and a killer soundtrack to boot. Though note to Atlus: next time, give us a dance pad so we can groove along with the characters!


Promotional consideration provided by Jonathon Stebel of Atlus USA. Reviewed on the PS4.

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Contributing Editor at ESH since 2008, and host of the No Borders No Race podcast show, which began as a humble college radio program in 2006. My passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture is what drives me to give you my all in every article published and every podcast recorded.