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Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight Game Poster Image
Music game sees teens supporting and encouraging each other.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Short narrative sequences develop simple themes of responsibility, friendship, cooperation.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Heroes are all friends, care for and help each other, but they also exhibit occasional character flaws, such as being bullying or aggressive.

Ease of Play

Players follow the rhythm and tap buttons according to cues flowing across the screen. Challenge level can be customized by selecting difficulty of each song and by applying modifiers, such as one that forces players to attempt "scratch" cues -- which are normally optional -- to keep streaks going.

Violence

No depictions of violence shown, but blood stains occasionally appear in the environment.

Sex

Some unlockable outfits for female characters are on the sexy side, revealing deep cleavage and bouncy breasts.

Language

Infrequent profanity in spoken dialogue includes "s--t."

Consumerism

Based on long-running role-playing game franchise Persona.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight is a rhythm game for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR, and PlayStation Vita. It features characters from the classic Japanese role-playing game Persona 3. Though blood stains are occasionally visible in the environment, this game contains no violence. All of the action is centered on dancing. Players follow on-screen cues to make characters perform moves in time with the music. These characters are friends and often support and encourage one another in brief story sequences, though some are occasionally a bit mean to others. One character uses the word "s--t." Parents should also be aware that sexier outfits come available for the game's female characters, including swimwear and tight tops that reveal cleavage.

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What's it about?

Based on characters from the classic Japanese role-playing game (RPG) Persona 3, PERSONA 3: DANCING IN MOONLIGHT sees these likable teens cast into a dream world where they take part in a mysterious dance competition. Though none of them are trained dancers, they're told by their host, Elizabeth, that in this world, their emotions will magically change into amazing choreography. That's all they need to be convinced, and they're soon dancing to a series of original and remixed songs from Persona 3. When a song begins, players simply tap buttons according to on-screen cues, trying not to miss a beat. Characters automatically perform professional-looking dance routines on the stage in the center of the screen. As the game progresses and players reach various milestones, new narrative scenes will become available to view, advancing the story. Gradually, players will also unlock new outfits for the heroes, as well as play modifiers that allow them to lightly customize the way the game's played.

Is it any good?

Fans of the original role-playing game are likely to have a good time with this music experience, so long as they don't go in expecting much beyond the music. Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight -- much like Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight -- is a shorter, simplified version of Persona 4: Dancing All Night, the terrific rhythm game that gave the Persona dance spin-offs their start. But where Dancing All Night had a lengthy story loaded with subplots and character development that played out between almost every song, the story sequences in Dancing in Moonlight are almost nonexistent by comparison. They're short and separated by multiple songs and performances, and they must be unlocked by meeting specific criteria. They don't serve much purpose beyond giving fans another chance to see their favorite characters exhibit their primary personality traits, like watching Akihiko be all squinty and serious or the emotionally complex Yukari show her unorthodox brand of cheerfulness. It's wonderful to see these characters in action again, but it would be nice if we were given just a little more meat wrapped around the bone.

What's left is the music, sure to be quickly recognized and adored by fans of the original game. But it may not capture the imagination of newcomers quite as quickly. It's punchy and upbeat, but without the context of the original game, it loses some of its urgency and meaning. At least the beat-based action is still rock solid. Tapping out streaks and adding scratches for custom flavor is as entertaining as ever, and the ability to tailor the experience to your ability via new modifiers (which come with point penalties, though rookies probably won't mind) helps ensure that anyone can match beats without experiencing too much frustration. Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight isn't the best of Persona's rhythm game spin-offs, but it's hard to imagine that those who played and loved the game it's based on won't have some fun here.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about sex, gender, and body image. What do you think of how Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight's female characters are depicted, both in terms of personality and appearance?

  • There's nothing inherent about dance that should make it skew more toward one gender than another, so why in our culture do far more girls than boys take an interest in dancing? Do you think games like this one could help more boys take up dancing in real life?

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