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Review: Persona 4: Dancing All Night

Sep 29 // Kyle MacGregor
Persona 4: Dancing All Night (PS Vita)Developer: Atlus Publisher: AtlusReleased: September 29, 2015MSRP: $49.99 Taking place shortly after the events of Persona 4, Dancing All Night opens with Rise Kujikawa and a couple members of the gang in a dance studio. The former idol is mounting a comeback and has enlisted her friends as backup dancers to perform at a large music festival. Of course, things quickly go awry. A cursed Internet video has droves of people falling into comas, and to top it all off, members of Kanamin Kitchen, the pop group headed by Rise's frenemy Kanami Mashita, have gone missing. We soon find out the women have been transported to an alternate dimension called the Midnight Stage, where a mysterious voice and hordes of Shadows hold them hostage. Kanamin Kitchen's captors prey on idols' identity crises and try to make them fall in line with the image of what people think believe are, or want them to be, rather than wage any sort of painful personal struggle. The Investigation Team naturally comes to the rescue, except in this world they can't use their Personas to fight. The only way to beat back the Shadows and save Rise and Kanami's friends is to dance. It's a contrived plot device to shoehorn in rhythmic gameplay based on Sega's Hatsune Miku: Project Diva series, but honestly, who cares when the end result is a damn good time?  [embed]311909:60472:0[/embed] The mechanics at work here are nothing revolutionary. Notes appear in the center of a circle and fly outward toward six zones on circle's perimeter in formations based on music. Players are tasked with keeping the beat, the success or failure of which will determine things like high scores, whether new levels are unlocked, and earn in-game currency for purchasing items and costumes. Dancing All Night functions perfectly, and its three main difficulty settings all feel appropriately challenging. Regardless of which you choose, a poor performance will result in a quick hook, though a mediocre one may allow you to complete a level without passing. This can be a powerful motivator, and definitely kept me coming back to some of the tougher stages. On top of the standard fare, there's also an even harder (hidden) difficulty setting awaiting dedicated players. So good luck with that! Aside from the joy of watching familiar faces like Teddie and Chie cavort around in ridiculous outfits, what makes Dancing All Night a blast is the music itself. One of my favorite aspects of the Persona series is composer Shoji Meguro's handiwork, which is obviously thrust into the spotlight this time around. After completing both the story and free dance modes (plus redeeming some downloadable content) I've unlocked 36 songs, spanning everything from original Persona 4 tracks to spin-off theme songs and even a live performance. However, while that may conceptually seem like a decent-sized selection, it doesn't always feel that way. Half of the soundtrack is padded out with remixes that may or may not resonate with players. While I absolutely loved many of them, there are others I will seldom play again. I found it difficult at times to appreciate versions of songs I've adored for years, only to have some DJ somewhere strip the track of nearly all its personality and transform it into something else entirely. Dancing All Night's uneven score wasn't the only facet of the experience that wasn't as compelling as it could have been. The story is somewhat plodding at times and suffers from repetition, following multiple groups that tread similar ground for most of the game. While there are some pensive themes at work, endearing new characters, and a dramatic finale once the narrative threads begin to converge, the plot doesn't quite live up to its source material -- which is probably expected, given how phenomenal that is. This fusion of visual novel of rhythm game isn't exactly perfect, but speaking as someone who loves Persona (and Shoji Meguro's work in particular), I really enjoyed my time with this one. It might be pure fan service, but sometimes maybe that's enough. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher. Several DLC tracks were also provided by the publisher. ]
Review: P4D photo
Your prize cow
Persona 4 was a story about acceptance. We all have a dark side, some aspect of our personality we dislike about ourselves, something we choose to repress and hide away from the rest of the world. This isn't the healthiest pr...

ATLUS photo

Atlus confirms Hatsune Miku Persona 4: Dancing All Night DLC for the Americas

Coming October 20 for $5
Sep 24
// Kyle MacGregor
While we already knew Hatsune Miku was coming to Persona 4: Dancing All Night in Japan, the possibility of a western release was up in the air. Well, until now, anyway. Atlus USA has just informed us the make-believe singer's...
Persona 5 stuff photo
Persona 5 stuff

Persona 5: New character, multiple villains & in-game social media

New gameplay screens
Sep 23
// Steven Hansen
Welp, we got the trailer and the into-2016-delay for Persona 5 out of Tokyo Game Show 2015. Not unexpected. There are some more details and a good look at new characters in the latest Famitsu. Most of the gallery below is st...
Persona 5 photo
Persona 5

Persona 5's opening theme is sooo good

Anime, festival event also announced
Sep 19
// Kyle MacGregor
In case you haven't heard, Persona 5 has been delayed until summer, giving us all plenty of time to do other things -- like watching this video featuring footage of the RPG's opening cinematic and its theme tune, a lovely jazz number composed by Shoji Meguro and belted out by singer Lyn.
ATLUS photo

Atlus picks up indie RPG Cryamore

Indie RPG also changing platforms
Sep 17
// Kyle MacGregor
Atlus will now be publishing Cryamore, the Kickstarter-funded RPG from indie team Nostalgico. The Shin Megami Tensei publisher has apparently been courting the studio for some time, offering the development team help to finis...
Persona 5 photo
Persona 5

Persona 5 delayed until summer 2016

But at least there's a new trailer?
Sep 17
// Joe Parlock
I have some good news and some bad news for you, Persona fans. The good news is there’s a new Persona 5 trailer! It shows off some of the very pretty environments you’ll be exploring in the latest game, as well a...
13 Sentinels photo
13 Sentinels

13 Sentinels: Aegis Arm revealed for PS4 and PS Vita

Coming from Atlus
Sep 15
// Laura Kate Dale
Atlus and Vanillaware today revealed their newest game at Sony's Tokyo Game Show press conference, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Arm for PS4 and Vita. A trailer for the game was shown off during the press conference, which looks pretty god damn interesting. So, who's interested in this awesome looking new IP?
Genei Ibun Roku #FE photo
Genei Ibun Roku #FE

Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem is coming to Japan on December 26

2016 in the West
Sep 12
// Kyle MacGregor
The Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem crossover project, otherwise known as Genei Ibun Roku #FE, will arrive in Japan on December 26, Nintendo just announced via the RPG's blog. It was also revealed that first print cop...
Etrian Mystery Dungeon photo
Etrian Mystery Dungeon

Etrian Mystery Dungeon out now across Europe

Good lord, finally
Sep 12
// Kyle MacGregor
After an extended wait, Etrian Mystery Dungeon is now available in Europe, NIS has announced. The roguelike RPG launched in North America in April after debuting in Japan the previous month, and earned praise from Destructoid's reviews pope Chris Carter, who called the crossover "a match made in heaven" in his appraisal of the localized release. (Check out the full review here.)
Tokyo Game Show photo
Tokyo Game Show

Sega at TGS: Persona 5, possible Vanillaware and Yakuza Studio new games

Persona 5 news may come before the show
Sep 10
// Steven Hansen
Sega's got a lot going on at Tokyo Game Show 2015 between Sega proper, Sega Networks, and Atlus. There's already word we'll be getting a new Yakuza announcement, but Yakuza Studio might also be announcing a new PS3 and PS4 ti...
Persona 5? photo
Persona 5?

Atlus hosting Persona event at Tokyo Game Show 2015

So, Persona 5 release date?
Sep 09
// Steven Hansen
Hey, remember how Persona 5 still has a 2015 release date, but a non-specific one and, also, we're almost through 2015? Hmm. Sony Japan is doing its pre-Tokyo Game Show press conference at 4PM JST (12AM PDT) on September 15, ...
Persona photo

Hitler really mucked things up for the Persona 2 localization

Lovely video on a lovely series
Aug 24
// Chris Carter
"Did You Know Gaming" is a delightful series, mostly because it focuses on games that I may have played and enjoyed as a youth, but didn't fully comprehend. That includes this new video on the Persona franchise, which g...
ATLUS photo

Persona 4: Dancing All Night launches in Europe this November

Not the worst delay, I suppose
Aug 22
// Kyle MacGregor
Persona 4: Dancing All Night is coming to Europe on November 6, NIS America has announced. As per usual (as far as Atlus goes), the PlayStation Vita-exclusive rhythm game's PAL version is launching a tad later than its North American counterpart, which debuts September 29.
Free Persona DLC photo
Free Persona DLC

Persona 4: Dancing All Night swimsuit set free the first week

No Kanji swimsuit though
Aug 14
// Steven Hansen
Persona 4: Dancing All Night's ladies swimsuit DLC will be free during the rhythm game's first week of release (it comes out September 29). After October 5, the costume pack will cost money. Unfortunately, this free DLC does...
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir photo
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir

Good lord, Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir is pretty as hell

Or at least as pretty as Valhalla
Aug 10
// Kyle MacGregor
Odin Sphere was pretty. But this, this is better. Oh man, it's so much better. Oh, in case you haven't heard, Vanillaware is remastering its 2007 PlayStation 2 classic as Odin Sphere Leifthrasir for Sony platforms. The u...
ATLUS photo

These Persona 4: Dancing All Night remixes are hot!

But I still prefer the originals
Aug 09
// Kyle MacGregor
I'm sure most Atlus fans would agree one of the Persona series' greatest strengths is its music. The studio's in-house composer Shogi Meguro and his crew do brilliant work, which makes the idea of an entire game dedicated to...

Review: Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight

Jul 31 // Chris Carter
Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight (3DS)Developer: AtlusPublisher: Curve DigitalRelease Date: August 4, 2015 (US) / February 12, 2016 (Europe)MSRP: $49.99 (Atlus tax) For those unaware, the Untold portion of the moniker denotes the inclusion of an all-new story mode, complete with preset characters and a new narrative. It sounds weird, but any Etrian fan knows that the series started off with dungeon-crawler roots, and thus, allowed players to basically create and customize whoever they wanted --with a loose story binding it all together. Thankfully, The Fafnir Knight includes both gametypes and multiple difficulty options for players of all backgrounds If you spring for the new setup, the tale starts off with low-key princess protection duty with your childhood friend Flavio, but quickly evolves into a grand tale of adventure to seek out the city at the bottom of the Yggdrasil Labyrinth. Early into the fray, your hero awakens their true power -- the Fafnir Knight class, capable of transformation. While the story itself isn't as memorable as a lot of recent JRPGs, it's still a fun enough narrative with a cast of likable characters. The dialog in particular isn't riveting stuff, nor is it laugh-out-loud funny; it's serviceable, which is essentially how I feel about Etrian in general. Dungeon crawling is basically the same as always (now with the enhanced 3D style), and with Fafnir Knight, you'll have the ability to manually map out your findings on the bottom screen. Or, if you're feeling a bit more conservative, it can automatically populate. FOEs have returned, which are basically giant superbosses present throughout the game. [embed]296957:59744:0[/embed] Like many JRPG superbosses, they aren't easy to best. You'll generally have to avoid them early on or risk instant death. Since they're visible on the screen, it's easy to see where they're coming from however, and you'll have to either deduce their patterns or use trap items to fool them. It's a nice little diversion, and returning later on to defeat a pesky FOE is a great feeling. Don't think that a more concise campaign implies that the formula has been dumbed down, as players will still be able to create an initial avatar and customize the classes of story characters. There is a caveat: you'll need to sacrifice five levels to switch classes. Additionally, you can't just call upon the guild to create new characters at will. To further muddy the waters, the Grimoire system seeks to mix things up a bit, as you can now equip party members with items that allow them to tap into additional classes. However, it feels extremely limited in nature, as most of them are a random drop, and it took me hours to find the few specific tomes I really wanted. It's an odd gambit by Atlus even in the confines of the Fafnir story, as the Etrian series has always prided itself on full customization. It's a bit easier to forgive once you dig into the new cooking mechanic, which has been expanded in an unprecedented manner. Now, you can customize ingredients and discover new recipes to craft as you cook your way to statistical bonuses for your adventures. Eventually, this diversion works its way more and more into the story. The Duke of the main town allows you to potentially earn a profit from the restaurant as you expand and re-invest in the town. It's a nice little meta-narrative and adds some lightheartedness to the game. Classic mode is of course, utterly different. It's a less limited tale featuring a mysterious labyrinth, and the experience is more about the journey than a real story. You can register new party members at will, and you're free to choose from over 10 classes at the start. It's very intimidating for non-RPG fans, so I recommend trying out story mode first. And really, that's what's so great about the Untold series -- it allows new players to acclimate without holding their hand too often, and still provides a way for hardcore fans to create limitless combinations of parties to their heart's content. Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight is a remake that's perfectly timed and well crafted, despite the fact that the formula isn't quite as fresh as the wholly new Etrian IV (I really miss the more open-ended maps). Now all Atlus needs to do is remaster Etrian III, and it'll have all four core entries ready to play on the 3DS. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
Etrian Odyssey 2 review photo
A worthwhile update
It sounds crazy, but 2008 was a long time ago. That's when Etrian Odyssey II was first released for the Nintendo DS, and seven years later, Atlus has decided to bring it to a new audience with The Fafnir Knight. While a few of the advancements from later games don't translate perfectly, it's still a worthwhile dungeon romp, and another great entry in this storied series.

Legend of Legacy photo
Legend of Legacy

Legend of Legacy published by NIS America in Europe

Winter (2016) is coming
Jul 28
// Josh Tolentino
Despite the "America" in the company name, it looks like NIS America is the publisher of choice when it comes to bringing Atlus games across the pond. That's certainly true for their latest announcement, the 3DS-bound RPG Leg...

Review: Lost Dimension

Jul 27 // Kyle MacGregor
Lost Dimension (PS3, PS Vita [reviewed], PS TV compatible)Developer: LancarsePublisher: Atlus USA (NA), NIS America (EU)Released: July 28, 2015 (NA), August 28, 2015 (EU)MSRP: $39.99 The story begins with a man who calls himself "The End" authoring a string of deadly terror attacks and threatening to destroy the planet in 13 days unless someone can stop him. To do just that, the United Nations dispatches S.E.A.L.E.D., an elite team of teenage warriors with psychic powers. But before the final showdown, the kids must climb the villain's mysterious spire, where he awaits their arrival. The task is easier said than done, though, as the group soon discovers. During the ascent the team is locked in a room, where they learn there is a traitor in their midst whom they will need to "erase" before moving on to the next level. The task falls on central protagonist Sho Kasugai to use his visions and deductive skills to root out the traitors. When they're not pointing fingers at one another, the squad of psychics will need to work together to defeat an army of enigmatic robots that stand between them and their main objective. While the ensuing battles have been compared to those of Valkyria Chronicles, the resemblance isn't overly deep. Lost Dimension is indeed a tactical role-playing game with a similar aesthetic, but the combat here is entirely turn-based and has enough distinctive features to make it feel unique.  All of the characters have unique psychic abilities, ranging from offensive powers like telekinesis and pyrokinesis to defensive powers like healing and buffs. Using these abilities is tied to a pair of gauges, one of which is a sanity meter. In addition to managing what is essentially a mana bar, players will need to be mindful of the sanity meter, as depleting it can turn the tide of battle. Should a character run out of sanity, they will go berserk. In this state, players lose control over the character, who no longer differentiate friend from foe. It sounds bad at first, but berserk characters are extremely powerful, and utilizing them effectively is an essential strategy. Another great tactic at players' disposal in Lost Dimension is deferring, which, at the cost of a little sanity, can allow allied units to have multiple turns. This is great for taking advantage of enemy weaknesses with a powerful attacker or moving your forces across the battlefield quickly to close distance or retreat to a more defensible position. Since nearby units will assist their buddies in battle, stacking assists is another important part of the equation, netting you extra attacks for every ally in range. Of course, enemies can pull off this maneuver just as well, which can be pretty devastating. Missions are usually quick affairs, lasting around 10 minutes or so on average, which was ideal for playing the game on Vita. After they're finished, Sho will have a vision where he'll see brief glimpses into what his teammates are thinking -- which might help players identify traitors. There's another ability that should help you do this as well, which allows you to go into someone's subconscious mind and tell for sure if they're the traitor or not. Thing is, you can only use this ability three times per floor, so it's best to narrow down suspects before firing your silver bullets. Since the traitors are randomized, each experience with the game will be somewhat unique, ensuring someone's first run through the game will be different than the second. But it might be a tough sell for most to invest a couple more dozen hours in the game after seeing the credits roll. When a character is erased, they become Materia, which allows other characters to use the abilities they learned before their untimely demise. It's little things like this, and the whole tension surrounding judgement and betrayal that made Lost Dimension an enjoyable experience for me. Knowing I made a blunder early on and would have to watch one of my favorite characters betray me was something I dreaded throughout the journey. It was a huge source of dissonance, enjoying my interactions with someone that I knew was playing me and would ultimately make the final showdown with The End all the more difficult. Lost Dimension isn't particularly exceptional at anything it does, but I still really enjoyed the overall experience. It's a genuinely satisfying and memorable tactical RPG that I won't soon forget. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]  
Review: Lost Dimension photo
Keep your friends close, then kill them
It wasn't long before I realized my adventure in Lost Dimension wasn't going to end terribly well. My comrades and I were turning on one another, agreeing to sacrifice a teammate at the behest of our sworn enemy. None of...

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir photo
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir

Atlus localizing Odin Sphere HD remake in 2016

Vague, but I'll take it
Jul 24
// Kyle MacGregor
Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir is coming to the Americas sometime next year, Atlus confirmed today. The high-definition remake of Vanillaware's gorgeous PlayStation 2 role-playing game was unveiled earlier this week. On top of...
ATLUS photo

Persona 4: Dancing All Night gets a release date

Taking the stage September 29
Jul 24
// Kyle MacGregor
Persona 4: Dancing All Night launches in North America on September 29, Atlus has confirmed. The rhythm game has been out in Japan since late June and is planned for an autumn release in Europe, where NIS America is handling ...
P4D x Hatsune Miku photo
P4D x Hatsune Miku

Hatsune Miku joins Persona 4: Dancing All Night

A match made in Heaven
Jul 23
// Kyle MacGregor
In case you were wondering just how long it would take for Sega and Atlus to finally cross streams, Hatsune Miku is making a guest appearance in Persona 4: Dancing All Night. The digital diva will perform a remix of "Hea...
Sega  photo

Sega knows it 'betrayed' fans, admits Atlus taught it how to be better

'We'd like to win back trust'
Jul 22
// Chris Carter
[Update: Sega provided the following statement to Destructoid today, July 22: "Seeing our fans across the world respond to our recent interview with Famitsu, lets us know we've made the right first step in acknowledging...
Vanillware photo

Oh, Atlus and Vanillaware have another secret project in the works

Not the Odin Sphere remake
Jul 20
// Chris Carter
Just this morning, Atlus and Vanillaware announced the joint Odin Sphere: Leifdrasir project -- a PS3, PS4, and Vita remake of Odin Sphere with new content. It seems as if they have piggy-backed yet another tease o...
Atlus photo

That Atlus x Vanillaware game is Odin Sphere on PS3, PS4, and Vita

I'm in
Jul 20
// Chris Carter
[Update: check out the new trailer!] A short time ago Atlus and Vanillaware were teasing a special project, and now, they have confirmed that it's none other than Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir -- a new port for PS3, PS4...
thiEVO photo

EVO attendee steals PS Vita dev kit from Atlus

Down, down-right, right, theft
Jul 17
// Kyle MacGregor
Word on the ground at EVO is a PlayStation Vita has gone missing from Atlus USA's booth. Thing is, the hijacked machine happens to be a traceable dev kit, which can be deactivated remotely. The exhibitors say "all will be for...
And where tf is Boston? photo
And where tf is Boston?

Atlus teases HD project with Muramasa dev Vanillaware

That's all I got
Jul 17
// Steven Hansen
Visit this webpage (screen capture above). Ok, we're on the same level. Vanillaware most recently did an HD version of Muramasa for Vita in 2013 and also developed Dragon's Crown, which Atlus published (in Japan and North Ame...
Stella Glow photo
Stella Glow

Stella Glow coming to Europe spring 2016

Better late than never
Jul 10
// Kyle MacGregor
Stella Glow is coming to Europe next spring, NIS America has announced. The strategy role-playing game is the last effort from Japanese studio Imageepoch, which closed its doors back in May after filing for bankruptcy. Sega r...
Persona 4 Dancing photo
Persona 4 Dancing

Atlus fans have the best dance moves

All this energy's got us inspired now
Jul 05
// Kyle MacGregor
E3 is a sweaty, smelly place and Atlus did its damndest this year to take the electric circus' pungent aromas to new heights by getting over 1,000 up on stage to bump and grind with Teddie.
Attack on Titan 3DS photo
Attack on Titan 3DS

Attack on Titan now available on 3DS in Europe

Australia and New Zealand, too!
Jul 03
// Kyle MacGregor
Shingeki no Kyojin: Humanity in Chains has finally arrived for the Nintendo 3DS in PAL territories. The action game allows players to suit up in Omni-directional Mobility Gear and take on Titans as either familiar faces from the manga and anime series or characters of your own creation. For €30, the (digital-only) title comes with an exclusive 3DS theme. You can find our review here.

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