The Persona series has risen in popularity ever since Persona 4 Golden became the must-have PlayStation Vita exclusive as it dominates top 10 lists for the handheld. It also should be noted that Persona 5’s marketing push in Japan and in the west was nearly flawless and made it out to be a “must own” game, even if the player hasn’t played any other title in the series. With that notoriety, it seems Atlus is doubling down on the series popularity by releasing Persona 3 Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5 Dancing in Starlight to the west on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita on December 4.
However, with each of these games being $59.99 USD in North America and a bundle of the two for $99.99, if you could only buy one, which one should you get, and is it worth the price?
To answer the question in one sentence: It’s totally up to you how you want to spend your money. With that said, these are expensive games featuring characters that fans have grown to love, so a publisher looking for a quick cash grab isn’t totally out of the question. Luckily, each title, from what we’ve seen, has been handled with love and care and give players an experience that they will enjoy if they feel close to these characters or really love rhythm games.
So let’s begin the breakdown, with Persona 3 Dancing in Moonlight:
P3D originally released in the west in 2007 on PlayStation 2, the game received several re-releases which added new characters and extra content. In terms of story, depending on how long ago you played Persona 3, P3D will provide you the most nostalgia during its story sections. That’s just the nature of the beast with this being an older title. These characters interacting again with each other like years have separated their reunion is something that fans will greatly enjoy.
However, for new fans of the series, I don’t think the conversations, unique character personalities, and nuances will stick well, and the story scenes will just be passed up. The game relies on the player to have already been a long time fan of the series, but being as old as it is, I doubt many new fans busted out their PS2’s and PSP’s to play the game.
When it comes to music, P3D steals the show between both titles. The game’s soundtrack has just had so much time to be remixed and redeveloped over the years across multiple releases that it excels in comparison to P5D’s soundtrack. Also, I think the songs featuring a group of characters are more enjoyable with an overall better presentation.
Now, onto Persona 5 Dancing in Starlight:
Let’s be honest here, Persona 5 made it cool to be a JRPG nerd. With turn-based combat taking a back seat in mainstream JRPGs, Atlus stayed true to their formula and showed everyone how captivating and entertaining the genre can be. When it comes to P5D, all of that style and flair is present and the characters are as expressive as they’ve ever been. This game was made for the new fanbase of players and uses that to its full advantage by featuring some great fan service moments and interactions.
However (there’s always a “however”), P5D lacks the soundtrack quality of P3D and it shows early on after you’ve played different versions the same song 4 times. Similarly, the group tracks during the game aren’t nearly as good as P3D, with one being the credits scene from Persona 5, which is a very long and slow song.
What P5D does well overall is style and fan service. The game knows what players want and they give it. Justine and Caroline also steal the show in terms of story and creating some great moments during the game. Although it doesn’t have the same nostalgia as P3D, it definitely has the award for being a more popular group of characters.
In conclusion, both Persona 3 Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5 Dancing in Starlight are so similar in gameplay that it isn’t possible to choose based on the mechanics or features. Instead, it really depends on if you’ve been a long time fan of the series or are a recent adopter. Both games have 25 tracks, a VR mode, and lengthy fully voiced story scenes, but only one game has Futaba.
In all seriousness, these are expensive games, so making the choice of which will interest you more is important. For us, they were both great and fun games mechanically, but that’s coming from longtime fans of the series. So if you can only purchase one, I think it comes down to whether you want a stronger soundtrack or flashy and stylish fan service.
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