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FGC #633 Sonic CD

Truly, he must go fastThe future ain’t what it used to be.

Here in the present, we are looking at Sonic CD. Sonic CD is the chronological sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog that was released shortly after Sonic the Hedgehog 2. It started its existence as a port of Sonic 2 for the brand-new Sega CD hardware, but evolved during development into something wholly unique in the Sonic the Hedgehog canon. But, as a result of being tied to finnicky hardware and not being rereleased nearly as often as its contemporaries, Sonic CD has become something of the black sheep of the 2-D Sonic family. While some claim Sonic CD is the pinnacle of 16(ish)-bit platformers, many more shuffle Sonic CD into the “don’t bother” pile with the Master System games and Knuckles Chaotix. In short, a lot of professed Sonic fans will tell you not to waste your time.

And that is a shame, because Sonic CD is all about time. Superficially, Sonic CD’s plot and setting are based on a magical island where the past, present, and future are a little bit more accessible than elsewhere on Mobius, and this grants the hedgehog and his most hated scientist buddy the opportunity to wage war across different epochs. Most worlds start in a pleasant present, but Sonic can easily travel to the future to see a world where Robotnik has conquered the (little) planet, or zoom back to the past to repel the egg army before it ever got going. And how does one save the world from the past? Well, it requires searching over the whole of the current zone, and finding/destroying two of Eggman’s “traps” (the animal/plant containment unit is understandable, but a projector of Metal Sonic somehow changing the shape of destiny raises questions). And the important part of that? The searching. Whereas general “secrets” have always been a part of the Sonic formula, Sonic CD dedicatedly hides two “essential” secrets in two distinct locations in every zone. This is not a situation wherein you simply push against every wall to find a giant ring transporter or two, this is an open invitation to learn the maps of these zones, and devote yourself to finding their specific minutiae. This is a “gotta go fast” Sonic the Hedgehog title, but the player is also all but told they will be more successful if they take their time.

But all is not lost if you absolutely want to play a Sonic the Hedgehog game like a hyperactive omnivore. There are two routes to the good ending: you can either explore every level and find (/destroy) every collectible, or you can conquer the special stages at the end of each level, and obtain all the Time Stones. Apparently claiming the Time Stones guarantees that Eggman will never find these precious rocks, and this will create the same eternally happy ending for everyone on Little Planet. And regardless of method, how do you know you obtained said happy ending? Well, you will see a happy little message at the end of every zone like so…

GOOD END

And fun fact? I am pretty sure that message triggered some kind of PTSD in my soul.

Mainly because I finally put my library back together after a year (home improvements! Oh boy!), I have been reading some “classic” comics recently. It has been mostly stuff from the 90’s heyday of the immediate aftermath of the likes of Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, and Neil Gaiman setting the funny papers ablaze a few years earlier. And the amusing thing about reading comics from this nebulous 90’s-or-so era? There are always excuses to peek at the far-off future of a few decades down the line, and it is not uncommon for their future to be literally now. 2015 or 2020 seems to be the exact point that a lot of authors of the time settled on for “the future”, and, while it is always fun to mock a random writer’s attempts at guessing the trends of the future (where is my jetpack fuetcha, you monsters?!), there is another pervasive trend in predicting the future: it is bad. And that is okay! Because these are fictional works starring heroes and heroines trying to make the world a better place. It is only natural that they would witness a “bad future” so they can be reminded what they are fighting for and/or against. A good future is bad! It’s boring! A future where your girlfriend has been transformed into a snake monster, and your best friend is missing all the fun appendages gives you something to struggle against. Are these the shadows of the things that will be, or are they shadows of things that may be, only? Keep reading to find out!

Away we goBut there is a bit of an issue with the persistent use of the “bad future” trope. As someone currently living in the revolutionary future of 2022, I can confirm that we never saw half this “bad” coming. There is an international plague, and the biggest reason it spreads is the economy would be really inconvenienced if Sneezin’ Harold didn’t come in today to properly stock the Chex Mix. Our politicians are not necessarily overly corrupt ghouls, but they are almost universally old enough to base their decisions on opinions formed roughly around the fall of disco. And let’s not overlook the fact that an entire generation seems to have been brainwashed by online services initially created for the purpose of distributing silly cat pictures. Which generation am I talking about? Could be a few choices there! And the scary thing about all this? I wouldn’t even call this present-future bad. It’s not like we have to worry about dictators with alien, orange skin ascending to illegitimate power or something. Things can’t be all that bad! Nobody I know has cybernetic arms!

And it kind of scares me that we could be living in the exact bad future we have been warned of by fiction going back the last hundred years… and we just… got used to it? Sonic CD has a clear bad future: it is the future where Dr. Robotnik has conquered the planet. But do the happy little animals that have not been robotocized in that “future” still go about their daily lives? Are they still doing the same things they have always done, just with a few more badniks around? Sonic can save Amy Rose and “beat the game” without ever once creating a good future. Does that mean Sonic is okay with all of this? Just so long as the people close to him are safe, Sonic is totally cool with whatever the future brings? That is very zen of you, you monster.

I played trumpetBah! I’m overanalyzing a game about a hedgehog trying to stop a robot hedgehog from kidnapping a pink hedgehog. To the best of anyone’s knowledge, Sonic CD was never intended as a social commentary on the world that would exist three decades after its release. These are just the musings of a writer that has experience an unusual amount of trauma in the last few years (and months and weeks and days). Things feel bad, and you are now reading these anxieties given written flesh and marginally viable metaphors. No badniks are currently littering the streets.

But there is something we can learn from Sonic CD. Sonic might not have to create good futures, but he can, and it just takes a little effort. Maybe it is through careful exploration, maybe through conquering special stages, but Sonic does have the ability to change the course of history. And we do, too. Are we living in a bad future? Maybe. But there is still more future ahead of us, and we can change that. Bad things have happened. Horrible decisions have been made. But it is not all over yet, and we can still put in the effort, and fish out whatever Time Stones are going to fix the mess.

You can make a good future (at least in zone 2).

FGC #633 Sonic CD

  • Here we go!System: Would you believe this was initially available on the Sega CD? It’s true! It seems there was also a standalone port on Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PC around 2011, and it was part of the Sonic Gems Collection on Playstation 2 and Gamecube. It most recently was available as part of the Sonic Origins compilation on Playstation 4/5, Xbox X/S, and Nintendo Switch (no slash).
  • Number of players: If there is a two player racing mode or something here, we are not acknowledging it.
  • Port O Call: As you have likely guessed, most screenshots in this article are from the Sonic Origins version of Sonic CD. What has changed from the original release? I have no idea! I mean, it is widescreen, there is no such thing as “lives”, there is the “drop dash”, you can retry special stages repeatedly; we all know those changes are in there. But the little things? Other than the fact that they dropped Sonic’s “I’m out of here” voice, I have no clue about the little things that have been changed. Let’s assume the fact that I played this a lot more intently than the Sonic Gems version is a simple matter of the ergonomics of the Nintendo Switch, and not because they made sweeping changes.
  • Favorite Boss: The Egg Conveyer is a deadly treadmill meant to trap Sonic in an endless loop of running… but the weakness of the Egg Conveyer is the very treadmill Sonic will inevitably run upon. So, basically, Robotnik built a machine that is weak to its own purpose. This is why you always fail, Ivo.
  • Favorite Zone: Stardust Speedway joins Sonic the Hedgehog’s Star Light Zone as another star-themed zone that is my absolute favorite. And, hey, I dislike Tidal Tempest as much as Labyrinth Zone! This really should have been the “first” sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog!
  • Goggle Bob Fact: I played through Sonic CD once before, but apparently it did not stick in my mind, as I totally forgot Sonic Mania’s Metallic Madness first appeared as the final zone of Sonic CD. I thought the shrink ray and “tetris spikes” were original to Mania!
  • Watch it, Buddy: In honor of the release of Sonic Origins, BEAT was going to play Sonic 3 & Knuckles on the stream. But he get held up for a week, so I was forced to play Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) instead. I am not going to play that again for the FGC, so here is the stream:

    Please enjoy watching how long it takes for me to get a ball in a hole.
  • Did you know? Every bad future theme on the Japanese soundtrack has lyrics/singing except Tidal Tempest. I do not know why bad futures gets vocal tracks, and what Tidal Tempest did to avoid such a fate, but here we are.
  • Would I play again: Count me as someone who finds Sonic CD to be more of a forgotten gem than a stain on Sonic’s good name. That said, I would still probably play one of the Sega Genesis CD-less titles first. Maybe I will get to this one again on its inevitable next rerelease.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Martial Champion! Never heard of it? I’m not surprised! Come back next week, and learn something new! Please look forward to it!

Look out!

Wild Arms 2 Part 01: Going to the Dogs

Are you ready for a Let’s Play so wild, you’re gonna need two arms to contain it!?

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for a Let’s Play of Wild Arms 2: Second Ignition. Why WA2? Well, I’ll explain that in full detail much later, but, long story short, for the last fifteen years or so, I’ve felt like I owed Wild Arms 2 a favor, and now is as good a time as any to settle that debt.

We are starting a new game! Mostly! By the way, unlike Wild Arms 1, there is no secret cinema scene if you wait on the title screen long enough. Believe me, I checked.

But like Wild Arms, there is a rad introduction sequence when you start up the game. It’s not as good as the Wild Arms 1 intro, but then again, many people have described the birth of their first child as “not as good as the Wild Arms 1 intro.”

And the first glimpse of a character is ol’ Spineyhands McCloakneck. I’m sure he’ll be important later.

Each of the Wild Arms games has a… gun-sounding? Is that a phrase?… subtitle. Should I be abbreviating this game as WA2ndI? No.

Trudging through the desert is…

Vote 2016 Part 2: One Week Later

I’m not a Democrat. I’m certainly not a Republican. I consider myself politically independent, because I’m a precious little snowflake with completely unique views on all the issues. I take the time during every election to sit down and research every candidate, and then I make my pick based entirely on the facts, using cold, emotionless reason to make my choices. I am a voting machine, almost literally.

So it was unusual when, last week, I voted for every single Democratic candidate, and not a single Republican. I did this because I plainly could not bring myself to vote for the same party that even marginally supported Donald Trump. Donald Trump’s national campaign of hate for 99% of the world’s population was a bit too much for me, and I could not in any way support the institution that sat back and said, “Yes, this is fine. Please do this more.” Yes there were Republicans that chastised Trump for… grabbing pussy? They were okay with everything else? Especially the “Mexicans are rapists” crap? That got the man fired from NBC, but, no, the Republicans were pretty extraordinarily cool with that. I was not, and I could not in good conscious vote for any institution that was.

But I was evidently the minority. Okay, that isn’t true, Clinton did win the popular vote, but it didn’t help. Trump is now the President-Elect of the United States of America, and, God help us all, he will be our sitting President for the next four years.

And, in trying to discern how we got to this point, I remembered my own brief political career.

This will surprise absolutely no one, but I was kind of a nerd in high school. I was the morning DJ for our in-house television network, a member of the computer club, and I fooled around in the school play my senior year. But before all that, the club I joined before I even technically attended high school (they start early!) was marching band. I had been in “band” since fourth grade (I was a nerdy middleschooler, too!), and despite some of my friends dropping out of the activity to pursue “cool” endeavors like track or basketball, I was going to stick with marching band. It was a lot of effort for very little fame or recognition, but I’ve got my trumpet, I’m going to blow my horn on that football field like a champ!

Only problem was that I wasn’t very good at it.

I wasn’t terrible. I’ve got quick fingers (for some reason), and the ability to move in time with other marchers, but, ultimately, I don’t think I ever had the lips for it. Or the rhythm. Or the endurance. Or the ability to memorize music. Or the attention span to ever practice for more than five minutes. In retrospect, I probably could have been the best little trumpeter in the history of trumpeting, but I’d rather be playing Final Fantasy 7 (released opposite my first marching band season), and I was pretty much just in the band to hang out with my (predominantly extra nerdy) peer group. I was never going to be first trumpet, drum major, or even a remotely good role model for the incoming freshman, so I basically just resigned myself to being a marching band “body” in the formation.

But I did realize where I might be able to make a difference: band management.

My sophomore year, I ran for band vice president. I ran on a platform of electing me, an underclassman, as vice president now, so I could learn the ropes, and then make big changes when I was inevitably president the following year (and I’d be a Junior President, not a Senior, which would mean I’d actually care about the band because I wasn’t about to graduate out in a year). I ran on a platform of issues within the band that I’d make it my purpose to reform, and I did my best to appeal to the valuable freshman vote, because I figured they’d have the most reason to support an underclassman with their interests at heart.

I lost.

I… wasn’t terribly surprised.

The following year, my friend Toni decided to run for band president. Toni was not a political person, and only volunteered for candidacy because the graduating seniors thought she would be a good president. Toni was not super popular, she was simply that kind of person that fails to exist in teen movies: well-liked, generally personable, but not ever going to be prom queen or class president. Her greatest accomplishment was not offending practically anyone. Suffice it to say, she was not exactly a shoe-in for band president, but she chose me as her running mate. She remembered my campaign from the previous year, and basically said, “Hey, wanna be my VP? Nobody else wants to do it.” She… might have literally said that.

So I agreed, and we had a week to prepare for the “election”, which would take place after everyone running for office presented a short speech on “why you should vote for me (us)”. We did nothing during that week. We didn’t canvass the voters, we didn’t try to grease the gears of democracy, and I don’t think we even actually saw each other. We kind of ran in different social circles, so, meh, we’ll throw something together on Election Day.

And throw something together we did. In the fifteen minutes before practice started, Toni and I worked out a kick-ass speech, mostly written by yours truly. It had slogans. It had audience participation. It involved a random conscripted dude (who I’m pretty sure had a crush on Toni) tossing a tennis ball on stage so she could prove she’d “catch” any incoming problems. It was a thing of beauty, and, to this day, one of my greatest regrets is that it was not recorded or in any way transcribed, because it was one of those rare occasions in my life where I can safely say I went from zero to hero inside of a half hour.

And we won. Despite running against some of the most popular kids in the marching band (Ha! Oxymoron!), we achieved victory. When I canvassed the band geeks about my (surprising) victory a little later, the most common response was, “Well, I voted for you because you put the most effort into your campaign.” That was, as I’ve said, complete bullshit, but it was bullshit no one recognized. We won on a platform of a complete lie, and I’m still proud of such an achievement.

Now, I obviously want to draw a comparison between my own stupid little marching band campaign and that of the woefully under qualified and already-backpedaling President Elect, but there’s a coda to my story…

Unlike my losing sophomore run, my victorious junior Vice Presidency was predicated on a platform of “hey, why not”. Toni and I had no real “plan” for the band, and the following year… Uh… Well, sorry to say, but I don’t think there was a band student government. I remember showing up for one meeting in the Fall, and past that… No, I think we literally did nothing. Toni and I straight up failed the band geeks, and I want to say the reason the Class of 2001 Band Trip was “nowhere” was entirely on us. We went to California in 1999! 2001? Nothing. The following year, there were no band government elections, and the director simply chose the smelly kid to be president by right of “she’ll probably actually do something”. As a result, I felt as bad as a teenager could possibly feel about marching band student government, which isn’t really that much. Does this impact how often I make out with my girlfriend? No? Okay then.

But it’s that feeling that I want to talk about. It’s that feeling that made President Trump.

Look, that stuff earlier about not being a Democrat? It’s bullshit, I know I’m a Democrat. About 90% of my beliefs align with Democratic Philosophy, and much of the Republican platform makes me downright ill. Right off the top of my head, I don’t think I could ever vote for a party that so vehemently indicts a woman’s right to choose (and it doesn’t matter to me whether that’s because of a genuine belief, or a desperate need for the evangelical vote). And, as I’ve been reminded in recent days, I have a lot of friends and family with similar beliefs. Even the people that seem to be just generally in my orbit (local business owner I’m kinda friends with, retired secretary from a job I had fifteen years ago, ex-mistress of a dude I used to be in a band with) all seem to vaguely Democratic, and it makes me think that these people are my friends and support group because we share similar temperaments and beliefs. It’s a stereotype, but the archetypical “all bluster” Republican is not the kind of guy (inevitably guy) that I can deal with on a frequent basis, so people with those tendencies have fallen by the wayside as I’ve aged. It’s almost entirely by accident, but I surround myself by likeminded people, and they’re mostly all Democrats (or at least, evidently, very anti-Trump).

And, honestly, I feel like a great problem with my social circle is that we’re all a bunch of weenies.

Yes, we talk a big game. Yes, we post those dank memes about our favorite candidates. But, when you get down to it, I think I have exactly one (1) friend on my entire buddy list that is active about actually getting off her ass and going to political rallies. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of my friends hold up a protest sign for anything but eating meat, and I can very safely say not a single one of my friends has ever stood up to law enforcement for any reason (because I know my friends, and if it happened to a single one of them, they’d never stop talking about it, ever). We’re not fighters, but again, I feel like my social circle breaks that way is because I don’t like fighting. Who needs the aggravation?

And I keep coming back to that stupid marching band election. I keep coming back to how thrilled I was to win, and then how useless I was as an actual politician. That was just on the meager level of a high school marching band (here’s a tip, a high school marching band has never dramatically impacted international politics), but it’s still an event that sticks in my mind. There, at the age of sixteen (or so?), I had already determined that I might be a great showman, but I’m a terrible leader. Or vice-leader. Whatever. Point is that I could use theatrics to win a position I’m not trained for, but that wouldn’t make my qualifications any less insubstantial, and, ultimately, the people that voted for me would suffer. I’m certain I’m not the only one of my friends, not the only Democrat, with this experience, and I’m sure there are a million Democrats out there that are fit for public office, but don’t want to descend into that “dog and pony show” sphere that Is the current political arena. Any of these Democrats could make a killing in the political field, but who wants to be subject to the circus that is modern day politics?

Well, maybe someone would like to step up and be the next “Democrat version of Trump”. Here’s a fun fact: a Democratic Trump might be a crazy misrepresentation of his or her party, but they couldn’t be nearly as racist as the Trump campaign! And that’s important!

Look, we all know the world we live in today. I spent months making that Bohemian Rhapsody video for the #200 entry, but I know that I could get about twelve times more hits if I just posted a video of my mother’s cats chasing a laser pointer. They’re such silly kitties! How many people here have ever posted a link to Youtube, and added the qualifier, “oh, wait for it, it gets good after fifteen seconds”? Think about that. Think about what it means that you have to convince someone to wait fifteen seconds to get to a good part, and think about what it means that you know most people won’t even bother to do that. We all know we live in the information age, and, if, you know where to look, you could literally download every song that has ever existed, right now, for free, and be listening to the entire playlist by dinnertime. You could be playing the entire NES library right now, for free, and the only reason you’re not is because you have other things to do with your time. And that’s the crux of it, with so many avenues available, we no longer have to worry about being bored ever.

So why do we think a “boring” candidate is ever going to work again? Why did Clinton campaign on policy and facts when her opponent could literally deny what he said seconds earlier midway through a sentence? Why, in the age of hundred word tweets dictating the course of popularity did we ever think winning five hours of live debates would mean anything? How many people actually watched the debates? And how many people actually voted? The answer is ten million less Democrats than voted for the audacity of hope. Let’s face the music, people, politics is entertainment now, and the American public is going to vote for the best entertainer. Trump might wind up being the worst President in the history of the nation, but, dammit, he’s funny to watch. And that’s enough for a lot of people. That’s enough for sixty million people.

And if you want to claim there were a pile of other reasons to vote for Trump, consider how many of those reasons come down to his ability to properly articulate his position and project his own beliefs. He’s a great businessman? No, Paris Hilton was able to grow her inheritance at a better rate than a guy who did nothing but try to please his daddy for decades. He cares about the little guy? No, his long history of business ventures tells the story of a man who absolutely will not pay for anything unless legally forced, and that includes paying small businesses and craftsmen. He’s going to get jobs? Sanction foreign powers? Build a wall? How? He never presented a worthwhile answer to any of those important questions. And, probably his biggest plus, he “feels the pain” of the disenfranchised, he knows the plight of forgotten Middle America, and he’s going to make America the great nation it once was… Except, come on, guys, he’s a wealthy New York City trust fund brat. He’s a “Washington outsider”, yes, but only because no other political party would touch his odious ass over the last seventy years.

But none of that matters, because Trump presented himself as a genuine man who would fight for your rights. Even after… everything… that happened during the last year, he still denied every last allegation, and never wavered on his own belief in himself. I said all along that Trump wasn’t running for President, he was running for Trump, a position that had to be Trump at all times. What I didn’t expect was that so many people wanted Trump to be Trump, and that’s all it takes to become President. People gobbled up Trump hook, line, and sinker, and now we’re all on the sushi table.

I know I’m defeating my own point by throwing 3,000 words at “we need to start thinking like punchy little youtubbers” (Christ, I can’t even think of a concise way to say that), but this is what the world needs right now. Yes, I mean “the world”. Trump is going to be bad for everybody: for proof, just ask Mexico how their market is looking right now after merely the promise of Trump taking power. Maybe I’m being naïve, but I’m not worried about Trump nuking the whole of humanity… and the fact that such a thing is even on the table now is striking. One way or another, Trump is going to be the end of a lot of things, and whether or not these are things that you care about, he’s going to have an impact on the rest of Western society.

And it all wouldn’t have happened if the Democrats hadn’t run, in short, a nerd.

People want their cat videos. People want their ten second memes. People want a candidate that says one thing, and says it over and over again. People want the showman. The Democrats ignored this, and we’re all worse for it. We, every single Democrat, ignored this simple truth. It might have been for the right reasons, but “the right reasons” aren’t going to keep the polar ice caps from melting, or from children growing up in a world filled with racism/misogyny/homophobia. Yes, we’re all afraid of being that ineffectual band vice president (or that might just be me), but it’s time to get out there and do something, and posting nonsense on Facebook isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Run the clown. Join the circus. We literally cannot do any worse than the man that was just elected.

Make Democrats great again.

FGC #101 Persona 4 Dancing All Night

Gaze into my eyesDid you enjoy Persona 4? Yes? Great! You’re not alone! Millions of gamers worldwide enjoyed Persona 4, and Atlus, ever one to hitch their wagon to a bucking bronco and hope for the best, decided to exploit that love with a series of Persona 4 spin-offs. Persona 4 wound up with its own portable redux (which was great!), two fighting games (which were alright!), and an Etrian dungeon crawler (if that’s your thing!). Then, when it seemed like we’d finally get Persona 4: Super Yosuke World, Atlus zagged and gave us a rhythm game, because… I guess Rise is an idol, so… why not?

Now, full disclosure, I love rhythm games. From Gitaroo-Man to Guitar Hero to Project Diva, I unashamedly enjoy rhythm games, primarily because I just like pressing buttons. Tell me you never tried to complete a Sonic the Hedgehog level by only jumping to the beat. No? Alright, fine. Maybe it’s just me. Whatever the reason, I’m not lining up on a cold January evening at midnight to get the latest Parappa game (should such a thing ever exist), but I do generally enjoy rhythm games, and, one way or another, the latest releases do have a way of showing up on my systems after a while (and that “while” usually means “flash sale”).

So, as someone who enjoys Persona and rhythm games, this game couldn’t be any more obviously my kind of game without including a little blue robot. But I must never assume I am the majority, even in the face of how many Transformers movies keep getting produced. Persona 4 was popular, but it was a JRPG, which is, give or take Mario & Luigi, about as far from a rhythm game as you can get. In the interest of helping a potentially confused populace, here’s a guide: ask yourself what you enjoyed about Persona 4, and then check below for how that translates to Persona 4: Dancing All night.

Did you play Persona 4 for the Social Links?

Bad news: everything about the Social Link system of Persona 4 was dropped for Dancing All Night. With the exception of family and party members, every single social link character has been completely lost, save a “secret” cameo by a certain Velvet room resident. ElectronicaOn one hand, this saves us from having to see expert trombonist Ayane Matsunaga ever again, on the other hand, we are deprived of a world where we can watch Mistress of Death Hisano Kuroda bust a move (and maybe a hip). Considering all the Persona 4 sequels (that phrase makes my brain itch) have played fast and loose with continuity, I’m not buying the “we didn’t bring back any of these characters because they were all optional” justification. I want to see Fox the fox dance for shrine offerings, dammit, I don’t want excuses!

Did you play Persona 4 for the calendar management sim?

Sorry, but no day planning for you. The entirety of this game takes place over three days or so, and you get absolutely no choices on how you want to spend your dancing time. Come to think of it, the plot of the game involves a universe with freaky, parallel time, which seems like a mere plot contrivance, but it could have allowed for perfect, 100% completion runs for choosing exactly when to eat a snack or study while in a nega-universe. Or maybe that sounds ridiculous by even Persona standards.

Did you play Persona 4 for the Dungeons/Battle System?

Woo, yeah, this is another one in the loss column. Yes, the party fights their way through shadows creeping over a series of dungeons, but it’s done entirely via text boxes. So, yes, there’s a dungeon involved, but, no, you don’t get to I'm sorryexplore an inch of it. Not that Persona 4’s dungeons were all that great to being with… but someone had to enjoy them? Right?

As far as the battle system of Persona 4, no, nothing returns. Obviously, this is a rhythm game, but there’s no attempt to implement the tiniest bit of Persona 4’s strategy into the gameplay. Particular hits to exploit elemental weaknesses or “all out” bonuses for making proper choices are not a possibility here, and the closest we get is calling in an additional party member when you’re already doing well. Considering the “strategy” involved with that is simply “don’t suck”, I have a hard time saying there’s any remains of the battle system here.

Did you play Persona 4 for all those whacky demons/gods?

If you enjoyed filling the pages of the compendium for Persona 4, great news! You don’t have to do that again… because Dancing All Night removes that idea entirely. Playing demon Pokémon with fusions and collections and leveling and skill mutating and whatever is all completely gone, and not coming back. It’s a shame, because I’m currently imagining a compendium with various international pop stars mix and matched with random mythological creatures and… no… No, it’s too beautiful for this world. David Bowie mixed with Helios? And he has skills that increase the odds of your combos continuing? It would be nice…

Did you play Persona 4 for the main cast?

Now we’re talking… Yes! Yes, Persona 4 Dancing All Night highlights all your favorite main characters, and even is the Persona 4 spin-off that takes place the I'm shipping thisfurthest in the future, so you get to see how everyone turns out. And it turns out… no one ever changes, and everyone will forever be exactly how you remember them, because character growth is for people in other franchises. Hell, a couple of characters have to backslide a bit just so they can have the exact same revelations all over again! Hooray for familiarity!

Did you play Persona 4 for the plot?

Well.. errmm… about that… uh…..

Did you play Persona 4 for a billion words with zero substance?

There we go!

Persona 4 was, at its core, a mystery, and a pretty interesting mystery at that. It established its stakes early, set forth a distinct pattern, and then challenged the player to find and assemble all clues into the correct answer. Fight your way to the truth, stay honest, do what’s right, and you’ll “achieve” the best ending in Persona 4 by being a good detective, and a good person.

Unfortunately, Persona 4 also assumed its audience was marginally brain-damaged, so it “reviewed” the plot on a monthly (in game) basis, which often led to the characters saying the same stupid things over and over to each other. Oh, you say there’s a fog involved? I completely forgot about that, given you only mentioned it seven times in the last two hours. It… got old fast.

SHUT UPThen again, I can’t really fault the writers of Persona 4, as the game can be an eighty hour experience, and not everyone has the kind of life that would allow for that time commitment all at once. It’s a pain when you’re marathoning the experience, but it’s a boon when you’re thirty hours into the game, but only have an hour or two a week to play. That would mean you’re, what, fifteen weeks away from when you started the story? Everyone plays video games differently, and there’s no reason to penalize a player that can’t hook the game to their veins.

So, in an eighty hour game, all that talky-talk makes sense. In a game that can be completely 100%’ed inside of ten hours? Not so much.

Persona 4 Dancing All Night really, really wants to be a visual novel. This may work in a JRPG, it even can pass in the Fighting Game genre with contemporaries like Blazblue and Guilty Gear, but a rhythm game? Oh my, no. When the average “battle” is something like three minutes long and very thumb-intensive, slapping ten minutes of dialogue on either side of the experience is exhausting. Yes, you can skip all the jibber-jabber, but, assuming you’re anything like me, there’s that fear that “there will be a test on this later”, and you’ll hit a brick wall because you don’t know what choice to make. If that sounds absurd, remember that that exact thing can bar you from the proper ending in Persona 4.

And all this wouldn’t even be that bad if the story wasn’t deliberately constructed in such a manner that the same stupid beats happen rapidly (and boringly) over and over again. When one of the characters is going the distance and lampshading the issue about 40% through the game…

THEN STOP IT

You know something’s up.

Yes, Persona 4 was a very talky game, but there was substance there, and the thousands of text boxes actually added up to something interesting. Here, the plot is obvious from the first fifteen minutes (particularly if you’ve, you know, played Persona 4), which is coincidentally how long it takes to get to the first dance in the game. Guys, I understand you likely slapped together this plot because you wanted to see the P4 cast experience some actually meaningful victories, and not just fluffy “yay you beat Bowser” quick wins… but this story still manages to be insubstantial. It’s going to a fancy steak house and being served an entrée of potato chips; all that effort, and you probably would have enjoyed it more in your pajamas.

But if you like Persona 4’s plot for just the words and words and words, congratulations, here’s your game.

Did you play Persona 4 for its music?

Oh, this is another good one! This game has a lot of really great music tracks from Persona 4 for some reason. It’s almost like that’s the entire point of So weird...the game, but that seems absurd, because there’s like an hour’s worth of music here, and approximately nine hours of dialogue. Your reward for completing the game isn’t more musical tracks, it’s more story, so, clearly, this must be a story-driven game. It’s nice that they included such a wide musical variety with the story, though.

So, Is Persona 4 Dancing All Night right for you?

Bow before your teddy-bear garbed master, you’re buying another Persona 4 spin-off whether you like it or not. Don’t you want to know what happens to Risette’s singing career? No? You’re not even a little bit curious? Come on, there’s shadows, and costumes, and the Velvet room. It’s all beary interesting! Come on, give it a whirl…

FGC #101 Persona 4 Dancing All Night

  • System: PS Vita. Oddly, so far, the only exclusive Vita games I’ve reviewed are Persona 4 based.
  • Number of players: One. Actually, this game might be two players, but that would require finding another Vita owner, and that doesn’t sound possible.
  • Special Ed: Yes, I ordered the special edition of this game about six months in advance from Amazon, and, yes, I still have Golden Disco Teddy on my keychain. I am a shameless mark for any and all Persona related merchandise. I think I own like six Persona art books…
  • Favorite Track: There’s a lot of great music in this game, but none of it is as ridiculous as the expanded Junes Theme. In a way, that song had to be in there, but in another? It’s like they expanded a McDonald’s jingle to three minutes, and then based a music video on it. That takes a special kind of dedication.
  • FrogmanFavorite Coda: So every character’s persona gets a rad solo for completing a song as flawlessly as possible. Each persona has a different featured instrument, and Chie’s Tomoe is equipped with a trumpet. I cannot describe how absolutely perfectly this makes sense and aligns with every lady trumpet player I have ever known. Congratulations, Persona 4, I now concede that you understand brass sections.
  • Did you know? I actually mentioned the “Rise was supposed to be a punk” trivia in the previous Persona 4 entry, but I want to revisit it because without “Risette the idol”, it’s likely that this game would have had to find a whole new excuse for its existence. Maybe Yosuke gets bored and hooks up with a dance troupe, and the rest of the cast has to join in to save him? It would have at least been more interesting than what we got…
  • Would I play again: Yes. I might be hard on the story mode of this game, but I love rhythm games, and, when you get down to it, the rhythm game part of this rhythm game is actually pretty good. And I like the music! Just have to ignore the part of the game that obviously involved the most production time…

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… The Legend of Zelda! Actually, ROB chose that Zelda compilation for the Gamecube, but I’m not reviewing four Zelda games at once, so we’re sticking to the original. 102 entry has the bomb. Please look forward to it!