Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight, also known as Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night in Japan, is a rhythm game for the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation Vita. The PS4 version of the game is also compatible with PlayStation VR in a limited manner.
Developed by Atlus’ P Studio, and simultaneously released alongside Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight, it is a spiritual successor to 2015’s Persona 4: Dancing All Night. The game features the characters and music of Persona 3, with all-new songs, and remixes as well.
For a slight change of pace, the Tartarus-touring team’s sub-consciousnesses have been invited by Elizabeth to “a subterranean garden of uninhibited spectacle, where dancers are dictated by the sway of one’s inner passions,” also known as Club Velvet.
Not to be outdone by her older or younger sisters, Elizabeth, or Eli-P (short for Producer) has decided to hold a dance party as a means of determining who, out of the Velvet Room siblings, has the best guests of them all. Thinking it could be fun, and seeing how dancing between dream and reality, mind and matter, has the added benefit of making them able to pull off professional-level moves without dedicating years of practice to the art form, the members of S.E.E.S. agree to help her out.
There are two different game modes available in Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight
The “Dancing!” mode is the equivalent of the “Free Dance” mode from Persona 4: Dancing All Night. This is where the player can choose which song they would like to play, and on which difficulty.
Each song has a dancer assigned to it, and they cannot be changed. However, once the player has completed a song, they will get to choose which, if any, additional dancers will support the main one during the song’s “Fever Time” sections. Additional partners can be unlocked for songs by clearing the song in question on the game’s different difficulty options. Each pairing of dancers has unique choreography, and dialogue between them.
In addendum, if the song is long enough, and features two Fever Time sections, the player can pick a different character for each, or if they so choose, the same one twice. This is a new feature in P3D, since previously in P4D, the latter was the only option. Once a song has been chosen, the player can then customize their dancer or dancers’ appearance as they please.
At first, only 4 out of the 25 playable songs are available, but more can be unlocked by simply completing songs on the difficulty of the player’s choosing, or by fulfilling various assignments, described inside the brand-new “Social” mode.
Replacing the traditional Story Mode from P4D is the Social mode (also known as the Commu mode in Japan). This is where the player can engage in fully voice-acted Social Link-like events with the members of the Special Extracurricular Execution Squad, and the “Lethal Elevator Attendant,” Elizabeth.
Starting out, each character has 5 Social scenes that can be viewed after they have been unlocked. These scenes can be accessed by completing various tasks. The tasks are different for each character, and they include everything from hitting notes well enough and for enough times, to simply outfitting the dancers with all sorts of costumes and gear for their dance routines. The requirements for their completion can be seen on each characters’ respective pages.
As an example, to unlock Aigis’ first Social scene, the player must hit a total of 1000 notes with the “PERFECT” rating during gameplay, and to unlock the second tier, they must reach a total of 3000, and so on and so forth.
Once the player has seen all 5 Social scenes for a character, 3 more scenes will become available for unlocking, bringing the total amount of event scenes for each character to 8.
During a character’s sixth scene, the player character will be invited to their friend’s room in the Iwatodai Dorm. After the scene is over, they will then get the ability to roam around the room, from a first-person perspective, and with some very basic controls like walking and crouching. Some of the Persona-users’ rooms could be seen and even visited in Persona 3 and its re-releases, but this is the first time the player has the ability to look around them freely.
This is also where the PlayStation VR headset can be used to look around the room in more detail, but the rooms are fully explorable without one, as well.
Whatever items the room’s owner has laying around can be inspected, and the player character will comment on what it is that they’re seeing, whether it’s a poster of a boy band in Yukari’s room, or a crate filled with belts of gatling gun ammunition in Aigis’. Each time the player visits, the rooms will be in a different state of order, or disorder (especially in Junpei’s case), and so for each visit there’s always a little something new to find and poke at.
Furthermore, Eli-P has prepared a treasure hunt for each of the remaining 3 Social scenes, her’s being the exception. Once an event that takes place in someone’s room is over, the player must do some searching around to find Prize Cards, left behind by Elizabeth. Once the player finds a card (each usually hidden better than the last), they’re rewarded with various costumes, or accessories as prizes. The cards are accompanied by a sound effect, which makes finding them a little easier.
All Social scenes can be replayed from the menu, once seen. This includes the scenes 6 through 8, after which the S.E.E.S. members’ rooms can be explored. This can be useful, in case the player simply cannot find a hidden prize card during their initial visit, and would like to return to it later, for example.
The core rhythm gameplay in P3D is near-identical to that of its predecessor, Persona 4: Dancing All Night, with a few new twists.
The goal is to hit the notes that appear as accurately as possible, and to the rhythm of the song that’s being played. When the player hits 5 notes well enough in a row, a combo will begin, which the player will then want to keep up for as long as they can to get the highest score and performance rating possible.
Notes fly from the center of the screen to its edges, where there are six icons waiting for the corresponding buttons. The default buttons are: the up, left, and down arrows on the left side of the screen, and the triangle, circle, and X buttons on the right. In the PlayStation Vita version of the game these standard, star or letter-adorned notes can also be hit by touching them on the Vita’s touchscreen. Both sets of icons are also connected by a line, which acts as the optimal hitting point for the “Rings,” which are explained later, below.
The standard notes come in four different flavors:
The basic, blue and starry-eyed notes can be cleared with a single button press when the note overlaps with the corresponding icon on the screen. Green “Hold Notes” require the player to hold down a button for an amount of time, and then let go, both to the beat of the music. The purple “Unison Notes” have the player hitting two different buttons simultaneously, with one on each side of the screen.
Finally, “Double Notes” make their debut in P3D. Appearance-wise these notes are two connected, blue notes with capital D letters in the middle of them. These notes always appear one after another, which means that to clear it, the player must hit the same button two times in a row. If the player misses the first section of the note, the second one becomes greyed out and cannot be pressed. While the Double Note consists of two notes, not hitting them still results in a single “Miss” in the final scoring.
The Ring notes mentioned above have two different variations. The normal ones are called “Scratches,” and they are blue in color. Their funkier brethren are called “Fever Rings” and they are multi-colored in style. Both types of rings are also plastered in their respective names.
The Ring notes are a bit more peculiar than the standard notes, in that they can be ignored, if the player so wishes, and their combo will not be interrupted and broken. If the player does hit one, however, they are awarded with another addition to their combo. So, if the player is chasing a high score, and not simply looking to clear the song, they will want to hit these notes, also. The Fever Rings are otherwise identical to the blue ones, but they also award the player a single stock of “Fever Meter”.
The Rings can be cleared in several ways, once they reach their goal, which is to say when they overlap with the icons on the sides of the screen. Using a DualShock 4, the player can hit these by flicking either of the analog sticks in any direction, or by Scratching the touchpad. If the player is on a Vita, all of these controls also apply there, but instead of the touchpad (which the Vita does not have), the front and rear touchscreens can be used.
Lastly, under the options menu, there is an option to enable the L1 and R1 shoulder buttons as a means of clearing them, which has the added benefit of freeing up the player’s thumbs to solely focus on the standard notes (Up, Left, Down, Triangle, Circle, and X).
Once the player has gathered three stocks of Fever Meter, by clearing at least three Fever Rings, and they reach a specific part of a song (usually the chorus, or a drop), they have the chance to enter what is referred to by the game as “Fever Time”.
During Fever Time, the player is rewarded with additional visual flares, and a gameplay advantage. The dance stages and backgrounds light up in colorful lights, an audience can be heard cheering, and even the borders of the screen start flashing to signify a job well done. The main dancer is also joined on-stage by a supporting dancer, if the player has chosen one, and the characters will then dance together for a short while. Still, there is a small performance-related caveat to this, which is explained under the “Hype Gauge” section.
On the mechanical, gameplay side of things, the player gets a benefit: Normally, hitting a note slightly off-beat results in a “Good” rating for that one specific note, and the player’s combo is also broken, but during Fever Time these slight mistakes won’t be accounted for, and the streak will continue as if nothing had happened at all.
This Shadow-adorned meter, which symbolizes the feelings of the audience, is located in the top-left corner of the screen and gives an easy-to-read way of telling how well the player is currently doing on a song.
The meter has five possible colors. From lowest to highest they are as follows: red, yellow, white, green, and once the meter hits its peak, it will start flashing with the colors of the rainbow.
Once a song starts, the gauge will already be filled to its half-way point, and its contents will then increase or decrease, based on if the player is hitting the notes successfully, or not. If the player misses enough notes, the screen will start to dim, and once the meter empties out completely, it’s game over for the player, and they will be given the “Not Clear” rating.
Finally, its condition also dictates what will happen, should the player enter Fever Time. Any supporting dancers will not join the main one on-stage if the Hype Gauge is not at least green at the start of the Fever Time section (indicated on the timeline, at the bottom of the screen). Otherwise, the main dancer will have to continue to hold it down, alone.
The four difficulty levels from Persona 4: Dancing All Night make their return: Easy, Normal, Hard, and All Night. All difficulties have their own unique rhythm chart patterns, and the higher the setting, the more complex they get. With high risk comes high reward, and so not only does the setting determine how many points are doled out, it also changes how many notes can be missed before the player fails a song.
This time around unlocking the final, most brutal difficulty, “All Night,” is a little more straightforward.
In P4D the player had to purchase every single item from the shop using in-game currency, which was earned by playing songs. Here, since P3D and P5D have done away with the shop and the currency, all that’s required of the player is to clear all 25 of the songs featured in the base game once.
When it comes to scoring in P3D, there are several kinds.
The player can hit a standard music note in three different ways. “Perfect” means they have been right on the money, “Great” follows a near-perfect hit, and “Good” is more like a participation award. The last one also causes the player’s theoretical combo to break, but it will happen if they completely “Miss” the note, too.
“Not Clear,” “Stage Clear,” “Brilliant,” and “King Crazy” are the four different performance ratings the player can receive after reaching the end of a song. The first one usually follows when the player misses too many notes, and empties out their Hype Gauge, but it can also appear if they have barely hung on through to the end of the song, hitting a bunch of notes with only a Good rating along the way.
Stage Clear and Brilliant are awarded when the player has successfully cleared a song. Which one they get depends on the number of notes hit, and the way in which they were hit.
King Crazy is the highest possible rating. In addition to hitting all the standard notes with at least “Great” timing, the player must also have Scratched all the Rings to reach this rating. Any songs that have been cleared this well will get a small crown stamp that’s displayed next to the song title in the menu after the fact.
After the player has played for a while they might notice that these four ratings are all that’s surfaced while they’re picking out songs in the Dancing! menu. It should also be mentioned that the game also keeps track of a numeric point total, however. During gameplay, the score can be seen in the top-right corner of the HUD, and it’s also shown off during the results screen. To look at these scores after the fact, the player must dig deep into the Collection section of the main menu. Here, there is also an online leaderboard where scores can be compared.
Since only the top 20 high scores in the world can be seen at a time, to even have a chance of competing online the player must be willing to up the ante by the way of adding “Modifiers” to their gameplay.
Alongside the different difficulty levels, the player can also choose to modify their gameplay experience to their liking by enabling modifiers before starting a song, of which there are two kinds: The ones that help the player but also negatively impact their score, and ones that make songs even harder but give them a percentage of an increase to their final score.
Examples of Support modifiers:
- Automatically clear Scratches (-9%)
- Missing a note doesn’t impact the Hype Gauge as much (-12%)
- Hitting a note with a Good rating doesn’t break a combo (-15% to final score)
Examples of Challenge modifiers:
- Not hitting a Scratch results in a Miss (+4%)
- The speed at which notes approach wavers (+8%)
- Notes are hidden (+40% to final score)
Outfits & Accessories
Since Tanaka’s Amazing Commodities doesn’t quite reach into the Velvet Room, undoubtedly much to the President’s chagrin, the player no longer has to use in-game currency to unlock different outfits. Instead, they are tied to the their progression in the Social menu.
Hanging out with Elizabeth and the members of S.E.E.S. awards the player with numerous different costumes and accessories. Most of these items are call-backs, and thus familiar to fans of the series, but like the dance outfits featured on the box art of the game, there are some brand new items as well.
Some of the costumes included are the seasonal variants of the crew’s outfits, Halloween and Christmas costumes, swimsuits, and Velvet Room attendant and S.E.E.S. uniforms.
Accessories include everything from fake mustaches to 70’s sunglasses, and sets of Pixie wings to illustrated sound effects.
Because there’s been an increase in the number of item slots for each character, the player has more freedom to mix and match these items as they wish. Persona 4: Dancing All Night featured only three slots, one for a main outfit, and two additional accessory slots. P3D and P5D bring that number to six total slots: body, head, two accessory slots, eye color, and hair color.
Additionally, there are more outfits available on the PlayStation Store as downloadable content. As an example, one pack includes outfits from characters in the Shin Megami Tensei series of games, and another one has collaboration items from the Virtua Fighter (P3D), and Yakuza (P5D) series.
Another new feature in P3D is the ability to save loadouts. Up to eight different sets of outfits and accessories can be saved at a time, per character.
The game has a total of 16 dancers, six of which are downloadable. Each character has their own dancing style that is unique to them: The endearingly eccentric Elizabeth’s dramatic Waacking perfectly encapsulates her personality, whereas the always-serious captain of the Gekkoukan High School boxing team, Akihiko, in not wanting to let any precious training time go to waste (even inside a dream), can clearly be seen incorporating some shadowboxing into his routine.
Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight’s cast of playable characters includes most of the Special Extracurricular Execution Squad, and their partners in time:
Additionally, more dancers will be purchasable as downloadable content, after the game has been released:
Series’ main composer Shoji Meguro, and the many music producers of Atlus have once again come together with a number of guest composers from Japan’s game, and music industries to collaborate on the soundtrack of Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight.
Yuyoyuppe, a composer whose work with Vocaloid software got him noticed by the masses, has remixed the emotional, Yumi Kawamura-sung “Brand New Days” into a double-pedaled headbanger of a heavy metal version. Meanwhile, sasakure.UK has turned one of the hip-hop, and rock-influenced battle themes of Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth into a more upbeat, and electronic version of its former self.
Also involved is a big self-proclaimed fan of the series, Hideki Naganuma, who brings his electronic expertise from the Jet Set Radio games to Tatsumi Port Island.
The song list of Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight features 25 playable songs, and an additional 30 have been confirmed as downloadable content post-launch, bringing the total number of playable songs available for the game to 55.
An overview of the downloadable songs’ release schedule and pricing is located below the track list of songs included on the standard version of the game, but further details can be found on the games’ official websites, and on the PlayStation Store.
|Song Title||Dancer||First Appearance|
|Aria of the Soul (t.komine Remix)||Elizabeth||AT1st ~Persona3 & Persona4~ Club Arrange (originally Persona 3)^|
|The Battle for Everyone’s Souls (Daisuke Asakura Remix)||
Akihiko, Junpei, Ken, and Makoto
|Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight (originally Persona 3)|
|Brand New Days||Music video*||Persona 3 FES|
|Brand New Days (Yuyoyuppe Remix)||Makoto||Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight|
|Burn My Dread||Everyone (-Elizabeth)||Persona 3|
|Burn My Dread -Last Battle-||Music video||Persona 3|
|Burn My Dread (Novoiski Remix)||Mitsuru||AT1st ~Persona3 & Persona4~ Club Arrange|
|Deep Breath Deep Breath (Yuu Miyake Remix)||Junpei||Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight (originally Persona 3)|
|Deep Mentality (Lotus Juice Remix)||Junpei||Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight (originally Persona 3)|
|Heartful Cry (ATLUS Konishi Remix)||Aigis||Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight (originally Persona 3 FES)|
|Laser Beam (PERSONA SUPER LIVE P-SOUND BOMB !!!! 2017)||Music video||Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth|
|Light the Fire Up in the Night “KAGEJIKAN” + “MAYONAKA”||Akihiko||Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth|
|Light the Fire Up in the Night “KAGEJIKAN” + “MAYONAKA” (sasakure.UK Remix)||Ken||Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight|
|Mass Destruction (“P3” + “P3F” ver.)||Makoto||Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight (originally Persona 3)|
|Mass Destruction (Tetsuya Kobayashi Remix)||Ken||Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight|
|Memories of You (ATLUS Meguro Remix)||
Aigis, Fuuka, Yukari, and Mitsuru
|Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight (originally Persona 3)|
|Moonlight Serendipity||Music video||Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight|
|Our Moment (Opening version)||Music video||Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight|
|Soul Phrase||Akihiko||Persona 3 Portable|
|Time (ATLUS Kitajoh Remix)||Fuuka||Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight (originally Persona 3 Portable)|
|Want To Be Close (ATOLS Remix)||Yukari||Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight (originally Persona 3)|
|A Way of Life (ATLUS Kitajoh Remix)||Aigis||Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight (originally Persona 3 Portable)|
|When the Moon’s Reaching Out Stars||Mitsuru||Persona 3|
|When the Moon’s Reaching Out Stars (Hideki Naganuma Remix)||Yukari||Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight|
|Wiping All Out (ATLUS Kozuka remix)||Fuuka||Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight (originally Persona 3 Portable)|
^”AT1st ~Persona3 & Persona4~ Club Arrange” is an official remix album that was released in 2013. As the name implies, it features nine new arrangements for songs from Personas 3 and 4. Its release coincided with the Persona Music FES 2013, a live music festival that took place in the Nippon Budokan stadium, in Chiyoda, Tokyo.
*This song does not have a dancer assigned to it. Instead, a playable, but non-interactive music video plays in the background.
Atlus has planned to release a total of 30 new songs as downloadable content, after the games’ release. These songs include the downloadable dancers listed above, as well as playable music videos. The core gameplay remains the same between the two, although the music videos naturally have none of the character customization available to them.
All downloadable dancers and playable music videos are supported by both, and all versions of Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight, and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight.
This means that even if the player owns both games, one on the Vita, and one on the PS4, and buys Shinjiro for example, they can play as him in either game and on either platform, without having to make separate purchases for each game.
The release schedule for the Japanese versions of the games can be seen below.
|Dance!||Free||MV*||Theme song of Persona 4: Dancing All Night.|
|GROOVY||Free||MV||Full version of the theme song of Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight.|
|More Than One Heart||¥350||MV||Theme song of the first Persona 3 movie, “Spring of Birth” that features scenes from the movie as the visuals.|
|Our Moment||Free||MV||Full version of the theme song of Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight.|
|Voice feat. Koromaru (ATLUS Tsuchiya Remix)||¥350||MV||Remix of the song from Shin Megami Tensei: Persona, featuring an animated music video about the canine member of S.E.E.S.|
*MV, short for Music Video, means that this song does not have a dancer assigned to it. Instead, a playable music video plays in the background.
|The Battle for Everyone’s Souls||¥1000||Dance||This song from Persona 3 features Shinjiro Aragaki as a playable dancer.|
|Beneath The Mask||¥800||Dance||This song from Persona 5 features Lavenza as a playable dancer.|
|Break Out Of… (ATLUS Kitajoh Remix)||¥1000||Dance||This song from Persona 4 Arena Ultimax features Sho Minazuki as a playable dancer.|
|Dream of Butterfly||¥250||MV||Opening animation of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona.|
|Fate is in Our Hands||¥350||MV||Theme song of the second Persona 3 movie, “Midsummer Knight’s Dream”.|
|Jika Net Tanaka feat. President Tanaka||Free||MV||A remix of the theme song of the in-universe TV show “Tanaka’s Amazing Commodities”.|
|Let’s Go! Phoenix Ranger Featherman||Free||MV||Theme song of the in-universe TV show.|
|Mass Destruction (PERSONA MUSIC FES 2013)||¥350||MV||Live performance of the song from Persona 3.|
|Snow Queen (ATLUS Tsuchiya Remix)||¥300||MV||Remix of the song from Revelations: Persona.|
|Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There||Free||MV||Opening animation of Persona 5.|
|A Way of Life -Deep inside my mind Remix-||¥800||Dance||This song from Persona 3 Portable features Theodore as a playable dancer.|
|The Battle for Everyone’s Souls (PERSONA SUPER LIVE P-SOUND BOMB !!!! 2017)||¥350||MV||Live performance of the song from Persona 3.|
|BREAK IN TO BREAK OUT||¥350||MV||Masashi Ishihama-directed opening animation of “Persona 5 the Animation”.|
|Burn My Dread||¥250||MV||Opening animation of Persona 3.|
|INFINITY||¥350||MV||Non-credits version of the first ending animation of “Persona 5 the Animation”.|
|Memories of You||¥300||MV||Non-credits version of the end credits of Persona 3|
|Opening||¥250||MV||Opening animation of Persona 2: Innocent Sin.|
|P3 FES||¥250||MV||Opening animation of Persona 3 FES.|
|Pursuing My True Self||¥250||MV||Opening animation of Persona 4.|
|Shadow World||¥250||MV||Opening animation of Persona 4 Golden.|
|Soul Phrase||¥250||MV||Opening animation of Persona 3 Portable.|
|Today||¥1000||Dance||This song from Persona 4 Arena Ultimax features Labrys as a playable dancer.|
|unbreakable tie||¥250||MV||Opening animation of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 2 – Innocent Sin|
|The Whims of Fate (PERSONA SUPER LIVE P-SOUND BOMB !!!! 2017)||¥350||MV||Live performance of the song from Persona 5.|
|Will Power||¥1000||Dance||This song from Persona 5 features Goro Akechi as a playable dancer.|
|Best Friends||¥250||MV||Opening animation of Persona 4 Arena.|
|Break Out Of…||¥250||MV||Opening animation of Persona 4: Arena Ultimax.|
|changing me||¥300||MV||Non-credits version of the end credits of Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth.|
|Heartful Cry (GAME SYMPHONY JAPAN 21st CONCERT ATLUS Special)||¥350||MV||Live performance of the song from Persona 3 FES, as performed by the Tokyo Chamber Orchestra at the Persona series’ 20th anniversary concert.|
|Life Will Change (GAME SYMPHONY JAPAN 21st CONCERT ATLUS Special)||¥350||MV||Live performance of the song from Persona 5, as performed by the Tokyo Chamber Orchestra at the Persona series’ 20th anniversary concert.|
|Maze of Life||¥250||MV||Opening animation of Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth.|
Persona Dancin’ All-Star Triple Pack
- PS4 disc of Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight
- PS4 disc of Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight
- PS4 digital copy of Persona 4: Dancing All Night
- 4-disc soundtrack featuring over 60 songs
- Price: ¥16,880
Persona Dancin’ Deluxe Twin Plus
- PSVita copy of Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight
- PSVita copy of Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight
- Atlus Selection Assorted Costumes DLC Set (15 costumes)
- 4-disc soundtrack featuring over 60 songs
- Price: ¥15,780