Well, I’ve finally played long enough to make a review for both Neptunia games that I’ve been hyping…more than a little bit these past two years. I mean, a JRPG series based on the video game console wars. How could I resist? Was it worth the purchase and irritating online shipping, or should I have stuck with the more revered sequel? Let’s find out in my long awaited Hyperdimension Neptunia review.
Pros: Interesting premise, moderately strategic gameplay, you get to test your video game savvy, well drawn CG.
Cons: Niche title (Meaning its target audience is small), subpar soundtrack, PS2 graphics (I don’t mind at all but others may), video game universe premise isn’t used to its fullest, gameplay may be a turnoff to some.
The world of Gameindustri consists of four lands, ruled by four goddesses who are personifications of video game consoles.The story centers around Neptune, one of four goddess who is involved in a series of events known to many as the Console Wars. During one of their usual battles, they decide it’s a good idea to get rid of one goddess and Purple Heart (Neptune) is chosen. She gets knocked out of the sanctuary and has a dream vision while falling down to Earth. A mysterious being called Histoire, tells Neptune that Gamindustri, the world te game takes place in, is in danger and Neptune’s the only one that can save it. Now an amnesiac Neptune sets on her quest to free Histoire from captivity and save the world.
That’s the gist of the prologue. Keep in mind the plot isn’t an epic tale of souls and swords eternally foretold. Heck, the Hyperdimension Neptunia series isn’t meant to target RPG veterans who enjoy exploration and stories of adventures. The major appeal of Neptunia, first and foremost, are the characters and their interactions. Character development won’t become a major factor until the sequel though.
As mentioned above, it doesn’t feel like you’re in a video game based world. It just feels like any run of the mill fantasy JRPG. To put it bluntly, generic. Heck, most of the enemies are recycled from a previous Compile Heart game, Trinity Universe . Still, it’s not that bad as each of the four nations do have their own themes. Most of the video game feel comes in the form of jokes and references. It’s fun to try and figure out which ones they mention. Some of them are really obvious while others not so much.
Don’t worry, most of the other CGs aren’t this ecchi…most of them.
The graphic are definitely dated but that comes with the territory of most niche titles published by NIS. I guess it has a semi-retro charm to it. The character art and CGs, however, done by Tsunako are quite attractive I must say.
The music is easily the most disappointing part of the game. While there are some good tunes along with the OP and ED, they are far and few to commend this as more than a subpar to average OST.
While the plot and characters make half of what gamers care about in RPGs, the second half is obviously the gameplay. How does it fare? Hit and miss.
This game is in essence a story based adventure game, in the sense that much of the game is spent reading the on-screen text, as in a visual novel. These events are also how you recruit new party members, except the other three goddesses whose requirements to join are…compliacted to say the least. The game also features 3D style dungeon exploration, similar to recent Final Fantasy titles. Like most JRPGs, the dungeons feature random encounters, treasure chests, and various obstacles. These obstacles can be cleared by utilizing the various unique dungeon skills each character of Neptune’s party has.
Battles are like this. They’re your basic turn-based spiel JRPG fans are used to. The mechanic that makes it different is the combo system. Basically you combine your attacks and make sure you’re able to execute as many attacks as possible through combo links and switching between the character positioned behind you (If there is one) before the next character’s turn, when your SP (Spirit Points) meter runs out that is.
Item management…hoo boy. That’s one of the most unnecessarily complicated parts of the game (the other being the shares but talking about that would require a page long paragraph.). Anyway, you can’t drop or sell items/equipment/accessories or you find or buy. As for how you use items…ahem. First a girl has to learn an Item Skill, Neptune’s “Nep Bull” healing ability for example. Then you need to apply any available IP (Item Points) to that IS. The odds of Neptune using that item during battle (You can only use item skills in battle, not while exploring a dungeon) depend on three factors:
- The IP percentage.
- Having enough synthesis items.
- Meeting the conditions to use the IS.
Not to mention if you have more than one IS at 100%, there’s STILL no guarantee which one will work in battle, if either. So it’s complicated and strategic, but broken.
Besides other girl mascots that represent gaming companies, I’ll just talk about the four main goddesses. You easily tell which is which.
Neptune aka Purple Heart: The main protagonist. A character with high energy and a childish personality, and likes to give nicknames to people. She also likes to jump head first into danger. However, she seems to be completely different when she transforms into Purple Heart, taking on a much more serious character. She’s currently the second most popular character in the series and for good reason. She’s the goddess of Planeptune and is based off the cancelled Sega console, the Sega Neptune.
Noire aka Black Heart: A tsundere who considers herself a rival of Neptune’s, yet secretly wishes to become friendlier with her. the most popular character in the series and imo, the sexiest. She’s the goddess of Lastation and is based off the Playstation 3.
Blanc aka White Heart: Usually soft spoken and reserved, Blanc is best known for her incredibly short fuse which results in high school girl style cuss filled tantrums. She’s the goddess of Lowee and is base off the Nintendo Wii.
Vert aka Green Heart: The oldest, most mature and well endowed of the four goddesses. She’s a hardcore gamer, especially MMOs and a yaoi fangirl. While she’s MY favorite goddess, she’s the least popular main goddess.
Of the 10 playable (2 of them are DLC) girls, the DLC girl above, RED, is the only one who is a lesbian. Her main goal is to find a wife. Why? Never explained. She just wants to make a lucky woma(e)n happy. There is also more occasional yuri subtext to be found while playing.
In conclusion: While it does have many noticeable flaws, Hyperdimension Neptunia isn’t a bad game. I can’t recommend this one to anyone other than those who are interested and want to own the complete trilogy. Otherwise if you’re curious, pick up the sequel instead.