With the first HDN review done, let’s now take a look at the indisputably superior sequel in the as of now trilogy, Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2. I’ll be making many comparisons to the prequel so check it out just in case.
Length: Bare minimum (20-25 hours)
Pros: Improves in nearly all the prequel’s flaws, quicker and easier to understand gameplay.
Cons: Still a niche game, graphics still feel dated, CFW Trick, no RED.
Before we begin, no, you don’t need to play the first game in order to understand what’s going in in the 2nd. This is why the series is called Hyperdimension, because while the character remain the same, the timelines and events do not.
It’s the year 20XX (Megaman reference FTW!) and a while since the prequel’s main antagonist was beaten by the four CPUs (goddesses). A new evil organization known as ASIC has emerged and the CPUs, along with a CPU Candidate and Neptune’s younger sister, Nepgear, are sent to action but are beaten and captured by ASIC’s leader. Three years later Compa (Compile Heart) and IF (Idea Factory) (Neptune’s best friends from the prequel) go on a rescue mission but only manage to save Nepgear before being overwhelmed by the enemy. Now it’s up to Nepgear and her friends to gather enough strength to rescue the four CPUs and foil ASIC’s plans.
Like the prequel, the highlight are the characters and their interactions. The plot is pretty basic and not an epic that will change the landscape of RPG storytelling, rather it feels like an action packed Mahou Shoujo anime sans the annoying mascots and excessive fluff.
The story is a bit more serious than its predecessor, which was more comedic. The comedy and lighthearted moments are still there, just with a few added serious moments. Aside from one VERY unpleasant bad ending (Seriously that particular ending can go shove it!), the story doesn’t become too intense.
I mentioned before that one of my complaints against the prequel is that it didn’t feel like you’re in a video game like world. Mk2 fixes that problem. While the prequel relied on jokes and references to remind you this is a video game universe and not a generic fantasy one, this time it does feel like you’re in a digital world. The jokes and references are still here but took a backseat to locations, music and enemies. Speaking of enemies in this game, they’re quite the quirky bunch.
See this picture of a random visual novel girl with illegible text here? That’s one of the enemy species you’ll encounter. While the bestiary is fairly diverse, like most JRPGs, the infamous “palette/color swap” tradition is present in this game as well. Also, I don’t know whether this is an homage to classic games with many similar areas but this game has similar dungeons, just with different map layouts.
The graphics, while updated, still feel PS2-ey. They also decided to switch the 2D portraits during most cutscenes for 3D models which are hit and miss. I assume this wasn’t widely accepted by fans, which is why they reverted to 2D portraits in the 3rd game.
One of my personal favorite improvements is the soundtrack. While not an orchestral masterpiece, it is definitely more gamey and upbeat.
The controversial “item management” and “auto-healing” from the prequel have been replaced with your basic item management present in all JRPGs. The level selection map is also neater with an 8-bit Nepgear avatar to select where you want to go.
Upon entering one of the four main cities, you’ll notice this screen, where you can either shop (buy and SELL items), synthesize items, accept quests in the guild (Which are mostly collecting a set amount of items or kill certain monsters or a requested amount.) and lastly, Chirper, where all the non-story events can be found as you progress through the main story and recruit more girls.
Now for battles. Random encounters are gone as all the enemies are on screen and chase you ala Metal Gear Solid (With the red exclamation point) if they notice you. Battles are still turn based but flow quicker this time around. Characters fight on an open field and can move a certain range depending on their MOV points. Basic attacks are divided into 3 types, rush (Which are weak but increase your SP, spirit points, quicker), power (slow, yet more damaging) and armor piercing (Medium attacks that inflict more damage on enemy shields). How many attacks you can use depends on how much AP (Action Points) and SP (Spirit Points) each move requires. Using Special Attacks however, automatically costs two turns for the user.
The switch mechanic in the previous game is still present when you recruit more than 4 girls. However, this time, the partner in the back doesn’t just sit down waiting for their turn while looking cute or pretty. Each girl has their own stat boosts that help out the girls in the front such as EXP boost or Nullify status ailments. Lastly, if you pair two specific girls (Neptune and Nepgear for example), they can perform a Team Special Attack (After they’ve learned it of course).
As mentioned earlier, “auto-healing” is gone and you can now use items both in and out of battle. During battles, item usage depends on having the required AP and SP.
While the strategies are still there, I do think the uber specials much later in the game are a bit…overpowered.
This time, excluding RED (BOOOOOOOOO!), the amount of playable girls, including 2 DLC girls, has been increased to 15. Allow me to introduce the 4 CPU candidates aka the 4 imoutos.
Nepgear, aka Purple Sister: Classic goody two shoes girl who slowly grows from a girl who doesn’t think she’s strong enough to the girl everyone wants to eat. She’s based off the Sega Game Gear. I don’t care how cliche her character is, she’s too adorable to dislike. She may not have Neptune’s more popular sense of humor but she’s still adorable.
Fun fact: Nepgear’s English voice actress, Christine Marie Cabanos also voiced Azu-Nyan, Squid Girl and Madoka Kaname.
Uni, aka Black Sister: Possibly more tsundere than her older sister, Noire. Has initial self confidence and loves rifles and shotguns. She’s based off the Playstation Portable.
Rom and Ram: Rom is the adorably shy older twin who inherited Blanc’s quiet nature and Ram if the energetic younger bratty twin who inherited Blanc’s potty mouth, except not as dirty. They’re based off the Nintendo DS.
Can you guess what the affection rank for Nepgear is called in this game? No? Lily Rank. Do you know what lily’s most well known translation is in Japan? Nuff said. In the prequel, IF is a chick magnet. In the sequel, a secret is revealed. No, Nepgear isn’t the one. Need more proof?
Microsoft doesn’t a portable console for the writers to give an imouto to Vert. What does Vert get instead. Chika Hakozaki. Besides being Leanbox’s oracle and Vert’s “sister”, there’s something else she wants from her onee-chan, something more than her safe return…
In conclusion, although it’s clearly superior to its predecessor, it’s still not for everyone. Still, if you like anime with lots of girls of all shapes and bust sizes kicking ass, taking names while looking cute and sexy at the same time, give it a try. If you were turned off by the prequel, this game won’t do anything to change your mind.