So many video game references.
Hyperdimension Neptunia was an RPG series that found its home on the PS3, with each iteration improving on the last with more mechanics. Now the series has found a new home on the Vita, and now the story is being retold with new additions and shiny new features. But is the first game worth replaying on the portable system?
Good: A love letter to gamers
Neptunia is about the four goddess’ that rule over the land of Gamindustri, with each one being a spoof of a popular video game console (such as the goddess of Lastation). When three gods band together to overthrow Neptune, she must gather her strength along with an army in hopes of winning the console war.
The story is bombastic, ludicrous, and rather nonsensical. But it shines with such stupidity and flourish that you can’t help but laugh along with all the stupid jokes and references it makes to other popular culture. (One enemy is a screen grab from a real visual novel of a young man admitting his love.)
While the jokes started to get stale as the game went on, having characters constantly reference anime and video games makes the player feel like they’re part of the world of Gamindustri.
Good: Never a dull moment
There’s no stopping Neptunia. The game constantly moves at a swift pace, offering new abilities and items at just the right time, keeping things fresh and exciting. The ability to transform is offered to the player in the first hour of the game, and from there on out the game only proceeds to hand out more cool things for the player to try out.
Mixed: Repetitious to death
Combat involves moving characters in a limited field to attack enemies using normal attacks and super moves. At first the combat appears to be tactical, involving positioning characters in certain locations to avoid damage.
But you quickly realise that positioning and tactics have nothing to do with it, and no matter what you’re going to receive damage. It soon boils down to mashing buttons to quickly play out battles and just accept any damage taken.
In a game where so much of the interaction comes from the combat, it’s a shame that it becomes so stale and repetitive so quickly.
Bad: Grow up guys
The game uses character stills when two or more people are having a conversation. These still frames stay motionless while characters talk, accept their breasts. While a character could be explaining a vital plot point, their large fun bags are often flapping about like a birds feathers, and just make the characters look silly and a little scary at times.
However the worst offense is use sexualisation of young girls, namely prepubescent girls. Many of these young girls are made to undress in “comedic moments” that attempt to make the game light hearted, but in all honestly they only make the game feel creepy and a little sad. Overusing sexual images in a game is often an attempt to cover up poor game design, and sadly it’s rather apparent in Neptunia.
Overall: It’s more Neptunia
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re:Birth is an enjoyable RPG with a quite a few heavy flaws. It’s gameplay gets repetitive fast and the sexualisation of women borders on ridiculous, but I found myself laughing at the jokes and the bombastic nature of the super moves. It’s an easy recommendation for those new wanting to get into the series, but for those who pumped hours into the original, there may not be all that much for you to come back for.