Review – Hyperdimension Neptunia
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Idea Factory
Rating: T – Teen
ESRB Content Descriptors: Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence, Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes
Players: Single player campaign
Official site: http://www.nisamerica.com/games/neptunia/
Purchase from: Amazon
The Scoop: Imagine Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, and SEGA in an actual war, each represented by scantily clad and busty anime chicks. Mix in RPG elements, massive amount of dialogue, and plenty of fanservice and you have the latest JRPG from NIS America.
The Setup: Hyperdimension Neptunia doesn’t waste any time getting into the gaming industry references and parodies as players are taken to the fantasy realm known as Gameindustri. Within Gameindustri are two worlds, one of which is Celestia, the world where four Central Patron Units (CPUs), also called Console Goddesses, are caught up in a struggle of power known as the Console Wars. And to bring even more video game references into the mix, the four Console Goddesses each represent one of the major console manufactures: Black Heart/Noir for Sony, Green Heart/Vert for Microsoft, White Heart/Blanc for Nintendo, and Purple Heart/Neptune for…you guessed it, SEGA.
As the bickering and breast jokes continue (there’s plenty of’em), the three big players decide to team up against Purple Heart and banish her to the lower world of Gameindustri, the Human world. Stripped of her memories and placed in a younger, less busty, human girl named Neptune, she must now adapt to the human world while fighting the forces of evil.
What’s Hot: Hyperdimension Neptunia‘s gameplay is pretty straight forward when it comes to RPG’s, but the one thing that does stand out is the battle system. While battles play out in turn-based fasion, each character is given Action Points (AP) on their turn which are used to unleash a combination attacks from a custom menu system. Attacks can come from either an equipped weapon, a physical attack, or a magic attack. Implementing AP into the battle system is nothing new (think Trinity Universe), but it definitely is a welcome addition and adds a fun mechanic to a turn-based battle system.
Players will also have the option to turn Neptune into her CPU mode (or Goddess mode) during combat. During this transformation, Neptune gets a little make-over, becomes considerably stronger, and her attacks have a bit more pizazz to them. This was definitely the highlight of the battles for me!
The story and characters of Hyperdimension Neptunia is where this game shines. Depicting the major gaming consoles and RPG developers as your stereotypical anime girls with plenty of game industry jokes and references is what will keep gamers wanting to play through this title. The characters are very well drawn and art is beautiful and bright, and the cast has a good mix of personalities. Neptune herself has a pretty random and goofy personality, which is hilarious since you’re never sure what she’s going to say next.
Hyperdimension Neptunia also gets NIS America’s signature Premium Edition packaging. Along with the PS3 game itself, the Premium Edition includes a fully‐illustrated hardcover art book. The collectible art book contains character information, concept art, and rough sketches of all the goddesses and characters. Both the game and art book come packaged in a limited edition large collectible box.
What’s Not: Hyperdimension Neptunia is a straight-forward RPG, and a very plain one at that. The overworld map is beautiful, but is menu driven and not explorable. Players will have the option to explore a dungeon, go to a shop, or head to another area. This was probably the biggest disappointment because the designs and ideas behind the world is very interesting and pleasantly designed, it’s just unfortunate that you can’t get to explore it.
And speaking of exploring, the dungeons themselves don’t offer much in terms of exploration. Most of the dungeons are pretty short and seem very bland and lifeless. The colors used in the dungeons are dull and the environment isn’t much to look at, which is a shame since the overworld seems so colorful and full of life.
Traveling, exploration, and interaction is a big bummer in Hyperdimension Neptunia. Worlds and dungeons in an RPG are meant to be explored, and it’s a shame that this aspect of the RPG genre has been very limited in this game, especially given the nature of the plot and characters.
Final Verdict: Hyperdimension Neptunia is an interesting entry in the JRPG universe. On one hand, the idea, story, and characters behind Hyperdimension Neptunia are every gamers dream. But on the other hand, you have the beautifully presented, hand-drawn anime characters, mixed with lifeless and bland dungeons and no world/town interactions. While the game can be fun, the story and characters will be the key selling point for Hyperdimension Neptunia, and should be on the radar for anyone who likes animes or JRPG’s.