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Reload this Page [Review] Hyperdimension Neptunia - AKA Magical Girl Meets Console Wars
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Old February 21st, 2011 (1:03 PM). Edited February 21st, 2011 by SBaby.
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SBaby SBaby is offline
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So yeah. Some of you might already know that I recently got a copy of Hyperdimension Neptunia for the PS3, a game that, at the time was only available through pre-ordering or Rosenqueen. I've actually already gotten a few people on various boards asking what I think about it so far and a couple other people wondering just what in the world this game is. Well, I've recently been able to play it for several hours now (I think I'm about 6 or 7 hours in, but there's no game timer, so there's no way to know for sure exactly how long I've been playing). Anyway, I figure now's as good a time as any to tell you about this entry into the Cross Edge/Trinity Universe series and what I think about it. This'll be a long review, so you might want to grab a snack.

Well, I have to say that I think it's a pretty good game. And this doesn't often happen with me and JRPGs nowadays, unless it's Dragon Quest, Disgaea or the Tales series. But yeah. This time, I'm actually enjoying it. The problem is, I'm not exactly sure why. I honestly can't give a good reason. So this'll be kind of a hard review for me to write. But I'll try to explain this as best as I can.

Hyperdimension Neptunia is a game made by Idea Factory, Compile Heart, and a bunch of other JRPG companies, like Nippon Ichi, Gust, and even Sega. It's not a crossover game like Trinity Universe or Cross Edge though. It actually features characters that are all original (though their names are quite cliche, more on that later).

In a nutshell, the plot is a parody of the console wars with a magical girl theme. The game takes place in a world called Gamindustri. This world is divided into four lands: Planeptune (Sega), Lastation (Sony), Leanbox (Microsoft) and Lowee (Nintendo). Each land has its own theme. Planeptune is the most advanced land technologically, while Lastation is a steampunk themed land with rising technology thanks to a big corporation, Leanbox and Lowee are less advanced, with Lowee being the obligatory ice world.

The world as a whole is governed by four 'Goddesses' or CPUs (Console Patron Units), who are basically part human and part machine, capable of transforming in magical girl fashion whenever they need to fight. Each Goddess governs one of the four lands, and the four have been fighting it out for centuries (console war). Well, our hero happens to be one of those four Goddesses (Purple Heart), and the other three decide that the war will end faster if they all just gang up on one Goddess and banish her to the world of Gamindustri. You guessed it. You got the short straw.

So one day, a girl named Compa (named after Compile Heart) is walking around on the streets of Planeptune, when she suddenly sees a girl named Neptune stuck, head first, in the ground. Not thinking much of it (because as we all know, you never question the origin of someone that survived a normally fatal injury, especially if she's named after the land you live on), she pulls her out and nurses her back to health. What follows is a series of events that can only be described as some of the biggest cliches that you see in most RPGs and some really cliche characters like Gust, IF, and Nisa.

Cliches that are picked apart royally as you encounter them. Yes, your characters know they are in an RPG world and yes, they know a cliche when they see one, and even sarcastically remark about them on a regular basis. There are even references to other video games too. So don't be surprised when your character makes a remark about needing red overalls, a red cap and a moustache in order to jump over a gap. And don't at all be surprised when you see a gang of multicultural people, who can shoot fireballs at each other, beating on a car. And mind the robotic dogs, they're really very friendly even though they all shoot freaking laser beams.

Gameplay-wise, the game resembles Trinity Universe to a significant degree. You have a very similar map setup, where you have a menu including Searching, Shopping, and Exploring. You Shop for new items and weapons (duh). You Search through dungeons to find items, complete challenges and defeat bosses all in an attempt to raise your level for the upcoming plot events. And Explore is used to trigger cutscenes and open new dungeons. But at least this time, you don't have to anchor dungeons every time you enter one to prevent them from getting away from you. Once a dungeon is open, it's open forever (no matter how many times you kill the boss or complete the objective).

Shopping and Exploring are pretty self-explanatory, but Searching is done a bit differently here. Each dungeon you go into has a different objective, from killing a boss to finding items to just getting to the exit. While story dungeons let you take your time completing them, side quest dungeons are all timed. This doesn't mean much until about halfway through the game when you're trying to recruit the Goddess of each land (I'm not there yet, but GameFAQs was nice enough to explain that bit to me). Reason being, you're not ejected from a dungeon if you take too long. But the time it takes you to complete a dungeon does affect your completion rank, and ideally when you're in the recruiting part of the game, you want S on everything you can get it on. Not to mention an S rank gives more money as a reward, and money is always a premium in this game, since you constantly have to buy items for your healing skills (otherwise, you'll just get to the point where you can't get any further without backtracking and completing easier dungeons).

But what you're going to find out is, it's usually EASY to get an S rank in any given dungeon. This is because even though battles are random, you can control how fast they go by mashing the L2 button to speed up the attacks and skip normally long animations with NO PENALTY TO YOUR TIME. So you'll be flying through even boss fights in mere seconds, which will rack up the completion rank faster than you can say 'blue streak'. There's even a Monster Call option that puts you in a chain of consecutive battles, but turns off encounters for what seems like a really long time afterward. Not to mention, dungeons are short. Most can be finished in under 10 minutes.

And that takes us to the combat system. And I promise, you are not ready for this. Because let me tell you, this is going to sound bad, but some people will probably feel like perverts playing this game. I'm not saying this as a joke and I'm not saying this to insult anybody. This could very well be you if you buy the game later on (at least until you get used to it). The first thing to note about this game is that it has an all female playable cast. Not a problem. I'm all for female heroes in video games. I played Sailor Moon Another Story, and that game had a pretty good plot for an SNES JRPG. And I'm a huge fan of the Metroid series and the protagonist in those games is female.

Here's the thing though. If this game wasn't a parody, I'd feel way more awkward about it. The reason is, when you're in combat your main character (and any other Goddesses you manage to recruit) can transform into their CPU (Console Patron Unit) forms. When this happens, you get a very risque sequence where they're barely dressed for a period of several seconds (and I'm pretty sure this was toned down from the Japanese version, because the costume just screams out Edit, and trust me, this is probably a good thing because otherwise, the game would likely be rated M). As cool as the transformations are, it took me awhile to get used to this, despite that. And I swear that Japanese voice that says 'Set Up' during these sequences, I've heard him in a Tokusatsu series.

Other than that, the combat system is almost exactly like Trinity Universe. You press different buttons to do different things in battle, from slashing with a melee weapon to shooting the enemy with a magic-based attack. You have a certain amount of AP, which tells you how much you can attack in a turn. Once that's used up, the next person's turn begins.

If a character gets low on HP, it'll usually automatically trigger an item skill, so it's very hard to die in this game. The problem is, if someone runs out of HP, it's very hard to revive them without flushing almost your entire inventory of healing items. The reason for this is because most item skills are only triggered when the character takes damage, and the ones that are triggered on turn are prohibitively expensive to use (some of them take 30 to 50 of each healing item, which equates to about 15,000 to upwards of 40,000 in expenses to replenish your supply for just one use). On top of that, when you revive someone in a boss fight, they'll come back with about 30% HP, and no way to heal any further until they're hit again, which usually KOs them again, forcing the auto-revive skill again, and using more items in the process. Because of this, boss fights often turn into battles of attrition. It's not really a flaw (because you can control how often these skills trigger), but it can make the game difficult if you don't know what you're doing.

Some of the special attacks are used by using ROMs or Discs (which never run out, by the way). These are your elemental spells, and are accompanied by very familiar ROM images that are actually real video games and video game characters. Some examples include Fantasy Zone and Altered Beast. And I'm pretty sure Phantasy Star's in there somewhere too. There are also R/W Discs that have no image, but you can edit them and upload your own image to those discs, which allows you to personalize some of your attacks. I have a picture of the Angry Video Game Nerd on one and Dr. Insano from Spoonyexperiment on another. It's pretty fun to do. And you can change them any time you want. In fact, you can edit how just about any attack is executed, so if you don't like the default button combos or if you just want to add an attack with more kick into your favorite combo, go for it. You could even have a combo where the character uses nothing but Disc attacks. As long as you have the AP to use it, you can do whatever you want.

As for the music, I like it. It's very catchy, and none of it is particularly boring. Each land has its own theme and you'll hear some tunes pretty repeatedly (particularly this silly tune that is played using a saxopohone as the main instrument is heard at least once in about 70 percent of the cutscenes), but the music is pretty catchy and you'll probably find yourself humming some of them. And I swear I've already encountered about 8 or 9 different battle themes just in the 7 or so hours I've played the game. So they don't get redundant. And that's good, because there are over 100 dungeons in the game (I'm not kidding).

So overall, despite a few suggestive sequences and a bit of a learning curve, I'm having alot of fun with this game. The hilarious parodies more than make up for anything that feels awkward. A changeable difficulty (that can be changed any time) can get around some of the harder boss fights. I don't imagine alot of you will have heard of this game at the time of me typing this, but I'd recommend at least taking a look at it online (there's only a million videos of this game) and even trying to buy it if you can.

I'll leave this open for discussion regarding this game.
If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you will never get it done.

- Bruce Lee

The worst thing you can do in a business is blame the customer.

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Old February 21st, 2011 (2:22 PM).
Morkula Morkula is offline
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This is more like a review, so I'm going to shoot this into the LP/Reviews forum.
And just like that, the story ends.
Old February 23rd, 2011 (12:07 PM).
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SBaby SBaby is offline
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Sorry about that. I didn't realize the LP forum was also a review forum.
If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you will never get it done.

- Bruce Lee

The worst thing you can do in a business is blame the customer.

- Willie 'Jack' Degel
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