Potential Spoiler Warning
After approximately 50 hours, I finally was able to beat the main story of Hyperdimension Neptunia, and what a long 50 hours it was. Before this game I was unfamiliar with the dungeon crawler genre, and this game certainly thrust me right into it, changing how I approached the game. While this game is not ‘bad’ it certainly drags on at times with one of the only saving graces being the funny side-stories and cute characters.
“Gamindustri – A parallel world protected by four goddesses, who are engaged in a war with one another in Celestia. Meanwhile on the human world, mankind wages war with monsters unleased by a being named Arfoire. The tome, Histoire, contains the knowledge of the past necessary to end both wars and shape the future. What fate awaits Neptune in the present? The goddesses’ battle for Gamindustri, the Console War.” – NIS America
Fun and Cute Characters!
As you just read, this game is a parody of the Console War. Every character in this game presents a game console or a company that helped to make Hyperdimension Neptunia. For supporting characters there are IF (Idea Factory), Compa (Compile Heart Company), Gust (maker of the Atelier series of the same name) and Nisa (NIS America). As if these aren’t entertaining enough, the goddesses are the ones that represent the gaming consoles, however, this is where things get a little more complicated.
Each goddess has a ‘human’ looking side, a CPU, and a more powerful transformed side, a Hard Drive Divinity CPU. They are Black Heart, White Heart and Green Heart, with their CPU names, Nior, Blanc and Vert respectively. These three are meant to represent the three major consoles, PS3, Xbox and Wii. There is also a fourth CPU, the main character Neptune that was cast out by the others. She is the oddball of the group because she is supposed to represent the Sega Neptune, of which I had never heard of until I looked it up. It was supposed to be a combination of the Sega Genesis and the 32X in one console to release in 1995, after being delayed to 1996 it was eventually cancelled due to the cancellation of the 32X models.
Joined by IF and Compa (unless you buy extra character DLC) Neptune goes on a quest to defeat monsters, save Histoire and find out who she really is. The character’s designs are cute and intriguing enough but the story that they play a part in is not enough to connect the player with them but is mostly for comedic purposes.
How does it play?
In Hyperdimension Neptunia there are many aspects of game play at work. While this is a dungeon crawler in the sense that many dungeons you see will be the same skin with different layouts there is a certain level of customization that could become very deep if given the right amount of time to master it.
You operate out of a menu to select which missions you will go do. Some are side quests where others will be parts of the main quest. The annoying aspect that arises out of this system is that when you are choosing the quests on the ‘map’ it does not tell you the difficulty of the dungeon you will enter. Without finding the name of the quest you want to do beforehand, you could find yourself walking right into a level 100 dungeon at level 20. Ouch. Luckily if you play the system right you won’t have this problem.
While in the dungeons each main character has a certain skill that comes in handy. Compa can call groups of monsters to attack all at once with a coo-ldown afterwards for when they return. Neptune has a hammer that can blast through obstacles that might block your way. And, IF has the ability to find hidden chests. This last ability can be a bit troublesome, with the character having to stand right next to where the chest is, but the rewards often include new pieces of armor for Neptune’s transformed version.
Despite all of these gimmicks, there is even a combo creation aspect of combat where you can change which attacks are set to which buttons and the sequence that they appear in. The system lists every kind of button sequence available, so there is a lot to customize but personally I only changed about 8 of them to suit my needs. Another aspect that you can change is the summons. The summons themselves already have characters connected to them, most from previous games by the creators of the game, but you can change the pictures that appear when you summon them. For example I chose a picture of okamiden for a wind summon and Aqua from KH BBS for a water one. The pictures have to be on your PS3 system in order to use them but it isn’t that hard to do.
These elements can be fun at the beginning but by the end of this long story I felt like it dragged on too long without any change or much of a challenge, with the exception of the bosses.
But, can I play it again?
This game was made to be played again and again. Some of the quests that will pop up during your first play through pose levels of 100 to 900. Unfortunately the only way to truly get your characters to become this strong is through a lot of grinding and DLC. Yes, you will need to purchase DLC in order to raise the level cap. There is other DLC that make unplayable characters playable, like Gust and Nisa as well as weapons, costumes and special level up sets for the goddesses.
Speaking of goddesses, it is possible to recruit them in the game before the final boss. This is also a tedious process, making you raise stocks in one world until you unlock a scene with the goddess. After triggering the scene, which is hard enough to do, you must then defeat them before they will join you. While you do get a trophy for accomplishing this and are now able to use the goddess in battle, after all that work it makes me wonder if all that time was really worth it. Nonetheless, this aspect of Hyperdimension Neptunia lends a little to the replay aspect of it. These quests are only available to do right before the main quest’s final battle but if you want to completely destroy the boss, and get a few trophies in the process, then by all means grind those dungeons.
How does it sound?
To be honest I found the music to be nothing too special. It gets horribly repetitive since the same track is used over and over in the dungeons no matter which one you go to. While catchy at times listening to the same music in every single menu can be tiring, especially when you hit cancel instead of confirm.
What I really like in JRPGs is if they keep the option to switch the audio to Japanese voice acting. Thankfully they had it in this game and I thought it was entertaining to read the English script while hearing the Japanese (I do know a little Japanese). I’m sure if you kept the English on it would be just as fun, the numerous subtle references to Sega’s other franchises and other famous games like Mario Bros but I cannot speak for the quality of the voice acting in the English version.
Besides that the writing was quite witty at times, and as you can see in the image, even broke the third wall sometimes. Unfortunately I felt that some of the references that were made might be lost on people who are unfamiliar with NIS’ and Sega’s games. However, there are hilarious references to Sonic and Mario without actually saying it is them which I thought were quite well done.