Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory Review (PS3)
Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory is a soon to be released (at least outside of Japan) Japanese RPG developed by Compile Heart and Idea Factory. Yes, one of those rare JRPG’s that actually make it across the ocean to us (hopefully) lucky non-Japanese speakers in a translated format. This should mean that any JRPG that makes it across the pond should be exceptional!? Right?! Right!? Unfortunately this is not always the case.
In this case Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory doesn’t really fit within the exceptional or even the terrible. In fact it’s just really mediocre, which is a shame since it’s the third game in the Hyperdimension series, and one of the few vanguards of the JRPG genre. The setting of Hyperdimension is what makes it stand out from most other RPG’s. It’s set within a world where three of the four countries names are parodies of seventh generation consoles (Lowee, Lastation and Leanbox) and each of the countries is lead by a CPU (yeah…) and these CPU’s have been “ingeniously” named in French after each consoles main colour (Vert, Blanc, Noire). As for the fourth country, it is the CPU protagonist Neptune’s country and it’s called Planeptune! Straight from the very start you can tell that this is a game that isn’t intended to be overly serious and is trying to parody the current generation of consoles.
The overall plot for this Hyperdimension game is that your character is sent to a parallel world in which your character is no longer the CPU of Planeptune. Not only that, but the various countries from her world are no longer as friendly as they were in her world so Neptune (and the player) must now navigate her way through this new world and back to her own world!
As touched on above, Hyperdimension parodies the game industry with various jokes being made by characters and various characters parodied from other games as homages. As well as game magazines like Famitsu, it also uses various memes, trending technology and popular gaming vocabulary of recent years, making the setting a bit more surreal, but it works for this game since its part of the whole theme.
The look of the game reflects the anime art style and doesn’t really try to diverge from it and make it stand out in anyway. However that doesn’t mean it looks bad; in fact it looks pretty good and the artist’s have done a pretty great job with all of the 2D parts of the game. The 3D sections are well done as well for the most part, even if they aren’t up to big budget game standards.
Hyperdimensions music is forgettable, however there are a few remixes or parodies of popular tracks from more mainstream games like Final Fantasy. The games sound effects are good but end up being extremely repetitive, with one liners being repeated an insane amount of times in one battle and the same attack vocal being played multiple times in a row during the same special attack. The voice acting in this game (dubbed) I think is extremely good but I may be biased on this occasion since there are a few of my favourite voice actors in here. At the very least it doesn’t seem to ever be embarrassingly overcooked (Tidus from FF10 I’m looking at you!).
The story of the game is told via the 2D visual novel style, with the text box at the bottom of the screen and the characters pictures being displayed at either side. This is fine, however most of the game is spent fighting through walls of text as you try to persevere on to the next section where you get free reign of your characters. I use the words persevere and fighting in this case because 90% of the conversations are just characters babbling pointlessly between themselves, and there never seems to be any kind of character progression or meaningful conversation. There’s just a whole lot of aiming to be funny and ‘moe’ but the humour misses far more than it hits. Luckily, there is a skip button and super skip button for those instances when you feel like you’re 1v1ing a bear on acid while the worlds crumbling around you.
On the occasions you do get a little R and R to free roam, you get a 2D map display of the city or section of the world you are in which you can point and click to move to various areas such as the guild, shops or dungeons. The shops in this game are the standard buy potions, armour and “weapons and combine materials to make a new item from a recipe” type. The guild is a location where you pick up various quests to do on your travels. These quests tend to be the standard kill this, kill that, get this, get that… yeah nothing too exciting.
As for dungeons, whenever you go to one the game shifts to 3D and you get to free roam around the area. You are given three commands while in a dungeon: the ability to “symbol attack”, send out a short range sonar to find hidden items or jump.
In this game there is no such thing as random encounters. Instead, enemies roam around the dungeon in small fixed areas and whenever you’re spotted by one of them they go all metal gear on your ass and engage you by walking into you. In cases where they engage you you’re taken into battle mode and the fight starts in their favour. Alternatively, you can use the aforementioned symbol attack (which is a short range melee) prior to them touching you to start a fight in your favour.
The battle mode within this game is turn based at the top right of the screen your able to see a list of character turn placement. When it’s one of your characters turn you get freedom to move around in a small circle, which is the extent to which that character can move during their turn. As for abilities, the player gets to choose if they wish to defend, use a SP (special) skill, EXE drive, normal attack, activate HDD (hard drive divinity) mode or switch characters into play. SP skills tend to just be powerful attacks or heals that use SP and EXE drive are more powerful attacks that use your EXE gauge, which is built up by fighting. Normal attack allows you to choose from a strong attack, quick attack or attack that focuses on damaging the enemies guard (guard is a second health bar which reduces the damage done to the enemy). Activating HDD uses 100 or so SP and drains your SP per turn, but gives your character a large increase to damage and damage reduction and transforms them into the HDD version of themselves, however only CPU’s can use this.
You can also sort people up as battle partners so that you have one character supporting the other character. This will lend the character being supported different advantages and skills depending on who they are being supported by. The advantages given depend on the partner’s Lilly rank with each other. Given a high enough lily rank the supporting partner will help during EXE drive abilities, making these attacks more powerful.
Winning battles gives you items and experience…duh! The experience goes towards leveling your characters, and when your characters level up their base stats increase and they gain access to new abilities. Other than that you can equip items to increase your characters power. You can also customize your various characters looks via buying in game costumes etc. So it’s pretty ordinary in this sense.
Altogether it’s obvious that a lot of love and attention went into this game from two talented studios. However, the game doesn’t really put much effort into its overall plot. Even if it’s a parody, character development and plot are always key. Not only that, but it plays it far too safe, with rehashed RPG mechanics from yesteryear which makes this game a rather forgettable experience. This is a shame as ported JRPG’s need to be white knighted in this day and age to get more appeal from western audiences.
So if you’re a staunch lover of JRPG’s then this may be a relatively decent pick up for you, however if this is your first foray into the realm of JRPG I suggest looking elsewhere for the time being.
6 Leanboxs out of 10