Why did I play this?Why did I play this?

Posted on Jan 12th 2015 at 09:03:17 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under ps3, vita, nis america, tecmo koei, compile heart, idea factory, console wars

Hyperdimension Neptunia is a turn based RPG developed by Idea Factory, Compile Heart to be specific. It was published by all kinds of different companies depending on where you live, Compile Heart in Japan, NIS America in North America, and Tecmo Koei in Europe. It has spawned sequels and a plethora of extra media in Japan. It was remade for the Vita with the epithet Re;Birth 1. Once again, the Japanese start messing around with our punctuation and grammar.

The idea behind the game sounds like heaven for long time fans of video games. Imagine the major manufacturers personified as goddesses, and you get to play as one! You play as Neptune, the personification of Sega, with the name pulled from the Sega Neptune prototype of the combined Genesis and 32X. Neptune loves sleeping and food, a little too much. The major supporting characters include personifications of the developers and publishers involved in the game. Compa for Compile Heart, IF for Idea Factory, Nisa for Nippon Ichi, and Gust for GUST! The Goddesses can also transform, with Neptune growing well over a foot in height and a couple letters in cup size. She's affectionately referred to as "Magical Boob Girl" by IF.

In this world, the Console Wars are real battles between the Goddesses as they vie for domination of the world of Gamindustri and their own realm of Celestia. Some events transpire in Celestia, which lead to the Goddesses descending to their respective planes, except Neptune who becomes lost after landing face first and suffering from amnesia. There are a lot of hidden comparisons and criticisms of Sega and the other hardware manufacturers scattered throughout the story, this being the first major one. There are other events that occur throughout the planes of Planeptune, including one where a game obsessed kid criticizes a game company's history and their release of a console the same day they announce it. Sound familiar? The same kid also screams at an executive of the company, telling him the company sucks, and then justifies it as a sort of encouragement for the company to improve. For such a lighthearted game, there are many quips and jokes that feel like they're roughly scratching at sensitive scar tissue.

In the end, this is not Segagaga. There is no atmosphere of despair and failure surrounding a group of executives and creators. It is upbeat, which is in no small part thanks to Neptune's natural energy, eagerness, and brash personality. The main characters are unique in their own way, and the supporting characters are quite helpful. Gust's discount ability saves you a lot of credits! Compa is a rather airheaded nursing student who ends up being pulled along with Neptune into a grand, epic adventure after her school is closed due to monsters. Her grandfather is also hilarious! IF is the more rational, levelheaded group member, who helps to balance out Neptune and Compa's tendency to run head-on into dangerous dungeons without preparing themselves.

While the story and characterization is quite strong, the rest of the game is lackluster. The battle system is quite weak, and devolves into monotonous combos that you'll end up skipping to get S ranks in the dungeons. Repeatable dungeons are all about finishing quickly to get higher ranks and earning more reward money at the end. Skipping the attack animations actually makes this attainable. So you'll spend most of the combat sequence mashing a few face buttons with L2 in between. This gets old quickly and wears down your fingers. There is also usually a grinding dungeon thrown in as well. While some dungeons are harder, take longer, and offer worse rewards, the grinding dungeons are relatively easy and offer some great rewards and fast experience. One of the last dungeons I found of this kind got me from level 48-65 in about an hour. I was entirely overpowered after that dungeon.

The item system is also awkward. Instead of buying the items you want to use and navigating a menu, your party gathers up four ingredients, then mixes them based on whatever item skills you equip them with. Its not a simple equip either, but is determined by how many percentage points you allot to that specific ability. I pretty much kept the cheap, low level healing abilities up at the maximum percentage, since the healing skills are also percentage based. The one skill I found myself micromanaging was Neptune's Protein skill. This lets Neptune start the battle with Lunatic, an attack power buff. Bosses die fast with that on, but it's too expensive to use for every battle.

I do not believe that Japanese developers have properly grasped the concept of DLC yet, especially when this game's DLC was released. Neptunia has some DLC, including free dungeons, of which some are extremely high level. You'll have to buy multiple level cap increasing DLCs to make use of most of these free dungeons, which serve to grind out a hundred or so levels. As monotonous as the main game is, I know that I would never have the patience for that kind of post-game grinding. Some additional characters are also unlocked in combat through purchasable DLC, like Nisa and Gust. There are also the obligatory costume and gear packs to buy as well. Given the price of a used copy of the game now you'll spend over twice as much extra scratch for DLC that will likely never be touched, so I wouldn't bother supporting this awkward and contradictory style of content addition.

This first game in the series really should only be played to see the story, and you might as well play it on the easiest difficulty. You won't be missing much and will probably save a couple fingers some fatigue and soreness in the process. This game took me the longest to play out of everything I've reviewed so far. I started the game I recently finished almost three years ago! I found myself bored with game some time ago and moved on to other things, only to pick it up for a day or two months later. I finally powered through the rest of the game to see the rest of the story. The monotony may drive you insane, and if you're looking for an RPG with deeper and more engaging mechanics, then it is best to look elsewhere in the PS3 and Vita's library.

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I picked up the first trilogy of these for PS3, Collector's Edition for each and everything.  I wanted to get into them, as the idea behind it all seemed so much fun.  And I finally realized, several hours into the first two games, that I just can't get into moe character designs.  The gameplay mechanics improved significantly each game in, but I found I just couldn't get into them. 

Probably should have stopped before Time and Eternity, Mugen Souls, and all these other NISA LEs I nabbed...

Although Witch and the Hundred Knight was an interesting, if grindy, throwback.

Not that I could ever talk about grinds, playing Destiny and the Etrian Odyssey as much as I do.
This has been on my radar/backlog forever. Despite the flaws I'm still very pumped to try it out.

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