I’d been looking forward to Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth2: Sisters Generation for a long time as I enjoyed it on PS3, and Re;Birth1 was in my top 10 games of 2014, and thankfully it doesn’t disappoint.
The Re;Birth games are retellings of the original PS3 trilogy, with slight story changes, gameplay changes and added bonuses that weren’t previously available, and so it’s easy to play the second installment once more; it’s both a familiar and fresh experience. The four CPU’s have lost a battle against Arfoire, the villain trying to take over Gamindustri, and it’s up to the CPU Candidates – the CPU’s sisters – and their friends to save them.
With the four CPU’s of the original game in need of rescuing, you begin the game with Nepgear, Compa and IF as you travel Gamindustri in the hopes of recruiting the other CPU sisters to help your cause. Arfoire and one of her new allies, Underling, are causing trouble where the’re trying to throw each land into turmoil, causing the citizens to lose faith in the CPU’s which in turn lowers their shares and strengthens Arfoire. You’ll have to defeat Underling and others as you fight to save your sisters.
Whereas Re;Birth1’s gameplay was completely reworked from its PS3 counterpart, Re;Birth2 and its Neptunia 2 on PS3 both play very similarly although it feels smoother on Vita. The battles are turn-based but during your turn you can freely run around in a set area, allowing yourself to place your team in the best positions to attack enemies, defend or make a move with your next turn in mind. Along with attacking, you can use special moves and items, and those with CPU powers can transform to increase their base stats; this is great during boss battles which can last a fairly long time, and can easily turn the tide in your favour.
Whilst some people may like to be thrust from battle to battle, I’m glad that Re;Birth2 has an extensive dungeon-crawling system that has an emphasis on finding items, defeating certain monsters for side-quests and building up shares. You get to run around on a fully 3D map across a variety of environments including snowy lands, forests and dark caves. The worldover map is mostly 2D and allows you to choose your next location, but you can also create ‘plans’ to change the enemies and items in a dungeon, create new dungeons and more; you can talk to random people on the map who’ll provide you with other plans and items, too.
There’s also ‘Stella’s Dungeon’, which sees Stella off hunting enemies and finding items for you in real time; you don’t control her, but you decide where she goes. She levels up and gets her own items too, and you’ll want to make the most of these as you’ll lose a lot of progress if she falls in battle – remember to make use of the best equipment! Some of the items she brings back for you can be used in battle, for plans, etc, and so it’s best to send her out whilst you’re enjoying the rest of Re;Birth2.
Whilst Re;Birth2 might not have the sharpest or most detailed visuals around, they’re immensely colourful, lively and wonderfully anime-inspired. The character design is one of my favourite things about the series, as each playable character represents game companies and series’, such as Compa and IF representing Compile Heart and Idea Factory respectively. The main CPU’s represent Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo and the SEGA Neptune.
Enemy design is creative and is inspired by Otaku’s, other games, and characters from anime and manga; there’s an enemy who’s based on Kyubey from Madoka Magica, and others who look like Tetris blocks. Environments follow a similar line of creativity too, with a variety of locations to keep you busy such as the ones mentioned earlier, along with beach resorts, industrial lands and many more. Re;Birth2 is oozing with beautiful visuals.
Hyperdimension Neptunia is home to one of my favourite English dubs in gaming, as the voices all fit so perfectly well. Cristina Vee captures Compa’s kindness and mischievous side and brings them together in harmony, whilst Melissa Fahn Neptune sounds just as cheery and air-headed as she’s portrayed. Other voice-actresses include the talented Erin Fitzgerald, Tara Platt, Wendee Lee, Michelle Ruff and several others, all of which you’ll know from acclaimed anime and popular Japanese games. The OST is just as easy on the ears with many memorable tracks to pump you up in battle and to keep you company when navigating dungeons and the world map.
As I said with the first Re;Birth title, Re;Birth2 is a must-own JRPG on the Vita and it’s one of the most enjoyable, light-hearted games around and it’s easy to have a smile plastered to your face when the characters get up their crazy antics. The story will keep you busy for a few dozen hours, and it’s easy to want to replay it to unlock the new content added in the game that you might’ve missed on your first playthrough, including playable characters.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth2 Sister’s Generation is a fantastic game, and Re;Birth3 can’t come soon enough – fortunately, we have Hyperdimension Noire: Goddess Black Heart releasing in the next few months!