There are a lot of Hyperdimension Neptunia games out now, aren’t there? Whilst series fatigued has certainly started to settle in for me, I can’t deny that this is a good game which hardcore fans of the series should love, and puts fan-favourite heroine IF into the leading role.
This is one of the strangest stories in the series yet, taking place in an alternate timeline where the cast of characters don’t know each other and IF is on an adventure to help the CPU’s and the Sega Hard Girls recover their memories, as well as help the Grand Library retrieve its books. Books have been stolen and it’s up to IF, Neptune and friends to retrieve them and ensure that history proceeds as recorded through several lands based on retro video game systems such as the Mega Drive.and the Dreamcast. As with other Neptune titles, this one strikes a balance between humour and a more serious tone in a way that the characters don’t really take their predicaments seriously.
Unless you’re only in this for the SEGA aspects of it, chances are you’ve played another game in the series and know what to expect here. New additions include a sprint button which can be combined with jumps to reach new areas, usually to collect medals which are then used for trade with another character, as well as the ability to climb on things such as vines. You can pick up floating items in battle which grant various buffs or debuffs too, so keep an eye out! These aren’t particularly game-changing additions but they add an element of platforming to the series which it hasn’t quite had before, which in turn makes it feel rather fresh!
The combat system will be familiar although there have been slight changes here too, such as the meter on the right hand side that tells you how many attacks you can perform as well as how long you’ll have to wait until your next turn – ideally, you want to finish your turn before the arrow is in the red. You can charge an attack fully to release a powerful attack but this isn’t guaranteed to hit, and it’ll mean you have to wait longer before that character gets another turn. I appreciate that the gameplay mechanics have been slightly reworked and it still feels very much like you’d expect – I might be a little fatigued with the series, but I like that it’s improving on its already excellent gameplay.
Superdimension Neptune is clearly using the same engine that the other games on Vita has and whilst I don’t have a problem with it, I do have to note that there’s sometimes notable frame-rate drops when on the field on in-battle. Other than that it’s looked as good as it ever has and I like that Idea Factory are still heavily supporting the fantastic Vita, but seeing the series on PS4 has made me want more home console games too. The CG’s and 2D character art is colourful and creative, and I like how the different consoles influence each character. Many models and areas are reused from previous games, which is to be expected, but it’s Neptune through and through and there are enough new things to keep it from feeling too repetitive.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again but this series boasts one of the most energetic, cheerful and enthusiastic English dubs around and Superdimension Neptune is no exception – the people who lend their voices to these games brilliantly bring them to life and help make the series what it is. There are many familiar tracks to be heard here along with a handful of new ones, and once again the soundtrack is catchy with mostly upbeat music to match the games aesthetic.
Superdimension Neptune vs Sega Hard Girls is more of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series and if that’s what you’re looking for, then this is one of the best spin-offs of the series. If you’re tired of the series then this won’t change your mind, but it’s still worth giving a look into if you’e fancying a solid JRPG or want to return to the series – it’s standalone, so you don’t need to have played the others although it’s beneficial to learn about the characters. Idea Factory are supporting the Vita with another great game and I look forward to what’s next for the series, although I hope it’s a mainline installment!