Let me run an idea by you, we are going to take the current console war and turn it into a videogame. Each of the three consoles is going to be super powerful goddesses that rule over the world of gamindustri, and we will add in a fourth goddess that is a scrapped sega console from the 90s. Oh, and the development companies will be personified in the game as well. All of this is to be done in an anime style, and we also want to slip in jokes about video games every single chance we get.
In case you were wondering, this is indeed the story of Hyperdimension Neptunia. A somewhat intriguing idea of personifying the console war of our generation, that ends up falling completely flat on its face. Hyperdimension Neptunia is one of the strangest games I have ever played, and also one that doesn’t package in much fun unfortunately.
First off, the intriguing idea that the game is based on ends up getting completely weighed down by the game’s characters, dialogue, and totally uninteresting story. The game starts out well enough with your character Neptune (based on the scrapped Sega Neptune console) getting banished to the world below by the other goddesses, for really no good reason. Each of the goddesses rule over a different floating landmass in the world of gamindustri. Neptune wakes up without her goddess powers in her land of Neptunia. She is contacted by this mysterious voice that calls herself Histoire (really), and things develop from there with Neptune going on a quest to save the world from a dark force, as she meets various new characters named after the development teams, such as Compa for Compile Heart.
The story never goes anywhere interesting and completely fails to hold your interest through the game; in addition the groan-worthy dialogue doesn’t help at all. The bad jokes and characters talking about the game they are in, being a game, don’t necessarily set the right tone in this case. The string of endless sexual innuendos by the characters, most of which are teenage girls, is also a strange thing to behold.
Neptunia is an rpg at its core, and the game plays out one way. You always go back to the world view. Not really a map, but here you can access the menu, buy equipment and items, read world information to find out where to go next, and explore locations. You can equip characters with new weapons, and accessories, and Neptune even has a whole set of equipment for her goddess form as well. The whole game is the same though. You read your information, get a new location, run through a dungeon, and then watch some story. It would have been nice to have a little bit of variety in the pacing, I will admit.
Dungeons are simple linear affairs that usually require you to defeat a boss or collect items to pass it. Luckily, combat can have some amount of fun even if it too gets old after a while. Combat in Neptunia is turn based, with each of your characters and enemies taking turns depending on their speed. You have three options to attack, use your melee weapon, a melee attack, and a ranged attack. You can string these combinations together however you like and unlock more abilities, as you level up, to combo together. You can even get a move that will call in emblems from your saves on your machine to assist you in battle. Neptune also has the ability to turn into her goddess form anytime in battle, which feels unfair since there is absolutely no penalty to doing it in every single battle. One very puzzling thing about combat though, is the inability to use healing items when you want. There is absolutely no way for you to heal with a direct command. Instead, you have item abilities that you set up. These abilities use up items that you collect by completing battles to restore health, but they can only be set up to be used %60 of the time at the most.
And now for the worst part of the game, sound design. Voice acting is generally bad in Neptunia. A few characters do a decent job, but most of the characters come out to sound like that one hyper, excited young girl character you see in a lot of jrpgs. Needless to say, this gets annoying fast. This problem pales in comparison to the music however, since all of it in the game is atrocious. You get one song in each dungeon that also plays during battle. These songs are horribly simplistic and take all of about 20 seconds before you begin being annoyed.
The art style of Hyperdimension Neptunia is actually something I really enjoyed; it’s just a pity that you don’t see more of it instead of the in-game graphics. That’s not to say that the graphics are horrible, but they are definitely below average. It also would have been nice to see some cut scenes instead of static art or characters just standing there talking to each other. Battles do look decent however, and some of the special attacks do end up looking kind of cool.
Hyperdimension Neptunia is a good idea that ends up going absolutely nowhere. There is a very small percentage of people that would truly enjoy this game, even after reading this, and would still consider trying it out. I can tell you to just do it, but you might want to wait until it has a price reduction. Neptunia is still a ways off of being the worst game I have ever played, but I just know something is wrong when the most fun I have with a game is watching the opening movie.
NIS America provided SlimGamer.com with a review copy.