Home Video Games Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory

Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory

Game Review

Title: Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory
Developed By: Compile Heart
Published By: Nippon Ichi Software America | Namco Bandai Partners (Australia)
Based On: Third title in Neptunia series
Console: Playstation 3 Exclusive
Genre: RPG
Classification (AU): This title has been rated M for Sexualised Imagery and Sexual References
Review Conditions: Australian Edition, Playstation 3, Physical Media
Special Thanks: Nippon Ichi Software America for kindly providing a review copy of this title

It has been several years since the Deity of Sin was defeated. In spite of a little trouble here and there, the world is at peace and the CPUs have been leading a life of leisure. Until one day, the CPU of Planeptune, Neptune, was sent to another dimension. There, everything felt old yet strangely familiar – it was like the Gamindustri of the 1980’s!

However in this more retro Gamindustri, there exists a mysterious organization called the Seven Sages that seeks to spread its anti-CPU message at any cost. In order to return to her world and protect this other Gamindustri, Neptune sets off on her new adventure.

Hyperdimension Neptunia titles have always been one of the harder titles to review, as it targets a more niche market, leaving RPG fans potentially either enjoying or disliking the game based on their preferences alone – as Neptunia games are as much about the experience as they are the gameplay. Therefore, as I assume many of you are looking into this game with some prior experience… if you have enjoyed earlier titles in the series you are more likely than not going to enjoy this series, and vice versa if you found earlier instalments were not to your preference.

Well, that was an easy review! 


But I suppose I can’t end this review there….

Storyline

Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory is the third instalment in Compile Heart’s Neptune series and as both other titles offers a different look at Gameindustri. In the first game we followed what could have been considered the “Console Wars“, where the CPU Goddesses of Planeptune, LaStation, Lowee and LeanBox were up against each other for market dominance and eventually banded together to defeat a greater threat. In Mk.2 the four CPU goddesses were captured leaving their sisters, the CPU Candidates (ie. Portable Consoles) to set out and rescue them.

Following on from the Mk.2 chronology is Victory, where everything is assumed to be at peace until Neptune finds herself flung into a 1980’s version of Gameindustri – where we are given a new look at how one might become a CPU and form their own nation. Upon arrival with no means of returning she comes across LaStation CPU Noire with the CPU of Planeptune for the reality Plutia. With nothing else to do, she joins the two of them and eventually becomes embroiled with the conflicts of this world – the formation of the Gamindustri nations and the looming threat of The Seven Sages (Including both familiar and new faces).

In past games, video game company representative characters (Eg. Compa, IF, NISA) played an important role in the storyline, however for the first time they have taken a back seat and while Compa and IF do appear in the storyline (Albeit as younger versions and only playable through DLC content), the others do not have a great role and many have minimal if any screentime or reference. CPU Candidates on the other hand aside from Nepgear also take a back seat and while playable only have small references until late in the game. Instead, this game returns to its roots and focuses on the returning CPU Goddesses and the few new ones in the world. The character development for all of them was solid, and along with their individual personalities (Especially Plutia’s) and overall the progression of the storyline made it quite probably the most well structured and enjoyable of the three games.

One of the big charms about the Hyperdimension Neptunia series has been its references to video games and the video game industry in general, and given the brand new 80’s setting they have not failed to make use of it. While quite a few of the references like mk.2 may not be as notable to those who are not that familiar with “retro” games – they also make several references to recent events in the game industry along with several carry-over jokes and references. Outside of the actual story this aspect also carries over to weapons, items, skills, areas and town residents.

Given there are fewer party members in this instalment, you are treated to less random event opportunities when you visit each particular town. However there are several points during the game where you are given access to an ample number of events upon visiting a towns Basilicom or CPU Hotel. More notably, there are a handful of opportunities to deviate into different “Ending Routes” or unlocking skills and some can be vague in regards to their importance. For the most part however the optional events are made evident to the viewer unlike some other older Compile Heart games where because you skipped one hot springs event you are doomed to the Normal End path. Other than this, most events in the game are generally unlocked via accessing different areas on the map, reaching certain points in a dungeon or vaguely pointed out Guild missions.

Overall there are 10 chapters to unlock in this title alongside the normal assortment of endings. That being said, no matter how much they cram into the game… it may not be for everyone, so factor in your own preferences before taking my word for it.

Design

Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory is once again a visually pleasing game, while also making amendments from earlier releases which for the most part worked for the better. The four main CPU Goddesses given the different era all received upgraded character designs, which as with Mk.2 were customizable through in-game items, with a large set of accessories to go alongside with them at a cost. The new and returning character designs on the other hand were of the same standard I would have expected. A noticeable addition to this release was the reinstatement of character portraits during dialogue scenes rather than using character models. It was a welcome addition and were similar to Hyperdimension Neptunia in that regard – however they slacked off a bit with some characters by giving them face art instead of actual portraits (Eg. Teen IF/Compa, Rom, Ram, Uni). Battle animations were once again solid and of the same standard as Mk.2 with a number of new creative skill animations.

As with most Compile Heart games, while they focus their efforts of solid CG artwork and character designs they have once again under-delivered in environmental designs. While there was an improvement from before, you are still left wandering around the same set of dungeons falling under the same generic themes – and sometimes just built upon layouts. This is an area I would like to see them work upon in their other upcoming RPG titles as it has been a particular gripe of mine since Trinity Universe.

Music/Voice Acting

The music backing for Victory is a mixture of tracks from the previous two titles and new ones produced specially for this game. Once again, the music does occasionally become overused in certain scenes, but otherwise is good enough to play along with.

As with most of their titles, NIS America gives you the option of the original Japanese dub and their newly produced English dub for the title. As always for the purposes of this review I have chosen to cover the English dub, however I encourage you to go with your preference as both are good. The English dub reprises the original voice cast from the last few games, along with a few new additions to the mix. Given the credits only list the Japanese voice cast I am uncertain as to whom the new voices are exactly – but it sounds like Cherami Leigh voices Plutia and Sandy Fox voices Peashy. I could be wrong, but these two newcomers to the series in particular did a great job of their voice roles.

Gameplay

Aside from a few new additions and a design change, Neptunia Victory’s battle system should be familiar to those of you who have played Neptunia Mk.2. As before it is a turn based system that takes place in a spherical field, where four characters are pitted against X number of enemies and must make a use of attacks, skills and location in order to ensure their victory. As a player you have your standard HP and SP gauges, as well as a brand new EXE DRIVE Gauge which can be used to either gain an extra attack after every turn or expend to perform powerful EX Attacks on your foes. On the other hand, your enemies have the standard HP gauge and a GP (Guard) gauge – which depending on what three attack styles you use against them (Rush, Power, Break) will cause different damages. Unfortunately in terms of strategy it usually comes down to Guard Breaking your opponent with Break before reducing their HP with Power – leaving Rush attacks with very little use unless you run through a dungeon quickly to reach the boss.

Depending on your weapon you have different area of effect with your weapon – ranging from the standard square infront of you to a row or distance away which can make for interesting battle strategies – but this would have worked better if you had more than one standard weapon unlock in the store for each character every chapter. To further shake up the tide of battles, while you can use your standard assortment of skills you can also spend your EXE DRIVE points on EX attacks – which provide an interesting animation and cause a lot of damage to your opponent. But on the plus side, changing to your characters HD Form is actually worth your while and only expends a small portion of your SP rather rather than 100SP + draining it every turn.

While there are a couple of attacks which are imbalanced, you will actually find yourself up against some rather challenging foes – which unlike other games in the series from my perspective required grinding. While there is not a whole lot of strategy required in battle, they are nevertheless pretty enjoyable but I wouldn’t have said no to a few more additions to keep it fresh past the first few chapters.

Moving away from the battle system, Compile Heart have included a few other nifty features throughout the game. The world map system is once again in place, although has been split into separate regions for each nation. Each of the areas have a variety of different dungeons and fields to visit, with the main ones also having a hub where you can perform the standard shopping, interact with characters etc. A handful of new features are incorporated at this level including a scout system – where you can pay characters to scout out areas and potentially unlock new areas or impact mobs/item/money drop rates for better or for worse and a disc development system which allows you to “burn” and equip discs to your characters for added customizable perks. The game also sees the return of the Guild system, where you can undertake small collection/defeat X missions in order to unlock items or money.

While many of the above systems are optional, through a chapterly “Nepstation” broadcast you are ranked depending on how much you utilize some of these systems – and while this doesn’t impact gameplay does make for encouragement to use them. Other similar broadcasts include a comical news show, home shopping and a quiz show that rewards correct answers with some useful goodies. Also encouraging you to make use of all the game has to offer is an achievements system with additional stats rewarded for everything from jumping X number of times of the field to having Y amount of damage dished out to one character in particular.

While Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory might not reach the heights of other JRPG’s in terms of gameplay, everything that was been provided I felt complemented the overall Neptunia experience very well. Each game in the series has contributed something new and better to the overall formula, and that being said out of all three games… Victory is the best yet.

Final Word

Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory may not win anyone new over to the series, but I can happily say that Compile Heart and Nippon Ichi Software America have provided the best experience yet for the series. The storyline was of a good standard with many references that placed itself as a game detailing the life of gaming personifications with everything else being just what I had been expecting from the title.

With Neptune PP set for release on the Playstation Vita later this year in Japan and an anime series in the works…. this should not be the last you will hear of Hyperdimension Neptunia on The Otaku’s Study.

FINAL SCORE
Storyline/Character Development: B+
Design: B+
Music/Voice Acting: B
Gameplay: B+
Replayability: B
Personal Opinion: B+
Overall Score: B+

Exit mobile version