A few weeks ago I was handed a game from NIS America called Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory. I will be completely honest and say that I didn’t know much about this release, only that it was JRPG and that it was based in a world know as Gamindustri. This is a world that is ruled by CPU’s, where game mascots live away from the realm of humans.
There are four nations in Gamindustri which are Lowee, Laststation, Leanbox and Planptune, each has their own CPU’s ruler. The White Heart Blanc rules Lowee, The Black Heart Noire rules Laststation, The Green Heart Vert rules Leanbox and finally, The Purple Heart Neptune rules Planptune and she is the games main character. Each nation is in strict competition with one another, but the power struggle keeps the nations in perfect balance. There have been times in the past however when the nations had to work together, most recently when the Deity of Sin needed to be vanquished. Hyperdimention Neptunia Victory is set a few years after Sin’s defeat and now a new threat has arrived to destroy the world.
Neptune and all the other CPU’s are friends and spend most of their time playing video games. One day Neptune gets caught up in a space time rift and is thrown into another dimension. In this strange new world all of Neptunes’ friends have no idea who she is, but they soon realise they have to work together to defeat this new evil in order to save the world from total destruction.
From the moment I watched the opening title sequence I could tell that this game was heavily inspired by Japanese Anime cartoons. Just the opening sequence alone reminded me of a few Anime series such as, Gundam Seed, Bleach and Escaflowne. Each of the characters has been designed in the typical anime style, with some of the characters reminding me of characters from other Anime. For example, Vert the Green Heart reminded me of Rangiku Matsumto from Bleach. There are a lot more similarities to anime series in this game, but to list them all would take a whole article in itself.
In most games today you would normally have to sit through fully animated cut scenes. In this game however cut scenes are alot less animated and look more like an actual comic book. There is barely any movement from the characters, other than a slight movement to the right or the left of the screen. Most of the time the dialogue is text based meaning you have to read what the characters were saying. This was something I had seen before in games such as Dragonball Z on the PlayStation 2 and it didn’t bother me at first. I was a little frustrated however when I realised that a couple of hours of gameplay had gone by, and all I had been doing was reading text for the majority of the time.
Finding and completing quests is relatively straight forward in Hyperdimention. You sign up for quests (which is considered as work to a CPU) and each quest is set out in a dungeon for you to explore. This sounds like fun and it is. Kind of. In some of the quests all you need to do is beat up a few monsters, or find a specific item. This is all well and good but sometimes you can spend ages trying to complete the quest with no clue of what you need to do as the quest synopsis only gives you a very small amount of information. Now I know that’s part of the game, but this just feels different. It feels like this game is dragging out quests longer than it needs to, especially when you want to progress further into the story.
If you want to progress story wise you need to look for a specific location on your town map. Once you have found this location it will have a story event linked to it which in turn progresses the games story line. Unfortunately there were times where I had completed a few quests and went back into the city to go to the next event, only to find the story event wasn’t there. I found myself going back out to the dungeon and fighting more monsters only to still be kept waiting for the next event. This got quite annoying, as I would be spending a lot of my time just wondering around a dungeon fighting only to kill time.
Both the city and the in game map stay along the Japanese comics design. There is an element to the city maps that I found to be very useful, by moving your cursor round with the analogue stick you can select a location or a person you want to talk to. Just in case you don’t like that you can press on the D-pad and a menu will come up for all the locations and people you can interact with, this is like Hyperdimention’s answer to fast travel. I think this is a nice touch because some people hate using the analogue controls to move around, some just prefer to having a location list as is often commonplace in RPG’s. Most RPG fans expect large open worlds to explore but Hyperdimenstion doesn’t really offer this as the game seems more linier, but I wasn’t bothered.
The game play in Hyperdimention is quite in depth with each dungeon has a set map to guide you. In dungeons you can jump and swing your sword to engage enemies. A preemptive strike system has also been incorporated into the gameplay which can come in really handy. If you come across an enemy and swing your sword and hit the enemy first before they attack you, you get to attack them first in battle. However if you miss, swing to early or swing to late the enemy will get the preemptive strike and attack first in battle. This means tactics can be applied when engaging an enemy in battle. Once the battle has commenced you are free to move and attack you enemy. Each character has a attack zone and if an enemy is within the players attack zone the player is free to launch their attack, this means that movement it key when planning your strikes. Each new weapon a character acquires has a different size attack zone, the bigger the attack zone the longer your attacks reach and the more enemies you can hit. Alternatively you can either block or use a special move instead, special moves vary depending on the character you are using. Each special move used up a little bit of your special move bar. Some moves buff your players up, some can heal and others give out a load of damage. Regular attacks vary from a power hit, combo hit or a guard breaking hit. What I realised was the battle system was similar to other classic RPG’s, but with the ability to move around and with the weapons having different attack zones the combat system in this game does feel pretty unique.
When you have defeated your enemies you gain experience and some of your stats increase, and you also pick up money and any items your fallen enemy has dropped. Each time you fight you can try to beat your previous max combo, which is a nice addition to the combat giving you an extra challenge. I found out that sometimes it is better to to hit the enemies with string of hard attacks rather than focusing on small attacks to increase your max combo. You also have the Lily system which allows you to position your character next to another party member for support or a joint attack. This system has a secondary function as it helps build a relationship between the members of your party, the more your party members work together the better they become at attacking and healing as a team. Then you have Hard Drive Divinity, or HDD. This is a transformation power unique to CPU’s which increases all their stats and gives them a brand new look. This can be altered by buying alternative processors in the game shop which can boost stats and change your apperance. As with most RPG’s you can buy and sell things in the shops, which can include new costumes for the characters and the obvious equipment upgrades.
The Background music works well with the game and with each scenario the right music goes a long way. In some parts of the game the music can be quite repetitive but I feel that is more to do with giving consistency depending on which location you are in. The sound effects are very good and work brilliantly in the game, especially when you hit a preemptive strike. When you successfully hit a preemptive strike your character comments on the awesomeness of the attack. I will be honest and admit they do usually repeat the same thing over and over again which didn’t really bother me as many games have done this in the past, but to a gamer who hasn’t played many JRPGs it might get a bit annoying.
+ Overall Anime cartoon style will have any Japanses cartoon fan smiling
+ In deapth weapon system with varying attack zones
+ The Lily system is a great way to bring your team together
- More reading than gameplay
- Waiting time between events is too long
- Repetitive phrases and words used by characters
All in all Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory is very good. Its Anime inspired graphics which the game feel more like a comic book at times worked well. The combat is solid and with the integrated Lily System the games combat feels a lot more in depth that any other JRPG I have played. It’s just a shame that you have to wait for so long between quests in order to progress the story. I do intend to keep playing this game though as I feel that there are some hidden surprises waiting to be discovered.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory is out on the 22nd of March exclusively for PlayStation 3
The Plus XP Review System
At Plus XP we like to review games a little differently. Instead of giving the usual score out of 10 like most review site do, all games we review are scored out of 100 (or in Plus XP terms 100XP). Each review will feature a XP bar at the bottom of the page representing the score given to a game.