I’ve always been one for a good satire – even a bad one as long as the person or person’s putting it on are having fun with it – as long as it’s done in good taste. That was the least of my worries once SEGA and Idea Factory’s latest creation Hyperdimension Neptunia began spinning; just like my head. Everything about this game is so off-kilter, so over-the-top, and so… otaku, that it lures you in when you’re not expecting it. It’s just a shame that Neptunia can’t jeep your attention once it’s grabbed you.
As far as storyline goes, it’s potentially one of the strangest and most bizarre I have ever come aross in my years of playing videogames, which is where the true charm of the game lies. In the land of Gameindustri, where an epic war between four goddesses fight eternally, vying for the supreme spot of CPU. Three of them team up and knock the fourth, Neptune, to the world below where her memory is wiped and she goes though a quest to redeem the lands and her life, ultimately becoming the CPU of the world.
Overall it’s an interesting take on how three consoles that we have today bicker and fight amongst themselves, while having your main character named after a cancelled SEGA console. It’s these moments when the fourth wall is broken in glorious fashion that give the game its charm and keep you entertained. It’s unfortunate then, that so much of the game is spent in inescapable and static text scenes. The first fifteen minutes are spent reading, or being read to in awful English or Japanese translations. By the time you actually get to the real fighting, you may just be bored enough to sleep through it.
Speaking on combat, it’s obvious that the idea was to give your something reminiscent of days gone past: the more pixilation in textures, the sacristy in dungeons and fields, and lack of anyone else to talk to or see. That’s all well and fine…really. Sometimes in today’s generation we need to come back a little to our roots and re-live what made is who we are today. What keeps up in that moment however, is an engaging combat experience, and it just wasn’t there.
Aside from each combat roll being dreadfully slow, each action is repetitive and fairly one-sided. It’s explained in a (“in your face” manner) tutorial that combat can be easier with the help of using the reverse element against your enemy, combining combo attacks, and trading out players. Okay, makes sense in theory: yet there is no indication as to how or when these criteria can be met, making you spend 20-30 minutes in the combo system, tweaking and playing with some 40-odd button combinations to make a move that works for you.
Skills and abilities are in the same category, giving you’re the option to use any skill that you possess at any time… as long as you know how to include it in your combo codes. Your AI will take care of things like fixing poison, healing, reviving downed allies… so you really only have to press the same buttons over and again, through battle after battle.
It seems to try and make up for its pitfalls; Neptunia goes a special direction by having a full-female cast and plastering fan-service everywhere possible. It’s one thing to have one of your lead female roles talk administering first aid to another… entirety another to see a screen capture of them fighting in what looks like a bondage screen capture, and that was just in the first 20-minutes.
Bottom line is simply that Hyperdimension Neptunia is such a zany game that it just tries too hard to make a point, failing in the attempt. Its plot, and the creative way it was told was perfect, genius, and inventive yet got buried under hours of ceaseless dialogue, repetitive dungeon combat, and (only if you’re not into it) Japanese-cetric content. It’s a valiant effort that I wish I could have seen go a different direction, yet sometimes we can’t always get what we wish for.