Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 is one of those games that you originally expect to hate, but then inadvertently end up really enjoying. When I first got this game in the mail, I immediately pictured myself saying all sorts of mean things about it in this review. As it turns out, the joke was one me; Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 ended up being a pretty fun and addictive little game, one that I would actually recommend.
The game focuses on the story of four younger sisters on a quest to save their older siblings. We soon find that the older sisters in question have been captured by a mysterious villain by the name of Arfoire as part of a plan to take over the world of Gamindustri. Arfoire and her minions, who ultimately represent the evil forces of piracy, battle our righteous heroines for a chance to shape the future of the decaying metropolis. Read more after the jump!
Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 - PS3 Developer: Idea Factory/Compile Heart Publisher: NIS America Release Date: February 28, 2012 MSRP: $44.96 standard edition/ $249.98 special edition
Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 is essentially a celebration of video games throughout time. Each protagonist, or CPU candidate, was made to represent a different piece of hardware, and supporting heroines were designed to embody traits associated with a handful of game developing companies. Every major city in the game also references a different gaming console, with Lastation and Leanbox being the two most obvious allusions. Part of the fun of playing the game is precisely discovering what exactly each character and location represents.
While the main plot of the game circles around the CPU candidates going on an epic adventure to rescue their captured sisters, it soon becomes evident that the story is merely a vehicle for the makers to explore a much more interesting premise. As we follow the girls, we are taken on a nostalgic journey through the magical world of RPG cliches. While at first, the game appears to be guilt-tripping us about the dangers of piracy, it actually ends up also utilizing the shittiness of recurring enemies to illustrate the other side of the debate -- innovation is key to the success of the gaming industry. And that is all I can tell you without giving too much away!
The beauty of Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 is that when you first start playing the game you are almost entirely convinced that the story is utter garbage, and then suddenly everything makes perfect sense. The game is pretty niche, however, in that it requires a certain type of person to appreciate it; not because there are any particularly obscure references in it, but rather because the humor is sometimes very subtle or gets lost in translation. The game’s general aesthetic is also undeniably primarily targeted towards an otaku demographic.
I thought that overall, despite their simplicity, all the characters in the game were pretty charming; all of them were reminiscent of something you would find in a classic RPG. You get a pure-hearted heroine who is a jack-of-all-trades master of none, a tomboy, a tsundere, a cocky fighter type, and a healer who is by definition the ultimate bottom, among others. Each character comes with its own weapon class, fighting style, and special moves.
As far as character design goes, I really kinda loved what they did with them; they were all adorable. The fact that the game features a crafting feature and unlockable outfits and accessories was definitely a selling point for me, heaven knows I am a sucker for that kind of stuff. Towards the end of the game, I had unlocked a ton of casual and transformation outfits. I had three of my CPU units dressed up as a pirate, a dark knight, and a maid.
I thought that as far as artwork goes, the best part of Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 were the character models and the backgrounds utilized during dialog sequences. The 2D images for each city and major story location were beautifully done. There were not a lot of reaction animations for the characters, but those that were available were funny, expressive, and got the job done.
I must say though, that in-game dungeons and enemies were a tad too dull. While I understand that one of the themes of the game was making fun of cliches, I would have liked to see more variety in the stuff that was depicted. All the dungeon maps also pretty much followed a straight line and were a little too short for my taste. I would have liked a little more challenge.
The combat in Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 was fun but also very easy -- maybe way too easy. Throughout the entire game I probably only died once. If I were to compare the combat to another game, I probably would to something like Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love. However, it’s not nearly as dull and repetitive as Atelier Rorona, which was, in my opinion, very cute but a complete nightmare of a game.
The game is turn-based and it mostly relies on the use of combos. You get a limited amount of aggro points per turn, a special points bar which charges through aggroing opponents, and items which cost a certain amount of points to use -- pretty standard. Some of the special moves come equipped with some pretty hilarious animations. My favorite were probably the ones that featured poorly cropped pictures of the game’s developer artfully decorated with flames and lightning.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2’s interface was surprisingly polished, it was certainly pretty to look at and easy to navigate. One of my favorite aspects of the game was the “chirper” feature, which I thought was a very creative way of simulating interactions with city residents. Instead of walking through each town talking to NPCs, players can communicate with them through a twitter-like board.
My only real complaint about the game’s interface was that the default combat controls could have probably been mapped a little better. The end turn button was assigned the same key as the items menu, minus a right trigger modifier; which kinda got on my nerves at times.
Music & voice acting
The music in this game was actually pretty good, with the exception of one or two really upbeat DDR-like tracks --I am really neurotic. For instance, I hated the fuck out this song, but tracks like this one and this one made the soundtrack worthwhile. My favorite song was probably the track played in the spa level, the one with the faint bossa nova vibe; it made want to stay there forever.
The voice acting was inoffensive. The game gives you the option of playing with an English dub or with the original Japanese audio. Both options come with English captions by default.
I thought that the graphics left much to be desired. I am not one of those people who demand hyper-realism in games, especially in titles that follows this kind of aesthetic, but I really did think that some of the textures used in the game were just plain lazy for a PS3 game. Some of the enemies were a complete eyesore.
Another comment I will make is that the game does call for a certain amount of grinding, which I like but know some people really, really hate. You will need to run repeatable missions a number of times if you are interested in gathering enough cash to buy sweet stuff for your characters, especially costumes!
Lastly, I will say that the game is very re-playable -- there are several different endings and a handful of "special" scenes that can be unlocked by "farming rep" with different characters and cities. This feature, in my opinion, does a decent job at justifying some of the grinding you must do throughout the game.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 was pretty fun. While I liked the story and appreciated the game’s sense of humor, I also found the actual gameplay to be a bit rough around the edges -- the graphics also could have been better. My main complaint about the title is that I would have liked it to be a little bit more challenging, it was way too easy!
7.5 – Good. 7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
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