NIS America has successfully ported several JRPGs over from Japan and this month sees the release of another one: Hyperdimension Neptunia. Like previous NISA titles such as Trinity Universe and Atelier Rororna, Hyperdimension Neptunia is packed with a lot of typical JRPG gameplay mechanics that are likely to satisfy hardcore fans of the genre but still leave casual JRPGers at bay.
To Another Dimension
Hyperdimension Neptunia (HDN) has a crazy story, which shouldn't be too surprising given several of NIS' previous games. While I am still slowly working my way through it, I am having a hard time figuring out exactly what the heck is going on. Basically, there exists several landmasses that are underneath an omnipotent realm known as Celestia. The people on the lands pay tribute to the rulers in Celestia and Celestia returns the favor in kind, and all is well, etc. One day that balance gets disrupted and conflict breaks out between the rulers in Celestia which include the anime female characters you see on the box art. Namely, Black, Purple, Green, and Blanc Heart. Neptunia is the Purple Heart, and she seems to be the only noble one left of the bunch and the others gang up on her and cast her down to the land below, giving her amnesia in the process. Neptunia is found by a local named Compa and the two begin their adventure to regain Neptunia's memory and set things right in the world again by collecting key fragments on the landmasses so that eventually peace can be brought back to Celestia.
The gameplay involved in completing the main quest is very typical of a JRPG and includes main (aka story or plot) quests as well as numerous optional side quests that you can embark on to level grind your way up. Expect plenty of random, unavoidable battles, numerous truly bizarre enemies, and a typical turn based, party-style combat system. There are six party member slots that can be filled as you advance the plot and meet new characters. Each character is unique in not only how they are presented of course, but also in what abilities they are able to specialize in. Players are able to juggle their formation and dish out attribute points as they earn them from leveling up.
If you have played Trinity Universe, you will feel right at home with HDN. Everything from the presentation quality to the dungeon crawling to the combat are quite similar to Trinity Universe. Personally I think it's one that you will either enjoy or be turned off by, and for the most part I am of the latter. In short, I find the story and characters too bizarre to get interested in and the gameplay itself isn't engaging or rewarding. While there are a few good elements like being able to skip through the CPU's turn and being able to upgrade aspects of Neptunia to alter her special abilities, all that is more or less masked by uninteresting battles and odd mechanics.
I really didn't get much out of the combo system which allows you to customize your plans of attack so that you can spend your Action Points efficiently and easily. I also thought the Item Skills element was unnecessary and it added a layer of micro-management that didn't need to be there. For example, it made just healing your character more of a chore than it needed to be because there are no pure healing potions; instead, you have to cater to the requirements of each character, which means lots of trips to the Shop in between quests. Curiously, I saw no way to sell items back to the shop so racking up spending money became a bit of a grind.
Although HDN doesn't really capture my attention, I can see where some hardcore JRPG fans itching for a new universe and story could certainly have some fun here. The game itself is presented well enough, although nothing about the presentation quality will blow you away. I didn't experience any bugs or issues while playing either.
With that, lets get to the summary...
If you like JRPGs, you obviously have to try this one. But, if this isn't your genre of choice, Hyperdimension Neptunia isn't likely to change your mind, no matter how cool the name of the game is.