Console Wars: Hyperdimension Neptunia Continues

Okay. Sure.

I’m still surprised and delighted that there exists a Japanese RPG series telling allegorical tales of the console wars through sexy anime warrior goddesses, and is popular enough to be released on PC in English. I hear mixed things about Hyperdimension Neptunia, but evidently enough people dig it for the games to keep coming our way. And I’m glad, because I enjoy reminders of how weird our world is.

The long-named Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3 V Generation [official site] arrived a few days ago and yep, the idea still makes me smile.

Okay, let’s see if I can get this right. In the world of Gamindustri, the four lands are ruled over by goddesses representing Nintendo, Sony, Sega, and Microsoft. You’ll also find characters named after Japanese publishers like Falcom and Cave, and straight-up Tekken. I think this latest one is about the Sega goddess being sent to an ’80s dimension or something? And one of its villains is Copypaste, who represents piracy.

A remake of 2012/2013’s Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, Re;Birth3 V Generation is up on Steam for £13.79. It looks like GOG is starting to get the series, but only has the first so far.

I haven’t played the series at all myself, but I’ve broadly heard tell of good action-RPG combat, a few fun jokes, and a whole load of boring junk with tedious cybergirls. Player reviews on Steam are gushing, and I think they’re only half-serious in their fawning over cyberbabes. But one of you, dear readers, surely could tell us more?

Here’s a trailer showing the PlayStation Vita version which arrived this summer:

20 Comments

  1. MrUnimport says:

    As enamoured as I am with the idea of an anime console war RPG, I’ve really yet to hear anything good about how it plays out in practice, except from those devotees who are seemingly content to lap up cheap moe no matter how lazily implemented.

    I am getting the impression that the setting and premise has fallen somewhat by the wayside and that the devs have doubled down on the cute girls, which are certainly in no short supply.

    • Kitsunin says:

      Admittedly I got bored within the first few hours, but the gameplay of the first game was hugely tedious. Which would have been fine but the plot which should have been carrying me through the early parts was just as tedious.

      I adore the story of FFXIII, Tales of Zestiria, and so forth, so it’s not like I have anything against JRPG style stories. The characters are just so shallow (early on at least), there really isn’t a good hook and early on, the whole console aspect acts as just a regular amnesiac girl’s superpower and not really a plot element.

      • Kitsunin says:

        The main reason I didn’t try pushing through was because I had played Idea Factory’s Agarest in the past, since so many people seemed to like it…and I found that the combat never really went anywhere. It remained tepid and tedious through the entire experience. So I’m not giving them the benefit of the doubt that this is going to slowly metamorphasise into something great when I could be playing a Tales Of game which starts out great and becomes fantastic.

      • Hollownerox says:

        Here’s the thing, comparing this game to the likes of Final Fantasy and the Tales series shows me that you’re missing the point; like by a country wide margin.

        If you’re looking for a story driven JRPG then Neptunia is not the game for you. In fact it is the complete opposite, it is a game that parodies the hell out of them. The series isn’t meant to be taken seriously in any fashion, it is an affectionate parody of the Japanese gaming industry; though it seems rather shallow at first it actually has a nice bit of depth in it’s tongue in cheek nature.

        Take Noire for example, she at first seems like the common”Tsundere” overachiever character that people love in Japanese media. However the game (through the main character Neptune, who has no 4th wall), constantly reminds her and the player that people who act that way in real life don’t have any friends. Or take the amnesiac story line, like what you were complaining about, and show how it is just a silly way to introduce angst into a character with little effort. It’s those kind of tropes that the series parodies yet also make homages to.

        I can go into WAY more detail on how the series can be more than meets the eye (at least from a character perspective, gameplay has always been low end of mediocre), like how Neptune’s character can be interpretative as an interesting take on the 4th wall-breaking character (specifically how it makes her seem apathetic and uncaring to everyone around, which she is because she knows she is in a game), but that is a bit unreasonable to do in a comment section.

        The gist of it is that this series is definitely not the best thing ever, but it has its charms and it isn’t something that should be written off as moe pandering (since in all honesty it takes quite a few brutal jabs towards that audience). If you don’t like it that’s fine, but try seeing it for what it is rather than dismissing it for not being something it was never trying to be.

        • Hollownerox says:

          *interpreted* as an interesting take

          Typos, the bane of my existence, there doesn’t happen to be an edit function I missed by chance?

          Also, holy crap I made a block of text, really sorry about the huge reply. I wish I could have been more concise, but it is kind of hard to show the merits of this series since the outer appearance can really give off the wrong impression.

        • Kitsunin says:

          My judgment of it is based on about two hours of it, but mostly the entirety of Agarest: Generations of War. I found the dialogue in that story to be shallow and unentertaining, but I stuck with it with the expectation that even if the story didn’t get better, the gameplay would. Neither did, at any point.

          Neptunia drew me in just as little as Agarest did. If you think it’s unfair to compare Tales Of… to Neptunia, which is fair enough (it was mostly a comparison drawn to point out that I am cool with “irritating” characters like FFXIII’s Vanille and so forth, but Neptunia’s early characters really grated (Agarest’s did too, in case they’re supposed to grate in Neptunia because parody), not to say they’re the same kind of story), then I see Agarest should be a fine comparison. Agarest didn’t feel an ounce better (and came off worse because it was supposed to be somewhat serious) at first and didn’t get any better, so I don’t see any reason to believe Neptunia would get better. Poor writing is poor writing, someone who can’t write an epic fantasy for crap isn’t likely to be to parody one any better.

          Like, I get that the characters are supposed to parody common tropes, but that doesn’t make the interactions feel any less stilted. I have trouble believing it’s my failure to “get” the parody, because again, Agarest felt exactly the same, and wasn’t supposed to be a parody AFAIK.

          • Kitsunin says:

            I’m probably being too harsh on it, though. I’ll admit I enjoyed Agarest a decent amount, though it was still a really mediocre game looking back on it. Mostly, I was just struck by how similar Neptunia is, considering how different they should be. I’d say Agarest pretty well burnt me out on the, err, Idea Factory genre of game, since I’ve tried a few of their other games and was struck with the exact same feeling.

  2. MikuSan39 says:

    I haven’t played this release but I can offer a short gameplay summary from previous titles.

    I found Hyperdimension Neptunia releases to be a wonderful substitute for traditional JRPG gameplay. The combat system is a mix of character positioning and elective combos that are planned out by the player to reach a threshold that allows for additional strikes on the target.

    The JRPG grind is still there matching patterns we are all familiar with. Completing a zone will unlock new monsters and loot drops for repeat visits that basically fuel whatever item crafting and trade system is in the game.

    The overall tone of the games is very tongue-in-cheek and makes large assumptions that you are a fan of JRPGs or at least learned in Anime based Memes. That can easily wear on the constitution of an average Western RPGer ( this is not going to carry the tone of a Bioware game )

    That is about it, if you can shrug off the juvenile jokes and deal with the idolization of busty anime goddesses in their ultimate form then by all means check out a Hyperdimension title.

    Note on crafting: You will be making things like hairpins. Stuff to make a particular internet community squee with kawaii.

  3. Silvermarch says:

    I bought the first game when it first came out on Steam but put it on the backlog to wait for the second and third game to come out, and I just recently cleared out the first game so I am going to write my opinion on it. Keep in mind that I tend to not play too much JRPGs nowadays (I used to back in the days) because the genre doesn’t really interests me that much anymore. Also, I didn’t play the original series back on the PS3 and the original Vita releases for the Rebirth series.

    I really enjoyed playing through the first game. Granted, I can see why some people doesn’t like it. Here are some points:
    -The battle might seem tedious at first but I think the combo system make it pretty interesting (and hilariously satisfying late game when you just constantly beat the snot out of your opponents while huge numbers pop up)
    -The frustration of the normal RNG associated with JRPG random encounters are not here. Enemies are always depicted with avatars on the maps and it is very easy to avoid them if you want, but they will chase you if they see you. You could strike the avatar to start a “symbol battle” with some advantage or they can attack you from behind to start an “ambush battle”.
    -The main RNG frustration with battles in this game is a system where certain enemies will become “viral” randomly in battle and become much stronger and harder to kill. This becomes much more important in the optional dungeons because they get much harder real quickly.
    -The dungeon maps are really simple but keep in mind that these are ports of a PS Vita series.
    -The animations are pretty frigid.
    -I certainly liked characters and their interactions, but because they are not that uncommon or rare in anime and manga, how much you will depends on how much you like their standard character archtypes/tropes.
    -Two of the DLC characters (Plutia and Peashy specifically) could make the early game (starting from Chapter 2) much easier, so keep that in mind.

    These are just some of the points I could think of.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I don’t know anything about this game, except what was written in the article, but I love that it has a character named “Mr. Badd” who “likes doing and planning bad things”.

  5. Haxton Fale says:

    And one of its villains is Copypaste, who represents piracy.

    Well, the recurring villain in the series is Arfoire (R4), the second game introduces Warechu/Pirachu, and one of ASIC’s (second game’s villain organization) crimes was spreading piracy. Though it’s never a direct threat, it’s always in these games.

    About the games themselves, a lot was already mentioned above: there is some grind, but the games (especially the second and third) take measures to reduce it, especially with DLC and late-game plans. There is nonetheless a lot to do if you like going for the best gear of the best available, and even more if you like playing dress up with more than a dozen moe consoles or game makers.

    One more thing worth mentioning is that the games are also quite meta and self-aware, and (IMO) manage to be so with style – quite often attempts at this fail, resulting in forced attempts at self-referential humour that sometimes can even come off as obnoxious.

  6. a very affectionate parrot says:

    I played the first Rebirth, i can’t imagine myself ever finishing it but it was a fun game to play drunk and laugh at the anime weirdness and ridiculous gaming jokes.
    The battle system was pretty unique too (although i must admit i haven’t played a huge number of JRPGs) and the maps are pleasant places to run around grinding in, still it’s just far too big and the concept gets stretched thin pretty quick.

  7. Xerophyte says:

    Ah, Idea Factory (and Compile Heart). On one hand, they usually have some interesting ideas and they don’t take themselves too seriously. On the other hand, their games are pandering rubbish.

    • Xerophyte says:

      I should add that I haven’t played this particular piece of pandering rubbish, so it might be an exception to the rule. I am just very, very skeptical.

      • Hollownerox says:

        They’ve definitely made some hardcore pandering material, I’ll give you that. Neptunia in general is probably the least so, at least with the exception of a few moments.

        That said it isn’t a very good game, not god awful unplayable levels of bad but nothing to praise either. Most people enjoy the series because of the characters and the humor; everything else is pretty lackluster.

        The series has a lot of goodwill towards it though, mainly because it has been (slowly) improving in quality over time. Still not great, but the series has always had a low budget (to the point where the first one ran out of money halfway through production), so it’s understandable.

  8. TheMopeSquad says:

    I picked up the first one and thought it was very funny and enjoyable but the other games seem like EXACTLY the same thing.

  9. dan_maku says:

    Aite, lemme tell ya’ll bout them Neps.
    TL;DR it’s a series of JRPGs who’s main attraction is the cute girls. The writing is silly, doesn’t really take itself seriously, and has an incredibly high reference density. Generally to anime/video game pop culture. The plot is mostly the same. The girls are very cute. The majority of the 100+ hours it takes to 100% the game is spent grinding, although you can get it done in about 10-15 if all you want to do is play through the main story once (although there are a plethora of endings). The dress-up options are plentiful, to show off just how cute the girls are. There are many flashy special attacks, some having seriously elaborate animations. The girls are cute. And in my opinion, the dub isn’t bad, though if you are a diehard dubhater, you can always turn on the Japanese audio.

    All this being said, the Neptunia games are really, really terrible. Unless you are a huge weeb and love qt anime 3.14s, you will probably think the Neptunia series to be boring at best. Compile Heart likes to recycle assets, so probably ~30% of the content from the first game is used again in the second and the third. Mostly battle animations, skills, battle dialogue, equipment graphics, and the like.
    Did I mention that the girls are really cute?

  10. phuzz says:

    An Iffy-cial trailer eh?