“Hyperdimension Neptunia” Review

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There have been a lot of opinions flying around about this game, some positive, some negative. Time to throw my hat into the ring and take a stab at discussing how I felt about the game.

Gameplay: 9/10 – This game has a lot going for it. The key word is “customizing.” It has transforming characters with heavy stat customization, a completely customizable combo-based attack system, customizable character clothing, and even customizable attack graphics. You have a lot of creative control over how this game looks and plays (within reason). Combat has skippable attack animations, so it can be as quick or as drawn out as you want it. Not only can you customize your combos in the middle of a battle, but if you get tired of fighting with one character in particular, you can even switch them out for another in the middle of a fight, even allowing them to continue off of the previous character’s combo (as long as you have more than the default 3 characters in your party). The combat in the game isn’t exactly anything new, but it’s not old hat either. It’s a simple yet engaging system that rewards thinking and experimentation. The challenge presented by the game can also be adjusted at any time through the game’s menu, with three difficulty options to choose from. Once you pick one, you aren’t locked into it for the rest of the game. As for the other elements I throw into the Gameplay category, the story in this game is quite interesting. Like a lot of the Compile Heart/Idea Factory games, it tends to feel quite segmented with the way events are set up, especially since the game’s initial goal of a Key Fragment hunt is split up over three landmasses with completely separate stories that you have to finish alongside each other. However, it’s easy enough to pick back up where you left off and it’s fun enough to not really care too much about the shortcomings. The place this game really shines, though, is in the characters. The characters in this game are fun and interesting, with subtle quirks and great designs. They’re further strengthened by a great script penned by the people at NIS America that’s accessible and hilarious.

Graphics: 8/10 – The graphics in this game get a lot of flak. People like to say that they look like PS2 graphics. I think they’re trying too hard to compare middle-ground PS3 graphics with the best the PS2 could ever hope to produce. Heck, even that sounds like a stretch. These characters aren’t the pointy, polygonal messes some people would have you believe. They’re quite well-rounded and very well-animated. They have dynamic textures and everything. If there is something that feels underwhelming, it’s the levels. The levels aren’t bad, they just feel really bland after the 18th time seeing the same layout. It doesn’t feel like there are enough textures to go around. Cave, ruin, factory, temple, tower, castle, a couple of variations of those… Not a whole lot else. The sprites, though? Freaking gorgeous. They’re animated during cutscenes, so you’ll see characters breathing and speaking, shaking their fists, getting excited… It looks great. It’s honestly one of my favorite parts of the game. I just love sitting there and watching the characters exchange dialogue, not even paying attention to the text boxes. It just feels more realistic and fun that way.

Sound: 7/10 – I feel like the music in this game is its weakest point. I don’t know how many tracks there are in this game, but it doesn’t ever really feel like a lot. You seem to hear the same ones all the time. There are themes for some characters, a handful of dungeon themes, a sad theme, a silly theme, a theme for danger… Nothing really feels tailored to any situation. I don’t expect like a hundred different tracks, but a little more variation would have been good. The voices, though, are great. I didn’t get to try out the original Japanese track, but it does have great seiyuu in it, so I’m sure it’s good. The dub track, though, was pretty great for the most part. Pretty much every voice was great, and the main party was a lot of fun. Neptune’s voice was just spot-on for her dialogue, as was IF’s. And as for Compa? Well, it’s always fun to hear Cristina Vee take on a role. I identified her voice immediately and had a little fanboy moment. My only real gripe with the voices is that despite Neptune being spot on, her transformation to Purple Heart leaves her sounding kinda stiff and unnatural.

Overall: 8/10 – Overall, this was a good game. It was enjoyable, and I didn’t hesitate to dive right into the remaining content after I beat it. After all, I had plenty of scenes and a completely different ending to achieve. (You can get both endings in a single game, by the way.) I did run into a bit of a snag when I found out I had missed some monsters in story dungeons for bestiary completion, but I liked the game so much that I didn’t mind starting a New Game+ and blasting through it in a few hours just to make up for it. If you like JRPGs or if you just like to laugh and have a good time, I definitely recommend Hyperdimension Neptunia. If you don’t really like JPRGs, then you may find something else to like about this game, but I recommend avoiding jumping head-first until you know if you want this game or not. (That said, it’s getting rare, so if you do think you want it, you may want to jump on it.)

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