“Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2” Review

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Fortunately, the second game got a lot less crap than the first, so I don’t feel like I need to defend it as much. Even so, there are people who refuse to touch it based on the way it looks. For shame, you people.

Gameplay: 10/10 – Yep. That’s a perfect score on gameplay. Mk2 has been overhauled so significantly that all of the flaws of the previous game have been completely done away with. Long battles? Gone. Complicated combo set-up? Gone. A billion dungeons that all look exactly the same with annoying random encounters? Flat out gone. The battle system is quite smooth now. There’s still a high degree of customization to the gameplay, but it’s a lot simpler this time around. You have ten basic attacks: Your initial strike and three attacks with each of the attack buttons (triangle, square, and X). Each attack after the first has different properties. Triangle attacks hit multiple times. Square attacks hit less often but hit much harder. X attacks specialize in draining enemy guard to start a Guard Break. You can switch these out with skills that the characters learn in order to create your own balance of AP consumption and attack power. Certain combinations of these attacks (for example, Square -> Triangle -> Triangle) will execute a special finisher for a character. Some of these have SP requirements for the combo, so you can choose which attacks consume more EXP than others depending on which buttons are used for what combos. It’s a lot simpler than it sounds, though. The characters in battle move around and careful placement of your characters can allow you to attack multiple enemies at once. Enemies have the same ability, though, so it’s important to manage unit spacing, but also to make sure enemies can’t just break through your spaced-out front line and go right for any back line members you have that might be a bit squishier. Dungeons are now much better looking, though the amount of variety is still roughly the same. Even so, you’re no longer plagued by random battles. Enemies are present on-screen and battles only start once you touch them. It’s also obvious where a story event will start. And even though dungeons are really short, they all have a save point in them, just in case you’ve done some grinding that you don’t want to lose before taking on a dungeon boss or story boss. Oddly enough, they did away with difficulty this time around. Not really sure why. One of the biggest improvements was in the story, which is a lot more fitting of an RPG this time around, but still manages to maintain the lightheartedness of the first game. The characters are also still great with plenty of new additions (all four of the sisters, Cave, Falcom, the three new oracles, all the bad guys, etc.) and even the villains were pretty great. Underling is a lot of fun and CFW Brave is great and has an awesome rivalry dynamic with one of the main characters. The game also has more endings this time around. Just beware one of those endings. It’s depressing as hell. Jesus…

Graphics: 9/10 – While most of the game has seen major improvements in graphics (actual cutscenes, much better-looking dungeon areas, a major variety of game enemies that are no longer CH/IF staples but actual game parodies, better models and textures, custom skins (yes, they have been used for nude skins), etc.), they took away what I was most impressed with from the first game: Those gorgeous moving sprites. They looked so great and I was always so impressed with them. This time around, we just get the 3D models. The models are nice, but they don’t look anywhere near as good as those sprites. It’s a shame, really. I’m hoping that the recently-announced Neptune V will bring them back.

Sound: 8/10 – There were some improvements here as well. The soundtrack is still rather limited, but it sounds a lot better and is generally more appropriate when used. The dub cast still sounded great, but something was off about my precious Nep-Nep. Her Purple Heart transformation sounded a lot better, though. Most of the cast was good, though. It just seems like the previous game’s goddesses were having some trouble getting back into their roles since they had less lines this time around. I noticed it the most with Wendee Lee’s Blanc. Speaking of, they changed the pronunciation of a few character names. Blanc’s was the most noticeable.

Overall: 9/10 – This was a major improvement in just about every way over the first game, which I already loved. I’m hoping they take what they learned here in mk2, apply a few things people liked more from the first game (SPRITES) and put it all together in Neptune V, which I assume will be amazing. Even though I didn’t rate it at a 10/10, I still feel like mk2 may be one of my favorite games of all time. It’s just so perfect in its simplicity and the amount of care that’s gone into making it a better game is obvious. It’s a platinum trophy that I’m proud to have.

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