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Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory

hyperdimension, neptunia, victory, box art, reviewHyperdimension Neptunia Victory is the third installment in the Japanese Role-Playing Game series, Hyperdimension Neptunia. Established as a parody franchise, Neptunia goes out of its way to exaggerate and mock popular cliches in Japanese videogames. It’s a sequel to the mildly received Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2, which saw a new protagonist. In Victory, the original protagonist, Neptune, returns as the hero for the story.

Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Compile Heart, Idea Factory
Genre: Role-Playing Game//Action, Comedy
Platform: PlayStation 3
Release Date: March, 2013; August, 2012 (JP)
Rating: PEGI 12+

Victory is set in the fictional world of Gamindustri, which is split into four main countries: Planeptune, Laststation, Leanbox, and Lowee–each representing one of the game systems of the modern game industry, with Planeptune also representing SEGA. The protagonist is a bubbly and eccentric teenage girl, Neptune, who is Planeptune’s CPU–the goddess who is in charge of her country.

Gamindustri is peaceful, and the result is that the world’s CPUs have become more lazy. A group has emerged that is concerned with the necessity of CPUs, pushing for a political movement in which the various countries’ people may rule themselves. Consequently, Neptunia somehow finds herself being transported into an alternative universe representing the late 80’s of the game industry, when SEGA and Nintendo were the two main contenders of the console war and this group is more influential. In this reality, Neptunia meets the near-identical alternative world versions of her friends from her home world, but also meets another Planeptune CPU who’s equally as lazy.

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Neptunia and Nepgear in their CPU powered HDD forms.

The story is split into a number of chapters and serves to satire common tropes found in Japanese Role-Playing Games. It is filled with many self-aware, or fourth wall breaking  jokes, of which fans of the genre may enjoy. Unfortunately, many of the jokes are also relative to Japanese pop culture and, despite the solid localization, many players may not understand the jokes. The title is also subject to parodying elements of JRPGs that often service to pander to their audience; however, Neptunia often blurs the line between parody and using such elements unironically to similarly pander. Players may also find this detrimental to their experience.

Unlike the typical Japanese RPG, Neptunia doesn’t rely on very much arduous grinding. At most, players me be expected to participate in an array of quests for about an hour before challenging the boss found at the end of the chapter. The combat itself plays with some interesting concepts. Players are able to move around on the field dependent on their stats, and may also attack in a variety of different ranges based upon their weapons. Attacks range from typical RPG skills and items, to Neptunia‘s combo mechanic and CPU power ups. In particular, it’s the combo system that’s interesting.

Players are able to assign attacks to three different combo strings: rush, power, and break–each with its own role within battle. These combos can also be freely customized. Restrictions have been placed to nudge the player into thinking strategically about their combinations; however, this is simply circumnavigated by ignoring one of the three categories when crafting combos. Additionally, despite the potential depth this mechanic offers, the battles often become repetitive tasks in which the player swaps between using the break combinations and switching to rush or power attacks once the enemy’s guard has been broken.

hyperdimension, neptunia, victory, gameplay, screenshot, review

If you blink, you might miss the rush.

Characters can have their abilities, attack range, and the distance they can travel enhanced by equipping armour and weapons, as well as assigning a partner out of another playable character for additional effects. While each character is restricted to their own category of weapons and armour, there is still a reasonable level of customization at play–even altering the appearance of the character themselves, which is still a rare feature in Japanese RPGs released in English.

While quests can reduce the necessity to grind, these quests can also feel tedious. Typically, the quests simply require the player to hunt a specific, unspecified enemy and slay enough of them to obtain the number of loot that the quest is for. Players may also send non-player characters to different areas to unlock additional temporary bonuses within that field.

Contrary to much of the humour found in this title–requiring a reasonable understanding of Japanese pop culture–Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory is very well localized. The dialogue is incredibly natural, and generally accentuates the title’s rather eccentric nature. Many of the Japanese jokes aren’t even obvious as references to tropes prevalent in Japan, and can be rather subtle as a result. Unfortunately, the localization does not prevent players from being alienated by the attempts at satire by the title, and oblivious players may find some sequences more creepy or disturbing. Of course, that’s disregarding the possibility that being a parody could easily be an excuse to exploit the same demographic in which the titles Neptunia mocks also do.

Similarly, Neptunia pays tribute to many titles that are also proponent to many of the tropes that it parodies. The title’s graphics during cutscenes are in a visual novel style; the narration is carried heavily by dialogue and the visuals simply display an illustrated background image and the sprite for the character currently talking. Outside of the dungeons, which place the player in a colourful three-dimensional environment, the player must transit between different point-and-click screens.

Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory is a self-aware parody of typical Japanese Role-Playing Game tropes, but the cynical may just see it as an excuse to exploit an existing market while attempting to look fresh. Regardless of this, the gameplay is handled relatively well in that, while not groundbreaking, offers a fair experience for fans of the genre, though players looking for an entry into the genre should probably look elsewhere. This is for the familiar only.

Videogame reviewer and student videogame developer, located in Scotland. Founder of the Gaming Advance blog.

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3 / 5 stars