I’ve been streaming Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;birth (I don’t know why they add the semicolon either) on Twitch lately and am nearing the end of the game, so I thought I’d give a little heads up to that and also toss out some thoughts about the game itself while I’m here. Until I figure out a lazy way to automate posting more places, I’ve mostly been keeping my stream notifications to Twitter and Tumblr, so feel free to follow @thethreetwo on the one and third-half at the other. There. Plugging done.
I have a little bit of history with Neptunia in that it was actually going to be the subject of the never-finished [+/-] animated pilot. That is to say, the original release for the PS3 was. It was pretty mediocre all around, but I went into it lured by a weakness for Anime Girls in Armor and the concept of an RPG based on the gaming industry. The lukewarm reception seemed to reach back to the company, though, and they tweaked things over the next couple sequels, steadily improving it. Eventually, they got Neptunia 1 and mk.2 ported to the Vita plus some new bonus material like characters from later games as unlockables and DLC as the Re;birth series, followed soon a Re;birth version of the third game, V.
So what we have in Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;birth is basically the ultimate edition of a game constructed out of almost pure fluff. As a friend put it, it’s chock full of ideas that would be great in other games. On a technical level, it’s been really fun other than a tendency to put a sharply difficult boss at the end of a dungeon that otherwise felt like a cakewalk. As such, I don’t feel especially bad about using broken DLC equipment to power level my party in the Colosseum and steamrolling the latter half of the game.
The other thing I think really hurts the game is its defiant stance to never be succinct in any situation, ever. A large portion of whether or not this game is going to appeal to anybody is how they feel about the concept of cutesy personifications of games industry entities going on quests and getting into other hi-jinks. Speaking as someone who *is* into that, even I kind of have my limits when they halt progress through a dungeon to have a little comedy bit play out about how tedious it is to have to find a thing in a dungeon. Calling attention to a cliche doesn’t exactly excuse you if you’re still going ahead and doing the thing, especially not for the length of an SNL bit. But at least you can fast forward cutscenes whenever you want and skip the longer attack animations. I think they could have pared the dialogue down a ton and still kept the characters’ personalities pretty clear, and I *know* they could have probably cut the script significantly if they cut out every instance of a character butting in to say something like “Yes, I agree!” to remind us they’re in the scene.
But seriously, if you can get past the veneer of cotton candy fluff, there’s plenty to enjoy. I particularly like the way the Remake System works, letting you craft alterations to the game at large like opening up new dungeons, increasing your jump height (not as useful as it sounds, btw) and permanent boosts to EXP and status resistance. It sort of assimilates the item discovery and scouting sub systems from the other games. The market sharing mechanic is kind of interesting in that you can’t simply grind up your desired nation without lowering the Shares of another one. There are also plenty of cosmetic upgrades to decorate the characters with, which is almost to be expected with the overall aesthetic of the game and characters. All the game references are pretty fun too, especially the ending credit sequences that mimic the styles of a bunch of old games and make me wish instead they’d do like a Wario Ware style spinoff in the future.