When I first heard about Hyperdimension Neptunia, the notion of characters representing various aspects of the game industry seemed intriguing; however, when games have such a unique selling point, quality often falls through the cracks and leaves a shallow game that will quickly hit the bargain bin. But fear not, because Neptunia mk2 certainly delivers an engaging, though flawed and anime cliché-covered, RPG experience.
Taking place three years after the original Neptunia, the game starts off with the heroines fighting a losing battle against the Arfoire, a force that Gamindustri has been fighting for some time. Eventually, they have no choice to retreat and Nepgear finds herself back in the land of Gamindustri, desperately seeking other CPUs to help her save the heroines left behind. As the names suggest, a lot of the writing pokes fun at the actual game industry’s fight against piracy and custom firmware. Though it’s an interesting premise, it’s largely neglected in lieu of the unnecessarily cliché characters and conversations throughout the game.
Appropriate of a game that appeals to anime fans, mk2 combines cel-shaded characters with computer generated backgrounds; while the characters themselves have the same moe characteristics present in most anime characters, the rest of the game’s worlds are not. Likewise, the game’s transformation sequences are sure to bring back memories of shoujo anime like Sailor Moon. Though pleasing to the some, those who have not been indoctrinated into Japan’s culture of overly cute characters and chests that simply cannot stop bouncing will find the style off-putting. The visuals can often prove problematic, plagued with choppy cutscenes along with vague enemy distances in dungeons. As a result, though enemies can be swatted for a preemptive strike and better battle positioning, players will be hard pressed to consistently do so.
During battles, players will have several stats to constantly keep track of. Like many turn based RPGs, AP that can be spent on actions also dictate what type and how many actions a character can perform before her turn’s over; at times, it may even be preferential to save up these points for a larger attack or wave of attacks. On the other hand, SP takes less management and constantly accumulates whether the character is attacking or being attacked. Actual combat is comparatively fun and simple compared to other action RPGs; combos are set in menus before battle and can be used interchangeably, allowing players to incorporate strategies like conserving AP or dealing out max damage. While characters can walk around and position themselves for strategic purposes, offensively targeting multiple characters often boils down to walking towards two enemies and rotating the stick until they both fit into a targeted area.
For most mk2, players will be roaming dungeons and fulfilling quests. Aside from engaging in quests that will advance the story, players can also partake in missions from guilds, which usually involve either killing some marks, gathering materials, or creating some type of item. Though it sounds similar to the quests in Atelier Totori, this game provides no deadlines for any of them, leaving players free to throw them on the backburner. At first, players may feel keen on completing quests and taking shares of Gamindustri away from the Arfoire, but it just feels like an unnecessary component after some playtime.
Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 is simply filled with so many clichés and otaku-centric elements that most gamers won’t be able to bring themselves to play it. On top of that, some technical issues with the game may also ruin the playing experience. However, those who can look past this or even enjoy the game’s visuals and story will find a gem that was practically tailored to their tastes.
Available on: PS3; Publisher: NIS America; Developer: Idea Factory; Players: 1; Released: February 28, 2012; ESRB: Mature; MSRP: $59.99; Official Site
Note: A retail copy was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.