Out of the games that NIS America publishes, there’s few blemishes. With the Atelier and Disgaea series standing out as they do, it’s a shame to see the Hyperdimension Neptunia series take a back seat to the publisher’s other more successful titles. Traditionally, the series has still appealed to a niche market from its nuanced writing and use of anime tropes, but with Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, hopefully a change in gameplay will represent positive change that all gamers can enjoy.
Victory takes place after the previous iteration, where Gameindustri, the land that the series is set in, seems to be at peace and CPUs from various nations are blissfully playing video games. However, protagonist Neptune is soon sent to another dimension where the situation is different and the CPU candidates are barely scraping by to establish themselves. Here, the nations are more worried about their own share of Gameindustri. Though it would seem serious, the writing is as light hearted as ever, with Neptune being her usual ditzy self and a slew of sexual humor. Essentially, it’s what every anime fan imagines a sleepover with their favorite characters would be like.
“It’s what every anime fan imagines a sleepover with their favorite characters would be like.”
Visually, the title maintains the charm that anime-centric gamers have come to love from the game. However, from a technical standpoint, it could use some work. Though it shows improvement from Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk. 2, the frame rate is still a bit iffy in dungeons. On top of that, characters seem to just slide across the ground and everything moves at a fast pace, making it tough to judge whether an enemy was even in range. In classic NIS America fashion, both English and Japanese voiceovers have been included, which will titillate the intended audience with such talents as Rie Tanaka.
In past iterations, there were plenty of homages to the game industry, such as baddies who seem awfully similar to ghosts in Pac-Man or even Kenji Inafune himself, who is still present in Victory. That’s still around and it keeps the game’s roots intact; however, there are few new enemies here and it certainly is a shame. Not only are baddies recycled from past titles, but entire dungeons are reused from Victory itself. This type of laziness is almost insulting to gamers.
In terms of combat, the game has changed little. Players can still strike enemies via a symbol attack in dungeons before engaging them, giving them the initiative. As mentioned, the odd speed of both characters and monsters often made symbol attacks imprecise, and success was moreso determined by luck than skill. Once in battle, players position their characters so that their weapons’ AOE can be most effective, often hitting two or more characters if players can position things correctly.
Unfortunately, there’s little strategy for battles and it feels as though every one is a grind. Though the guard gauge, a mainstay of the series, encourages players to whittle down and break an enemy’s guard before hacking away at their health, the general idea behind every battle remains unchanged: target as many enemies in a single AOE, break their guard, and finally hack away at their health. Against bosses or heftier enemies, the process is the same, though players will likely bolster their own stats by transforming into the more voluptuous CPU forms. The battles are only prolonged by bosses’ regenerating health, which proves more of a nuisance than an actual challenge and will only prompt players to do some mindless grinding beforehand.
Outside of battles, players will find themselves loading up on quests without deadlines as always, all of which are renewable and provide an endless supply of money. It seems a bit needless, but it’s definitely necessary for the dedicated players who want to adorne their CPUs in Victory‘s costly outfits. For completionists, the quests will also make full use of the new scouting system, which allows players to send out scouts to different dungeons in order to unlock new items or perks like additional experience points; based on how much they were paid, the rewards would differ accordingly. From my experience, it was hardly a necessity to progressing in the 45-hour RPG, but it does enrich the title for players who want more out of it.
There’s enough new variety here for series faithfuls, especially those who already adore the characters of Gameindustri, to check out. However, the game is plagued by a series of flowchat battles that hardly challenge players, which is enough to ward off any gamer who was on the edge of a purchase.
Available on: PS3; Publisher: NIS America; Developer: idea Factory/Compile Heart; Players: 1; Released: March 21, 2013; ESRB: Teen; MSRP: $49.99
Note: A retail copy was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.