As a longtime fan of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series it felt really good playing a console entry in the series again after several portable “plus” versions and spinoffs. The question is whether the wait for the franchise’s premiere entry in the new generation of consoles (PS4-XBONE-Wii U/Switch generation) was worth it. Let us find out as we take a look at Megadimension Neptunia V-II, aka Victory 2 not VII (7), aka Hyperdimension Neptunia 4.
Note: This review was written by someone who has mainly played the PS3 versions of the main trilogy and not the Re;Birth versions. I will also be bringing up the previous entries often throughout the review.
Check out my reviews of the previous three games:
- Hyperdimension Neptunia
- Hyperdimension Neptunia: Mk2
- Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory
- Also check out Joe‘s review of the first Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth.
Platforms: Playstation 4, Steam
Genres: JRPG, Sci-fi, Adventure
Themes: Video Games, Parody, References, Anime
Length: 40-50. This only pertains to the main story as there are a lot of side missions, arena battles and other optional stuff to further extend the play time.
Gamindustri has entered a precarious season known as the CPU Shift Period.
During this time of social unrest,
deprecating rumors about the CPUs have begun to saturate Gamindustri.
Neptune and the others worry the citizens will soon call for new leaders
to replace them and that their rule will end.
In these critical moments for Planeptune,
Neptune and Nepgear mysteriously disappear.
a divergent world, nearing its catastrophic end,
called the Zero Dimension.
They encounter the last remaining CPU of this world,
Uzume Tennouboshi, who is desperately waging
a lonely battle against a colossal evil known as the Dark CPU.
Will Neptune and Nepgear be able to work together
with Uzume in order to save Zero Dimension from tragedy?
So begins a new adventure for Neptune…
As mentioned in the introduction V-II is the fourth chronological entry in the main series that was followed by:
Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2/Re;Birth 2 Sisters Generation.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory/Re;Birth 3 V Generation.
As for how the games are connected the simplest connection is that from Nep 2 and onward there is a consistent storyline. As far as Nep 1 goes, MOST of what happened in that game kind of happened before Nep 2 with some differences here and there, especially a different conclusion and how relationships were established. Simply put Nep 2 and onward takes place in a different universe from Nep 1 though some events are similar. Think of it as the Neptunia franchise having a multi-verse (multiple universes) similar to some works of science fiction and superhero comics, especially Marvel and DC. Now on to the review.
Let me start by getting the following statement out of the way. My favorite entry in the main series used to be Neptunia 2. Now it is Neptunia 4. The main plot is arguably the best in the series by far and this is saying a lot coming from a series with fun and enjoyable plots that have surprising depth despite its main cast’s “moe” exterior. There are some twists here and there but the core strength of the franchise’s storytelling are in its characters and their development. Nep 4 is no different where it once again introduces some great new additions to the franchise on the side of justice that fans would want to see more of in future games be it Nep 5 or a spinoff…though personally I would prefer a Nep 5. Returning veterans also get extra development and time in the spotlight. Another neat addition to the story is how it plays out. See, the marketing of the game touted the story taking place in three different dimensions, hence the new title Megadimension. This is true but that is not all. Not only does each game feature their own intro and menu screen but also its own game style/presentation. This is most evident in the second “season” which I imagine is seen by many fans as the best of the three seasons in both plot and presentation. Think of it as “three games in one” or in anime terms a “3 cour” where the previous games’ stories could be told in 13-26 episodes and Nep 4 would require at least 50. Basically this is the biggest adventure Neptune and friends have been on by far.
As far as the tone goes Nep 4 follows a similar style to Nep 2 where it is 70% serious and 30% humorous compared to Nep 1 and Nep 4 that are the opposite. That does not mean Nep 4 is not as funny because there is still plenty of vintage Nep-humor to be found here that fans expect such as 4th wall breaking, JRPG gamer humor, video game references, anime references, jokes revolving around each character’s archetype etc.
One more thing worth mentioning about the story. Unlike past entries that bring up events from the prequels once in a while like Nep 3 and Nep 2, Nep 4 references events from Nep 3 A LOT. In fact some events from Nep 3 have a strong influence in Nep 4’s story. Having said that though it is not necessary for players who want to get into Nep 4 right away to play Nep 3 before going into this one…buuuuuut doing so greatly enriches the overall experience.
Before moving on it can be argued that the main protagonists of Nep 4 are Nepgear and the newcomer CPU of Zero Dimension Uzume Tennouboshi. Oh and I ship them so hard, possibly enough to match UniGear but more on that later. Going back to the humor, something I greatly appreciated in Nep 4 that irked me in Nep 3 was that they greatly toned down the Nepgear misfortune jokes. See, for readers who do not know, in Nep 3 Nepgear was the victim of A LOT of mean spirited jokes at her expense because I imagine fans at the time weren’t as welcoming to the more serious tone of Nep 2 and for some reason all the blame went to Nepgear via numerous humiliating and ridiculing jokes. In Nep 4 however, the jokes involving Nepgear are more fun, silly or centered around her being a technology otaku. As for the Uzume jokes…without giving too much away she is a badass with a…fluffy side. Let us leave it at that. As for the other newcomers they all have their quirks and jokes and work for their character archetypes.
The next topic is presentation where it can be best described as similar to past entries but with a massive HD makeover. It all looks similar but much, much prettier than before. Putting it bluntly what looked like “PS2 graphics as critics would say” now have evolved to “PS3 graphics” to an extent. Also as expected from most games that jumped to the PS4 (or Steam) it runs at a smooth 60 FPS and it is GLORIOUS! Of course the Vita games already ran at 60 FPS but this was the first main console entry to do so and it is beautiful. As usual from Nep 2 and onward the CGs and backgrounds all look great. Nep 4 also has the most diverse locations yet for the series. While it does bring back some familiar dungeons like the “park” and “crystal caverns” it also introduces some new ones such like the “abandoned arcade” and “stadium”. Next up are sounds. The soundtrack is a mixture of some thematic tunes from Nep 2 and 3 with the rest being original songs. As far as the original tunes go…best in the franchise by far. As soon as I heard the OP and then the Zero Dimension World Map tune DESPERADO I knew I was in for a Nep-tastic adventure…and that it was. Then there was “Encounter With Destiny”…holy guacamole. The voice acting for both English and Japanese dubs as usual are excellent when it comes to this franchise though I initially had a head scratching moment with Wendee Lee’s Blanc this time around. She had no problem portraying both the ‘soft-spoken” and “raging inferno” Blanc but in Nep 4 when she was not a “raging inferno” it often sounded like she was “mildly irritated” when Blanc is supposed to speak calmly. I dunno. It was weird at first but quickly got used to it. Melissa Fahn had “Triple Duty” this time around and she nailed all three performances as expected.
Let us move on to the gameplay. It shares similarities to Nep 3 and the Re;Birth Trilogy that borrow a lot from Nep 3’s gameplay but there are several differences in Nep 4’s.
First of all is dungeon exploration. In Nep 3 jumping was introduced but the dungeons hardly ever encouraged it making it seem like a mostly pointless addition though cute. In Nep 4 the dungeons have plenty more obstacles the player can jump over, even some extra precise jumps if the player had not yet crafted the “Super Jump” key item. Besides making jumping more useful there are also breakable blocks once the player crafts the key item. Basically dungeons remain similar but there is more interactivity this time around. As readers have noticed Crafting is back and is still useful for making special weapons, items and even costumes though finding crafting items requires more Scouting and less finding them on the ground. Farming them from enemies is still present at least. More on Scouting in a bit.
Combat is somewhat similar to Nep 3/Re;Birth Trilogy but there are several tweaks. First the “Armor Break” status for enemies and the “Auto-Regen” for bosses are gone. The former was replaced with parts that can be broken with enough damage which of course affects how much damage enemies dish out or can take. The latter makes boss battles in Nep 4 somewhat less difficult. Nep 4’s difficulty I would say is similar to Nep 2’s, right in the middle: Do not get caught from behind, always go prepared and you are good to go for most enemy and boss encounters, though there are a few that will definitely test your mettle outside of Arena Battles. Nep 3 remains the hardest main series entry thus far. Attacks are still divided between Rush, Power, Standard and Skills (special attacks/abilities). How many times characters can pull off basic attacks per turn and how much damage they can inflict depends on the equipped weapon’s attack slots. One example is a weapon that has three Rush slots, two Standard slots and one Power slot. The EXE Meter automatically resets after each battle. Also battles feel a lot more fast paced this time around and it is not just because of the 60 FPS.
A very welcome addition is that this time “Team/Unison Attacks” are much easier to pull off because there are indicators/ colored lines telling players where characters need to be positioned on the field in order to execute them. This was not the case in previous titles that had Team Attacks.
Third is the variety of dungeons and the bestiary. Like the soundtrack and as mentioned previously Nep 4 has some familiar locales (mainly from Nep 3) and iconic monsters return such as Dogoos and Pixelvaders that are traditional. The new Zero Dimension baddies are more monstrous befitting the post-apocalyptic ZD setting. Good stuff. There is one issue about this however.
The following are a few minor gripes that did not affect my enjoyment of the game but are worth pointing out. These are nothing new and are stuff I brought up in reviews of the previous games but the fact is them still being implemented four games in means I have to give at least one of them an in-depth look over for readers who pay close attention to it…The Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise likes to “recycle”. What do I mean by this? Besides the JRPG tradition of “color swapped enemies with higher stats in later levels” it also uses “recycled bosses”. For some bosses it makes sense with main/secondary villains coming back for rematches since the series has an anime series vibe where villains do not give up after one beating. That is fine. However, that excuse does not work for beefed up color swapped big enemies regularly found on the field as the game progresses. Bosses like these only serve as “damage sponges”. In previous games players fought a boss monster that later became a regular big enemy in dungeons. In Nep 4 on the other hand they got carried away with repeat big enemy bosses. It reminded of Tales of Legendia in that regard. However, like ToL I personally did not mind it too much because I was invested in the story and wanted to see what would happen next. I also knew there were other more interesting bosses that awaited, especially certain big baddies…oh yeah.
As far as repeated dungeons go it is nothing new for the Neptunia franchise. At least the locales are all interesting so some being repeated with different obstacle placement and time of day is no big deal. There is at least effort to make most of the repeated dungeons distinct in some way.
The third and last gripe has to do with world traveling. See, to get from area to are no longer features a cute chibi or hand to go to the next area but rather revolves around the new town feature (more on towns in a bit) called “Route Building”. This has players paying a fee to build routes to new areas. Okay, fine. What is not fine is that it is mainly an excuse to add Random Battles. Suffice to say traveling to areas is a bit irksome. Thankfully it is nowhere near as tedious as traveling between nations in Nep 1 was. Now that was lame. Still, do not get why it exists but whatever. It did not ruin the game for me in the slightest.
Next up let us go over the Town menu. The usual stuff is there such as conversing with people and other characters for events and plot progression, Crafting as I mentioned before, getting Quests etc. There are some features that require more explanation:
Scouting returns with a bit more depth. Scouts can be leveled up to find rare items and monsters quicker for completing Quests. Sending Scouts to certain dungeons also affects said dungeons with stat boosts that benefit either friend or foe depending on what the players wants to accomplish in said dungeon besides finding stuff. To put it simply Scouts’ main purpose is to help complete Quests and not be key points to unlocking the True Ending like in Nep 3. In fact I would say Nep 4 has the easiest “True End” unlock in the series. All the player needs to do is pay attention at certain points and not miss a single event. Scouting also helps in finding the Neplunker mini-game. Yup. This touted mini-game is not part of the main story and is something where the levels have to be unlocked using Scouts and Crafting Bonus Key Items such as the “Super Jump” and “Super Breaker” to traverse the hidden Neplunker levels. Next up are “Investment” and “Shares”. Investment serves the purpose of expanding the weapons shop, accessory and costumes and reward players with extra shares for their respective nation and some bonus goodies like new Scouts and a familiar mini game. As far as Shares go they serve a greater purpose in Nep 4 besides getting the True End. See, the nation with the largest percentage of Shares get a major stat boost compared to other nations AND characters who reside in said nation get to level up when not in battle. This game does not allow reserve characters to get even minor experience points after battles unfortunately.
Like I said above I strongly ship Uzume X Nepgear after playing this game. Of course that is not the only yuri in the game. In Neptunia franchise fashion its yuri can be summed up the following ways:
- Lesbians exist in-universe.
- Very strong shipping potential.
Besides familiar pairings getting their time in the spotlight there are also brand new pairings not only with some of our favorite CPUs/Candidates/friends but also among the newcomers. Also despite RED and Plutia (though Plutia does cameo as a DLC Scout) not returning in Nep 4 they both have worthy successors (One in “Season” 2 and the other as DLC. Hint: It is the one wearing a crown.).
Overal Megadimension Neptunia V-II is my favorite entry in the Neptunia franchise by far. It has a great story, soundtrack, graphics and gameplay. While it does tend to recycle enemies and bosses as the story progresses and I could have gone without the “Route Building” neither affected the enjoyment of the package as a whole. Highly recommended to fans of the series who have yet to play it and open-minded people who are interested in anime themed JRPGs with a mostly female cast. The PS4 version is available where ever video games are sold, online stores or players can get the game on Steam if their PC can run it.