Note: Review copy provided by Idea Factory International.
It is well known by now that I am a huge fan of the Neptunia franchise. Besides Valkyrie Drive the other games that made me want to buy a Playstation TV were the Neptunia spinoff games. Two in particular caught my interest. Hyperdevotion Noire (Which I heard mixed reactions to in regards to its yuri. I may check it out sometime) and the game we are looking at today, mainly because I enjoyed the Sega Hard Girls anime. This is Superdimension Neptune vs Sega Hard Girls.
Note: This is a review of the PS Vita/TV version. The Steam version is similar but with 60 FPS (Frames Per Second) and more screen resolution options.
Check out my previous Neptunia game review HERE (includes links to earlier reviews)
Developers: Compile Heart, Felistella
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Platforms: Playstation Vita/TV, PC (Steam)
Genres: Action, JRPG, Anime, Parody, References, Video Games, History, Sega
Length: 20-25+ hours
G-Rating: Okay-Good (It depends)
Our story begins in the mysterious halls of an ancient library…
The Grand Library holds the history of the world within its shelves.
Legend says that if one was to tamper with the books kept there, the past itself could be completely rewritten…
A daring adventurer known as IF discovered the location of this revered library and finally crossed its threshold. Little did she know, a disaster
of historical proportions was about to occur before her very eyes. Books began to vanish from the library’s shelves; the history of the world
disappearing before her and the reasons for this occurrence were shrouded in mystery.
IF sets out on a journey across time to uncover the truth! Will she be able to work together with both the Sega Hard Girls and Goddesses to recover
the lost history? Will they really be able to save the world?
The good part about the story is that despite being a spinoff at its core it is another Neptunia style story set in an alternate dimension/universe. The Neptunia franchise has a “multidimensional/multivese” setting and with this being a spinoff it follows its own continuity and does not require prior knowledge of Neptunia games in the main timeline or other spinoffs to follow the plot. Of course having played previous games will help players recognize references to other entries thanks to every single Neptune having the ability to break the fourth wall. It is also interesting to solve the game’s mystery of what is causing time to disappear and uncover the the truth behind Segami’s lost memories and how they are connected to the time crisis.
The bad parts have more to do with personal preferences. The CPUs vs Sega Hard Girl feuds across the different time periods of Sega’s history is all good. It is similar to the console wars in the main series. However, the main source of humor in the game besides references and parody humor is “teenage bickering”. What I mean is that for the most part the characters spend their time arguing and insulting one another for no other reason than “You annoy me”. This also happened during the console wars (namely the first Hyperdimension Neptunia/Re;Birth) but not to the extent in Superdimension. Think of the ridicule Nepgear had to put up with in Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory/Re;Birth 3 but almost everyone else gets that treatment in this game until it eventually calms down. Basically this is a “Be patient and eventually the character(s) become(s) likable/tolerable” situation. I personally did not think IF and Segami were great leading ladies for the longest time throughout my playthrough.
I mentioned above that the best character in the game was Neptune and I meant it. The other CPUs remain their cool selves so their portrayals were not botched. As for the Sega Hard Girls, the main attractions of the game…Mega Drive (It is a shame Genesis was not playable but no biggie) was the only one close to how she was portrayed in the Sega Hard Girls anime. Saturn and Dreamcast were not even close while Game Gear I could live without. In short players who can put up with the girls ridiculing one another for usually petty reasons will find a solid main plot. Personally this is my least favorite story in the franchise by far…though it is at least better than Idol PP’s or Action U’s.
Next up let us briefly go over the presentation as there is little to say that has not been said in my previous Neptunia reviews. The graphics are similar to the Re;Birth trilogy or to be more specific Neptunia games on the Vita. It is slightly less graphically impressive than the PS3 games but the Steam version of the Vita spinoffs, including this one, spruces them up so. Point being the graphics are similar to their PS3 counterparts just a bit toned down on the PS Vita/TV. The soundtrack is a mix of familiar tunes from Re;Birth 2 and 3 along with some pretty good original tunes exclusive to this game. The voice acting as always is pretty good on the Team Neptune side for both English and Japanese dubs whereas Segami and the Sega Hard Girls do solid jobs. Not amazing but decent. Bonus tidbit for fans of the English voice cast, this is one of the most fully voiced games in the franchise. There are very few main story cutscenes not voiced in English.
Now on to the gameplay. When it comes to combat and exploration the mechanics implemented here are arguably some of the best in the franchise. Let us start with dungeon exploration. At first glance it is more of the same kind of exploration introduced in Mk2 and expanded upon from there. However, there are additions to the exploration that make it stand out. First of all is the ability to Dash and leap. The former helps traverse dungeons faster and the latter helps traverse gaps to the next area. It takes a little bit to get used to. The second additions are climbing, crawling and shimmying across ropes. It may look like simplistic additions but they help expand familiar levels alongside the new ones and make them feel larger and more interesting to traverse through rather than simply running from Point A to Point B fighting or avoiding enemies heading towards the next event or boss fight. A minor downside is that in some of the larger dungeons it can be a little tough knowing where to go, like say where to crawl or climb to progress instead of hitting a dead end. Also be mindful of when reaching ledges to climb down because it happens automatically when the player may not have wanted to climb down. It is a rare occurrence but can get annoying for players who are in a hurry. The third addition is that alongside the regular items and breakable objects there are also silver tokens and baseballs found in dungeons. Collecting all the tokens and the hidden baseball in each dungeon will reward players with special items over time.
Gameplay progression is tied to a mission system. At the Grand Library home base players get story missions to progress the plot and the usual side quests of getting a number of a required item or defeat a number of enemies. However, the catch is two-fold. First of all players can only accept one mission at a time regardless of its importance. Second is that there is a limit to how many missions players can take before the main antagonist erases more of the timeline and grows in power, meaning its strength is dependent on how many story missions the player has completed. The bright side is that there is a hidden “time loop” mechanic, meaning that should players lose against the final boss when the time comes to face it they will get a do-over to finish missions they missed. This is tied to unlocking the True End of the game where the requirement is to complete all story missions. Completing story missions also unlocks more features, specifically alterations to some previously explored dungeons like new areas or sprucing up the landscape.
The gameplay feels familiar to longtime Neptunia fans but quite different at the same time. Before we get to the combat let us first go over the Class (Title) system. Each of the playable characters have classes (titles, similar to that in Tales games) that alter their stat boosts per level up along with the skills and special attacks they acquire, meaning that in order to gain certain moves players must level up a specific Class. Secondly HP (Hit Points) and SP (Skill Points) will not recover after leveling up, which initially is cumbersome due to items not being easy to come by. To make up for this items appear during battle to heal HP and SP. Third is the Formation System. As players progress Formations plans can be acquired via quests or other means alongside crafting items. The Formations are worth mentioning as each one awards players with bonuses. For example, The Gem Hunter Formation increases the amount of gems that appear during battle. Lastly the game is centered around Sega’s history as players travel through different periods of its history told in the classic Neptunia style of a society where video games fuel its economy, rule its religion and there is a civil war between the CPUs and the Sega Hard Girls for reasons revealed as the plot progresses. The reason I mention this here instead of the story portion of the review is because the playable characters are all Sega related, meaning that alongside IF, Segami and the chosen Sega Hard Girls only Sega themed CPUs appear in the game, meaning no Vert, Noire, Blanc or other non-Sega themed allies bringing the total of playable characters to ten.
Now we can go to the combat. Should the story not be enough reason to check the game out then the combat most likely is. As shown in the gameplay screen it is similar but different at the same time. All battle commands from moving, attacks to item usage are determined by the Action Gauge on the right side. Jumping and defending are the only “free” moves. It is imperative to pay attention to the meter for if it reaches the red portion of it or goes over then the character will miss two or three more turns. Gems randomly appear on the battlefield to for characters to jump up and heal themselves though some are higher and require a transformation to grab. Next up is a timed Charge Attack that works like the meter in Mario Golf games, meaning that if timed just right the character executes a powerful strike but at the cost of one turn. Finally there is the “Fever Time” mechanic that is activated after grabbing a rainbow colored star shaped gem (as shown in the gameplay screen) that appears when the Fever Meter alongside the Action Gauge is full. This temporarily stops time giving the party ample time to wreak havoc on enemies until the Fever Meter runs out. EX Moves (Super attacks) can only be used during Fever Time. Take note that once the Fever Gem appears it can be reserved, meaning that should the gem not be grabbed in one battle it will appear again at the start of the next one so long as it is not grabbed.
As far as the yuri goes it is less than I would have liked. Besides a certain sadist there is not much else. Perhaps a ship or two but nothing major.
Overall Superdimension Neptune vs Sega Hard Girls is a solid game. The main plot is good but the style of humor (excessive ridiculing) is not my cup of tea though players who do not mind this kind of comedy may find it more tolerable. The gameplay is where it shines as it features some neat additions that would be pretty neat to see implemented again in future Neptunia RPGs. Not the best Neptunia I have played but I did not regret playing. It is worth checking out for the curious.