By Steve Baltimore / August 22nd, 2014
|Developer||Idea Factory, Compile Heart|
|Release Date||February 15, 2011|
With the upcoming release of Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth, I thought it would be a good idea to go back and review the original release of Hyperdimension Neptunia. This way, readers can look at both of the reviews posted today and see just how big of a difference there is between the two games. This also gave me a chance to go back and experience the one that got me totally hooked on the series.
As many of you already know, the basic story of Hyperdimension Neptunia is that of the console wars. The Console Patron Units or CPUs rule Gamindustri from a holy place called Celestia. Each of these CPUs were fighting for the title of ultimate goddess, so they could win the console war and take complete control of Gamindustri. The other three CPUs see Neptune as the biggest threat, so they gang up on her and beat her out of Celestia. She falls to Gamindustri, and is soon discovered by Compa, an aspiring nurse, who takes her in. Neptune, whom is now suffering from amnesia, hears a mysterious voice calling itself Histoire. The voice tells her she must gather the key fragments to free her in order to save the world.
One of the best parts of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series is that it’s a satire of the gaming industry as a whole. The original release showcases this quite often in many other not-so-subtle ways with tons of funny jokes, and other crazy references. Personally, I find it quite hilarious when the game is being self-aware of how crazy it is, such as IF telling Compa she is brave for taking that giant syringe into battle. Some people think this is solely filled with fan service, and while I will not say there is no fan service to be found here, it isn’t near as much as some think. The translation work is great; NISA really has done a great job bringing out these characters’ personalities, and making all of the jokes and puns funny. Every entry after this one was handled with same care, and I really enjoy the writing. I do not think I would have become a fan of this series without the top-notch localization it has.
Now, when talking about the graphics, the word “dated” comes to mind. Yeah, these are not very pretty. The game environments look plain and bland, and are reused quite often. The enemy models look decent, but, really, there aren’t nearly enough of them, so expect to fight lots of different colored variations of the same monsters. The one bright spot here is the character models, which I always felt looked pretty nice. They are quite a bit more detailed than the environments or the enemy models, giving them much more character.
The music in the series started off quite differently than how it is today. In most of the newer entries, the music has a lighthearted, pop sound to it. The music in the original, however, is much more industrial sounding for the most part, and, honestly, I like it. There are a few different battle themes, as well. Each of those is well done, and gets you ready to Nep Nep all over your opponents. As usual from NISA, this one dual audio, and English dub is pretty good as always.
The gameplay of the original is very different from the newer entries in the series, as well. On the world map, you will notice a few different options. Explore, Search and Shop are the main three you will be using. Explore allows you to find the various events going on around Gamindustri. As you select the various events, this will open up new dungeons on the map that you can find with the Search option. This will move the story forward. These events will take place on all four landmasses, so you may not fully complete the story on one landmass before having to start events on another one. This brings me to something that was really annoying about the original game. In the newer titles, you just point and click where you want to go on the overworld, regardless of which landmass it is on. Here, you have to go through a tunnel every time you switch places. It doesn’t take that long, but it is still unnecessary.
The dungeons themselves are pretty plain and straightforward. You will have various tasks to complete in each one, which can consist of finding a certain number of items, killing X number of a certain monster or simply slaying the boss. Unlike in new entries, the monsters will not appear on the maps, as these encounters are completely random. Each of your characters will possess one of three dungeon skills, as well. These skills are Treasure Search, Hammer Blow or Monster Call. Treasure Search will point a line to hidden treasure chest in the dungeon. Hammer Blow will bust down walls or rocks in your wall. You can guess what Monster Call does. Yep, you guessed it; it calls monsters. You will fight three to five battles in a row, but after this is over, you will have no encounters for a number of steps in the dungeon.
The combat here is still very much turn-based, but, instead of moving on the battlefield, you are stationary. Yep, like the RPGs of old, they’ve got their side and you’ve got yours. Your party consists of three active member and three members in the back row that can be switched in during combat. The combo system works with Action Points (AP). You have so many AP starting each round, and your attacks will consume so much as they are used. You can customize your combos from a variety of moves which can be mapped to four face buttons on the DualShock 3. Combos will consist of four moves at a time, with an effect being placed on the last move. For example, with Neptune, if your last move in a combo is Hard Drive Divinity, she will transform. If the last move in the combo is Third Shot, it will start a combo link giving you extra AP during that turn to do another combo. Your turn will last until you are out of AP for that round.
While this may seem complicated, it really not as bad as it seems. I’m going to be completely honest here; you will find about one or two combos with each character that do massive damage you like, and you’re going to end up spamming the hell out of them. Each character does have a ton of unique moves, and you could sit and tweak this to give yourself an unreal advantage, but, in most cases, that will not be necessary.
By far the strangest thing found here, though, is the way you use items in combat. It is basically automated, so you do not really control when a item is being used in combat. This is also the only way to heal yourself in the entire game. Now, I bet you are wondering how exactly this works. As you defeat monsters and explore dungeons, you will collect four different types of potions. Your item skills will consume a number of each of these every time it is used. As your characters level up, they will gain new, better item skills. These skills will each have certain conditions that will have to be met before they are triggered, such as a character going below 50% health or defending during a round. You will also gain item points to use these skills, and distribute these points to skills you want them to use in combat. For example, if you give a skill 100 points, it will be used every time the condition for using the skill is met, whereas if you only give it 50 points, it will be used half the time.
This item system is very unfair to players at the beginning of the game, but after you have gained a bunch of levels and have tons of the four different potions, you can basically abuse it to where you are almost invincible. However, you will need to tweak your item points distribution quite often to get the best effect.
While this is far from perfect in the gameplay department, Hyperdimension Neptunia has always been about the story and characters to me. This delivers wonderfully on that front with what is some of the best writing in the series. That being said, the combat is pretty bland, and the item system is kind of a mess. Still, I think if you’re a fan of the series, for its 35-buck price tag, you get around 40 hours of gameplay and much more if you want to get a Platinum Trophy. You owe it to yourself to check out how it all started. I mean, any day you can spend with CPUs of Gamindustri is a good day!
Game was reviewed from the reviewer’s personal game collection.
Hyperdimension Neptunia is available on Amazon:
Compile HeartHyperdimension NeptuniaIdea FactoryNeptunia