By Joe Sigadel / June 10th, 2015
|Title||Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth2 Sisters Generation|
|Developer||Compile Heart, Idea Factory|
|Publisher||Idea Factory Intl.|
|Release Date||May 29, 2015|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Teen|
It was two years ago that I first played Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 on the PS3, and it served as my introduction to the series. Starting from the second game meant that there was a lot I didn’t understand. I had heard the very first game wasn’t too great, so I avoided it and was told I could jump in without too many issues. That wasn’t entirely true, since I didn’t know who any of the characters were, what they represented or anything like that. To play the second game without playing the first means you’re missing out on some important backstory in a game where it’s the CPU candidates who take center stage, and their older sisters are MIA for most of it. After playing it once and getting the normal ending, I felt dissatisfied. So, what was the big deal? Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 ran somewhat poorly on the PS3, though the battle system was decent, yet flawed (especially the part where your SP was constantly drained in HDD form). I thought it was mediocre at best. Fortunately, I bought Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, as well, and I enjoyed that one somewhat better. I’m glad I gave the series a second chance, let alone a first one.
I’ll be honest, I don’t think the CPU candidates are as great as their older sisters, as far as protagonists go. I’m sure someone will be upset with me saying that, but Nepgear makes for a rather bland heroine (they actually poked fun at this in Victory, which I thought was amusing). She constantly worries about herself and her friends and is more or less a responsible, good girl; lacking Neptune’s negative and quirky, yet humorous traits. Characters are more interesting to me when they have such flaws, and the CPUs all do, but, because of that, they played off each others’ personalities very well whenever they made an appearance.
Mk2 has been remade into Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth2, which follows up Re;Birth1 on the PC. Idea Factory International has taken a different approach with this release, choosing to have participants go through a closed beta test to work out the bugs ahead of time, rather than dealing with them all upon release. I was provided a beta test copy to play with, and, indeed, there were some nasty crashing bugs I ran into during my playthrough, where the game would refuse to load an area and CTD. This was resolved by running the game in Windows XP compatibility mode, upon the suggestion of a friend who had similar issues with his copy of Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1.
Dark times are upon Gamindustri, as a powerful force known as ASIC (the Arfoire Syndicate of International Crime) has taken over, with four very powerful figures leading a campaign of video game piracy, wreaking havoc across the lands and weakening the CPU’s influence to the point where they are unable to fight anymore. It’s up to Nepgear and the other nations’ younger sisters to work for those shares to acquire the power they need to stand up to this menace!
I want to talk about the villains a little bit in this game, because I feel they deserve mention. Everyone in Hyperdimension Neptunia represents a concept, product or company, and the Four Felons are no exception. First off we have Magic, who is the leader of the four, a pink-haired, gothic-looking woman whose sole desire is to see Arfoire revived to wreak destruction upon the world. She represents fanboy/girlism, and so she doesn’t care what happens so long as she gets to see the Deity of Sin she idolized come to life. She happens to be the most ruthless, most powerful and dangerous of the bunch, being that she was the one who took on all of the CPUs single handedly and beat them with ease.
Next, we have Judge, who represents the frustration game creators feel when they don’t sell well. His personality embodies unbridled rage, and he doesn’t like going too long without fighting and killing. Judge is Nepgear’s first opponent, and, despite successfully pulling off an EXE Drive at the beginning of the game, she can do little more than blind him and escape with IF and Compa.
Third on our list is Brave, a Gundam-like giant robot. He represents the frustration children have at not being able to afford new games. That one I can actually sympathize with! And, unlike the others, Brave is sort of an anti-villain; his motive is to keep the children of the world happy and playing games, but, as our heroines point out when they confront him, the way he is doing so is through the piracy that ASIC has perpetuated over the three years they’ve had control over Gamindustri.
Last, but not least, we have Trick, probably the most infamous for causing Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 to garner an M rating. He has been toned down a bit in this game, but let me just say that whoever does the English voice for Trick deserves some kind of award for making him sound incredibly creepy. If I had a top 5 list of video game villains going, he would be #1, I’m not even joking. For all the ridiculous accusations of Hyperdimension Neptunia being a series for ‘pedophiles’ from haters, having an actual lecherous creep as a bad guy has to be some kind of poetic irony.
Graphically, Re;Birth2 looks pretty identical to Re;Birth1. It runs at a smooth 60 FPS and supports resolutions up to 1080P. There aren’t any advanced graphical settings here besides resolution and a windowed mode option, but it looks good for what it is. I had no issues with slowdown whatsoever, but since I’m running this on a EVGA GTX 970 card, your experience may vary from mine. Character and monster models don’t look the least bit jagged, but the field environments themselves look about as basic as they would on the PS Vita. It’d be neat if IFI put in more settings to really make Re;Birth2 dazzle visually, but they just aren’t there. At the very least, a V-sync option would have been welcome. I also played the game in English for its entirety and found the voice acting to be pretty good. Fans of the English dub should be pleased to know that a lot more of this game is voiced than the last one was, although the side scenes still lack it. I don’t think the music is quite as strong in this one, but the opening song, “Kirihirake! Roleplay Star Girl,” is fantastic, as is “War Readiness,” the song that plays during optional boss fights. Many of the other songs are familiar themes from the first game, so there isn’t too much that’s different here.
The battle system of Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth2 remains the same as it was in Re;Birth1, which in turn was borrowed from Victory’s formula. This time around you get four party members rather than three, and you’re going to need them, believe me. The difficulty of the early game is a little bit harder than Re;Birth1, mainly because you only have one CPU Candidate (Nepgear) plus Compa, IF and Red to start out with. Compa and IF are great at first, but they quickly become obsolete once you get stronger Maker characters like Cave and Falcom. And, of course, CPU Candidates and their older sisters are the strongest of all since they can use HDD to amplify their powers. It just takes a really, really long time to get them. It also takes Nepgear and the other CPU Candidates a while to get their EXE attacks, whereas in the last game you got them at Level 25 for everyone. This makes it so that you can’t exactly cheese boss fights by using an HDD-powered EXE Drive to wipe them out in seconds, and it turns them into more of a struggle until you get them for everyone.
A new addition to the game is Stella’s Dungeon, which is a sort of real-time minigame that allows you to gather extra materials, items and secrets if you’re lucky. You deploy Stella and her cat, Felis, to any of the previous dungeons you’ve discovered, and wait for them to come back safely to see what you’ve acquired. At first, Stella died a bunch of times, and was pretty unsuccessful with her treasure hunting, but once I tried sending her out in increments of 5 to 10 floors each, she brought back more and more and rarely ever failed. The only problem with this is that it’s very, very time consuming, and the later dungeons she explores can take an hour or more to finish. Imagine spending all that time only to have her die and end up with nothing, and on top of that, losing her equipment! It’s happened to me, more than once.
However, it’s not so bad when you consider that the developers expect you to put in a lot of time with Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth2. You will need to play through this a few times to unlock all the endings. There are several more than there were in the last game, some with pretty stringent requirements. I suggest looking at a guide to know how to get them all. Many items, dungeons, costumes, the Oracles (they’re playable characters now!) and other features await for you to unlock using the Remake system. You should at least try to go for the True Ending on one of your playthroughs – without spoiling anything, there are some great scenes you can only watch if you manage to get it.
Overall, Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth2 is a bit weaker than its predecessor, but it still manages to be a pretty fun game with adorable and funny characters. Compile Heart and Idea Factory’s greatest strength still manages to be in its dialogue. While the scenes can get pretty lengthy, as is typical for one of their games, if you slow down and pay attention, you can find some pretty funny and clever satire about the problems of piracy and tons of humor about console gaming. It is definitely worth your time and money, but I suggest playing Re;Birth1 before tackling this, so you get more out of it.
Review Copy Provided by Publisher
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