By Steve Baltimore / October 11th, 2016
|Title||Superdimension Neptune Vs. SEGA Hard Girls|
|Developer||Idea Factory / Compile Heart / Felistella|
|Publisher||Idea Factory International|
|Release Date||October 18, 2016|
It’s time once again to visit Gamindustri and have yet another adventure with the girls of the Hypderdimension Neptunia franchise. This time around, however, things are quite a bit different as IF has taken on the role of protagonist and teamed up with the SEGA Hard Girls to save Superdimension’s history. Is this another great spin-off for the franchise or just a cheap cash in? Let’s find out.
The story begins as IF is traveling the ruins of Superdimension Gamindustri in search of adventure. She soon discovers a library that contains all of the history of the dimension. As you would expect, Histoire is in charge of the library. Soon after arriving a mysterious girl named Segami falls from the sky. Neptune will sue for gimmick infringement for sure here. They soon learn that history is slowly disappearing at the hands of the Time Eater. They then set out on a time-traveling quest to save history and maybe even alter it for the better.
The writing in this game is simply fantastic. The folks at Idea Factory International knocked it out of the park this time. The script is both serious and hilarious and captures the tone of the series perfectly. IF makes a really good protagonist and she plays off Segami and Nep Bike flawlessly. There are also tons of historical references for hardcore SEGA console fans. I found myself laughing out loud more than once at these, and of course, Nep being a complete smart ass, as usual.
Graphically the game looks pretty much like the other series games on the Vita console. The character models are still quite nice and there are a few new areas for you to explore, such as a cube world. Most of the enemy models make a return as well, but there are a few new ones thrown in like some killer penguins. Everything runs at a decent framerate and even though there is a bit of slow down, it doesn’t really effect the game in any major way.
I thought the sound team did a really nice job on the soundtrack this time around. The new battle theme is quite nice and gets you pumped for battle, especially the theme for the final battle. The new tunes found on the stages are all nicely done as well, and though the sound effects are the series standard, nothing is out of place. The English voice cast returns to reprise their roles and, as always, they do a fine job. There are some new additions to the cast since this is the first time the series has featured the SEGA Hard Girls. The voices they picked out, fit the characters well and I felt the dub overall was of good quality. Fans will be happy to hear that most of the game is dubbed this time around, with very little text not being spoken. The Japanese audio is there for the purist or people who prefer it, so this works out great for everyone.
The mechanics are quite a bit different this time around since we are dealing with time travel. You will take quests like in other Neptunia game at the world hub, however, you can only take one quest at a time. This is because you only have so many turns to complete each quest before the Time Eater eats them and gains more power. This is indicated by the small number on the right side of each quest. If you miss a quest it’s not a big deal, because if you lose to the Time Eater, history will reset and you will have another chance at it. It is very important that you trigger all the conversation events in each era. These will unlock new areas and quests for you to complete. However, this mechanic was not explained nearly well enough in-game. They also fixed the one thing that drove me crazy about doing quests in other games in the franchise. You can now press triangle on the quest screen, and it will tell you where the monster you’re hunting is or where the items you need are dropped. This saves a ton of time looking through the monster guide or guessing where you picked up an item.
One thing you will notice right off the bat is each stage has a few platforming elements incorporated in them now. IF can crawl, climb certain walls, and even shimmy across ropes. While this does spice of the older levels a bit, since you can access new areas, it can be annoying at times. When you have to jump from a place that IF can climb, the climbing mechanic becomes irritating. If you get too close, she starts to climb down that wall, if you jump too early, you don’t make that jump. While this doesn’t happen every time, it drove me nuts when it did.
The combat system is similar to what is found in the mainline games. You still move around on the battlefield attacking enemies in range. The combo system found in previous games is not found here. Instead, now you have an Action Gauge on the bottom right of the screen. This gauge will fill as you take actions during combat. If you end your turn without filling the gauge, that character’s next turn will come sooner than if it is completely filled. The gauge can also be charged to the maximum level by holding down the attack button. This unleashes a very large attack or combo but delays your next turn. The other big difference is SP does not regenerate on a level up or after leaving a stage. You will gain a bit back with every attack you land on an enemy, but there is also some gems you can collect on the battlefield to recover this as well.
Another big change in the combat is the addition of the Fever Meter. It is located right beside the Action Gauge. This will also fill up as you strike and defeat enemies. When this meter is full a gem will appear on screen. Collecting this gem will start Fever Mode. In this mode, enemies will never get a turn, and you will have access to your EX Moves. This meter will deplete pretty quickly, so use it wisely, as it can really turn the tide of battle in your favor.
The other two additions here are the formation bonuses and the class system. You still gain skills when you level just like in the other games, but this time around each girl has a few classes to choose from. These classes will level as you gain EXP, granting you access to more special moves and buffs. The class level will also affect each character’s base stats in a major way and new formations will be available after completing certain missions. These not only change the starting position of your party members in combat but provide bonuses as well. The Gem Hunter formation boosts the rate in which gems appear in battle, while Cross Knights will grants you 1500 more HP for each party member. There are lots of these to choose from, so you will have to pick the one that fits you play style best.
At the end of the day, Superdimension Neptune Vs. SEGA Hard Girls is a decent addition to the Neptunia franchise. IF makes a great protagonist and the writing is simply amazing. The time travel mechanic feels a bit underdeveloped however, I think some more thought should have been done to implement it properly. The new combat mechanics work fairly well and spice up the proven system from previous titles. While I got annoyed at some of the platforming aspects, they did add a bit more depth to stages. I spent around 25 hours with one to get the normal ending, and it would probably take 5 or so more to get the true one. If you are a Neptunia or SEGA fan you should snag this one up at the $39.99 price tag ASAP. There’s nothing here that will change the minds that currently don’t like the series, but I don’t think that is a bad thing.
Game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
Compile HeartIdea FactoryIFFYNeptuneRPGSegaSuperdimension Neptune vs Sega Hard Girls