By Joe Sigadel / March 9th, 2016
|Title||Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed|
|Developer||Tamsoft, Compile Heart|
|Publisher||Idea Factory International|
|Release Date||March 21st, 2016|
|Genre||Beat ’em Up|
|Platform||PlayStation Vita, Steam|
|Age Rating||T (Teen)|
Disclaimer: The following review is for a product in beta, and it may not be representative of its state upon release.
It’s no secret among our readers that I’m a fan of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series. I’ve been enjoying them since their debut on the PlayStation 3, and each game, followed by its remake, ended up being better than the last. It was almost like watching the video game equivalent of a beautiful flower in slow bloom, with the recent Megadimension Neptunia VII release being the best entry to date. Neptunia’s breakout popularity has lent itself to a number of spinoffs, such as a strategy game, an idol game, and a beat ’em up, which is what I’ll be going over with you in this review.
Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed takes our favorite CPUs as well as their Candidate sisters and puts them in an arena style hack and slash game. The story here is pretty lighthearted, there’s nothing serious at stake here for Gamindustri going on. Two Gamindustri reporters, Famitsu and Dengekiko, in the spirit of their namesakes, are trying to write up news stories about our favorite console girls, and they want to see them in action completing quests by destroying hordes of monsters. Naturally, the CPUs are keen to compete with each other, while the CPU Candidates want to demonstrate to their older sisters that they can beat up monsters just as well as they can. Famitsu and Dengekiko have a bit of a friendly rivalry of their own, it’s nothing malicious since they both work for the same faceless boss. You can expect the typical Neptunia brand of humor here, complete with boob jokes, historical console references and even a couple of jabs at game journalism which I found amusing.
Neptunia U ‘s gameplay seems to be heavily inspired by that of Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus, which is not too surprising considering Tamsoft is the one who developed this title. It’s you and a partner against a horde of mechs, dogoos and other creatures taken out of Gamindustri’s menagerie. The draw here is the clothes tearing mechanic – as you fight and take damage, your clothes will get tattered and eventually break. You’d think this would leave you exposed to further attacks, but it actually helps you transform into your more powerful CPU form, allowing you to really rack up the damage and combo count, as well as performing a devastating EXE Drive attack best saved for boss enemies with a ton of health. You could leave yourself open for attacks on purpose to trigger this, but that’s risky and could end with you getting KOed.
The missions you take usually have you defeating a set amount of enemies and then a boss monster, occasionally under special conditions to progress the story. It’s pretty simple and straightforward. Once you’re done with each stage, you’ll want to check your medals on your character setup screen and use them to purchase upgrades such as weapons and accessories to boost your stats. You have to do this for both your regular and your CPU form for each character, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Missions also have a recommended level which you should tackle them, however I was able to do a few of them underleveled and ended up gaining 3-4 levels in the process each time.
Those of you who have purchased previous Neptunia games on Steam can expect the same kind of options that you’d get on the RPG games, such as resolution options up to 1080p and windowed mode, although there are no advanced visual settings beyond that. It natively supports my Xbox 360 controller just fine, and it controls just as well as it did on the PlayStation Vita. The model quality is about the same as it is in the other Nep games, although I should point out that the torn clothes on the characters looks kind of… muddy. You can also turn individual voices on or off for each playable character, even the monsters you’ll be fighting. I thought the monsters voices were really irritating in the English dub, a bit less so in the Japanese. To spare yourself from being annoyed, I’d recommend just turning them off.
Overall, Hyperdimension Neptunia U‘s gameplay does a good job of emulating that of Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus, but the problem here is that the story just isn’t nearly as good as those of the RPG games, and it suffers heavily from repetition. For years, when I was reading about hack and slash games like this, I’d scoff whenever that complaint came up. Not here, I’m afraid. I just think this is one of those games that’s best played in short bursts. It was difficult to keep my attention beyond that, even considering the fanservice. Every mission feels like a grind, with the same old monsters in the same areas. One of the music tracks is way too overused, so you hear it perhaps on 75% of the missions you do. It’s really hard for me to recommend this to anyone but the most devoted of Neptunia fans. It’s not particularly bad, but it’s not all that good either. It’s a mediocre spinoff that relies on past knowledge and experience with the other games to get any enjoyment out of it. Here’s hoping that MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies is a much better outing.
Review copy was provided by the publisher
Compile HeartHyperdimension NeptuniaHyperdimension Neptunia U: Action UnleashedIdea Factory InternationalPCReviewSteamTamsoft