If you don't like anime, just move along. You have been warned.
If you're, at all, familiar with games such as Cross Edge and Trinity Universe, I believe you'll have a decent idea of what to expect with this game. It's one of those JRPGs that is meant for somewhat hardcore anime fans (particularly those who are fans of Disgaea and Phantom Brave, for instance). From the look to the humor (loud, rude, crude and obnoxious), it doesn't allow room for those who aren't into anime, which is a shame, because given the subject matter, it should. Well, I wouldn't really think of many old school gamers as huge anime fans. Maybe the developers did, but I don't.
But hey, this isn't about anime; this is supposed to judge whether the game is good or not, and to be honest, it's... disappointing, actually. From looking at previews and stuff, you'd think it'd be a pretty damn good game with niche appeal at best, and before playing, you'd think said niche appeal explains the low review scores, but then you actually play it, and it's just really mediocre! It's a game that's not really broken or even bad by too many means, but there's not much good to it either.
Now, everyone should know the concept - it's about the seventh generation console wars, but they decided to include the Sega Neptune, because they probably like the sound of Neptune more than Dreamcast. So what do these lovable little rascals do? What kind of adventures do they embark on? Oh no, nothing to do with marijuana, though you may need some in order to find enjoyability with the storyline. No, the story is that Neptune is an amnesiac who was once a goddess, but the other three goddesses betrayed her and beat her up so hard that she plummeted into the human world, and she needs to regain her memories while uncovering a plot.. I don't know, something about betrayal and other stuff I stopped paying attention to because the story is a mess of bad writing and sidestories that LOVE to go nowhere near a satisfying conclusion. Yeah, it's really incoherent and something you just shouldn't pay too much attention to.
The real showstealer comes in the form of references. Seriously, there are so many video game references that Super Meat Boy would be blushing, and some of them are actually pretty well spot on. The representation of the consoles via anime chicks scored a few laughs, with the Xbox who just wants to party all night, the Playstation who just wants a friend but hides this with her cold personality and "progress is all that matters" mentality, and the Wii, who is very foul mouthed, arrogant and whiny. Then there's the 8-bit music, the Space Invader looking things, and something that looked like Dragon Warrior's ending. Sadly, a good chunk of the rest of the references are just *bleep*ing annoying, like I GET IT GOD STOP SHOVING IT IN MY FACE! THANK YOU! That's the main downfall of this aspect - the fact that they have to constantly be shoved in your face, just in case you don't get it, but you should get it the first time, because, well, it's meant to appeal more to old school gamers - or is it meant to appeal to anime fanatics? Oh, either way, the more subtle references and the console representations are good and funny, and the more in your face references are cringewrothy!
So what about the gameplay? Well, if you've played Cross Edge or Trinity Universe, I think you have a decent idea of how this works, but not many people have (which is a shame, because Trinity Universe is actually kind of good), so allow me to explain – what you have to do is, when you're in battle, perform combos by pressing a four button combination of the square, triangle and circle buttons. That's... about the full extent of it. I'm not kidding, it's a straight up button masher, so long as you have enough AP to actually pull these combos off.
Oh, I guess there's the magic/healing system... which is *bleep*ing stupid! What you have to do is access a menu, and tweak some variables so that there's a chance that healing will occur by the AI. Basically, you can't just select healing like you would in any other RPG. NO, that'd make the game fun! Instead, you have to rely on luck, and even then, there are variables that have to be considered. Will they heal themselves, or revive the fallen teammate? Who knows, and frankly, who cares? Now, when it comes to games that aren't anything special, any little flaw can hurt it, so just imagine what sort of impact a giant flaw like this would have. What a horrible mistake. Furthermore, losing due to luck is poor. You're meant to lose due to a lack of skill, not because you weren't lucky.
Now that I've gotten the meat and potatoes out of the way, I might as well just go into the other stuff an RPG has. There is no overworld, everything is done through menus. So let's head into the dungeons. Honestly, I thought the first one was cool, with its 8-bit music, and then the second one was just... umm, [insert generic dungeon here]. Then the third was... the same as the last one? Yes, each of the dungeons are incredibly repetitive, and to begin with, the earlier dungeons weren't even that good. They were nothing short of linear and boring. There are no twists, no turns and no... well, it was just incredibly uninteresting. Yet again, another mistake is worse off in this game than it would be in a game that was actually good.
But hey, what about quests? I mean, every RPG ought to have those, right? Well, there are quests... except maybe I shouldn't end that with an S, because all you really have to do is go through dungeons and defeat something to get the treasure needed, and you'll get rated on how quickly you can do it. Now, given that the battle system blows chunks, the only reason you'd be doing these quests is to level up so that you can go through the story quicker, and believe me, you'll be wishing those 50+ hours would just pass by like a bullet train.
There's not much else to the gameplay worth acknowledging, so why not talk about the graphics? Mostly because the graphics are drab! The 2D visual novel style looks nice enough with some slightly animated portraits (not pictured: bouncing boobs), but only a few models are actually complete. NPC models are blank. Yeah, this is very, very lazy, guys. Come on, would it kill you guys to fill in the blanks? There are so many blanks, that it ends up feeling like shit! At least half the time is spent with the main characters and ONLY the main characters. Then you have the 3D style, and... it looks outdated, like it was some dungeon crawler meant for the Dreamcast. The colors aren't bad, but the look and feel of each dungeon begins to feel repetitive and really bloody boring after a little while...
As for the sound design, the music is drab. All of the tunes drone on, but unlike a song by Sunn O))), it's not at all atmospheric or good; it's just there, and oftentimes, annoying. That's all I can say about the soundtrack. Crap. As for the voice acting, both the Japanese and American voice actors do great jobs of, umm, sounding good I guess? It doesn't help the story make any more sense or anything; just makes it something worth listening to.
Hyperdimension Neptunia... you expect a lot out of it due to the concept, but the execution ranges from mediocre at best, to poor at worst. Disappointing doesn't even begin to describe this game... it's just extremely mediocre with a side ordering of horrible decisions and repetitive dungeons. Towering at about 50 hours long, wow, this makes the bible look like a children's book.