Hyperdimension Neptunia review
Stay out of this dimension
Developer: Compile Heart/Idea Factory
Publisher: Idea Factory/Nippon Ichi Software America
I honestly don't know what you could expect from a game with what appear to be underage anime chicks in scantily clad clothes (if they can even be called clothes) with a title that just sounds ridiculous. I feel like puking! The only positive things I can say about this game is that it had a good concept and a few jokes here and there were funny, but good lord, what kind of shit is this?
The story is that Neptune, the goddess of Planeptune, a sector of the world known as Gameindustri, has lost her memory, so she needs to regain them, as well as uncover a betrayal plot by the other three goddesses, or some shit - seriously, with these games, the story doesn't matter. Whether it's due to poor writing or just the fact that the characters love to deviate away from it for the sake of making some jokes about the seventh generation console wars and video games in general, yeah, the story itself is crap. I've also noticed that there are a lot of unresolved subplots... that's bad. As many people would say, never start what you can't finish.
But let's look at the main attraction... no, not the jailbait anime chicks; I'm talking about the jokes and video game references. For the most part, these suck. Seriously, it's one thing to have references overstay their welcome through in your face "do you get it, I'm from Resident Evil!!!!" delivery, but it's another when they start making boob jokes... come on, I've heard less sexual jokes in Bulletstorm, and this game doesn't even have the female equivalent of the epic brofist atmosphere that Bulletstorm had, so in reality, these jokes end up out of place. God, this story sucks. It's even worse when you actually do encounter a good joke! They're more subtle and tend to niggle at the nostalgia bone. I don't know, something about 8-bit music and graphics just makes me feel really nostalgic. The personalities of the goddesses you do meet are also funny. From the cold and lonely PS3 goddess, to the hard partying Xbox 360 goddess, to the little foul mouthed Wii goddess, their personalities can lead to some funny jokes every now and again... unfortunately, for every two decent jokes, there are about ninety nine terrible jokes. Keep this in mind, should you actually want to play the game... not that you should, but whatever.
RPGs tend to have three things going for them - exploration, customization, and the actual battling itself. Suffice it to say, there's barely anything to the former two.. in fact, there's not much to the battle system, either, but exploration and customization are practically non existent! For exploration, you have dungeons, dungeons and more dungeons - no towns or overworld to check out, just an endless array of dungeons, and not only are they laid out very simplistically, but they're also very redundant, meaning that every dungeon is almost exactly the same, which can cause drowsiness, because if it wasn't good the first time, why in the bloody hell would it be considered good later on!? There aren't any curveballs to speak of, meaning that they're completely linear, like Final Fantasy XIII. I have no problems with linearity, but redundancy? No thanks. Variety is the spice of life, guys. As for customization, you can... umm, well, you can build combos, like fifty or more... as if it matters...
So yeah, the battle system... is very, very simple. All you need to do is press four buttons to initiate a combo attack, and... that's it. No, I'm dead *bleep*ing serious - that is all you really need to do. Oh, they try to limit the amount of ass kicking you'll be doing on your turn with AP, in that you can only use a certain amount of AP and certain combos cannot be performed if they cost more than what you have, but like it matters, because most likely, you would've found a combo that works all the time. Yeah, you can build at least fifty combos, but truth be told, you only need like three. Come on, there was more strategy required in the first fifteen hours of Final Fantasy XIII, and that was basically the tutorial level!
But hey, what do I know? Easy games can be good - look at the Kirby franchise! Not a single overly difficult game among them, and yet, they're still good games. However, Hyperdimension Neptunia makes a fair amount of mistakes. The first mistake is that the battle system never goes beyond what you experience in the first few battles! Basically, if you didn't find strategy-less battling entertaining in the first hour, what makes you think you'll like it forty-fifty hours down the track? And perhaps you do like the battle system? Here's mistake number two - battles can take an absurdly long amount of time. I'm not referring to the overly long battle animations, because they can be skipped, but the fact that enemies can take many, many hits ensures that you'll be locked inside this screen for a while. There's challenging, then there's a waste of time. This is the latter. I should not be spending five minutes killing basic enemies, or anywhere close to an hour killing bosses! *bleep*ing hell! Okay, I get it, length can equate to challenge... if the combat system was full of strategy like Resonance Of Fate, but since this has the complexity of Kingdom Hearts, this ends up getting very redundant, very boring, and quite frankly, really shitty! God, I hate this game!
Just when things couldn't get worse, they decided to sneak in some random battles. I'm sorry, but unless this is meant to be another reference to old school games, get out. This is an RPG where the aim is to progress through the storyline, not to catch all the Pokemon in the world (in fact, I'm surprised that there aren't any references to Pokemon), and as Chrono Trigger had shown us fifteen years ago, non random battles are actually more convenient and offer a legitimate challenge, as opposed to the only challenge being in the sense that it's always at an inconvenient time. Even so, this game is far from challenging, so the only time you'll die is if you forget to heal... speaking of which...
In this game, healing goes from something simple, to a *bleep*ing project! Instead of simply heading into the menu to select an item and ingesting it, you have to fiddle around with some settings that'll be familiar to those who have played Final Fantasy XII - the Gambits system, if you can't remember. From there, your characters will be controlled by the AI, and then you just have to wait for them to heal themselves. Whether they actually do it or not is completely random. This is what killed the game for me, and don't give me any of the shit about getting used to it, because I shouldn't need to. This isn't some fun and innovative way to distribute items - IT'S A PAIN IN THE *bleep*ING ASS AND I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT THE DEVELOPERS WOULD LEAVE IT LIKE THIS! HOW THE *bleep* CAN YOU FORGET TO PUT IN AN ITEM COMMAND THAT IS VERY EASILY ACCESSIBLE LIKE IN EVERY OTHER *bleep*ING RPG!? *bleep* YOU AND ANYBODY ELSE WHO ACTUALLY PREFERS THIS SYSTEM TO SOMETHING CONVENIENT AND NOT A PAIN IN THE ASS!?
Oh well, there's always the graphics to make up for bad gameplay, right? Not in this case. The developers saw it fit to present cutscenes as if we're going through a visual novel, with animated character portraits (holy shit, bouncing boobies! fapfapfapfapfap) that only have like three different expressions. This might've worked... if not every single NPC was a silhouette! Unfortunately, these artists decided to be lazy and not actually fill in the giant blanks! If that's not enough, when you're given 3D models, it's tough to think that you're playing a PS3 game until you realize that you're holding a PS3 controller, your PS3 is turned on, and your TV is on the HDMI channel, because this looks like a game that was meant for the Dreamcast. There aren't any textures to speak of, besides some really basic ones, and the quality looks blurry. There is no way this is a reference to a video game; it's more like typical Idea Factory/Nippon Ichi Software/etc bullshit where they just don't give a crap about the graphics. Well, that's fine, but please at least make the dungeons more distinguishable so that gamers don't get a serious case of deja vu whenever they enter new dungeons. To make matters worse, battles have this strange tendency to lag... like Knights Contract, there is no excuse, because these graphics shouldn't be anywhere near taxing on the PS3's hardware, and yet, here we are, with LAG! This seriously could've used a few more months in development!
We're nearing the home stretch! Audio time, people! The soundtrack is complete crap. There are maybe three songs in total, all of which are impossible to remember, yet are painstakingly repetitive. There's no ambiance, either, so these songs are just wasted space and could've been orchestrated a lot better! The voice acting, I'm surprised to say is actually good! Obviously, the Japanese voice actors on top of English subtitles is the way for overly Wapanese fans to go, but the English voice acting is actually good. Maybe over the top at times, but it gives the characters more punch than the hackneyed writing does alone. In fact, I actually found the jokes funnier with the English voice acting than merely reading them - granted, I'm only referring to the ones that are actually funny, and not just try hard crap that borders on Family Guy ineptitude. So yeah, a positive highlight in amongst a pile of shit...
The only conclusion I can come up with is this - this is a shit game. Slow and clunky battle system with a ridiculously stupid healing mechanic, Dreamcast quality graphics FOR A PS3 EXCLUSIVE, crap soundtrack and insipid "guys am I cool yet" storyline. I might also add that this isn't one of those "critics hated it; gamers loved it" games, or at least, it shouldn't be. Seriously, I've seen people give this game high marks, even a couple of paid reviewers gave this game decent marks... what Hyperdimension Neptunia were they playing, because this game sucks something fierce! God, people are too easily impressed!
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