From the minds at Compile Heart and Idea Factory comes the third game in the Hyperdimension Neptunia series, Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory. For those unfamiliar with the series, it follows four goddesses who each serve as a representation of one of the four major video game console manufacturers: Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and Sega. Each goddess wants to rule Gameindustri for themselves, and the game follows the struggle between the goddesses. While this premise sounds interesting, the Hyperdimension Neptunia games fail to deliver a solid gaming experience. There was always something that brought the games down, whether it was an awkward quest system or cheesy dialogue. While Victory is arguably the best game in the series to date, it doesn’t manage to break away from what has been plaguing the series all along.
In Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, you play the role of Neptune, as you probably would have guessed from the title. Victory takes place several years after the events of MK2. Neptune has been slacking on her duties, reverting back to a level one character. Coincidentally, she finds herself being transported to an alternate dimension where the console wars are just starting, and it is up to her to make sure she gets control of Gameindustri.
While the premise of the game sounds like a lot of fun, especially to video game fans, it fails to really take advantage of its unique setting and characters. Sure, the story isn’t all bad, and there is some fun to be had. The problem lies in the fact that there just isn’t enough substance for this long of a game. Every once in a while, you’ll catch a reference or innuendo that will bring a smile to your face. For example, the characters will “break the fourth wall”, and the first few times, it is rather amusing. However, those moments are few and far between, making the game drag between moments. Sometimes, the game tends to stick to punchlines far after the joke was told and laughed at. Using the earlier example, the game breaks the fourth wall constantly, and after the fortieth time you heard the joke, it gets old fast. This is unfortunate, especially when you consider the potential this game had to be charming. It almost seems to get lost in the endless amounts of dialogue. The end result is a very long and rather dull story, and after spending the 60+ hours to get through the game, it doesn’t seem worth the time invested.
Thankfully, there are some positive elements to this game. The combat system is actually quite good. It is a turn-based RPG, but there are some tactical elements that can make a big difference when used properly. Combat is not mandatory most of the time, but you can fight as much or as little as you like. It is a similar system to Final Fantasy XII or XIII; you’ll see enemies on the screen, and if you want to fight them, you just run up to them to engage in combat. If you want to avoid them, just make sure to stay out of their aggro. When you decide to engage in combat, you should remember that positioning is very important. If you can bunch enemies together, you’ll be able to hit all the enemies at once, improving your efficiency. However, the same tactics can be used by those you are fighting, so be sure to keep the party spread out.
What would a JRPG be without a little craziness thrown in? Luckily, Hyperdimension Neptunia doesn’t disappoint in that department, and it comes by the way of special moves. During any fight sequence, you’ll have your standard attacks, such as rush, break, or power attacks; however, the fun really gets turned up in the special move area. Here, you’ll be able to get your enemies washed away in a wave of stuffed animals or even fire Kenji Inafune rockets at your enemies. It gets rather bizarre, but that is half the fun of playing a JRPG; you never know what you are going to get. Other attacks include your HDD mode, which works like a summon mode for those Final Fantasy fans. It will transform your party into the much more powerful goddess forms. Finally, you can activate the EXE Drive, which is devastating to the enemy party. However, this mode takes a long time to recharge, so it is best used for the harder enemies.
Unfortunately, the bigger problems lie with the environments. They are extremely dull and repeat themselves when you move forward in the game. This gives the game a rushed feeling and is just lazy set design. When you expect your fan-base to lay out money for your game, you owe it to them to get it right and provide value to the customer. When a game reuses environments, it comes across poorly and kills any goodwill towards the game. While reusing environments is a big no-no, it fails to take top honors for the worst part of the game. That dubious honor goes to the quest system.
The quest system is, by far, the worst part of the game. It manages to ruin the entire experience. It is very poorly designed and it only dishes out the same boring, repetitive, incredibly-easy fetch quests or nonsense errands just to inflate the value of the game. In reality, it is a lazy and dishonest way to make you think you are getting more game than you really are.
All in all, Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory seems to bring the franchise one step forward, while taking a step back. It teases the fans of the series with a decent story and an excellent combat system. It also manages to frustrate the players when the game shows all the shortcuts the developers took. These lazy decisions hurt the value of the game overall. It isn’t a bad game by any stretch of the imagination; it just doesn’t elevate the franchise, and we wanted to see Victory do just that. With all the potential this game had to bring new JRPG fans into the fold, we are left wondering what could have been, and that is saddest part of all.
This review is based on a review copy of Hyperdimension Neptunia: Victory for the PlayStation 3 developed by Compile Heart / Idea Factory published by NIS America
- Excellent Combat
- Interesting Premise
- QUEST SYSTEM
- Dull Story Line