Review by number
"One of a kind RPG that stands above the rest, and Create a Summon is revolutionary badassness!"
Hyperdimension Neptunia has saved the game industry from bucket loads of generic medieval rpgs, generic sci fi games and mountains of shooters. Hyperdimension Neptunia has more heart, creativity and entertainment which despite its low budget shortcomings, still looks and plays better than most games of its kind.
Of course, even the most unique rpgs cant win everyone's interest, but this review is here to let you know what it offers and you can decide from there if its right for you. First of all, The storytelling and the characters are brilliant, people with a heart can see how three dimensional the characters are and they prove that fact further as the story evolves. The cutscenes with the semi-animated artwork is beautiful and their breathing and facial expressions are very easy on the eyes. Their mouth is perfectly matched with the ENGLISH voice acting. Yeah Japanese voice acting is included but this is one of the few games where English dubs sound thousands of times better than the Japanese voices. It's hardcore true! Every voice matches the character perfectly.
Also, the character personalities are very human and realistic. They don't have one track minds like you see in most typical rpgs. They have their ups, downs, left and rights. And the script is PHENOMENOL! It's hard to guess what they'll say next, how they react, and HOW they say what they are about to say. Their speech patterns are very natural and very unique. Neptune, Compa, and IF each can't be described with a bunch of words, they are really complex and very cool, I tell ya. These well mannered and fun girls make life much brighter! Histoire included, is so ominous and awesome beyond description!
While the story has a comical side to it, it also has serious and deeper elements in the story besides things about piracy it also hints at some realities about the game industry. As the story progress, the focus shifts from one thing to the next, and the result is an adventure that questions the very existence of everything! Yeah there is much more to it than just little girls kicking ass in dungeons, speaking of which, the gameplay is great on various levels. Hyperdimension Neptunia is built around 4 Landmasses within a world, each Landmass could count as a world in itself, which it's own selection of floating islands that hold a dungeon to explore. The landmasses are 3-D and you can view them from all angles if you like. Each landmass has a kickass opening cinematic that has a lot of great eye candy and incredible music.
The Landmass screen allows you to press start to access your status/equip/custom menus that include options like language change, camera control, difficulty level, and so on (which can also be accessed in dungeons.) Exclusive to the Landmass screen are options like Shop (buy items, weapons and accessories). Explore (this is where you can unlock new dungeons/quests/ and trigger the next scenario cutscene and dungeon access related to the scenario.) and Search (used to select dungeons.) Explore is also used to select another landmass, this option lets you then use Search to select the dungeon that links the current landmass towards the nearby landmass. So travel from one landmass to another is basically traveling through a simple dungeon to get there.
Once you reach the point where you have access to the landmasses, you can travel to each of them anytime you want (this is also a good way to meet and recruit Nisa and Gust earlier. They provide Shares and Discount advantages. Shares is something needed to recruit 3 powerful characters later on.) Dungeons themselves are basically made up of different types of objectives (each the other exit, beat a boss, find certain items, or beat a number of enemies.) Dungeons are full 3-D and can contain treasure. Encounters are random, but bosses are typically visible. You can switch leader and control any character in a dungeon. A character can have 1 of 3 abilities: Hammer (break obstacles), Treasure (summon a beam of light that guides you in the direction invisible treasure is located.) and Bell (summon multiple waves of monsters. After beating them all, you can avoid random encounters for a certain number of steps, which is kept track by a visible bar on the top corner.)
Dungeons range from caves, factories and forests, to science labs, pirate ships, castles and other type of enviornments. As you travel in the dungeons, you notice each dungeon layout has a decent amount of exploration and nice details. The characters themselves look awesome and they have a unique personal animation if you let them stand there long enough. They also run and walk different. Their hair is well animated and flow naturally and they have good clothes physics, their eyes blink from time to time, you really can feel how much attention to detail has been added to these living anime characters. Their ability animates are cool too, whether smashing obstacles, ringing a bell, or summoning a ray of light to show the way.
Survival in dungeons is an important factor early on since you barely have the skills to heal up. One way to survive is to enter a dungeon, fight some battles, then exit the dungeon to fully restore everyone's HP. This is helpful to gain some levels and get a feel to show many battles the team can take before they need to recover. There is an item to escape battles as well as a shop item to escape dungeon, but in my experience, you never need to use those unless you get careless and overstay your visit in a dungeon. As the characters level up, they gain new fighting skills and item skills. Item skills costs a certain amount of bottles, as you progress, you will buy or collect 4 types of colored bottles. The green ones for example are helpful for basic types of healing skills. More advanced healing or curing skills may require more than one type of colored bottle, any item skill you highlight will show you those requirements. Also, as you level up, you will be able to allocate more points towards increasing the % a item skill will be used once the conditions are met.
Healing may be challenging at the beginning, but as the characters level up and you increase their item skill %, they will survive more easily and be able to last in dungeons and handle boss fights much better. You will discover that Hyperdimension Neptunia gets more fun and rewarding if you keep at it. Hyperdimension Neptunia doesn't require grinding as much as other RPGs, what balances the battle system is the fact that you are technically stronger than you realize with this fighting system. The battle system uses an offensive based fighting system that kicks so much ass!!!!! Besides equipping better weapons and bangles, you have a growing selection of attacks and badass special attacks to choose from. Each attack costs a certain amount of AP, and as you level up, you have more AP, and therefore can string more combos before their turn is over.
Defending and conserving AP is also useful, but overall, Hyperdimension Neptunia encourages kicking ass in many ways. Each character has their own unique attacks and special attacks. And this becomes even deeper when you factor in things like Elemental Bullets, R/W Disk, Combo Link, Switch, HDD Transformation and the ultimate super moves (which are like over the top limit breaks.) Elemental Bullets are the "magic spells" of Hyperdimension Neptunia. Besides special attacks, there are also advanced shooting skills like Charge Shot lv.3 that have their own advanced special effects based on the elemental bullet you selected. There are 5 types of bullets you collect and you have infinite ammo so don't worry. Fire, Earth, Wind, Ice and Neutral/Light. Each character has their own animations for shooting bullets. It's really badass I tell you. Casting elemental attack magic has never been this badass, and this is even more badass when you recruit the characters with more stylish shooting skills.
Oh yeah you can skip any ally and enemy attack animation with L2, this literally flips the battles into overdrive, but you'll miss out on the special effects, but it's still a great feature for those that want faster paced battles. The Combo customization system kicks ass, there are TONS upon TONS of possible button combinations to choose from, name, and assign attacks/skills/summons to them. Processor customization is for characters that can transform, new Processors (like new weapons) can change the appearance of their transformed state, but speaking of that, Hyperdimension Neptunia has a feature that most games lack, which are the HDD Transformations. CPUs like Neptune can transform into a ultimate version of themselves. Neptune as Purple Heart has a more mature voice, more badass appearance, and improved powers. Transforming cost AP too but just assign it to a combo you remember and with full AP, you'll be able to enjoy HDD Transformation goodness. The Transformation sequence is always fun to watch and you can skip it if you feel like it, but there is a lot of great awesomeness to it. Also all of Neptune's current special attacks look even better in HDD mode. There is an Ultimate attack obtained at a certain level that is presented differently depending on whether you are using their human form or HDD form, and that Ultimate attack has an extended version that occurs everytime it is used on a boss!
There is also another ultimate attack Neptune has but it costs about 100 AP and requires HDD form to use, but it's apocalyptic nature and insane power really makes it worth using from time to time. Now we move on to the R/W Disk, each character gets an R/W Disk that is basically Create your Summon, you can upload photos/images of anything from the internet, whether you download with the PS3 browser or upload them to photos another way, the right kind of format and sizes will always work, and with the Image editor you can resize them also. This is one of the hardcore and innovative things Hyperdimension Neptunia brings to the table. Just think about it, any person anything you see on the internet, you can make into a summon in Hyperdimension Neptunia, how badass awesome is that???? Extremely awesome! And the image doesn't appear just once, it appears at least twice and in multiple doses during the initial ultimaet summon elemental destruction! Summon Disk-level attacks are like extreme versions of the existing elements. Neptune has an Earth R/W Disk, IF has Wind R/W Disk, and Compa has Ice R/W Disk. So if you put someone like Chuck Norris on Compa's R/W Disk, Chuck Norris will appear and the energy of their badass will fuel the power of the massive blizzard attack!
There are also preset summons that can be obtained along the way, either by leveling or finding them in a quest (there is Space Harrier, Alex Kidd, and others). These preset summons have extra special animations, and can allow a character to use a ultimate summon element besides the one their R/W Disk has. (So if Neptune has a Fire summon, they can use the ultimate Fire element attack, which is freaking awesome.) All summon elements have exciting and incredible special effects. You can equip any summon they got to any button in any combo in their Combo customization menu.
Alright, so you start to learn some of the basics about some of the battle features, and wanna know how cool the battles are, they are totally badass. This isn't your typical menu driven rpg, and they give you MORE control over your party than those real-time RPGs. You shoot elements with X, R1/L1 is to change bullets (when you obtain more than 1 type), Triangle is your weapon attack and Circle is like an alternate physical attack. Neptune basically uses swords, IF uses claws and Compa uses a giant syringe. You can chain up to 4 attacks together and the HUD keeps track of the button inputs you made so far, it also displays what are the next attacks you can choose from in your combo (this also helps you memorize what button combinations does what. You configure this stuff, so you can make combos as simple or as complex as you WANT them to be! After chaining 4 attacks, you can style the combo cycle again, with another combo string, the same one, whatever you want. Just watch your AP cause that determines if the next attack/special can be used. The sound effects are badass. Each hit sounds POWERFUL and badass. And you can COMBO virtually as fast as your can press the buttons! There is more control and better feel in this battle system than others, with multiple ways to kick ass.
Hyperdimension Neptunia is a combination of old school dungeon design and new school customization possibilities along with fast travel. And a big thing is how rewarding it gets as you progress, the result is a massive selection of attacks, more badass special skills, better healing skills, more points for 100% item skill reliability, and much more. Also Hyperdimension Neptunia weapon designs as badass awesome, especially Neptune's arsenal. Almost each weapon is designed like it's some kind of legendary weapon in an RPG, there are huge swords, beam sabers, and stuff to get even after beating the final boss.
Alright and one of the kickass things you should know is that Hyperdimension Neptunia rewards players with great cutscenes in before and after every dungeon! It's a step above those grindy RPGs whether you go from dungeon and dungeon, wondering when the characters will interact again and a new cutscene will display more of the story. Hyperdimension Neptunia is filled with TONS of cutscenes and side events. Yeah the side events aren't all voiced, but they still have some kickass moments. And with cutscenes almost every step of the way in the main scenario, people get to learn more and understand and like the characters much better! By the time you reach the climax, you want it to continue!
And yeah Hyperdimension Neptunia includes two of the valuable rpg features, New Game+ (start over with all levels, items, skills, except recruited party members) and you have the option to just continue doing sidequests right before the final dungeon. I recommend not doing the sidequests early on, that gives you more to do at the height of the story before the final dungeon, and if gives the other 3 CPUs you can recruit more to do as well. Recruiting the other 3 CPUs can be tricky, but they are TOTALLY WORTH IT! They each have their own HDD transformation, R/W Disk, and unique attack animations and special attacks to learn! They also have their own Ultimate attack like Neptune does (I think all ultimate attacks cost about 50 AP. You'll know it when you see it, lol.) And their Ultimate attack also include and EXTENDED VERSION of the Ultimate that makes it million times more badass when used against a boss! And yes the CPU characters can be used in dungeons too. So by recruiting them, you have 6 usable party members instead of 3. And with the Switch command, you can swap out a battle character with another member in the back Formation. By recruiting them, you can put the SWITCH and FORMATION system to better use, and that does in a way make Hyperdimension almost feel like a new game. By the time you reach the final dungeon, you'll want to have Nisa recruited to start the tricky but reasonable Share process to earn Noire, Vert and Blanc's addition to the battle party! And they really kickass with tons of unique special moves and ways they fire their gun and kick ass! Yeah they have their own idle animations and dungeon walk/run animations too, as well of course full equipment, combo AND item skill customization!!!!
Also the Nisa and Gust DLC are totally worth it, and I'm sure Red and 5pb DLC will be worth it too! Nisa and Gust also include their own moves they can learn and have an Ultimate attack that is just as flashy as the Ultimate attacks the CPUs have!!! They also have english voices and give more uses for New Game+ as well. Getting Nisa and Gust raises the possible battle party members from 6-8, and if you get Red and 5pb also, that brings up the total selection of battle party members to 10!!!!! Also, they don't need to be placed in a Formation slot in order to use them in dungeon exploration! The character/leader switching system during dungeons allows you to switch to any character you have very easily. And yeah, Nisa and Gust have their own special idle animations too. You really can see the detail and quality put into them! Yeah using their playable DLC versions is as easy as downloading the DLC, then confirming the DLC when you launch Hyperdimension Neptunia, then in the shop, highlight the Gold icon next to the other character icons, and then highlight each ticket and press Right and X to purchase them (they cost zero in-game credits, this is just the DLC process to unlock Nisa and Gust for battle.)
So yeah add it up. an RPG that makes you feel more powerful early on, very unique characters with their own unique fighting styles and attack animations, fully customizable combo system, create your summon innovative feature allowing ANY image you upload (and made sure the format and size is supported.) , unique bullets system, the Break system to deal more damage on enemies, a Formation and Switch system that makes extra party members usable and swappable during battles, a Combo Link command that allows you to extend existing combos with some bonus AP, Transformation system with more eye candy and awesomeness to the battles. Freedom to use any character for dungeon exploration, 3 useful dungeon abilities, strategic survival system, as well as unique item skill healing/reviving systems (cause seriously, if you could heal manually with all the firepower you are receiving in this, it would be far too easy.).
Yeah as for difficulty shifts, some parts can be easy and some parts can be hard, but that balances itself out as you go further. Overall the difficulty shifts from hard to easy to hard, but it depends how you play, what difficulty setting you use, and strategies you decide upon. The Sound FX deserve praise cause you finally feel like you are kicking major ass in an RPG. The english voices are some of the best ever, there are MULTIPLE MUSIC tracks for dungeons, normal battles and boss battles, Awesome story with very likable characters and likable personalities. Great humor, great moral lessons, nice atmosphere, cool landmasses, plenty of challenging sidequests to discover, great rare items to obtain, alternate visible costumes/accessories, and much more!!!!!
There are great features included as well such as the badass Bestiary list (with 3-D models you can examine), Event Viewer, item viewer (includes visible dolls and other rare treasures), Tutorial archive, and much more!
The graphics deserve mention too, everything from the character models, animations, over the top special effects, 2-D cutscenes and body language with great lip synch, landmass design, dungeon design, transformation sequences, summon sequences, weapon designs, attack animations, ultimate cinematics, Menu Art design (great HUGE artwork of each character too) enemy and Boss designs looks great and gets better as you advance! Hyperdimension Neptunia is also very rewarding with XP, items, and great story pacing. Yeah even the best RPGs can be improved upon, but Hyperdimension Neptunia has already reached a level of heart, content, entertainment and customization that really makes its value shine unlike any other! It also goes to show the characters don't need to be 'badass' to kick major ass! Party members like Compa are nice and sweet and that is a good thing! Power comes in many forms and one would have to be a fool to underestimate a lady nurse in training!
The controls are as responsive as any quality RPG, and easy to learn by anyone! Hyperdimension Neptunia really is one of best RPGs that everyone should try out. At least one playthrough is worth it and afterwards I'm sure some hardcore fans won't mind mastering everything and everyone as well as having fun with New Game+ and using different setups and badass strategies. Just a tip is to have fun kicking ass with different ways, Hyperdimension Neptunia offers lots of great attacks and powers to kickass and ways to customize your combos and party members that you will become more and more surprised how much better it gets! Hyperdimension Neptunia really is one of a kind, and deserves the love and respect it has earned, while reminding everyone that a game doesn't need to be have a massive budget to be fun and have awesome fun characters that learn and improve their way of thinking. Even after the credits, just like you will remember Hyperdimension Neptunia, Hyperdimension Neptunia will remember you.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/14/11
Game Release: Hyperdimension Neptunia (Special Edition) (US, 02/15/11)
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