(Import) Video Game Review: HyperDimension Neptunia Re;Birth1
Title (English): HyperDimension Neptunia Re;Birth1
Title (Japanese): 超次次元ゲイムネプテューヌRe;Birth1 (Choujijigen Game Neptune Re;Birth1)
Developer(s): Compile Heart/Idea Factory/Felistella
Publisher: Idea Factory (Japan)/Idea Factory International (North America and Europe)
Genre: Japanese Role-Playing Game
Platform: Playstation Vita
こんにちわみんなさん (Hello everyone!)
For those who don’t know, the Hyperdimension Neptunia series is about cute moe girls representing video game companies or consoles fighting against the forces of evil like pirates, copy-and-paste games, hackers, etc. In essence, a parody of the video game industry. They have made multiple games, with the first game coming out in 2009 in Japan and 2010 in North America and Europe. Despite less than stellar reviews for the series here in the West, it has gained a cult following of fans who enjoy the references to the video game industry, as well as the characters you play as. One of the biggest draws of the games for me, personally, is the art style. Aside from the whole moe theme, the art employed is gorgeous. There is just so much bright and vibrant colour in this series. It really takes on a life of its own. Each game has increased the popularity of the series, and last summer it even got an anime adaptation. If you want to know how that went, I have a “review” for it up on my blog.
The anime was a pretty good turning point for the series. It brought in new fans who had never heard of the series before. Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, the third game, had introduced a solid battle system that was praised even here in the West. I guess the developers figured: “Hey, we have a great system here. Why don’t we go back and fix the old games with this system?” There are two remakes: this one here, HyperDimension Neptunia Re;Birth1, which is a remake of the first game, and HyperDimension Neptunia Re;Birth2: Sisters Generation, which is a remake of the second game mk2 (I am currently playing through Re;Birth2 as of this review). While mk2 had a decent battle system that was improved upon in Victory, the original game was terribly flawed. Terrible music (aside from the awesome opening), awful gameplay, and a slideshow framerate rendered the game unplayable for me. It’s a shame, since this game probably has the most references in all of the games, and it was built upon the premise of the “console wars”. So, when a remake was announced, I was very excited to get around to playing it. I was so excited, I couldn’t wait for its North American release. A month and a half before it was announced for the West, I had already imported the game. This was my first imported game and I put my Japanese language skills to the test in this game. さて、始まるぞ！ (So, let’s get started!)
Note: My Japanese translating ability isn’t perfect, so I might have misunderstood some parts of the story. There were a couple of times when I had no idea what was being said until something happened. I apologize in advance if I get some parts of the game wrong.
The story starts off with the four goddesses, Purple Heart (Neptune), Black Heart (Noire), White Heart (Blanc), and Green Heart (Vert), fighting each other in the heavens above the world, called Gamindustri. The four are locked in eternal battle as none of them can gain a clear advantage over the other. Green Heart finally proposes that three of the goddesses focus on one to finally end the stalemate. A mysterious voice tempts Black Heart, White heart, and Green Heart to focus down Purple Heart. The three of them take out Purple Heart and she falls from the sky and reverts back to her human form, Neptune. While unconscious, a being named Histoire speaks to her. Histoire is the keeper of records in Gamindustri, and she wishes to be freed from the seal placed on her by Magiquone (Arfoire in English). To do this, Neptune must gather four key fragments scattered through the four countries. Upon waking up, Neptune can’t remember anything about being a goddess or what she was doing. Compa finds her and takes care of her injuries. After meeting up with IF, a girl who is on quests for Planeptune’s guild, the three of them encounter Magiquone. After Compa protects Neptune from Magiquone’s copying attack, they manage to drive her off and they find a key fragment. Histoire tells Neptune she must gather the rest of the fragments from the other countries.
During the course of the story, you meet the other goddesses in their respective countries, who all have problems of their own to deal with. Since Neptune has no real idea of who she is, and she needs the key fragments, she helps out the other goddesses with their country’s issues in exchange for potential information about the fragments. Eventually they join Neptune on her journey, along with other human characters. The story is often told alongside characters’ development. It’s a nice split between the two as Neptune casually interacts with the others with no memories of their past fights. The story has a couple of twists to keep you interested, but the outcome is fairly predictable.
Admittedly, the story of these games aren’t the most epic stories you will encounter in the world of gaming. However, as a parody series, story shouldn’t be emphasized too much. The story is decent enough, there’s a couple of twists, and two endings to go for.
The gameplay is split between visual novel-style event scenes, and RPG combat. The event scenes are the game’s way of telling the story and how the characters interact with each other. The game uses a visual novel-style during this part with 2D models of the characters talking to each other. The event scenes could advance the story, or they could be side conversations that the characters have with each other that usually has some kind of humorous element or a reference in it. A lot of this game is dialogue that you read and/or listen to so how well one deals with them depends on the person. These event scenes could last anywhere from thirty seconds to ten minutes. Break out the snacks for those ten minute ones. Depending on how much you like the characters, these scenes can be fun or a little boring. There never is really a dull moment with these characters though.
The RPG combat is fairly standard at first. Attacks are broken up into three categories: ‘Rush’, ‘Power’, and ‘Break’. ‘Rush’ attacks are weak but, have more hits and fill up the EXE Drive Gauge faster. ‘Power’ attacks are… well… more powerful. ‘Break’ attacks are moderately powerful and lower the enemy’s Break gauge. When the Break gauge is drained, they take more damage. The EXE Drive Gauge allows for powerful special attacks to be used on an enemy. This kind of system allows for some creative thinking and planning on what kind of attacks you want to use in any given situation. There are also SP Skills you can use. These are powerful attacks or support abilities you can use to help aid you in combat.
Quests help you get items, equipment or System Files, which are used to give you various game enhancements. The Remake System which uses these System Files, can give you difficulty levels, powerful monsters to fight, increased drops in dungeons, or even new characters. Quests also enable you to alter Shares, which affects which ending you get. Quests get you to either hunt down specific monsters, or collect certain items. There’s not a whole lot of quest variety, and working to alter Shares can get a little tedious, although it’s fairly straight-forward.
Depending on the difficulty level you play at, the game can be difficult at times, especially with some of the later bosses. The event scenes, depending on how much you like the characters, can be a lot of fun to listen to. Overall, the gameplay is fun. It has a bit of variety and strategy to it.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the first things that appealed to me with this series, was the art style. The backgrounds and the characters during the event scenes are bright and colourful. The Vita’s OLED screen only made it look better as everything pops out. The backgrounds are well drawn, and there is also a gallery that you can look at whenever you please. The world itself looks alright, but it’s nothing too special. As a fan of the series, I noted with dismay that they have recycled the same dungeons from previous games once again. I mean, it’s easy for me to know my way around any dungeon I enter, but it would have been nice to have some more variety. The only new dungeon is the final one, and it does look nice. There are also CG scenes in the game. These are mostly used for big events, but also for fan service. This series is pretty high on fan service, but it’s not that bad in this game.
The music in this game contains a lot of past music tracks from previous Hyperdimension Neptunia games. The soundtrack from this series usually contains a lot of upbeat, light-hearted musical backgrounds alongside a few dramatic ones for the battle scenes and intense parts of the story. Re;Birth1 also contains a few tracks from Victory, which had the honour of being helped by famed Final Fantasy composer, Nobuo Uematsu. The opening theme of the game, ミラクル！ぽーたばる☆ミッション (Miracle! Portable☆Mission), is done by the singer, nao, as is all openings in this series. This opening is, personally, my least favourite in the series but I like all the songs done by her so far. The ending theme, ミライボタン (Mirai Button), is done by Afilia Saga. Afilia Saga seems to be the new go-to for the endings of this series, having done the endings for Victory, the anime, and now this game. This is one of my favourite songs from the series, and my favourite song done by Afilia Saga so far.
I’ve always found the voice acting of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series to be pretty good. A couple of my favourites are Kana Ueda as IF, and Asami Imai as Noire. They help bring a more serious tone of voice to a series populated with moe voices. There are a couple of annoying voices like Compa and Neptune. Neptune is annoying on purpose because that’s who her character is, so I guess it’s okay. Rie Tanaka, who voices Neptune, is able to deliver two different voices for her. Neptune in human form is carefree and energetic, while her goddess form is far more serious.
The presentation of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series has always been high on appeal for me and this game is no exception.
If you fancy yourself as someone who knows video games, and you like JRPGs, put your knowledge to the test and see how many references you can uncover. The series as a whole isn’t for everyone. You do have to deal with some fans ervice. However, I think the games are overlooked quite a bit. With the Vita getting all sorts of Japanese game releases, if you’re a JRPG fan, keep your eye on this one. It’s a series that is cute, funny, and also has good gameplay to back it up. If you’re a current Hyperdimension Neptunia fan, it’s well worth it to pick this up, especially if you haven’t beaten the first game. Even if you have, it’s great to see the vast improvements that have been made since the first game’s release.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 will be released on August 26th 2014, both physical and digital, for North America. Europe gets the short end of the stick: August 27th 2014, digital only. Idea Factory International says that a Limited Edition will be available, but have yet to make an official statement on what it contains and its price.
また後で (See you later!)
I am a history major in university, but I am planning on taking a minor in Japanese studies, which includes learning the Japanese language.
Gaming Preferences: Any kind of RPG, Nintendo games, simulation games, strategy games
Anime Preferences: Slice of life, comedy, romance, drama, school
I also have my own blog which I run separate from this site. Find it by clicking on my name above.