I’ve been craving a newer JRPG recently for my PS3, and I heard some people talk about this game, so I decided to give it a go. I’ve never played any of the other games in the franchise (as far as I know this is the third game in a series), but I was told this was fine as a jumping off-point. Released in the US on March 21, 2013, by the developers Compile Heart and Idea Factory, Hyperdimension Neptunia V looks by all measures to be the generic JRPG I was searching for.
I’ll just throw this out right away. This is not the kind of game I’d ever want to play in front of another human being. The fan service in this game has the all the subtlety of a freight train. Personally, I don’t really mind that, but it’s one of those games that’s just embarrassing to play in front of or with other people. Hell, it was somewhat embarrassing to go to a store and buy. But all of that isn’t really anything against the game; it is unashamedly mostly about the fan service. And hey, it does it pretty well!
The setting behind Neptunia is a cute one, filled with tons of little references. In this world called Gameindustri, there are 4 warring factions. Planeptune, Lastation, Leanbox, and Lowee. They’re based on the gaming industry today (Lastation = Sony, Leanbox = Microsoft, Lowee = Nintendo), and are constantly battling for dominance in the world to be the most popular. There are tons of NPCs and enemies and skills that reference other games (such as the face of Keiji Inafune in an attack, or Solid Snake as an NPC), and it’s definitely an incredibly charming setting. You play as Neptune, a CPU of Planeptune. A CPU is kind of like the guiding force or leader of a faction. As Neptune, you and her other CPU friends (for warring factions all the faction CPUs are actually quite friendly with each other) go out to vanquish evil or something to that effect. To be honest, it’s much more whimsical than that.
For example, sometimes certain characters won’t let you slack off. So, as Neptune, you and her friend Plutia go off through dungeons to the town of Lastation, so you can take a nap away from prying eyes who want you to work. Oftentimes the motivations and reasoning behind characters are quite whimsy like that. So as far as a plot goes, there’s nothing spectacular. If anything, it feels more like a slice-of-life or comedy anime, broken up by bits or RPG gameplay. Sometimes Neptune wants to take a nap, sometimes Neptune just wants to visit her friends, things like that are always happening in Hyperdimension Neptunia V. It’s cute, and there’s a lot of comedy, so I have no problems with it. Honestly, this is my first time playing a game as totally silly as this one, and it’s been a lot of fun.
As far as the actual gameplay goes, it’s not anything to write home about. Battles take place, in standard RPG-fashion, on their own screen. The game goes in turn-based order, depending on your character (and the enemy’s) Agility stat. Each character also has a MOV stat, which determines how large their circle of movement is. Sometimes enemies will lie beyond this circle, so it can be important to have high move at times. When it’s your turn, you run up to the enemy and have several options available to you. You can either attack (which launches into something of a combo sequence depending on how you want to fight the enemy), cast spells, use EX skills, transform, change character, or use items. Positioning is actually fairly important as it can determine how many enemies you can strike in your combo. Also, if you leave your character grouped too close together, enemies can also strike multiple characters in one attack.
The RPG elements of the game are woefully generic. They’re fun enough, but not addictively enjoyable compared to something like Tales of Graces. I think the most enjoyable part of this game stems from the fun and cute atmosphere of the title, from setting to dialogue. Additionally, all the playable characters are cute girls with cute transformations. There’s even a bunch of ways to dress up your characters… Unfortunately most of these ways cost too much money in the early game, but I”m looking forward to accessing that feature in the near future. I think one of the most interesting and unique features is the ability to apply custom textures to the characters’ HDD forms. It’s a bit of an odd feature, but essentially if you modify the correct template for the HDD form clothes, you can take your own image and superimpose it on the body of the girls’ HDD forms. It’s a wonderfully original feature and some of the costume designs on the internet are actually very interesting and well-done.
I’m nowhere near completed with this game before, but as far as I’m concerned this game is pretty much everything I was looking for. It’s a fun little generic JRPG, with a hugely quirky atmosphere. The combat is slightly above bland level, but makes up for it with fun dress-up mechanics and funny dialogue and character interactions. Leaving the Japanese audio track in the US release is wonderful too, since Plutia has the delicious Hanazawa Kana voice~. Definitely not a shining example of the genre, but another fun title for any JRPG fans.
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