Idea Factory has brought over Compile Hearts’ PS Vita remake of the original Hyperdimension Neptunia to North America. After spending several hours playing through the humorous, self referential JRPG we’re finally ready to render our verdict. Should you shell out your hard earned cash for the latest trip to GamesIndustri or should Neptunia’s latest remain on store shelves? Read on to find out…
Set in the fictional world of GamesIndustri Hyperdimension Neptunia: Rebirth’s story revolves around the main protagonist Neptune, whom is one of the four goddesses of the land, and her quest to regain her lost memories. Each goddess represents one of the major video game consoles in the seventh generation, in fact their major conflict is even referred to as the “console wars”. The world of Hyperdimension Neptunia is littered with references to other videogames, whether it’s the Pac-Man ghost “Clyde” showing up as an enemy or riffs on popular game titles becoming equipable powers there are a number of different allusions for keen eyed players to find.
The Hyperdimension Neptunia series has seen several improvements since the first entry launched in 2011. Thankfully Compile Heart has brought over several of the improvements found in more recent games like Hyperdimension Neptunia: Victory and Hyperdimension Neptunia MK.2 . These changes include a revised battle system, a guild mechanic (ala Monster Hunter) and the brand new “remake system”, all of which gives even experienced players a reason to pick up this latest title.
Unlike the original game Rebirth’s battles do not take the traditional JRPG formula where all members of your party stand in a line and take their turns. Instead party members are free to move around 3D space within a pre-defined ring and can set off attacks using one of the face buttons. This gives battles a bit of an action-rpg vibe, considering that you can chain multiple hits together forming a combo, but since both party members and enemies take turns attacking one at a time in pre-defined order battles are really a combination of both styles. This hybrid style gives you enough time to consider tactics, party position and other factors while still delivering a satisfying oomf when you land a devastating combo.
Returning players may be wondering if the narrative in Neptunia: Rebirth has changed at all with its appearance on Sony’s handheld. While maintaining the same basic story structure, told through visual novel style vignettes between major battles, the developers at Compile Heart have removed some characters and introduced some major changes to the story this go around. This not only keeps things fresh but also lends itself to the irreverent nature of Neptunia’s writing. The writing deserves special mention because it hit a lot of high points during the ten or so hours we played through the game. If you frequent internet forums, social media or have been a gamer for a long while there’s a lot of laughs to be had in Neptunia: Rebirth1.
If you’re looking for more challenge outside of the main story Neptunia: Rebirth1 offers a number of features to aid you in your search for replayability. One of the first of these available is the guild system which allows you to accept a number of different missions based upon the different dungeons that you have unlocked. A good number of these missions boil down to “kill X monsters” or “collect Y rare drops”, so they can feel a little unnecessary but they can assist you with preparing for major story battles. Another feature introduced in Rebirth1 that extends the length of the game is the “remaster” system. By collecting raw materials from dungeons, and schematics from NPCs, you are able to add new dungeons to the map, unlock rare items and re-mix existing dungeons with harder enemies. While unlocking these remix options are easy enough, there is a cap to the number of remix options that can be turned on. As you progress through the game you’ll unlock more “memory keys” that enable you to turn on more remix options simultaneously.
In the end it’s hard not to recommend Hyperdimension Neptunia: Rebirth1 if you are a fan of the series or just looking for a new JRPG to play on your Vita. While playing the game for review we did hit a few frustrating difficulty spikes that wiped out our entire party. These moments can be frustrating but the colorful graphics, absolutely hilarious writing and likeable characters makes the game pretty easy to recommend. If you’ve beaten all three of the console releases Rebirth1 is still strongly recommended due to the changed story, guild system and remaster options that extend the amount of gameplay. Don’t expect to beat Neptunia on your ride to work, this is definitely a game that requires a substantial time investment.
Publisher Idea Factory provided Broken Joysticks with a digital voucher for Hyperdimension Neptunia: Rebirth1 for the purpose of review. The game is valued at $39.99 (CDN).