Hyperdimension Neptunia Review

This hypersexualized role-playing game degrades the console war with questionable gameplay mechanics, choppy animation, and some truly awful music.

by

Hyperdimension Neptunia begins with a promising premise: It personifies each of the major systems in the so-called "console wars," lending each its own personality and powers. But if you're expecting an amusing deconstruction of the video game industry, prepare to be disappointed. Instead, Neptunia's premise is a thin excuse for a role-playing game that revolves around hypersexualized young girls. Thus, key characters amount to little more than disturbing dolls wielding such weapons as a giant syringe. Characters like IF (short for Idea Factory) and Compa (Compile Heart) have their own look, but otherwise, they're almost completely devoid of personality, existing only as depressing stereotypes of vapid, sexy cuteness.

Though there are jokes about gaming, they mostly appear as one-off references. The lead protagonist is Neptune, named for the Sega console that would have combined the Genesis and the 32X; the main villain is named Arfoire (a play on the R4 flash cart that brought with it rampant piracy); and developer Idea Factory has licensed images from classic Sega properties, like Fantasy Zone for certain attacks. It all comes across as rather empty though. Attaching a name like Neo-Geo Front to a featureless box of a dungeon does not make for a clever reference; not when that dungeon has absolutely nothing in common with SNK's console.

Unfortunately, the Neo-Geo Front is hardly an exception to what becomes a parade of paralyzingly boring dungeons. Neptunia's structure revolves around searching for new areas on an overworld map and then diving into a dungeon to accomplish one of three objectives: find an exit, kill a boss, or kill a set number of enemies. Dungeons can typically be completed in less than 10 minutes, and there are even leaderboards that rank the fastest completion times. Nevertheless, they can be a dreadful slog, especially when trying to fulfill a monster quota. There is a monster bell item that will draw enemies directly to you; but more often than not, you will simply run around in circles grinding for enemies.

The combo system that serves as the backbone of the gameplay does little to mitigate the boredom of the dungeons, but it does have its moments. It provides four attacks that a character can link together until her action points hit zero. There's some strategy to developing a good combo, and you can switch between characters to link combos together. Stringing together attacks to create particularly damaging combos can be immensely satisfying. Like many elements in Neptunia, though, the combo system can be problematic. It's not well explained or well presented, leaving you to try to parse the confusing tree of buttons for yourself. There is eventually a eureka moment, but it takes some patience to arrive at it. Even more obtuse is the bizarre healing system. Rather than being able to use spells or items, Neptunia relies on randomly activated skills for healing. These skills typically only activate after reaching a certain hit-point threshold, and even then, they might only work half of the time. The only way to make these abilities more reliable is to pour skill points into them, but it takes quite a while before you have sufficient points to get up to a 100 percent activation rate. It's most frustrating when characters get knocked down to 10 hit points because it then becomes impossible to heal them. The only thing you can do is switch them out in a combo and try to keep them away from subsequent attacks.

All of Neptunia's irritations are hardly mitigated by the presentation. While the cel-shaded characters look fine, they often look like they're skating as they pass in front of ugly backdrops. The animation is slow and choppy, and the music is painfully repetitive. The same three synthesized notes play in every single dungeon, and they persist even during battles. After a while, they begin to feel like a dentist's drill in your head, even when you're not playing the game.

References to games like Fantasy Zone are amusing but hollow.

Put simply, Hyperdimension Neptunia is a bad game. Even the unique ability to create a summon using a picture saved on the PlayStation 3's hard drive is disappointing; cool as it is to call in a Gundam for an attack, the ability costs far too many action points for far too little damage. It's one missed opportunity among many. The "console war" could have been a hilarious tribute to the hobby and all of its excesses. But alas, the dungeon exploration is painfully repetitive, the presentation is terrible, and the healing system is just plain irritating. Don't be taken in by the cute premise--avoid this game at all costs.

The Good
Building combos can be rewarding
The Bad
Characters are disturbingly sexualized caricatures of young girls
Visuals are choppy and poorly animated
Music is so repetitive that it verges on painful
Story does little to build on promising premise
Random healing system is irritating and poorly executed
3
Bad
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11 comments
jordanakajay1
jordanakajay1

One of the worst reviews i have ever heard. I never comment, but today is the day. Utterly redundant and shamefully biased the review Kat did of this great rpg. Go buy the game if you are at all interested in the game ignore this review and you will thank me later. 

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

As a game it's just horrendous. But considering it was quite fun and that from the moment you see the cover you know what you are buying, well... Gave what it promised; which is more than what you get from most of the games in the market nowadays.

xGamePlayerx19
xGamePlayerx19

planning on getting this in the near future to see how it is and if i like it, seeems like solid rpg to pass the time if anything.

istuffedsunny
istuffedsunny

It's a bad game and I can say this as someone who doesn't care about Mass Effect or Elder Scrolls. The only people enjoying Neptune are those obsessed with anything Japan and a very, very tiny group of actual Japanese people.

MidoriKaze0
MidoriKaze0

Honestly, i find this game to be very good. the healing system can be worked with if you are somewhat patient. i got enough points to do 100% chance on heal within 3 hours of starting the game, and there are skills to heal when you switch and such. Most of Kat's complaints like skating and shading are common in many high rated games in this genre (ie: Trinity Universe) .Furthermore, the story does pick up further in (there's some character development too), but considering that Kat viewed 100% skill activation as being far into the game, she likely did not actually give the game a chance after seeing the wardrobe. It truly does seem like Kat is just offended. I'd give it a 8.5/10.

SoraBoy124
SoraBoy124

Man this game is awesome I dont know what she is talking about.

orbit1star
orbit1star

If this is reverse psychology it's working. I'm probably going to end up buying this because of all the whining in the review.

louie_cloud
louie_cloud

By Kat Bailey oh a girl reviewing a fan service anime,no wonder it has low score

ArcticNinjaXXI
ArcticNinjaXXI

After reading this, I actually went out and bought this game. I'm glad I did, cause it's actually not as bad as the highly offended Kat Bailey and her opinions made it out to be. I'm enjoying it quite a bit. Funny how this review doesn't point out problems like how often this game freezes.

freeman_reigns
freeman_reigns

@istuffedsunnyA pretty large group, considering they made two sequels.


Also, this is obviously a niche game that would probably only appeal to hardcore JRPG fans and/or moe anime fans. It deserves to be reviewed by someone who actually has some interest in this sort of thing rather than someone who comes across as a bit of a butthurt feminist and lacks any real constructive criticism.

edpeterson
edpeterson

@istuffedsunny What does Mass Effect or Elder scrolls have to do with that? Those are more Western action RPG's, not JRPG's. Totally different types of games!

Hyperdimension Neptunia More Info

First Release on Feb 15, 2011
  • PlayStation 3
Hyperdimension Neptunia is a fantasy role-playing game in which players take the role of Neptune and follow her quest to save the captive Histoire.
7.4
Average User RatingOut of 288 User Ratings
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Developed by:
Idea Factory, Compile Heart
Published by:
Idea Factory, NIS America
Genres:
Role-Playing
Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
Teen
All Platforms
Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence, Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes