Hyperdimension Neptunia First Look

The console wars extend to this fantasy universe as we catfight our way through the Gamindustri.

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If you were to look at the basic premise of Hyperdimension Neptunia, it's a fairly straightforward dungeon-crawling Japanese role-playing game where you play as a heroine who is destined to save the world. Of course, with Idea Factory and NIS America involved, there's more to it than that. Quirky wouldn't even begin to describe this game, which is just bursting at the seams with well-endowed girls of all (under)ages. The story is set in the universe called Gamindustri, which is split into two worlds, one for the humans and another for the goddesses who each represent a gaming platform. Named Purple Heart, Green Heart, Black Heart, and White Heart, the CPUs (console patron units) have been fighting each other for ages. When one of them gets tossed into the human world and loses her memory, you take over and play as a transformed goddess named Neptune.

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A female voice named Histoire, who is a tome that has been imprisoned, guides you on your quest to find key fragments, rid the monsters that have started to appear, and ultimately save the world. You won't have to do this alone, however. When you fell out of the sky, you were nursed back to health by a lovely nurse-in-training named Compa, who eagerly tended to your wounds. To round out the party, you'll bump into a feisty treasure hunter named IF, and the three of you set off into other landmasses in the world to try to free Histoire.

The game is set up in such a way that you navigate to where you want to go via a menu, whether it's shopping, a new dungeon, a side quest, or a new landmass. Special events that progress the story can also be accessed here, where you'll watch the ladies' lightly animated portraits talk as they figure out what to do or bicker about the most random things. It's interesting that the male characters we've come across are only silhouettes with vague titles, so for those who are curious, it seems only beautiful anime girls are allowed to show their faces here. You can always replay events from your menu, as well as swap to Japanese-only voice acting for the purists out there.

Certain dungeons can be replayed with leaderboard rankings, but for the most part you'll explore these caves to level your characters and collect treasure. Some dungeons require that you beat the boss to continue, and sometimes you'll need to collect items or merely find the exit to get out. Compa has a Monster Call that you can use over a rune to summon special monsters; otherwise it brings up a few consecutive battles. If you win, your random encounters will stop for a while. Random battles take you into a turn-based arena where each character uses four-hit combos to attack. Using the face buttons, you can line up your own combos as long as you have enough action points to pull them off during your turn. Neptune can also transform into a powerful CPU (goddess) state, with a different set of skills to experiment with. Compa attacks enemies with a giant syringe that functions like a bazooka, whereas IF is fast and nimble with her close-range weapon. Before battle, you need to do some preparation in regard to healing. Instead of relying on items or spells, you need to set up each character's item skills that let them heal automatically in battle when their health reaches a certain threshold. Each time you heal, it consumes materials, so you'll need to keep an ample supply so that you don't run out. Your party is fully healed after each dungeon, and you can always restock the items you need before you venture off into the next area.

Transform into your CPU state for fancier moves.
Transform into your CPU state for fancier moves.

Regardless of whether all this estrogen is already appealing to you, the other fun aspect of the game is that it pokes fun at the video game industry as a whole. There are tons of game references to watch out for, from details like Neptune's D-pad hairclips to comments about a cute Chinese girl with big thighs fighting in the streets. Even if you do happen to be familiar with all the niche JRPG titles, there are still plenty of things that will make you raise an eyebrow or two, whether it's a potty-mouth goddess or the gratuitous crotch/cleavage shots.

While some scenes may be more visually appealing than others, there unfortunately isn't a ton of variety when you explore the many dungeons, and the backgrounds when you fight are rather bland. But the characters themselves and all the art during story events look and sound like a traditional anime, complete with bubbly, chirpy girls with big eyes and crazy-colored hair.

Be sure to check out the trailer and gameplay clips to see how it all comes together. Look for Hyperdimension Neptunia when it is released on February 15.

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