Hyperdimension Neptunia was a game with an interesting plot that was comical and entertaining with its alluded parodies to the gaming industry. The quirky dialogue, mischievous cast and repetitive dungeons were met with mixed reviews and fairly low review scores. NIS America has now brought the awaited sequel with Neptunia mk2 as an improvement of the original and to continue the latest JRPG project by Idea Factory and Compile Heart.
The story revolves around the younger sisters of the original characters: Neptune, Blanc and Noir, who suffered a bitter defeat at the hands of the ASIC, a group dedicated to reviving Arfoire. It is not known precisely what the time period is with “20xx” listed as the year. Neptune’s younger sister Nepgear, along with Uni, Noir’s sister, and Ram and Rom, Blanc’s sisters, team up to form the four goddesses and set out to rescue their siblings and save Gaminindustri. Many characters are back from the original to help the younger sisters who symbolize handheld gaming units in contrast to the gaming console personifications of their beloved older sisters.
Neptunia mk2 utilizes a real-time battle system with each character equipped with normal attacks and item usage that consume AP or Action Points. Switching to abilities will cost you SP or Skill Points with a variety of skills dependant on the party member. Hard Drive Divinity or HDD are your special attacks that deal heavy damage but require lots of Skill Points. A circular blue indicator marks the party member awaiting a command with their stats determining how quickly their turn comes around in battle. As you engage and fight your enemies, their GP or Guard Points lower, making them vulnerable and giving you a chance to quickly finish them off.
The developers have addressed complaints from the original title by removing random encounters with monsters now fully visible when you explore dungeons and other areas. Monsters alerted to your presence reveal a red exclamation mark and aggressively go after you. Catching them off guard gives you an advantage with pre-emptive attacks to further weaken them. Like the original, you can find hidden treasure by scanning the immediate vicinity.
Chirper, a clever parody of Twitter, is your communication hub to the latest dialogue and rumours from the local NPCs in the residing areas. Plenty of side quests are available in the Guild, and Shops are your ticket to synthesizing items after you acquire all the right ingredients. Armor and equipment can be found to boost your character’s stats that are much aligned as a standard RPG fixture. Lily Ranks reflect your relationship with your comrades that directly influence item synthesis: Hate, So-So, OK, Like and Love. Putting two characters together and winning battles in succession are key to boosting your Lily Rank.
Though the characters aren’t quite as intricate as the original, the changes made to the battle system by removing the auto-healing feature, dropping random encounters, and the inclusion of “Chirper” is a welcome one. It’s unfortunate that Item Synthesis is a little tedious with little to no gain, serving as a very poor motivator to frequently use it. The personalities of the younger sisters, or CPU candidates of their elder sisters, the Console Patrons, feel dull, predictable and uninspired in comparison to the original Neptunia game.
Visually, the game is decent but suffers from framerate drops and bland environments. Character designs range from mediocre to average at best, with the finest detail seen in the customization options for additional costumes and outfits. A few special attacks add a nice touch with the soundtrack being a suitable accompaniment to the game for the most part.
Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 is an improvement on the original that offers some fun gameplay elements unique to this sequel. While those new to the series might pass it over, it’s still a fun game that is both charming and enjoyable. It is not necessary to be familiar with the original game as mk2 will quickly bring you up to speed on the unfolding events. Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 is highly recommended for fans of the original and for RPG fans looking for an engaging, humorous and one-of-a-kind experience.
This review is based on a retail copy of Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 for the PlayStation 3 provided by NIS America.