Year on year, one thing is for certain, there is bound to be a JRPG of some description released to fill in the empty January release schedule and this year it falls to !f Idea Factory, ready to fill in the gap with a port of one of their more popular PS3 titles, Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2, updating it for the PS Vita with all new content and an new title, Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2: Sisters Generation
This JRPG is set in the world of Gamindustri, where cities are looked over by godlike CPU's who gain their powers from those that worship them. As ever with Hyperdimension games, the creative team like to keep the story relevant, with previous swipes at manufactured pop bands, the console wars and this time it is all about piracy, more specifically the illegal copying and selling of games. In Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2: Sisters Generation we find the world of Gamindustri and its CPU’s in dire straits with them all being imprisoned by a rival group called ASIC looking to expand their powers by tricking the inhabitants of Gamindustri to copy games and worship an ancient being known as Arfoire instead, making the CPU’s lose their powers and get defeated by ASIC goons. With each city now in danger of being overrun by ASIC it is down to the younger generation and the CPU's in training, hoping to become as powerful as their sisters, rally together and save their sisters and take down ASIC and Arfoire once and for all before their final plan comes into fruition.
Having played a fair amount of JRPG's over the years I have come to expect certain traits from the genre, long winded talking head cut scenes, stories that drag on for far too long and lots of underwear shots. Neptunia surprised me, as even though it has lots of girls in compromising positions and a story that does go on a little too long, the dialogue throughout is snappy and entertaining, with a story that manages to avoid the usual clichés and keeps the player entertained throughout.
What also helps Neptunia stand out from the never-ending flow of JRPG games is its battle system, an interesting turn based system with some elements of tactical planning that is very easy to get used to, though thanks to the in game tutorials it can seem a little foreboding as it throws so much info at you in the first few minutes of the game. The classic turn based mechanics are supported by a solid selection of special moves, with Neptunia being very fond of gauges, the HP, SP and EXE bars constantly in need of refilling; HP and SP are the usual health and special power bars, using items or a healer to boost them leaving the EXE which is a little different. Using the customisable combo attack system you are able to adjust your tactics on the field, using certain attacks to break the enemies guard, dish out the most pain or boost EXE, which as it fills unlocks even more moves.
Starting with only a few characters, after a while more join your cause to the point where is does feel a little overcrowded, dropping in far too many new characters to choose from. For the majority of battles you will be in charge of four characters in the battle arena however you can also link to another four via the Coupling system, which depending on their Lily Rank offers boosts and even more special powers. Another benefit of Coupling is that all eight characters gain benefits of levelling up so even if not in direct battle, they will slowly unlock even more specials and new moves, a sensible mechanic that makes it easier to switch around characters to suit the battle ahead.
Though I found the story to be a little too long, there is loads to get on with away from the main plot including a guild that offers bounties and sets of plans to collect and create that modify the dungeons, changing items and adjusting the difficulty of the monsters and though they seem more like a series of side mission these are essential as the game gets hard very quickly, requiring you to take on these missions just to level your players up and give you a fighting chance, though the game does its best to stop you with a few too many multiple boss fights, making it hard to plan ahead.
Keeping the story entertaining is a great vocal soundtrack with a fair percentage of the game supported by a decent cast of voices. Visually the game is what to expect from Neptunia, well drawn characters and some strong 3D animations and even though there is a little too much of the same enemies and locations, they all look great on the PS Vita. Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2: Sisters Generation is another strong console port from PS3 to PS Vita, managing to cram all that was great about the Hyperdimension Neptunia games into a portable version.
Loads to customise.
Fun and enjoyable story.
The tutorials can at times overcomplicate the game.
Reviewed by Ash - Platform - PS Vita