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Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed Review

Never before have I played so many games based on the same characters, many of us have whinged about too many Mario games or Call of Duty games but over the past couple of years it feels like I have played around eight Hyperdimension games; thankfully they are not all that bad as the team at Compile Hearts seriously know when they are on to a good thing.

Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is another spin off from the core Hyperdimension Neptunia games, this time rather sensibly created with the PS Vita in mind, were for most of the recent releases on this Sony handheld, be they re-issues or new titles have found a new home, the style of gameplay perfectly suiting the smaller screen.

This all new adventure once again teams up the CPUs of Gamindustri on another lengthy quest, this time they are joined by their younger sisters and CPU Candidates in training and a couple of new characters. Now in the past Neptunia games have tried to be very subtle with their stories with plots revolving around piracy, pop bands and the game industry in general; this time however it feels a bit more blunt, especially when it comes to the new characters, Dengekiko and Famitsu, who, as their names imply are journalists currently on assignment by their mysterious editor to get some juicy stories on the CPU’s by offering them a series of quests to complete. The game is presented in the familiar Neptunia style with plenty of talking heads cut scenes that are as ever supported by an expert voice cast. The gameplay this time around moves away from the RPG turn based approach and is now, as the title hints at, a lot more action oriented, with the game feeling more like a 3D button bashing brawler akin to the Dynasty Warriors games.

Once all of the chatting and plot details are out of the way you are then free to go to battle, selecting two characters from any of the ten girls, each one having their own unique fighting style like Vert and her huge pike to Uni and her devastating laser rifle, though most of the attacks boil down to a simple combo of two attack buttons, light and heavy that can create a multitude of moves. Though only one girl is on screen at a time you are able to quickly switch between your characters with ease with a quick tap on the d-pad, allowing you to rest characters and utilize their powers. Aside from regular combos the girls have a decent assortment of special moves to unleash, triggered by holding the R shoulder button and then selecting the move of your choice like summoning a volcano that spews from the ground to the more classic EXE transformations that boost the girls’ powers for a short period of time. In previous titles there was always a tongue in cheek poke at the more risqué games out there, with lingering shots of the girls’ underwear in many compromising poses, here the game just throws caution to the wind with a new mechanic, Costume Break. Basically if you overuse the heavy attack or take too many hits from certain attacks the girls’ clothes will gradually wear away, eventually breaking and leaving them in just their underwear to battle in, reducing their defence considerably but doubling their attack output and EXE charge. It is a very silly addition and really does not add much to the game to the point where quite early on you can unlock unbreakable clothes.

The customisation element is nowhere near as in depth as previous games which is a slight shame as adding this would certainly add a lot more to it, instead items of clothing and weapons (amongst other things) can be earned in a variety of ways, be it collecting medals dropped by defeated enemies, levelling up characters or improving the Lily Ranking between the girls, where by playing with the same partner numerous times makes their team work much more effective.

Though the overall gameplay feels quite streamlined what really helps is just how good the game looks on the PSVita, with the CPU’s looking fantastic during battle, well animated and some smooth actions as they battle against a very interesting cast of enemies, that even though they do reuse a lot of the same models you can’t accuse Compile Heart and Idea Factory for slouching when it comes to the variety with giant whales, Tetris blocks, Pac-Man Ghosts and even killer Mario Pipes. This does seem to come at a cost though as the arenas you battle in tend to be quite small so do not go expecting the sprawling battlefields of the Dynasty Warriors games here.

Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is yet another great side project for the CPU’s of Gamindustri, it is not as in depth as the games it tries to mimic like Dynasty Warriors but it manages to do the basics well and as ever, the humour is very gamer focused.

Words by Ash Buchanan.

(Version Tested: PS Vita)


+ Looks great on the PSVita
+ Decent selection of characters to play as and level up


- A bit simplistic even for a 3D brawler

Edited On 28 May, 2015

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