Monday, July 10, 2017

Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 (PS3)


Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 is a JRPG and the second game in the series.  It introduces the siblings of three out of the four main characters from the first game.  Big warning though is that the game itself and the humor are targeted towards a specific audience and thus the majority of people will think it's weird or horrible.  The Hyperdimension series focuses on game consoles personifications, with cities based on the major consoles such as Lastation (PlayStation), Lowee (Wii), Leanbox (Xbox) and Planeptune (Saturn).  There are up to 12 playable characters within the game.  The plot is simple with no surprises.  The characters from the first game, each a Console Patron Unit (CPU) in each major city, has been captured.  The antagonist Arfoire has supporters throughout the world causing havoc unimpeded, with people starting to lose faith in the CPUs.  Three years after the CPUs go missing, the sibling of Neptune, named Nepgear, is rescued and sets out on a journey to round up the other siblings to save the CPUs and in turn, the world.  The game has heaps of text in cutscenes and they are mostly uninteresting which makes it a chore to read through.

The story is mainly told via character portraits (either their 3D models, or 2D artwork, not sure why they decided to be inconsistent and do a mixture).  Occasionally, there are real time cutscenes but the lip syncing is off and the framerate feels choppy.  The game boasts 8 separate endings but getting all of them is a massive grind and if you're not prepared, then it will require multiple playthroughs.  This is also true if you want to get 100% in the game since once you finish all the endings, it's just grinding for levels.  Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 has a turn-based battle system, with the turn order shown at the top of the screen.  During each turn, characters can move around the field and you align your character that has a hitbox in front of them to attack enemies.  This adds a strategic element to space characters wisely otherwise you can easily die from area of effect attacks.  Your party is comprised of four characters, and any additional playable characters can be partnered to your active party for bonus effects such as increased defence, or increased experience.

Your party's attacks are split into three types:  Triangle attack focuses on number of hits, Square deal heavy damage, and X whittles down Guard Points (GP).  All enemies have a HP bar and GP bar.  On some enemies, attacks don't damage HP much until GP is down to zero (Guard Break), in others, GP doesn't make much of a difference.  You can mix and match the attack types within your combo during your turn as characters can string together combos of up to four hits.  However, whether you're able to depends on Ability Points (AP) remaining for the character.  All actions apart from running around the field use AP.  AP recovers each turn and you can store AP from one turn to be used in the next which is useful for unleashing many attacks at once, this is because you can keep attacking as long you have AP remaining.  Even item usage uses AP so you have to be careful and plan ahead when it comes to your turn.  To overload the player even further, there are Spell Points (SP), which, naturally, is used for special moves.  Once again, these recover a set amount each turn and can even save them from one encounter to the next.

Unfortunately, and this is a staple of the series, the game itself feels very generic from the dull graphics to the uninspired dungeons to the recolored enemies.  Dungeons are literally cut and pasted, they just have different names but the map structure and the environments are exactly the same, no joke.  The same goes for the enemies, the game beings to reuse both dungeons and enemies by the second chapter.  Considering the game has up to eight chapters, that's really disappointing.  On the plus side, the artworks that are presented from time to time are really nice and there's plenty of fan service although not all of it is very well done, the fan service is more cliched than satisfying.  Enemies roam around the environment so you can choose whether to engage them or not.  The game is generally easy enough except for the few bosses which can wipe you out if you're not prepared.  Losing means reloading your last save which is annoying.  A major sidequest is the Shares mechanics, whereby each major City can own a certain amount of shares, which represent people's faith in that city's CPU.

The number of Shares owned by each City will affect the endings that you would get.  Shares are usually affected via completing quests, which are all either item-fetching or monster-slaying.  You can repeat quests as much as you like but they're boring and draining.  The game's structure causes it to be repetitive as you watch scenes, then go to another place to watch more scenes, enter and complete the short dungeon, defeat the boss to further the story via more cutscenes, and then repeat.  However, once you get into the rhythm, it's not so bad.  It's a fairly short game since it takes around 10-15 hours to finish the first ending, and then probably another 10-15 hours to complete the rest of the endings and grind to Level 99, thereby earning all the Trophies.  Overall, Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 at first glance is a terrible game; it's generic and oftentimes feel lazy.  However, at its core, there are some neat mechanics and genuine fun to be had.  If you're starving for JRPGs and don't mind branching out from the powerhouses such as Final Fantasy, Persona and Tales, then Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 can grab your attention for a few hours at least.

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