Game Review: Hyperdimension Neptunia (PS3)

Hyperdimension Neptunia is a typical turn-based Japanese RPG with a not so typical storyline and characters. The premise pokes fun of the video game business and its companies and consoles. A land called “Gameindustri” is ruled by four Goddesses, each one loosely representing a major game console maker (Wii, 360, PS3, etc.). One of these Goddesses, Neptunia, is cast down to the world below. Now as a human, Neptunia must use her transformation powers to defeat evil and unite the worlds in Gameindustri.

As you can guess from that premise, the game leaves lots of room for jokes and references in the text about nearly any kind of game. Everything from Street Fighter to Tetris, Dragon Quest and Space Invaders, gets referenced in this game. Even some of your attacks are based on video games like Fantasy Zone and Octomania (a little-known Wii puzzler). Most of the charm found in the game comes from the video game in-jokes and humor, as well as the game’s cute characters.

Instead of wandering around an overworld, you’ll do all your exploring through menus mostly. Shop for weapons and items, tweak battle options, and travel from location to location by sifting through menus. When it’s time to explore a dungeon and defeat monsters, you’ll tromp through 3-D hallways and corridors, searching for treasure and facing random enemy encounters.

When it’s time to battle, the game switches to your typical, turn-based battle screen with your characters on one side and the monsters on the other. Each button represents an attack, and you can combine and edit various button combinations to perform stronger attacks and even transform some of your characters into their more powerful Goddess form. Editing your combinations can be a bit tedious and confusing, but if you tinker with it a bit, you might be able to find a cool string of moves that seem to last forever.

Hyperdimension Neptunia isn’t without some problems and quibbles, though. The pacing of the battles is way too long, but luckily you can skip all the needless battle animations with the L2 button. Editing your combos can be tedious in the menus, and while there are tutorials, the game doesn’t show you how to do things very well. Also, the way you heal your characters feels a bit too randomized, I would’ve liked to have seen more control. And thanks to the menu system, sometimes goals and objectives can be a little unclear every now and then. Plus dungeon exploring and battles aren’t as exciting as the game makes them out to be. But if you’re starving for a humorous RPG with cute characters to play on your PS3, Hyperdimension Neptunia may fit the bill anyway. If you can, try to get the limited edition version, which comes with a hardcover artbook and cards!

Kid Factor:

Hyperdimension Neptunia is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence, Language, Partial Nudity, and Sexual Themes. Violence is pretty mild, enemies just disappear when defeated and there is no blood or grisly deaths. Most of the content that earns the T rating is the sexual innuendos and themes. The cast is all anime girls and most of them wear revealing outfits and some look nearly naked as they transform. Plus there are lots of sexual jokes in the text, albeit campy in an anime styled way. Even though most of the text has spoken voice, reading skill is still a must for wading through all the menus. Because of all this and the difficulty of the game, Hyperdimension Neptunia is best enjoyed by teens and older gamers who love RPGs and anime games.

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