Title: Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory
Release Date: March 21, 2013
Publisher (Developer): NIS America (Compile Heart and Idea Factory)
ESRB Rating: “Teen” for Fantasy Violence, Language, Partial Nudity and Sexual Themes
Oh Neptune, you just can’t keep out of trouble, can you? In Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, you lost your memory and had to search for it while also fighting piracy… sorry, Arfoire… and uniting the other CPU Goddesses. In Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2, you and the other console goddesses were caught by Arfoire, trapped in the Gameindustri Graveyard and everyone had to be saved by the little sister CPU Candidates. Now, in Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, you’ve been sent back in time to a parallel world.
Back in time, to the alternate world
Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory begins with all the console goddesses hanging out in Planeptune with Neptune and Nepgear, playing video games. Then Neptune’s oracle, Histoire, gets on their cases for playing video games for the last few years and tells them to get back to work. The other goddesses leave and Neptune and Nepgear head out to start doing their jobs again. Neptune was really slacking off, so she’s back to level one, but Nepgear was being somewhat productive and is fortunately at level 10, which means she can offer more assistance.
As Neptune and Nepgear go about their chores, they get Guild requests to deal with this new group that’s anti-CPU-goddess. It’s spreading propaganda that suggests people could be better off without goddesses and should have a system in place to govern themselves in the event the goddess disappear. It turns out this group is lead by one timid woman named Rei, and she freaks out when Neptune and Nepgear appear to ask what’s happening.
Which is probably a really bad thing, because that leads to Rei encountering a mysterious being that forces a strange power on her. Naturally, Neptune then happens upon Rei when working alone, Rei freaks out again and this time, a black hole appears and sucks Neptune in. She gets tossed into an alternate version of Gameindustri that’s obviously set in the past. Here, an unknown woman named Plutia is the goddess of Planeptune, Noire hasn’t even become a goddess yet and Neptune’s goddess powers are gone. It gets worse, as a mysterious group called the Seven Sages, which counts Rei as a member, is threatening the safety of this version of Gameindustri. Neptune has many trials ahead as she searches to regain her power, defeat the Seven Sages and get back to her future Gameindustri.
As usual, NIS America’s translation and localization is up to the company’s usual standards. It’s clever and filled with numerous and appropriate references to countless video games. My favorite, by far, is Neptune’s pestering of Noire as though she were Navi to the other girl’s Link. That’s probably because I would, and have, done the same thing to my friends. Since this is set in the past, it means more references to classic games than previous installments. Still, Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory‘s script is one gamers will appreciate and provides more than a few giggles. It’s a good thing too, as I’m sure many will replay the game in attempts to earn different endings.
It’s a fine day for dungeon-crawling in Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory
Let’s start out with the best parts of Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory. If a player is in a dungeon area, he or she will have an awesome time with the game, since this installment offers the best dungeon-crawling experience out of the three. The locations all look different and layouts aren’t identical, which is quite a difference from the original game. Neptune, or whichever party member is set as the leader, can jump to access new areas, there is usually one hidden treasure in each location and one save spot is perfectly placed before each location’s boss fight. Not to mention actions performed on the field or in battle a certain number of times could result in a permanent stat boosts for characters.
Which brings me to the battle system. Like Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2, Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory has a slightly more active battle system than the original Hyperdimension Neptunia. To start, players can pair up party members, with a secondary character providing support to an on-screen character, to develop skills and a relationship between the two. I don’t recommend this unless you already have a full active party of four characters, due to the game’s difficulty, but it is an option as the story progresses and more people join. Battles begin by having a character swat an enemy or run into one. Swatting earns a preemptive strike or, if the party is strong enough, the chance to automatically win the battle, while being caught off guard allows the enemies to attack first.
Fights are turn-based in Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, but that doesn’t mean the player just sits there. When a character’s turn comes up, she can be moved around the battlefield to an optimal attacking position. Each weapon has a target area and I found if I fiddled around enough, pressing L1 and R1 to get the position just right, I could usually attack at least two enemies at once. When attacking, players get to build a custom combo by pressing the triangle, square or X button. Each corresponds to a different kind of attack, with one primarily doing damage to an opponent’s shields, another mainly damaging HP and a third doing fairly equal damage to both. Also, if a gauge is built up enough, a finishing attack can be tacked on when a combo is completed for bonus damage. Players could also choose to use a skill or item in battle to do damage, boost the party or heal.
Of course, the ability to transform into CPU (console goddess) forms and summon outrageous or familiar characters remains in Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory. Almost every character has a goddess form for she can change into during battle for increased damage. Summons can also be acquired, such as the famous Keiji Inafune attack Neptune can be seen performing in many of the promotional screenshots. Both are a good way to get through a battle that would normally be too difficult to handle, though I found it was best to save goddess mode and summons for bosses.
While the everything I’ve mentioned so far shows marked improvements, many things in Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory remain the same. People who were deterred by the previous two installment’s rampant fanservice won’t find that remedied. There’s still plenty of innuendo, costumes still “accentuate assets” and I’d say two new characters feature the most suggestive and skimpy outfits yet. If this kind of thing bothers you, it’s probably best to just look away or hit the “skip” button during the most risque event scenes.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory also still focuses on the battling. Considering the dungeons and battle system are better than they were before, this isn’t a bad thing. The only problem there is that most enemies models get reused with different color schemes later in the game. You’ll see plenty of the same opponents over and over, as oodles of grinding is necessary once the second chapter begins. It also means activities outside of fighting and exploring still don’t receive much love. The town areas again involve clicking on static buildings and miniature characters to shop, trigger events and engage in NPC conversations.
Also, the breathing character portraits still freak me out. I know they’re a Compile Heart and Idea Factory standard, but it’s still creepy. And a little mesmerizing I suppose, but mostly creepy.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory is for the fans
The Hyperdimension Neptunia series has become a cult classic and Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory won’t disappoint the legions of fans waiting for this installment. It possess the same industry in-jokes and fan-service players expect, while also offering marked battle system and dungeon-crawling improvements. If you love Neptune and her console goddess friends, Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory will only make you love them more. If you don’t, then you may eventually come to appreciate the jokes and fighting, but will probably never adjust to character designs and suggestive situations. Or the breathing portraits. I can’t be the only one who finds that weird!