Despite everything that could have made Hyperdimension Neptunia MK2 a bad game, it actually didn’t turn out too shabby. Sure it has its problems, but it is an Idea Factory game — they all have their problems. What it excelled at was being a fabulous idea with a fun bit of characters to play along beside you. With Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory‘s release, we now have 3 Neptunia games on the market.
To bring the trilogy into grandeur, the crew at Idea Factory needed to pull out all the stops. They need to grow this game into something as good as their ideas. They need to achieve absolute victory.
Let’s get this out of the way first: Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory is better designed than its predecessors. The character models are much prettier to look at, the levels are nicer to explore, and this does have a positive effect towards those early hours through the game. Victory however is not a step up from Mk2 however. It is almost the bare minimum requirement you need for a review to contain the words “best one yet.”
Sequels always demand that you step up your game just a little bit. I might be a bit optimistic, but I still think the idea is that to sell another game of the same name, you have to be that much better. The biggest addition to Victory is that your characters now have the ability to jump over low-lying obstacles. That’s the revolution to Neptunia. Since the gameplay mechanics in Victory are practically the same, the guys over at Idea Factory really had to try and make something new out of so little. MK2‘s levels were bland flat vistas which had little to do with anything but serving a purpose for grinding or getting you to a boss battle.
Victory isn’t that much different, but with the jump mechanic, this necessitated the developers to sit down and focus on level and game design. Exploring a dungeon isn’t any less tedious than it was in Neptunia, but now the maps aren’t aggravatingly simple. The ones that aren’t directly copied from Neptunia MK2 can at times be fresh. If you jump 10 times, you get a boost in strength. Adding a goal system works well and can be used to get people I realize these aren’t major improvements, but they are enough to get you just past the first two chapters. Those opening chapters are just a bit of a bore.
With this being the third entry, they finally decided to open up and raise the difficulty in the game. Battles are obviously more difficult, which means you need to use your head a bit more when going into combat. This is tough because while you can probably figure out that the giant dragon at the end of the level is somebody you shouldn’t mess with, there are enemies that spike. Even though enemies are known in the world map, you don’t have a clue as to how powerful they are until you actually are in the battle.
This happens because enemies don’t have stats. So, when you fight the first enemy of the level, you might wipe the floor with it. Deeper in to the level however this same enemy on the outside will have wiped the floor with you and there isn’t much reason why that is. All dungeons get steadily more and more difficult as you walk further in. To offset the difficulty spike, there is a meter that builds with the battles you go through. Once it builds to a high enough level, your combo attacks gain an extra special move at the end.
Its not enough however as I found I was on the receiving end of a real fight when I got overanxious and skipped past the lower ranking guys after I mopped the floor with them. The battle system doesn’t do a whole lot new, but they have added a few slaves that you can send out to search areas for items. These slaves reduce the grind just a bit so you can focus on the story.
With Hyperdimension Neptunia MK2, we opened up on all of Planeptune’s goddesses captured by a boss that was big and intimidating. It was a fairly good opener and established the search and rescue scenario. Victory however opens up with everybody sitting around being lazy and not wanting to do any work. This is where the franchise has gone. I’d say that was a commentary on the lack of spark behind console manufacturers, but I shouldn’t have to stretch for things.
So for a game franchise about the state of the current industry and how it it chooses to defend itself through the perspective of pinup girls, we saw the first two games do a fairly competent job of recreating this generation of consoles. Since a third game had to be made to keep the cash cow going, the developers had to think of what to do next.
The most obvious option? Time for Neptune to get thrown in to an alternate dimension (that takes place around the birth of the Sony Playstation) to duke it out with those who try to circumvent copyright protections. Welcome to writing’s bottom of the barrel scenario. This is an interesting time period to go back to with its focus on the failure of the N64 and Saturn, which gave rise to the Playstation. The focus again unfortunately is still on the battle against nefarious people wanting to take down the industry, but its spread away from the nefarious Arfoire gang in to some legitimate excuses to pull them apart. The main instigator is a nervous woman who only wants a gaming industry without the need for console exclusivity. Once again there is this charm here in this absolutely bizarre take on the history of video games.
What’s even more shocking is that NISA did what is in my opinion a better job of fleshing their characters out even more than we saw in prior games. It’s shocking because I still actually prefer the portable little sisters from MK2 over Victory‘s, but what we saw here is just better back and forth exchanges between the characters. The execution isn’t always there however as my jaw and controller dropped with a joke at the expense of the Foxconn suicide jumpers. In a cutesy and light hearted JRPG like that, I was stunned to see NISA push that forward.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory is a better game than MK2 and it kinda kills me to say that. The gameplay, story, and visuals all are tweaked just enough to classify this as a better game yet none of these improvements are things I could sell you on. If this is the first game in the series for you and you are curious, I would heartily recommend you skip all the others and just play this one. There honestly is no need for you to burn through those after this.
If this is the 2nd or 3rd time you’ve dipped your toe in Neptunia‘s fountain of “moe,” I sit here struggling to tell you anything that you would want to hear that gets you interested. It is like most stories that sit in an alternate dimension, it has no real bearing on anything. Victory is simply here for you as an option.
[+Fun Characters] [+Intriguing Setup] [+Slightly Better Looking] [+Slightly Better Playing] [-Recycled Assets] [-Odd Difficulty Spikes] [-Slow Start]