03rd Apr2013

‘Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory’ Review (PS3)

by Phil Wheat

HDNV-4

“Several years after preventing Arfoire’s revival, Gamindustri has remained at peace. The CPUs and their younger sisters have been enjoying their quiet lives for a while… Then one day, the CPU of Planeptune—Neptune—is sent to another dimension. This new dimension feels very much like her own…except it has only progressed to the Gamindustri of the 1980s. In this dimension, a group of villains calling themselves the “Seven Sages” are trying to create a world free from the rule of CPUs. With help from her new friends, including that dimension’s CPU of Planeptune — Plutia — Neptune begins her quest to protect a totally different Gamindustri in her brand-new adventure!”

And so begins Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, the third game in the dungeon-crawling JRPG series which once again follows Neptune, the self-aware star of the franchise, who meets friends new and old after getting transported back to a parallel universe: a 1980s version of Gamindustri. Only this time Neptune is no longer the CPU of Planeptune and her former CPU buddies, Vert, Blanc, Noire, and the “countries” they represent are no longer as friendly as they were in her world so Neptune must now navigate her way through this parallel universe and back to her own.

Much like the Parodius games of the 8 and 16 bit eras, the Hyperdimension franchise has always has one foot in the world of parody – after all, when the four countries in the game are named Lowee, Lastation and Leanbox (after the current-gen console manufacturers) there’s no way you can be taken seriously; and the idea of parody is carried through to the gameplay (and sometimes the music) which often parodies, and occasionally pays homage to, more “serious” JPRGs – especially the granddaddy of them all, Final Fantasy.

Unlike many Western RPGs, Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, like the rest of the series, tells it’s story through a combination of visual novel, point and click adventure and dungeon-crawling RPG. Sadly, like its fellow franchise members, Victory spends way too much time “telling” its story rather than letting you play the game; and you’ll often find yourself wading through masses of text just to get to the next playable portion of the story. Thankfully this time round there is the possibility of skipping a LOT of this banal chit-chat (which most of the text portions of this release are) and cracking on with the game!

Once again it’s down to the dungeon-crawling aspects of Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory to rescue what is, in the end, little more than a mundane fan-service visual anime “novel”. Like all RPGs, Western or Eastern, the dungeon set battles are turn-based affairs in which players choose if they wish to defend, use a SP (special) skill, EXE drive, normal attack, activate HDD (hard drive divinity) mode. SP skills tend to just be powerful attacks or heals that use SP;  EXE drive are more powerful attacks that use your EXE gauge, which is built up by fighting.; normal attack allows you to choose from a strong attack, quick attack or attack that focuses on damaging the enemies guard; and activating HDD uses 100 or so SP and drains your SP per turn, but gives your character a large increase to damage.

Winning battles gains you items and experience (no surprise there) which in turn level up your character. Other than the traditional grinding to level up your character, you can buy and equip items to increase your power and of course you can buy new costumes (although they have zero bearing on your abilities). It’s all very much bog-standard RPG mechanics, just wrapped up in a JRPG skin. Which is a shame as I was expecting a little more from a franchise now on its third game…

If you’ve played and enjoyed the first two games in the series, you’ll no-doubt be pleased to hear that Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory is more of the same. But for those looking for something a little different (isn’t that the reason we play JRPGs?) you might just be disappointed.

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Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory is out now on Playstation 3.

*** 3/5

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