Last year, a certain little JRPG called Hyperdimension Neptunia showed us what it might be like to live in a real Console War. Each hardware company was represented by a magical land where CPU “Goddesses” raged war against each other to see who truly reigned supreme. The game was a game that lampooned the game industry itself. While the game was certainly original in many aspects, there were certain areas that held the game back from all it could be. Now a sequel, Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 has come ashore.
Has this Neptune leveled up from experience, or is our princess in another castle?
Much like its predecessor, Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 takes place in the wonderful world of Gamindustri. As before, the world is made up mainly of 4 lands: Planeptune, Leanbox, Lastation, and Lowee. This time, however, the main conflict isn’t between nations; rather, the war is on piracy. A group of pirates known as ASIC (Arfoire Syndicate of International Crime) hopes to revive their fallen “Goddess” Arfoire. Anyone who played the original game should know that this so-called “Goddess” is bad news. Aiming to defeat ASIC and to protect their lands, the other CPU transform and spring into action. They are never heard from again.
3 years later, a rescue party composed of IF and Compa make their way to the Gamindustri Graveyard, only to find that the CPU has been defeated and captured. Barely being able to save CPU Candidate Purple Sister Nepgear, the party of three is ruthlessly attacked by CFW Judge. With no other options, the girls flee leaving the 4 CPU, including Nepgear’s older sister Neptune, behind. With little faith remaining in the true CPU, our heroes have become severely weakened compared to the seemingly all-powerful CFW that Arfoire created. With no other choice, Nepgear and her band of magical girls begin to travel the lands to fight the acts of piracy and to find the other CPU candidates.
Interestingly, almost the whole main story of Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 can be compared to the real world game industry. Each hero is based on a home console, handheld, or a company that makes the games they play. This is really a game for gamers about games. It’d be hard for me to say that the story should be taken seriously; instead, I’ll say it’s a seriously unique premise and delivered quite well, even compared to the original. The game is constantly breaking the fourth wall, even to the point of mocking itself in the fact that the events of the first game may or may not have really happened.
Anyone who read my review of the original game may remember that I was quite fond of the character art used throughout the game. Despite that, however, at times the fact that almost every single moment of the game was expressed with cut-in skits made some events less memorable than they could be. This time around, the creators decided to change things up a bit.In Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2, skits and scenes are played out with 3D models, not unlike the ones used in battle. It certainly helps bring a little life to the conversation, though sometimes I can’t help but feel some of the character renders could have been a bit better during said scenes. Oddly every so often, a skit will use the old 2D cut-ins rather than the new 3D models.
In addition to skits, we also get some “traditional” scenes which are mostly made up of action sequences. Especially near the beginning of the game, this inclusion delivers a nice dish of epicness that felt missing from its predecessor. Now and again we also get to see a nice piece of CG art which are always fun to collect.
The “overworld” this time around is considerably better. It appears like a 2D map not unlike what we used to see in 16-bit games. Even your movable character looks as if it was ripped right out of an old Super Nintendo game. I have to say, I’m now really hoping to see a 16-bit Neptunia game now after seeing this!
Once you enter one of the many dungeons, everything will return to the 3rd dimension. The dungeons all look quite nice and vary from pleasant forests and beautiful beach resorts to dark ruins and endless cyberspace. This is certainly an improvement over the two or three styles that filled the previous game. Unlike before when each dungeon looked like the same maze over and over again, you progress further and further down each area to find new enemies, items, and events.
The game essentially is played out through cities on the four lands and multiple dungeons. In town, you will have a store, be able to check “tweets” “chirps” onTwitter Chirper, and accept Guild jobs. The guild offers two types of jobs, fetch quests and monster hunting. This in addition to the new alchemy opportunities actually give the game a bit of an Atelier Totori feel to it. You can accept multiple jobs at a time and each will show even before you accept your promised reward in terms of money, items, and even shares. Luckily company shares are able to view even from the get-go. Once you are ready to go on your selected jobs or seek out the next story event, it’s time to head to the dungeons.
Let me start off by saying this battle system is a huge improvement over of the original. During a battle, each character of the twelve playable can freely move around a specified area similar to other JRPG’s such as Tales of Vesperia. Depending on each character’s position, you can actually hit multiple enemies with each attack. This also means you can effectively keep your healers just in range to heal your friends yes just out of reach of enemy attacks. Each fighter still takes her own turn, however, and as before characters can chain up to 4 attacks in each combo. While the original required players to register a combination for every possibility of a link between three different types of attacks, this new system only requires you to set up three slots per each of the three attacks. This way you can still customize your girl as you’d like, yet it never gets overwhelming. With Partnering and the Lily Rank system, bonds between characters can bring your game to the next level.
Each CPU and CPU Candidate have an HDD Transformation that can become available in battle. This triggers a magical girl like transformation sequence and boosts all your stats. You can only maintain the form for so long before you revert back, so it’s good to be a bit more strategic when it comes to your transformations as to not let it go to waste. With enemies that may or may not include Slimes, Bob-oms, Frogger, Tetrisblocks, warp pipes, Pac-man ghosts, and perhaps even a talking Pikachu, one has gotta be prepared for trouble. Probably not right?
In addition to transformations, each character will also have specials that can aid you like you won’t believe. Some of which will even summon out characters from other series such as Prinny, Flonne, Totori, and Makise Kurisu. Oh, and did I mention items are now fully usable and not random chance? Definitively a plus!
As with the original, Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 offers voices in both English and Japanese. This way you can get the best of both worlds. The game offers a very capable team of voice talent, many of which can easily be identified as voicing other popular characters.
Starting from the opening song and continuing to the in-game music, Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 has a pretty catchy tune. In several instances, the music sounds as if it was remixed from an old 8-bit or 16-bit game. While it’s true that I can’t see that being very fitting for a majority of games released, it works perfectly for this series. Sometimes I’m reminded of Sonic the Hedgehog, while others I begin thinking Pokémon Colosseum, and others Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht. While the music does sound sweet at first and is a step above the previous game, I still can’t help but feel that it’s still not very memorable and after a long duration of play you almost stop hearing some of it.
Overall, Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 is a great play for anyone who considers themselves as JRPG fans. Even for those who wouldn’t consider themselves fans of the original, if you really kept reading until now it’s definitively worth a shot to see how much has improved. One of the best aspects of the games is that it is essentially a joke that reminds us of what we love about gaming. Throw in great characters, parody monsters, magical transformations, alchemy adventuring, and a quest to save the world of gaming from selfish pirates and you got what the game industry and Gamindustri are all about! HEY! HEY!! LISTEN!!! give Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 7.6 CFW out of 10.