Back in 2016, Megadimension Neptunia VII was released on PlayStation 4, introducing the console to the series. Megadimension Neptunia VII took the best aspects found in its predecessors, as well as their PlayStation Vita remakes, to create the definitive Hyperdimension Neptunia experience. Two short years later, the game has returned in the form of Megadimension Neptunia VIIR. Megadimension Neptunia VIIR isn’t just a remaster or release, but rather a full remake of the original.
With improved graphics, an updated battle system, and VR events, Megadimension Neptunia VIIR certainly has a lot of promise. But is this remake worth the double dip, or is this just another VR Demo to be added to the nearest bargain bin?
While Megadimension Neptunia VIIR does retell the original game, it does so in the strangest of ways. The events of Megadimension Neptunia VIIR actually follow those of its predecessor. Due to plot convenience and PlayStation VR technology, the game begins with the 4 Goddesses who have somehow made their first direct contact with you, the player. During their initial meet and greets, the characters fully acknowledge that the player has been present throughout their many adventures, most specifically those found in Megadimension Neptunia VII. After a handful of “plot” developing VR Events, Histoire motivates the player to (re)play the digital game. Virtual “waifu” aside, this is where the game truly begins.
As with 2016’s Megadimension Neptunia VII, Megadimension Neptunia VIIR follows the stories told by the Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth trilogy. After finding an ancient relic that some players may know as a Sega Dreamcast, series protagonists Neptune and Nepgear find themselves being spirited away. Not unlike Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory and Re;Birth3, Neptune finds herself in an alternate dimension. Unlike the series’ third entry, however, The Zero Dimension that Neptune finds herself in is nothing but ruin and rot. Neptune and Nepgear decide to seek out other life, only to find the fallen nation’s own CPU, Uzume.
Despite some darker tones, Hyperdimension Neptunia as a whole has always been known for its nonsensical fun. While perhaps not as dark as their sister series Fairy Fencer F, Megadimension Neptunia VII & VIIR overall take themselves a bit more seriously than previous outings. The games feature relevant plots that don’t feel as weighed down with the series usual filler. The important thing to note here, especially for series veterans, is that nothing has really changed.
When the original titles launched on PlayStation 3, they were fun though quite flawed. Whilst the original stories felt like a string of skits rather than a cohesive plot, the Re;Birth trilogy on PS Vita gave the developers an opportunity to flesh out each scenario. Though the general ideas stayed the same, the scripts from the originals were completely rewritten when retold in the PS Vita ports. This is not the case for Megadimension Neptunia VIIR. For better or for worse, the story is almost exactly the same. Instead of starting back at square one with the writing, Megadimension Neptunia VII features a newly revised final draft. While this is certainly one of the better stories in the series, only beaten by the series’ third entry, the slight edit of a story should not be motivation for series veterans to replay this adventure. Rather, the strengths of Megadimension Neptunia VIIR lie elsewhere.
Whether released on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, or Steam, Hyperdimension Neptunia as a series has never been known for its graphics. While many of the games (Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 excluded) look appealing to the eye with their anime-inspired designs, the 3D models always fell somewhat flat. This changed, however, with 2017’s Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online. For the first time, the series took advantage of the industry renowned Unreal Engine 4 which produced some truly impressive visuals. With the release of Megadimension Neptunia VIIR, however, Compile Heart and Idea Factory have since dropped the Unreal Engine 4, instead favoring the OROCHI4 and Mizuchi engines. While the HD visuals of Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online were the sweetest of eye candies, they weren’t without their faults. For one, the game would take several minutes to load upon startup. Secondly, the game experienced its fair share of slowdowns and frame skipping, especially when played online.
Visually, Megadimension Neptunia VIIR learns from Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online to create the ultimate main game. With help from the OROCHI4 and Mizuchi engines, Megadimension Neptunia VIIR features the best looking visuals thus far in the main series. Each and every level has experienced a major graphical overhaul. From sleek textures to some sweet lighting effects, the environments all come far superior to those found in the original Megadimension Neptunia VII. Even more satisfying than the level designs are those of the characters. Neptune, Blanc, Noire, and Vert all come to life with new and beautiful cel-shaded graphics. Inspired by 4 Goddesses Online, party members now follow the leader as they progress through each dungeon. The pathfinding has been upgraded and is leaps and bounds better than those found in the aforementioned title. The end result is girls that come to life not only through their models but their animations to boot.
As the series’ first exploration into Virtual Reality, probably the biggest questions is how it looks. It is no secret that the PlayStation VR is by no means the most powerful headset on the market, though it is still one of the ones with the greatest potential as far as software is concerned. Whether it be on the original PlayStation 4 or the Pro, the girls of Megadimension Neptunia VIIR come to life with PlayStation VR quite flawlessly.
While it may be a bit jarring at first as the characters retain their trademark designs over a more realistic appearance like many PlayStation VR titles, they become quite easy on the eyes after the first few interactions. The same cannot be said about the Player Room itself. While the Player room is a considerably small environment as opposed to those found in Resident Evil VII, it appears to take a greater toll on the system. From the walls, TV, bed, and doors, none of the game’s solid objects look as good as they could. Considering that Fate/Grand Order VR is essentially the same thing, only without as much graphical strain, it looks like there may be some room for improvement for future installments.
When it comes to Hyperdimension Neptunia as a series, perhaps the greatest inconsistency is the games’ battle systems. Spin-offs aside, the series is currently made up of 4 main games and their 4 spin-offs with the release of Megadimension Neptunia VIIR. Despite being a remake of a recent game, the gameplay of Megadimension Neptunia VIIR is quite different from Megadimension Neptunia VII. If anything, the game plays the most like Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2. Megadimension Neptunia VIIR marks the return of the AP system. Unlike with recent series’ entries, each action in battle requires Action Points. Basic combo chains have low costs while Special Skills and Formation Skills come a bit more costly, requiring not only more Action Points but Special Points as well. Often it is better to go on the offensive in preparation for special attacks. This adds an additional level of strategy that isn’t always present in the series.
Before the return Action Points, the first change that players will likely see is the new Command Window. In the past, attacks have been mapped to the PlayStation controller allowing combination attacks to play out like a slow-paced fighter. This is no longer the case. Before a character can attack, defend, or use a special skill, a Command Window pops up. From there, the player can select their action based on every skill or attack known by that character. On the bright side, this allows more flexibility in battle and removes the need for unnecessary prep work that the series is known for. Unfortunately, the use of the Command Window does slow down the gameplay overall. While is certainly a welcome change in boss fights, it feels rather tedious during most others.
When it comes to the dungeon crawling portion of the game, Megadimension Neptunia VIIR ups the ante yet again. Back in Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, the phrase “jump like a kangaroo” was spoken by Neptune the very first time. With this third installment, Neptune and friends gained the ability to jump while traversing through the various dungeons of Gamindustri. Reoccuring catchphrase aside, this brought almost nothing to the series. From Victory to the Re;Birth trilogy and ultimately forward to VII the lack of platforms and plethora of invisible walls made the jumping mechanic more of a meme than anything else. After some mild platforming segments in Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls and 4 Goddesses Online, the ability to jump finally means something in Hyperdimension Neptunia VIIR. While this may not seem like much to most gamers, the ability to climb buildings and jump off cliffs not only simplifies exploration but strengthens the overall immersion as well.
Speaking of immersion, one can’t review a VR game without mentioning its VR gameplay. That is, of course, if there is any. Speaking plainly, the VR events are nothing more than waifu simulators. For fans of the series, there is admittedly a certain level of satisfaction seeing the likes of Neptune, Blanc, Vert, and Noire come to life within a virtual space. It should be noted that they are the only characters available in VR Events. As enjoyable as it is, it feels incomplete. The only “gameplay” during the VR Events is head nodding, head shaking, and staring at the scene. Considering how hard it can be to avoid one’s eyes from a Goddess, the later can be easily achieved without intention. With many VR “experiences” before it offering the occasional mini-game, fans can only hope that the VR Events can be further expanded through DLC or future installments.
In terms of sound, very little has changed between Megadimension Neptunia VII and Megadimension Neptunia VIIR. A notable difference for some fans is the dual language option. While Megadimension Neptunia VII offered Japanese audio as free DLC, it comes native to Megadimension Neptunia VIIR. This isn’t the most revolutionary change in the industry, but will certainly make some fans happy.
Looking at the game’s soundtrack, there isn’t much new to see. As a remake, the game mostly recycles the original’s audio tracks. The most notable additions are the new boss themes. Dark CPU, Colosseum combatants, and even the final boss are now accompanied by the series’ latest jams. These mix well with the returning tracks while allowing the games most notable antagonists to stand taller than ever before. Considering the size of the Dark CPU, that is saying something.
Overall, Megadimension Neptunia VIIR is the definitive Neptune experience. The gameplay, while a slower pace, makes battles more intuitive and removes the necessity for redundant prep work. Megadimension Neptunia VIIR‘s graphics rival those of Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online without any of the repercussions. The VR Events are easily the most notable inclusions, though are certainly not the $59.99 price tag alone. While it may not be a must buy for those who have already completed 2016’s original, it is certainly something that can be appreciated by newcomers and those pre-existing fans yet to meet Neptune’s adult form.
HEY! HEY!! LISTEN!!! gives Megadimension Neptunia VIIR 8.6 Baby Bugs out of 10.