I have been playing RPGs my whole life, specifically JRPGs. I started with Final Fantasy and Phantasy Star 3 and those two games hooked me on the genre. Over the past few years JRPGs have been a little hit and VERY miss. A few good titles on the Wii come to mind, but other than that it was pretty bad out there. This year changed all that when Ni No Kuni came out on the Playstation 3. I had hope for the genre again and soon purchased the new Fire Emblem and Etrian Odyssey. They were both fine editions into the genre. Were they coming back? I had hoped so and possibly hyped myself up too much for the next JRPG I would play which was Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory. What a mouthful!
(Warning, many of these screenshots I took as I was playing the game via my cell phone.)
I was a newcomer to the series, but I knew the game would have a strong focus on humor, parody, and fan service. Usually all of those things done right make for a great experience, but the key words are DONE RIGHT.
The premise sounds wacky enough to be amazing. Picture a world called Gameindustri, where the countries are named to reflect different Video Game companies. Their leaders are typical anime girls who can transform into “hot” bad asses with typical armor and laser swords. There are video game references EVERYWHERE. These are fun to find for sure, but it’s like going on an Easter Egg hunt in a minefield.
A typical segment is broken down like this. You access the main city’s area and have a bunch of sprites you can talk to. Most of them are there for flavor and what not. From there you either look for the right tab with “EVENT” written on it, or go to the guild and pick up quests. Them quests are your typical “Kill x” or “bring y” of something, which is fine, Nothing exciting, but no reason to get upset for sure.
Here is where the main issue I have with the game. In order to progress the “story” you have to go to the places that say “EVENT.” Why is this bad? Well, it begins a mind numbing display of terrible ongoing dialogue. I am used to long periods of not playing or just pressing X occasionally to progress through story. I am perfectly fine with it, if it’s decent. I don’t know if something in the localization went horribly wrong, or if there was a writer’s strike going on. It’s bad. The information in these segments is mostly irrelevant attempts to be quirky, funny, and sometimes sexy. All of those attempts seem to fail. Only a little bit of the actual dialogue has to do with the loose “going back in time to an alternate world” storyline. Other than that, it’s pretty much girls insulting each other in very childish ways, or trying to be overly sexy. The other thing is they go on FOREVER. There is a skip button, which the characters actually mention. I decided to use it once, out of curiosity. You hit square and the text boxes start going by. You can still see the text going by at an incredibly fast rate. The function works well, except that for this particular moment I skipped, it took TWO MINUTES. Can you imagine if I just let them talk? I don’t think I could have handled that. Every time these characters would talk, I literally felt depressed. I honestly can’t remember the last time that has happened.
Once you’ve woken up from dialogue coma, you can venture out into the world. There is a map where you pick locations to “explore.” These areas remind me of very bland Phantasy Star Online areas. The movement is very jerky and feels very unnatural. It’s the type of game where you can see the enemies before you fight them. Finally we get to a good part. The combat is actually kinda fun. HNV’s combat feels a little like a mix between Grandia 2 and Xenogears. Your characters can move around on the field of battle. Each weapon has an area it can attack in. The key is to line up the area so you can hit more than one of the enemies. Then you input commands similar to Xenogears. There are also neat skills you can use as well as the ability to transform and do even more damage. It’s a neat little battle system, but it does get stale rather quick. Often times you don’t exactly know what the enemies did or are doing because it flashes their actions on screen so quickly. Besides some of the monsters being references to other games, they are often sort of bland. While the combat is the best part of the game, that isn’t saying a whole lot.
The soundtrack is also pretty decent. Then again it is Nobou Uematsu and the Earthbound Papa’s doing it. It isn’t his best work, but not everything can be as awesome as the Blue Dragon soundtrack. The voice acting isn’t that great either.
Pros: Combat is kind fun. Nobou Uematsu does the soundtrack.
Cons: Horrific dialogue, sub-par
story, clunky controls.
Value: I wouldn’t ever pay full price for this game. Maybe if you can get it on sale or used for ten bucks, MAYBE.
Verdict: Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory is definitely not for me. If you are a fan of the series, you might find all these things super. The dialogue is just so bad and the story isn’t good enough to wade through all of that mess. Dialogue and Story are pretty key ingredients for any good JRPG and this one just seemed to miss both of those things. Unfortunately, I can’t see myself or anyone I know enjoying this game.