Review | Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2: Sisters Generation
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2: Sisters Generation has arrived on the PlayStation Vita. This title, which is a remake of the original PlayStation 3 game, Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2, features several additions that the original version lacked. As a newcomer to the series, this review will be judging the game by its own merit, and not comparing it to past titles.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2 takes place in a fantasy world known as Gamindustri. In this world, personifications of real-world video game consoles, known as CPUs, battle to protect the populace of their individual realms. The game begins three years after the four heroic CPUs lost a battle and were imprisoned by a strong foe known as Arfoire.
Since their defeat, things have gone terribly wrong, with illegal file sharing and virus-infected monsters plaguing the land. The reason? An evil organization that has managed to win public favor after the defeat of the four CPUs. Now as things hit an all time low, it’s up to the CPU candidates, who are the younger sisters of the four imprisoned CPUs, to try and set things right.
We start off with the rescue of NepGear by her two friends, known as IF and Compa. NepGear understandably feels terribly inadequate after suffering the major defeat, but she’ll need to muster her courage and work with her friends if she hopes to get the people believing in the CPUs once again, thus regaining the shares for their (and later, other) nation.
The team will need to complete a variety of quests, meet with the oracles of each realm, and attempt to gain the trust and cooperation of the other CPU candidates as they attempt to free the four powerful CPUs. Of course this sounds much easier than it is done.
As fans of the series would expect, there are video game references all throughout Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2, some of which can be obscure. I will admit feeling a certain pleasure when I recognized them, especially the more obscure ones I noticed, and it definitely was one reason I enjoyed the title.
Moving on to the battles, Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2 features a turn-based battle system in which your party members can move a set distance then perform a command. Your foes will have two bars that you’ll be focused on depleting; a health bar and a guard bar. The former is obviously required to be wiped in order to take out the enemy, while the latter can be destroyed in order to make your attacks deal significantly more damage to your enemies. As a result, it becomes necessary in some of the fights to deplete the second before you can deal any real damage to the first, as many of the more powerful enemies I faced had quite a high defense and were able to shrug off many of my attacks until I did so.
Depleting the guard bar isn’t a one-time only thing, however, as it will regenerate partially during enemy turns. This can make some of the boss battles quite difficult and may cause you to use up many of your resources as you struggle to take down the powerful foe.
As you attack your enemies with basic attacks, you can choose between focusing on dishing out more damage, wiping out the enemy’s Guard bar, or increasing your EXE gauge so that you may utilize bonus attacks. You also have a variety of skills for each character, and the CPU candidates can enter HDD mode, drastically increasing their damage output. These options make the combat seem robust at first, but later in the game it felt like I was experiencing the same types of battles repeatedly. The standard, weaker foes that I encountered in the game I simply focused on wiping out as effortlessly as possible, while the bigger enemies had me using skills and trying to wipe their guard so I could deal some real damage. It became quite noticeable after a while and made the game a tad less enjoyable for me.
Outside of battle, you can customize your party members. The three types of attacks mentioned can actually be adjusted outside of battle and even swapped for different versions (once you have unlocked said versions, of course) that will allow you to hit harder or even add effects, such as poison. If you utilize this customization well, it can produce some particularly nasty (for your enemies) combos. Many gamers will likely change up these combos quite often to suit the variety of boss battles, rather than stick with any same customization choices.
On the note of boss battles, you may want to hold some resources in reserve for each fight. The reason being is that sometimes the events, which are clearly marked on the map, and usually have a save point nearby, can sometimes throw multiple boss battles at you back-to-back, which, as you can imagine, can be frustrating if you’ve used up all of your resources on one only to have a second come in and proceed to destroy you for that very reason.
There’s no real difficulty in learning how to adjust combos and the like, as the game will actually present the concepts almost immediately. Unfortunately, this is almost meaningless, as you don’t really have any points to utilize swapping out moves, and you lack access to the EXE gauge at that point in the game. You can still set it up so that you can alternate between the three types of attacks, allowing you to experiment a bit in the early game.
The game also utilizes a system with “Plans”, which allows you to change up a variety of things in dungeons, add new items to the shops, and other things. You are encouraged to utilize them immediately, though doing so can actually cause you to miss out on some items you need for quests.
On the note of quests, the game introduces them, but quickly advises you to advance the story, rather than dwelling on them. This advice can be quite bad, as listening to it can leave you severely under-leveled and thus allow for bosses to wipe the floor with you. You will also miss out on some (sometimes) decent rewards that can prove helpful.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2 also features a passive feature known as Stella’s Dungeon. In this mode, you’ll outfit an NPC and send her off on a run for loot. The game suggests that you send her off before saving and stopping the game so that she’ll return when you do. If you simply put the console in sleep mode without fully exiting the title, then this is good advice, however, if you fully exit the title, you may want to save before dispatching her, as she won’t advance in this case. The game also mentions that you can press X to examine each step of her journey, which can be useful to tell why she failed and how to best outfit her for her next journey. Useful advice, except for one small issue: It’s actually triangle that you need in order to do this, not X.
Though the game admittedly has its issues, I rather enjoyed Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2: Sisters Generation. The humor and references were a constant treat, and I actually grew to care about many of the characters. It felt like an ideal portable release, and has definitely made me even more interested in the other titles in the franchise, especially if they’re as good as, or even better than, this title. RPG fans, if they’re anything like me, will likely love the game. Just be sure not to blindly follow what the game tells you all the time.
Final Score: 4.5/5