Review – Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1

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Platform: PlayStation®Vita
Genre: RPG
Player(s): Single
Audio: Japanese/English
Age Rating: Teen, PEGI 12
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Developer: IDEA FACTORY / COMPILE HEART
Release date: NA: 26th August 2014, EU: 27th August 2014

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 is a remake of the2010 PlayStation 3 title, centered around the battles of the four CPUgoddesses, each a personification of a gameconsole. The Neptunia series has offered up several games, includinga spin-off ‘Idol Simulation’ game Producing Perfection ,which we reviewed a few months ago, and Neptunia has even had an anime adaptation.

Thestory will be remarkably familiar to anyone who’s played theoriginal, largely because Re;Birth takes us back to basics withNeptune (Sega Neptune), Vert (Xbox 360), Noire (PlayStation 3) andBlanc (Wii) battling for superiority. However, darker forces are at work when the maleficent Arfoire arrives, stompingthe CPU goddesses into the ground in order to take over thenot-even-thinly-veiled-metaphor: Gameindustri. She accomplishes this by stealing preciousshares from the goddesses, leaving them powerless and losing thesupport of their country’s people.

Thestory is identical but there’s been some nice extras included, which’ll keep hard-core fans suitably satiated. It’s a wacky tale, butit works, largely due to the fact that the game keeps its tonguein its cheek. The typical formula is as follows: Take down a huge monster,eat pudding, talk about breasts, eat more pudding, moe overload,followed by yet more pudding. There’s no doubt that this game willturn certain players off as it squeezes in as many otaku culturereferences as possible, adding in every character troupe going andblending it all together, but it really works. The characters are a joy to spend time with, they’re charming, sweet and bonkers. They also sound great in both the Japanese and English language.

Sometimes a remake can seem rather superfluous, but fortunately notin this case. Why? Simply because of the gaping flaws in theoriginal, which allowed us to enter a wonderfully colourful world, andthen decided to syphon off all the fun with a gameplay structure thatwas so hands off it made you wish you were playing Final FantasyXIII. Yeesh.

Withthe battle system no longer a mindless affair, it utilises the juicybits from the sequels and delivers it succinctly into Re;Birth.Battles can become addictive; when you encounter a foe you’ll notice it has two bars, a red bar for their HP and a blue bar for their guard. With smaller enemies breaking their guard doesn’t matter much, as it doesn’t take much to destroy them. But when you’re going head to head with a vicious Dragon, you’ll need to be focusing on breaking their guard in order to take huge chunks out of their HP. The freedom to edit your attack commands and switch between multiple characters during battle means it’s a very diverse and overall satisfying system. The game gives you loads of great special attacks that can be used when you fill up the the EXE Drive Gauge. The gauge fills up by you attacking and receiving damage from enemies, giving you access to some really impressive EXE Drive Skills, which’ll have your characters performing earth shattering moves on your foes.

The enemies are fantastic, withmulticoloured pipes nodding to Mario, slime-like creatures for DragonQuest fans and even a foe that appears as a screenshot, referencing afamous visual novel. All this is great, but there are some issues. The scenery can be quite plain and boring at times, with certain dungeons being almost identical to each other. Also, the difficulty can be quite sporadic, you’ll breeze through one area,while the next will have you beating your handheld into the carpet. This isn’t much of an issue overall, as leveling up can be done easily and even enjoyably thanks to the side quests, but it would’ve been nice for them to get progressively harder.

Side quests become available very early on in thegame, giving you a little taste of freedom outside of the main storyarc. Each CPUgoddess has their own island, which can be opportunisticallyliquefied into stock shares, this is where side quests play an important role. In order to beat back Arfoire and snatchback shares, you’ll need to take on quests. When those quests are successfully completed the player will get money, items, anda decent cut, restoring balance to Gameindustri. It’sa refreshing way to amalgamate the two playabilities together. Theyaren’t anything special in themselves; collect this item, kills theseenemies. That said, it’s still a good feeling when you return from anass-kicking session to see your shares rise and get loot, which you can then use to create new items, weapons and equipment thanks to the new plan system.

 

+A wonderful battle system                   -Scenery is quite bland and repetitive
+Great localization and fantastic cast

Verdict

80%
80%
Awesome

Thereis absolutely no doubt that Re;Birth is a huge improvement on theoriginal, which was an utter mess. It remains a very nichetitle, but those who are well-versed in Otaku culture will find plenty to like. Battles are fast-paced and stupidly fun, and side quests are enjoyable, although simple. With a fully voiced cast in both Japanese and English, these colourfulcharacters will put a smile on your face throughout the 30+ hours it takes to complete the game, although there is still plenty to be done after you've beaten the story.  Nep-Nep has returned better than ever!

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Fraser is the co-founder of Japan Curiosity alongside Nick, he currently works for Animatsu/Manga Entertainment bringing us some of the best anime titles and sometimes stops by J-Curi when he fancies.