Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 Review

Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 (PS3)
Developer: Idea Factory, Compile Heart
Publisher: NIS America

Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 achieves the impossible— it crafts a fictionalized gaming industry that gamers should find utterly loathsome. The game takes place in GamIndustri, where characters represent video game systems and obscure Japanese developers. This outlandish concept is ripe with potential metacognitive gaming-industry humor, locations, and enemies. The result, if executed properly, could even make Japanese role-playing games relevant once again. Instead, Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 subverts its own concept into something far worse— a mediocre role-playing game filled with sexualized, prepubescent anime girls, who frequently discuss their breasts and feelings towards one another amidst a plethora of lazy gaming references.

This sequel has IF, Compa, and Nepgear traveling the world to save the heroines from the previous title, who are entangled in cables (tentacles), allowing for needless yet expected, boob jiggling. The following fifteen hours is brimming with copious amounts of grating exposition. If there are some genuinely funny lines of dialogue, they are too few and far between to justify the exasperating amount of trivial conversation. Keeping track of all the girls becomes difficult as you progress, causing their personalities to combine into a cacophony of high-pitched adolescent noise. The systems they represent also have no bearing on their character, allowing zero potential for interesting commentary.

Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 is certainly a budget title, but it does little to hide that fact. Wandering around repeated, low polygon environments in sub 30 frame-per-second framerates rekindles memories of early Playstation 2 games. Redesigned enemies from better, classic games populate these areas with all the creativity of a mockbuster. The most pathetically bizarre example is a warp pipe from Mario, as it simply bashes into your teammates to attack. The original enemy designs are equally appalling, as they include an anthropomorphic eggplant, a horsebird, and a hovering compact disc with evil eyes. The lack of imagination and creativity on display makes the journey all the more discouraging.

The combat system is polished enough to prevent Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 from becoming a complete debacle. Battles are turn-based, allowing for free movement in a limited circle. Attacks have range and can be customized to create a small variety of combos— each consecutive hit allowing for damaging blows; guard-lowering strikes; or rapid, energy-replenishing swipes. Positioning yourself in the perfect spot to maximize damage output can often prove time consuming due to this structure. This system is also undermined by extremely easy battles that rarely forced me to switch up the tactics I used in the very beginning of the game. With a dozen party members and only eight available slots (four of them battle, while the other four provide helpful passive permutations), there is a considerable amount of customizability for those who want to challenge the game’s optional bosses. However, much of it is superfluous.

A deep, if ultimately straightforward combat system is not enough to save Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 from being a creative failure. It resorts to cheap references that offer no additional sustenance and wastes your time with bloated, frivolous dialogue. “Anyone in puberty tastes old and rotten,” one of the final bosses says to your party of underage girls— a sentiment that seems completely at odds with the game’s inability to take advantage of its potentially developed concept.

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