If you’ve been a fan of Japanese role playing games in the last 5 years chances are you’ve heard of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series. To date there is a trilogy of games on PS3, a manga series, an anime series and another manga series based on the anime. It also has 3 spin off games, 3 remakes the first two of which are already out in the West, and more games currently in development. Needless to say the franchise has become pretty popular. But what does Rebirth 1 bring to the table that the original HD:N didn’t. Let’s find out in the review.
The story focuses around the fantasy land of GameIndustri. A place divided into 4 kingdoms ruled by goddesses who gain there powers from share energy a sort of metaphysical equivalent to the democratic process. The Moe goddess Neptune loses her memory and so the bulk of the plot centers on exposition. Tonally the game is very light, the series is about meta humour, breaking the 4th wall a lot and of course being kawaii, and yes there is plenty of fan service that should go without saying. There are a lot of references to otaku culture in general in this game even which includes discussions of 2d husbandos.
Since I started this review the game has since been ported to PC. However the move to PC doesn’t have any graphical advantages except higher resolutions. Which Given that this game was designed for the limitations of the Vita this shows, whilst the dialogue sections look great no matter what you’re playing on; The low resolution textures of the environments are going to look pretty rough on PC. Where the visuals shined at least on the Vita was the character models they were nicely detailed and the animations for special attacks are the high point even if they did cause the game to drop a few frames.
First off this game does feature dual audio so you hardcore RPG fans aren’t going to have a problem with the voice acting. I’d wager the English dub is of a high enough quality to warrant using. Even as someone who doesn’t consider himself an elitist I must concede that my jimmies get pretty rustled if I don’t have the option switch to Japanese.
The advantage of the original Japanese is that Neptune’s character sounds far more believable as Moe whereas the English voice actress sounds much older. Also the soundtrack is flat out incredible, all the main characters and locations have their own theme. One of the most used tracks called 100 dollars is so damn addictive that I’m not kidding when I say I’ve spent hours listening to it when not even playing the game. The soundtrack manages to encapsulate the high technology meets fantasy vibe of the game, and I’d be hard put to try and find any fault with it.
Rebirth 1 has completely overhauled HD:N’s battle system making the movement more fluid. The game using an active turn based battle system, it’s actually more or less identical to Fairy Fencer F which I previously reviewed. There is one serious gripe I have with the game and that is one of its core mechanics that is the EXE drive does not become available until your are over 10 or so hours into the story by which point you would have done some serious grinding since the game is mostly focused around this. The EXE drive is a gauge that fills every time you get a hit on an enemy the more hits you combo the faster it fills. Once the gauge is filled you can use some very powerful one hit attacks. The problem is that the EXE gauge is on screen being filled for at least 10 hours before it’s unlocked for use.
Now with the EXE drive you may be thinking big deal who cares? Well put it this way battles in this game are very freaking repetitive. You combo your standard moves, you break the enemies guard then maybe you finish them off with more powerful special attack linked to your MP; All very standard fare. If you want to get fancy during harder battles you can use buffs, and debuffs but it’s impossible to claim there is much variety during the long hours of grinding you’ll need to do in order to beat the end level boss and progress to the next hilarious story cut scene, EXE drive adds that much needed variety.
Outside battle you can take on fetch quest for more money which you can spend on buying better weapons and buffs for your characters. There is a decent amount of customisability here I was able to more than double some of my party’s HP using the more expensive items bought in shops, and of course give them some kawaii accessories because why not. You can also change your individual characters move sets allowing their basic attacks to inflict elemental based damage, vary the amount of damage you can do and so on. It’s a great system and very easy to use. It helps to make you feel as if you have more control over how your party takes shape as you level up.
The last feature is from the original game, its called disc dev and it allows you to change data in dungeons, this includes the items that can be found, enemy strength and so on. It’s something you’ll find yourself using more frequently early on in the game but past a certain point it just feels like window dressing. There are plenty more little systems this games employ that would take me about half hour to properly dissect so instead I’ll wrap up here. As a fan of this franchise having read those manga’s, watched the anime and played several of the games I can say Rebirth is a terrific starting point for newcomers to the series. But it’s extremely repetitive and often simplistic battles may off put those looking for a game that allows deeper strategy.
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