|Developer:||Felistella|||||Release Date:||2015|||||Systems:||Windows, PS Vita|
This week on Super Adventures I'm playing another RPG! But not the pretty 16-bit pixelled kind I'm afraid. I keep promising to play more retro games and yet somehow here I am playing the most modern JRPG on my site so far.
I've got no idea what I'm getting into here, as all I really know about HyperDimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 is that it's a enhanced port/remake of an older game and that it's got a shitload of sequels. Oh, I also know that the characters are the human avatars of game consoles who've all manifested as young women, because... anime.
Somehow I'm getting the feeling this one might be aimed more at blokes than ladies and there may be shameless fan service coming up, but like I said I don't really know. Though I'm feeling a bit guilty for leaving these three hovering in the air for so long, waiting for me to take that DVD off their hands, so I'll select 'NEW GAME' and see what happens.
(Click the screenshots to open them at their original resolution.)
You know what isn't computery though? The PC version only has two options on the video tab: 'Resolution' and 'FullScreen'. Though there is an option here over in 'Sound/Camera' to switch the dub to the original Japanese voices while leaving the subs in English. That's a nice feature I don't remember seeing often.
Hey I've just figured out what this menu music reminds me of... Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed! And I kind of wish I hadn't, as now I want to play that instead.
All the message boxes are being read out by a narrator by the way, who's explaining how things work here:
"Here in this reality shift realm are 4 presiding CPUs (Console Patron Unit). Each reside in Celestia, a world separate from the Land they oversee."Then she starts to introduce all the CPUs:
CPU Black Heart, and her "Land of Black Regality - Lastation -"
(I'm thinking that may be PlayStation.)
CPU White Heart, and her "Land of White Serenity - Lowee -"
(That has to be Nintendo. Next is going to be Lexbox right?)
CPU Green Heart, and her "Land of Green Pastures - Leanbox -"
(I was so close!)
CPU Purple Heart, and her "Land of Purple Progress - Planeptune -"
(Hey that doesn't start with a Lu or Li. They've ruined the progression!)
"Here the CPUs fight endlessly in battle for rule over Gameindustri.
This battle is etched in history. This is the Console War..."
Oh, so that's all of them then? There's just four left? Wow, I guess Atari, Commodore, NEC and 3DO must already be dead by this point. Oh also Philips, but then the CD-i was pretty much DOA.
I was all set to take the piss out of these VN scenes, but they've actually impressed me with these portraits. They're not just static pictures, they breathe, move their heads, blink their eyes... oh shit I've just noticed that they all have on-button pupils in their eyes and it's freaking me out. Plus they also move their mouths when they talk and voices come out! The only problem is that the four CPUs are kind of supposed to be in a fight right now, not standing still and facing the camera.
But then a mysterious voice speaks to them, suggesting that maybe their conflict would be less eternal if three of them ganged up to remove the fourth.
I like this message log by the way, it's a genuinely great feature. It means I can go back through the conversation to check things, or skip the cutscene and then go back through to quickly read what I missed. I can even select a message box to hear the voice acting.
Then the cutscene cuts to a mysterious woman with regular looking eyes and a name box full of question marks observing the shooting star falling over a cyberpunk city and wondering what it was.
Wait, this is the music video that came on when first I booted the game up; I've seen this already! The tune's kind of catchy though, in an obnoxiously cheerful way. Here, have a YouTube Link so you can experience it too.
The song's called Miracle!Portable☆Mission, with a star, and I know this because they actually show the song credits during the video. Because why not, I guess. It's got me looking for an excuse to put ☆s all over everything myself now though.
Suddenly ??? begins talking to her and I'm pretty sure that it's a different ??? to the one who told the CPUs to betray her and the other ??? who watched her fall. ??? #3 introduces herself as Histoire, a tome, but Nepture hears "tomb" and now she's really worried that she's dead.
Histoire needs her help to stop... someone, but their connection fails just as she's about to explain who and why.
Compa's a nurse and she's a bit worried that Neptune may have suffered some injuries after skydiving sans-parachute. So she wants to strip her clothes off right away so she can bandage the wounds!
This is going to cut away to a bandaging scene isn't it?
Calling this animated would be pushing it, but like with the portraits there's some... jiggle there. Shameless is the word I'd use to describe it. Or maybe satire, I'm not even sure!
The scene ends with poor Neptune nearly getting suffocated to death because Compa ties the bandages too tight, so our hero's not had much luck so far. She's really upbeat about it all though!
The two of them realise that Neptune can't actually remember why she fell, or much of anything in fact. So they have pudding and more pudding and then go to where she landed to try to solve the mystery.
Mysterious speech bubble turned out to be a message from someone called Ms. Manual which said that she'll be giving me some game tips. Just not right now.
So I went back to check out what the event was about at Planeptune and found myself in another VN cutscene where Neptune goes and finds a wooden sword in a dumpster for... LARPing maybe? She's not sure. Alright, now that I'm properly armed for a walk in the park I can go visit the Virtua Forest...
Though one thing the Virtua Forest's missing is voices. I guess the developers only had the time and money to dub half the cutscenes.
Disgaea, but there's actually more to it than just message boxes and fighting. Though it only let me take a couple of steps before I was dragged into a separate JRPG battlefield for a tutorial.
I mean I'm still running around in real time here, but time's frozen for everyone else while they wait for me to make my move. I can put my selected character anywhere within in the blue circle and that blue targeting box in front of them indicates who they're going to hit when they're done with the movement phase. Enemies don't have to be entirely inside the box though; I'm only barely touching this cute little dog slime with the corner of it and the red marker over its head shows that it still counts.
Enemies have two bars, health and guard, so theoretically I should be slapping them around with my break attack until their defences are down, then switch to syringe or bonking to wear down their health, but I'm not sure.
☆ SOME VIOLENCE LATER ☆.
Hey, I just noticed that Neptune has USB draw strings on her hoodie, that's cool. Not sure what's going on with those giant pockets though, but I'm sure I don't like them.
Tutorial☆Fun! magazine, but it's not making it any easier for my brain to soak in the information.
Also which is it? Do I press A button or B button to perform a Symbol Attack? I wish it'd make up its mind!
There's enemies roaming around, marked by red dots on the minimap, and I can either avoid them or get in close and use that Symbol Attack to "gain initiative" before they run into me and trigger the fight on their terms. Enemies are pretty chilled out usually, but if they get it in their mind to attack me they'll dart my way and chase me around the level for a while until they either catch me or get bored and wander off.
☆ SOME FIGHTS LATER ☆.
I can go back to smacking dog blobs now, but I just want to play around with this menu for a bit first. The way all the buttons and pages slide on screen is mesmerising; it's all so slick. In fact I'm giving the game a Not Crap award right now just for this interface because I could get hours of fun out of it.
Oh damn I just noticed the timer on the bottom left. I was joking, I haven't really been playing with menu that long! This is what happens when the clock keeps running while I'm in another window, typing up notes, checking emails, looking at Twitter... etc. That's not the game's fault by the way, I'm just easily distracted.
Those credits on the other hand are interesting, is this game really going full arcade on me? Oh wait it's just money, not continues, duh
I don't get to choose anything myself, it's just letting me know that stats have gone up. Hang on, that's a panty shot isn't it? Developer's shame status: negligible.
The trouble with the Virtua Forest is that it all looks the same so I can’t tell whether I’m going forwards or backwards. Sure I'm going towards a green square labelled 'Dungeon Exit' right now, but it could be the exit I came in from! I can't use the red enemy dots as a guide as they quickly respawn.
Oh, turns out that the exit was the entrance and I just walked back out to the world map. That's fine though, as the map's tiny. Plus I got a health and SP refill, and all the items respawned when I came back in so I'm getting even more Herb and stuff.
Compa's a healer but she can do some real damage with that oversized syringe so I'll be sending her over on her turn to finish them all off.
☆ SOON ☆.
Out of curiosity I checked out what does happen in the original game and it is really different. Re;birth1 has different cutscenes with new dialogue and way better music. Plus the original game starts off in an actual dungeon instead of the forest, and has much slower combat without any running around in 3D.
The dialogue is kind of awkward sometimes whichever version you go for and it sounds like they got all the same voice actors back, but Re;birth seems like a big improvement in all other departments.
This is one of those squinty games that makes me involuntarily squint while playing it sometimes, but it's self-aware I'll give it that.
Neptune tries attacking the monster in the cutscene, but a voice tells here it's ineffective. It's Histoire again, the voice she heard in her head when she was knocked out! Histoire mentions that Neptune could've used her Hard Drive Divinity to save Compa, if only she still remembered how. But Compa needs her help, so Neptune quotes 'Gurren Lagann', kicks reason to the kerb...
The fight was pretty effortless though, and Neptune was able to save Compa and transform back. But the creature's not quite dead yet, so the two of them run back to Compa's bedroom.
Turns out that the two of them got away with some kind of key fragment, which can be used to release Histoire from her seal. So now I've got a quest! Neptune needs to search all four Lands for the key fragments, and Compa's coming along too. Nursing school is closed due to the monsters and she can't leave Neptune all alone with her brain loss.
I went through and selected every NPC that's NEW and got a Plan from a Cat!
The game's a remake, so the developers have cleverly decided to include a 'Remake' system that lets me add and change game systems, add dungeons, add monsters and develop new items, if I've got the Plans for it. Plus I also need to harvest the right materials for them as well, like Checkered Shirt Cloth and Large Beaks.
Unfortunately creating an accessory doesn't actually give me the object, it just unlocks them for purchase in the shop. Plus everything create takes up take up space and I've only got 64 MB spare right now. So I made a Plan to change the items lying around in the Virtua Forest instead. The good thing about this system is I can always return to the menu to turn any changes I've made on or off. The bad thing is that this is all a clever trick to make me replay stages I've already beaten.
Of course I don't actually know what things like TEC and MEN mean, but I know that more STR is what I want. Though I can't afford it just yet. I guess I'll just drop by the Virtua Forest again quickly to get some Guild quests done and earn a bit of cash... maybe get a bit of experience maybe.
I love that the game's giving me these tutorials as I go, but the more it teaches me, the less I know.
I'm still not 100% on what Compa refers to, but haven't the first idea what IF is a reference to. Interactive Fiction? Is she text adventures? She's got mobile phone straps equipped so I guess it could be some Japanese phone company I've never heard of. IF, IF, IF... it has to be something obvious seeing as she's a main character.
Oh duh, the game was originally made by Idea Factory and Compile Heart... IF and Compa! So those two are basically the closest thing to a developer Mary Sue you'll ever see in a game.
They've been anthropomorphising everything lately in Japan: ships, planes, planets, nations during World War II etc. so I guess it was only a matter of time before they got around to game developers. And by pure coincidence they're always turned into cute girls, funny that.
So that's what you get when you cross a cat with a PS4 huh? I'd adopt it and plug it into Compa's TV if I could, but the only option I have here is to violently void its warranty. It's probably for the best though, as it's too ugly to look at and I bet it'd always wander away in the middle of a game. Plus who wants a game console that meows?
☆ BUT THEN ☆.
I managed to beat the guy in the end, by using SP skills every turn while Compa kept everyone alive with the use of healing items and a ton of SP skills, but I'm basically out of SP now and my health's not doing so great either. It's lucky I likely don't have to walk back, as those weak monsters might actually stand a chance against me now.
This wouldn't be a fair fight even if I'd come into it fresh, so it's pretty obvious I'm meant to lose here. But I'm going to drag it out and use up all my healing items just so I can complain about it later.
Damn, it seems like I really did just lose the game there. I know what I did wrong though: I went into the fight at level 11 when a couple of minutes grinding could've gotten me up to level 13! Let's see how Black Heart likes it when she's not on my level.
☆ LATER ☆.
Neptune's got a good running speed by the way, though they all do really as I can switch the leader at any time. Here I've got Compa out to show how much her hair looks like an octopus from behind.
There are enemies in here I promise, they're just camera shy. I can't ever wipe them out as they respawn fairly quickly. In fact there's also super-tough enemies sitting in these dungeons which mind their own business and wait for me to start a fight, and I had ambitions of taking a couple of those down as well. But nope that's not happening.
New items, tougher enemies, and fantastic new grinding opportunities await!
I was going to stop here and go back to fight Black Heart, but that would mean turning off this YouTube video I'm watching now. Turns out that this is a good game to play when you're watching TV or listening to podcasts, as typical battles take the bare minimum of attention and it rewards mindlessly replaying old areas.
So now I have to remember to press X during my attack instead of Y. Or maybe I should be pressing A until their guard meter's empty and then switch to X... damn, I'm going to have to check each move's stats again to check. Actually maybe I should write them down as I've got three characters to manage here.
☆ EVENTUALLY ☆.
I decided that the sensible way to take her down was to keep levelling until failure was impossible, rather than beat my head against a brick wall until I learned to outwit it. So if you glance to the top right of this screenshot you'll notice that I overshot level 13 by just a little.
But out of curiosity I decided to check a walkthrough to see what level I should've been fighting her at... and the guide says 'level 20'. So according to that I really did have to double my level to beat this boss, and that is plainly ridiculous.
I can only bring three characters out into battle, so I guess now I'm testing to see if characters in the back row get XP and level up with the rest. It's going to take a while to reach level 22 though.
Damn this cute game... I don't know whether to hug it or strangle it
I was all set to be creeped way out by Hyperdimensional Neptunia Re;birth1 but truth is I've actually grown to like it... kind of. It's just so damn upbeat and cheerful. I don't even hate the name; it's better than Hyperdimension Origins: 1.8 Remix Prologue, or whatever else they could've come up with.
Trouble is that there's a ridiculous amount of grinding in it. In fact I think there may be even more grinding than there is talking, and that's damn impressive as these people never shut up! Still, at least the talking's done well, with fantastic artwork and... appropriate voice work (at the times when the voice actors actually turn up). Plus I like how how you can scroll back through conversations; that's a nice feature that they didn't have to add, but they did.
The cast seems to be pretty much exclusively young and female, and if there's ever a situation where breasts could theoretically bounce you can bet that they will, so... yeah. The game likes its fan service. But it's a self-aware fun comedy that takes the piss out of tropes even as it indulges in them; I think Neptune and Deadpool would get along well. Maybe he could ask her what the hell this game actually has to do with the console wars, because I'm still not seeing any connection.
It's quite a pretty game, for a port of a handheld title that was a remake of a six year old PS3 game, especially as the original was a bit shite. The graphics aren't mindblowing, but it makes up with it with its slick presentation and beautiful beautiful menus. If I ever gave out scores on this site, this'd get an extra 20% just because I like the way the menu options slide onto the screen.
But then I'd have to take those points away again because of that aforementioned grinding, and how repetitive the combat gets. Most fights became about shuffling around trying to get my targeting box lined up with as many enemies as possible, and that started getting old. You set up your three attacks before the fight even starts, so the tricky part (at the stage of the game I reached) is remembering which of them does the most damage. Though at least battles are often over with quickly and can be avoided for the most part if you want a break from collecting necessary XP. And the game does at least give you reasons to go through old dungeons over and over with its sidequests and Remake system.
It's not a game I've got much interest in continuing with, but I don't regret playing it and I can imagine that someone more in tune with its cheeky content would get a lot more out of it. Maybe I won't give it one of my prestigious 'Not Crap' stars after all, though I will give it one of these: ☆
You could always write some words of your own underneath though. Share your thoughts on the game, my site, and stuff.