Review: Hyperdimension Neptunia: Re;Birth1 (PlayStation Vita)

Hyperdimension Neptunia: Re;Birth1: Official GBAtemp Review

PlayStation Vita 4,708 views 4 likes 4 comments
Reviewed by Brandon Boui, posted Aug 23, 2014
Aug 23, 2014
  • Release Date (NA): August 26, 2014
  • Release Date (EU): August 27, 2014
  • Release Date (JP): October 31, 2013
  • Publisher: NIS America (NA)
  • Developer: Idea Factory
  • Genres: Action Role-playing game
  • Also For: PlayStation 3
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
Hyperdimension Neptunia: Re;Birth1 is a remake of the Playstation 3 action RPG, which features a revamped battling system and traveling system. It was released in October 2013 in Japan, and released in August 2014 for North America and Europe.
Brandon Boui

A Review of Hyperdimension Neptunia: Re;Birth1 - Playstation Vita

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From what I've seen and heard about this series thus far, it's an interesting series, one that discusses a lot of the issues that currently plague our own gaming industry. The game's world is even called Gamsindustri, divided into four regions. The regions are Planneptune, Lastation, Lowee, and Leanbox. Look familiar? It's a small reference to the Sega, Playstation, Wii, and XBOX consoles. As the protagonist Neptune, you're engaged in the middle of a Console War (go figure!), in which you black out during a battle with one of the region's goddesses and wake up in a cute girl's home. We've got the whole package here. I did a basic preview of the game, and I was liking what I saw. Idea Factory, the creative mind behind this title, did an excellent job bringing this game back to life on the Vita, because after doing some research, I learned that the Playstation 3 version was a chaotic mess. I didn't quite find that to be true in the Playstation Vita version, as everything felt organized and easy to navigate. It had a polished feel to it. In fact, they actually did a good job and corrected most of the original problems that plagued the first game. That isn't to say, however, that the game isn't perfect, and still could use some touching up.

For starters, the game is very distinct in its approach. You can tell that immediately off the bat, just by glancing at the visuals. The characters look like they came straight out of an anime series. The game has fan service. This very distinct approach could both hurt and help Hyperdimension Neptunia. It could hurt the game by turning players off to its visual styling and dialogue. It might reel in players by appealing to their gaming ideals. For me, I initially fell into the middle. I like the idea of a game with ideals about the gaming industry, but I'm not extremely into fan service elements. Thankfully, the game has a delicate balance between the two. The fan service is present in the initial scenes, with some rather eyebrow-raising moments, but it's bearable. Taking the fan service portion of the game aside, it's an RPG at its roots, and that's something worth exploring.

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Looking at a game like this, at first, when I was introduced to the series, it looked like a dating sim or some kind of music game (Producing Perfection comes to mind), and I never would have expected it to be an action RPG. After some dialogue, I was brought to a world map of sorts, where it basically let me choose a destination and explore a dungeon. The game consisted of travelling to locations in Gamsindustri, and then exploring maps, beating bosses, and moving on. That's the game in a nutshell. Throw in the additional sprinkles of RPG elements, like equipment, a command-based battling system, and you have yourself the formula of a generic RPG. The main question that I had throughout the game was, "How could Hyperdimension Neptunia go above and beyond the brilliance of games such as Final Fantasy? Kingdom Hearts?" That list goes on and on. There's a ton of great RPGs out there. What could Neptunia do that would separate it from everyone else? Did it do so successfully? Or did it fall into the category of a generic action RPG?

I played a ton of different RPGs, and most recently I was spoiled with Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited. Many of the RPGs I experienced had a lot of common roots. Hyperdimension Neptunia is no exception. We're still traveling around, crawling inside dungeons, and getting loot, ascending the loot treadmill to become as strong as we can be. Maybe I'm spoiled with Disgaea 4, but even so this title felt a bit lacking in some areas. The dungeons felt a bit lackluster, and battle sequences were a bit monotonous after a while. It actually did get better later on, with the finding of the Remake plans. The Remake system was Idea Factory's hooking mechanism that got players back into the fold to keep playing. It did so by allowing players to, in a way, choose how the game can be played, by changing some of the dungeon aspects, such as loot drops, or adjusting the difficulty. Honestly, without the plans, it could have ended far worse, and this review would have suffered without it. Another flaw I was faced with was the camera, which proved to be a bit of a nuisance as it sometimes left me in an uncomfortable angle. While the camera problem can be rectified, it felt a bit rushed in its execution, and I think it could have been done better. In addition, I started noticing some frame drops. Drops in regular areas, drops in battle. It was intermittent, but definitely noticeable. Did it ruin the experience? Thankfully, for me, I'm not extremely picky. The game was still very playable. Having said that, it definitely took steps to stand out a little bit from the RPG crowd, so it didn't fail completely in that aspect.

Before everyone starts biting my head off and calling me the negative Nancy reviewer, I still have yet to point out what the game did right. The game looks amazing on the Playstation Vita. It's bright, it's really distinct. I love the art style right away. I feel like I can't go back to a Nintendo 3DS because I just love the vibrance that the Vita is able to exude. The music is very upbeat and modern, and has that distinctly Eastern vibe. Think Dance Dance Revolution. The story was charming, and played out as a parody of the console industry as a whole. I love the fact that the game could serve as a dungeon crawler and a visual novel type game in the same package. The dialogue played out like Phoenix Wright at times - quirky, with just the right amounts of humor without being dry or overdone. The sexual references aren't thrown in there for the sake of being thrown in there - it actually goes along with the plot and it's at the right times.

To be completely frank, I came into possession of this title with relatively low expectations, thinking that it would be a generic dungeon crawler game. The last dungeon crawler I played just wasn't my cup of tea; I heard terrible things about the original Neptunia, and I figured that it couldn't be much worse than that. With the preview of this title, my expectations on it lifted, and as I played more, I started to get more into the dialogue and the mechanics. I started to chuckle at some of the references as I discovered them. I'm not going to leave out that the grinding was a bit dull at times, but that happens with every RPG. The combat system, while a bit monotonous in the beginning, became more active and shaped up to become a more active system, one that comes close to, if not paralleling, Kingdom Hearts gameplay. Positioning, while unimportant in the early stages, started becoming crucial to maximize hits on multiple enemies at once. It's also definitely not fun to be attacked from behind, either.

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Hyperdimension Neptunia: Re;Birth1 is a perfect example of a game taking feedback and fixing old problems. From the ashes of a lousy base a whole different beast was born, with a lot of focus on the revamped battle system, which is similar to later games in the franchise. With a wonderfully quirky mix of characters and entertaining dialogue, combine that with the choose how you play aspect and you have yourself the beginnings of a wonderful adventure. Kudos to Idea Factory for turning the game around. Definitely a pleasing game, and a worthy addition to the Playstation Vita library. Is it the best game on the Vita by far right now? No, but it's definitely worth a purchase if you want to have fun with the game and expose yourself to something new.

And of course, I would like to take a moment to thank the press contacts at Idea Factory for providing us with a review copy. Game was definitely fun to play!

Verdict
Pros
+ The visuals look great - bright, very sharp
+ The battle system has been revamped and reorganized
+ Remake system lets you change how you want to play the game
+ Humorous plot and dialogue
Cons
- The game starts out a bit slow, but picks up later on. Push through it!
- Art style might turn people away
8 Presentation
Comparing what I've read with what I've played, the title definitely redid itself for the better and actually feels like a polished title. There's so much to love in the dialogue and the interactions between all the characters.
7 Gameplay
With an RPG comes the grind, this game being no exception. It can get a bit monotonous and dull, but as the game goes through, the combinations start to change. The remake system lets you change aspects of how you want to play, which really saved the game and made it that much better.
8 Lasting Appeal
The remake system adds loads of combinations on how the game can be played. Getting new loot is always fun.
8.1
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
This was a very solid title. Not the best on the Vita, but definitely worthy of a purchase. Recommended to play if you like RPG games or just want to expose yourself to something new that isn't quite so mainstream.
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