Hyperdimension Neptunia V Review - poking fun at the console wars with an RPG twist

  • Posted May 2nd, 2013 at 10:59 EDT by Dane Smith

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Hyperdimension Neptunia V

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An hilarious RPG that tries to be light-hearted, yet deep at the same time. Those who love Compile Heart style RPGs will fall in love with this sequel, but detractors will turn their nose up at it. Great for the fans but not a gateway game to bring non-fans into the fold.

We like

  • Anime presentation
  • Deep, layered storytelling
  • The ample fan service

We dislike

  • Lack of environments
  • Recycled enemies

See PSU's review on Metacritic & GameRankings

The gaming industry has had its highs and lows, laughs and tears, and successes and failures. But what if all of those were wrapped up in a cute little package, making light of everything that happened in the past thirty years of gaming? Welcome to the genius of Hyperdimension Neptunia V, putting a kawaii ribbon on the usually dark and depressing console wars.

Neptunia V is the third game in the series that takes the video game console war and puts a hilarious spin on it. Every console is personified as a CPU, who are rulers of their country, so PlayStation nation really does exist in this game. All the major consoles are represented in some form, with Neptune the main character personifying the Sega Neptune, its cancelled Genesis/32X console. All the characters have traits and mannerisms taken from their console; for example, Noire being super serious and hardcore to represent the public perception of the PlayStation console. Dialogue between the main characters also delves into the public perceptions of each other, and what the system was supposed to be about. With the game taking place in the 80s, and the `I don`t know what we`re doing` attitude of Sega consoles, it is no wonder Neptune talks as if she is a California valley girl on acid.

The dialogue is where this game shines but it is a very subtle and non-serious spin of the entire gaming industry that a lot of people will not get or appreciate. It tries to make-light of everything from trolls and fan boys to creativity and market shares. In essence this entire game is one giant in-joke that if you don't understand then it'll sound juvenile, but if you do understand it you will be laughing like watching a Kevin Smith movie. Lots of gaming icons make parody appearances, from Mario to Snake, and even Keiji Inafune makes a special appearance if you can find him.

Combat is really quick for an RPG, especially a Compile Heart RPG for those who remember previous games made by them like Cross Edge. Every character is on a battlefield and they must be moved around, with a target box used for attacking enemies. Each button has a different attack, allowing for easy combos or easy mashing depending on your play style and situation. Compile Heart also has solved the biggest problem almost every RPG has which is what to do with unused characters. Thanks to their 'Lily System,' players can put characters into ranks with the back rank supporting the front in battle. They don't participate but they do provide buffs, and get better buffs once their rank levels up. It allows those unwanted or unliked characters to have a purpose other than take up space on the menu screen.

Graphically this is not a giant, and except for some beautiful anime-style character models during talking, this game could be played on a PS2 without a hitch. The environments are small and sparse of any background or characters, and while there is a nice array of enemies they eventually get re-used with new names and better stats. All the character models, ally or enemy, are all very unique and it is obvious that a lot of work was put into giving the main protagonists and antagonists their own style.

One problem gamers will have with this game is it is unabashedly an RPG. There is a lot of text, and a lot of it is not voice acted. Thankfully they allow for a skip button, one which it joked about during a dramatic scene. As stated earlier, there are also a lot of in-jokes and references making it a very hard game to just enjoy unless a lot of the jokes are understood and appreciated. If Mass Effect style, super serious and gritty dialogue is what you like then don't even bother looking for it here, and those that cannot appreciate or understand layers of subtlety need not apply as well. To really appreciate the story of the game, the player needs to search for the deeper meanings the creator wants to get across. It is not going to slap you in the face and make it easy.

RPGs are a great genre for music and soundtrack buffs won’t be disappointed here. ... (continued on next page) ----

Dane Smith is PSU's Reviews Editor, a licensed teacher from St. Thomas University, and has a healthy addiction to Monster energy drinks. Buy his novel, follow him on twitter or check out his his article catalog.
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