Idea Factory is known for many different titles but the series they are most infamous for is the Hyperdimension Neptunia series. It is a role playing game series where you play as personifications of different gaming platforms/companies working together and fighting to save the world. It is a series with an original rocky history with the original release of Hyperdimension Neptunia on PS3 but the series got a lot better rapidly over time.
Fast forward to 2016 and its a series that has well over ten different titles, with seven of the series games releasing on the PS Vita. This October, the series will be landing on the Vita once more with the release of Superdimension Neptune vs. SEGA Hard Girls, with this title blending SEGA’s own personifications of the different console platforms produced with the setting and worlds of the Neptune series.
This preview covers my thoughts on the first two hours of the game and will touch on story content during this part of the game.
Story – Time Traveling Adventure Awaits!
Before we get into the story, need to state that you do NOT need to play prior games to get jokes and understand plot points. Most games in the Neptunia series have stand-alone plots with the same or similar cast but with slight differences. This ensures newcomers don’t get lost or confused when starting the game.
The story here starts out with IF riding her bike across a wasteland looking for a special library and she ends up finding it but not before a girl falls from the sky. IF catches her and both head inside the library. IF is introduced to Historie and is allowed to explore the library. Things get out of hand and history starts vanishing! All the while the girl that fell from the sky, named Segami, starts talking about a ‘Time Eater’.
Historie modifies IF’s bike to be able to time travel. With this new ability, IF and Segami go on a time traveling adventure across the different SEGA ages. What makes this story work so far for me is that the writing feels sharp. IF being the main character gives the story some more ‘grounding’ as past games had Neptune take center stage and sometimes she hogged the spotlight. IF is more serious but the story still is light hearted like past games.
Writing is great so far, with many of the characters having a charming personality supported by great English voice acting. The game also has option for Japanese voice acting too, so you can pick that option if you prefer that.
Gameplay & Design – Exploring and Fighting
The end goal is to restore history by going back in time across a number of Era’s, with each one having different locations and dungeons to explore. But before going across time and space, you have the library to explore!
This is your central hub for the game, with you having a shop and an archive to visit. The former lets you get items and gear for your party of course while the later lets you view game assets (cut-scenes, images, music, ect). But once you are set you go across time and space to different locations, which you do by selecting one of the missions Historie has to offer then going to your bike.
Once you land in an era, you have the option to explore dungeons. Each dungeon is quite interesting, as this is Neptune vs. SEGA Hard Girls biggest new feature. IF is quite nibble so the game was designed around this. Level maps are set up as if you were running around in a 3D platformer or action game. This means IF can climb up objects, dash quite quickly, jump across objects and more. I really liked this aspect of the game so far due to gaving locations more depth compared prior titles.
But RPG’s also need to have combat and this game has a solid system in place. It works similarly to the Rebirth games on Vita/PC, where you can move your character around on the map with the analog stick and use the face buttons to different actions. But the difference is a special ‘action’ meter; every action you do takes up some of this.
You can play with this mechanic quite a bit, as even early on you can do some simple hits on one foe then preform a charged attack to use up the rest of your action meter. Other abilities you can use included defending yourself, using items, activate special skills that use the SP meter and even jumping to get items on the field.
One feature of the game is the ability to activate ‘Fever’ which happens the more your fight. Once you hit a specific point on the Fever meter, you can collect a Star on the map that gives your party more gauge in the action meter and stronger stats. The combat system isn’t that much different compared to past Vita titles in the series but changes go a long way in making everything feel fresh if you played the three Rebirth games.
One thing I noticed from this title right away was a visual leap from the other Rebirth games. The characters all have a cell-shaded style to them, with the frame rate being very constant across my two hours with the game so far.
The character portraits you see in cut-scenes are high quality like prior titles and the GCI opening when you start a new game is quite impressive. Musically the game is solid so far, with the map track for the SEGA ****** Era being quite well done.
Audio is high quality too, with the English VA doing a great job matching their voices to the characters. But one thing I have to comment on is the menus and user interface. It is very slick and futuristic, with great details and really fluid transitions. The iconic SEGA blue color is all over the menus as well.
Overall the visual package so far is very solid.
I am impressed with what I played so far, as this game feels like a evolution from past games in the series on Vita. It looks great with solid combat and exploration mechanics all the while providing a presentation that is quite slick.
Since I’m very early in the game, my thoughts might change as the game progresses but at the moment, I am enjoying this title a lot and eagerly look forward to playing more.