At first glance, “Hyperdimension Neptunia” is a game that looks like it’s made for perverts. The fact of the matter is, even though it is marketed to them, the game plays like a great classic turn-based dungeon crawler steeped in gamer culture references. And since this is a Japanese RPG, it’s convoluted and is host to horrifying dialogue.
The game features inside gamer jabs at the current console wars, the XBOX 360, PS3 and the Wii, and current gaming tropes. The land of “Gameindustri” is in peril. The four Goddesses, or CPUs, or Console Patron Units, are at war. Each of these goddess, Purple Heart (Neptune), Black Heart (Noire), Green Heart (Vert), and White Heart (Blanc), represent the consoles. Neptune is the successor, but never released system, to the SEGA Dreamcast; Noire represents the PS3; Vert represents the XBOX 360; and Blanc represents the Wii. This is interesting as the lands are named somewhat similar to their systems. There’s Planeptune, Lowee, Lastation, and Leanbox, which are the four landmasses. Oddly enough, it’s just convoluted enough to work.
The main character, Neptune, crashes down to Gameindustri and is quickly in the care of a rather well endowed nurse, Compa, (which is a jab at one of the developers, Compile Heart). Quickly, it becomes apparent that a Holy Tome, Histoire, is trying to unite the four landmasses. Histoire created the CPUs, but they all started infighting. This infighting led to the exile of Neptune. Anyway, the story just leads to the resolution, and is not really well developed.
It has to be said that the main character’s nickname, Nep-Nep, or even Neppermint, would make most people want to scratch out their ears with their PS3 controller. It hurts, so much.
The big draws here are the art – finally in three dimensions – and the battle system. The art is amazing, per usual, and the developers added enough depth so that the player can see the characters breathing; it’s spectacular to look at. What isn’t, and is extremely unnerving, is the way that the anime-inspired characters’ breasts jiggle as the player moves around the frame. It’s a creepy, if not an interesting design choice, and is scary enough to make some in the target audience regret their purchase.
In any case, the company, Idea Factory, finally made a jump to 3D. It’s got a great art style, but aren’t very detailed, and the dungeon designs are reused.
The combat system is pretty neat in that it uses Action Points (AP), but the attacks are mapped to the face buttons. They can only be chained to four attacks, but you can use the character’s alternate mode in tandem, and even use other characters to create even more combos and raise AP. This allows for some customization, and insanely fun and flashy combos.
Aside from who the game is marketed to, the horrible dialogue and low detail, the game is pretty awesome. It has a surprising amount of content, and is well supported. It’s a game that could be a guilty pleasure, if the dialogue doesn’t kill you first.