Title: Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth2: Sisters Generation
Developer: Ideal Factory, Compile Heart
System: PSVITA, PSTV (coming to Steam soon)
Length: Estimated 45-65+ hrs
With the first Hyperdimension Neptunia for the PS3 receiving anything other than positive accolades, the indirect sequel of MK2 would have to indeed be the improvement the series was seeking as it reconciled many of the unpleasant elements that were simple to rectify in the first place. Granted it still didn’t fix things like the horrid framerate or repetitious nature, it was still a step in the right direction. So with that being said and Neptunia Rebirth 2 seen as its portable successor: How do you polish an already nearly polished product? That in itself is not a difficult question to answer, but if you are wondering if the improvements made it worth revisiting the Gamindustri of MK2, then the answer for newcomers would be a modest “yes” and for veterans – well, it just depends if a few improvements are enough for you to want to return. For me, it wasn’t completely the case, but by the same token, gratifying nonetheless.
Like its progenitor, the game follows the journey of Nepgear (Neptunia younger sister) and her fellow CPU candidates out to save their captive siblings and defeat the crime organization known as “ASIC” from taking over the world and summoning forth an entity called “The Deity of Sin”. Unlike Rebirth 1 that was completely rewritten, everything in Rebirth 2 remains in synchronicity with MK2 with the exception of new characters taking the place of old ones such as: Red, the inclusion of dlc characters like Cave into the main storyline, and even a new ending alongside the other possible ones. Besides that, the game still carries the same lighthearted nature and referential humor it always has and to that extent, plenty of new parodies and jokes line its game otaku library. Most of these are not so much in the dialogue as they are on world map as in-between events and no matter your gaming knowledge should be recognizable. Just like playing the former, it will take you at least 2 playthroughs in order complete everything there is (if that is your prerogative).
If you have played Rebirth 1 (or MK2 for that matter), then there is very little that constitutes as monumental revisions rather than smaller enhancements found in 3 core mechanics. One of those is combat that allows up to 4 characters to participate instead of 3. And while this does seem like the only change merely for the express purpose of demonstrating new found technical limitations lifted or for the sake of change, it does make practical sense due to the fact that enemies themselves are abit tougher to take down. Not by much mind you, yet the additional character does help make battles go by quicker in many cases as well as pull off special combo skills easier. The other new element is a feature called “Stella’s Dungeon”, a real-time RPG mini-game that centers around Stella (the mascot of Felistella, the company that was apart of Rebirth’s development) as you send her out to various dungeons and after a predetermined amount of time (indicated on the side of each dungeon floor selection) returns with items for her own use and your own. However, if she fails, nothing is brought back and that includes any equipped items – thus, bringing up a risk versus reward aspect that is usually more risky due to the fact that Stella’s progress is virtually dependent on luck. At any rate, the system doesn’t bar you from anything you can’t obtain normally and more helpful than a hindrance. The last change and mostly likely the smallest is the inclusion of “Dungeon Change” plans, that can completely change the layout of dungeons and with it, reveal new materials and foes that the “rotate item harvest” and “spawn tougher foes” plans could not. Unlike Rebirth 1, plans in general are easier to run across, yet there are a few that require subsequent visit or using this method in tandem with the other two to get them to show up or lift from a certain enemy.
Any other changes are purely cosmetic in nature such as the inclusion of character voice-overs that happen when you are idle on the world map, in dungeons, or accessing your menu. A majority of the quips the characters make are cute such as Cave “wishing a swarm of bullets would appear” or Marvy mentioning “standing still is what ninja do best”, yet kind of wish there is someway to turn it off since when opening the menu it happens every single time and will become grating no matter the language. On the visual spectrum of matters, graphical upgrades are another noticeable element in comparison to the PS3 version. Just like Rebirth 1, this title also benefits greatly from the Vita’s hardware allowing for fluid cutscenes and animations, with most of the old assets completely redone or removed all together only to be replaced. The music is still more or less the same as it was, yet a few tracks have been remixed like some the dungeons themes or completely replaced like the world map theme.
If you played through the original MK2 and even tackled Rebirth 1, there is little reason to skip on Rebirth 2. Yes, it is still abit of a slog trying to find certain resources and plans to create specific items and a pain to achieve the desired ending you wish without a little system grinding and assistance of an FAQ, yet through it all, that is most of the fun of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series along with its campy and inane disposition. The new mechanics might not be enough to assuage those that found the previous entries disenchanting, but sure many prospective fans that haven’t taken up the mantle will find it fascinating as well as ensnare a few vets that want to take the plunge again for on the go play. There are no drastic changes, but enough incremental ones that are not just cosmetic as they are functional and hope will carry over to future titles. Plain and simple: Hyperdimeson Neptunia Rebirth 2 is more of the same that you should be use to and if that is what you want and like, you surely will be getting it here. Nothing wrong with that and if it works fine, why do much else?
Pros: 4 party combatants make battles more fluid, plenty of characters to use in battle, redone visuals and cutscences, multiple endings, mix of lighthearted humor and urgency.
Cons: Stella’s success rate based more on luck than equipment, finding hidden plan/items still require multiple dungeon visits, ending requirements still require alot of manipulation.
Disclaimer: In no way, shape, or form was I compensated for the composition or publication of this review. This by my own volition. A review copy of the game was kindly provided by Ideal Factory International. All images and rights to them belong to Ideal Factory International/Compile Heart/Felistella and only for review purposes.