Hyperdimension Neptunia Rebirth 1 Review

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Title: Hyperdimension Neptunia Rebirth 1
Developer: Idea Factory International, Compile Heart
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 3.0 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: No

As one of our last reviews stated, the PlayStation Vita is home to many RPGs, and most of those are Action RPG’s.  Like the PSP before it, the PS Vita is quickly becoming a system that caters to much of the JRPG fanbase with games like Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment, Persona 4 Golden, Ragnarok Odyssey Ace, and Ys: Memories of Celceta.  With more games on the way, like Chaos Rings III and Natural Doctrine, the library of RPGs available to the Vita is growing more and more.

What one looks for in some RPGs, though, is uniqueness.  Something that makes it unique and something people haven’t seen much of before.  While you have some unique games, like Ys: Memories of Celceta and Sword Art Online, that partially pull their roots from series on other systems to bring that uniqueness to the PS Vita, one thing that some RPG fans look for are not only uniqueness in the game, but also crossings between genres.

There aren’t many RPGs out there that cross genres, though there are some.  One such game is about to release on the Vita, and is from a very niche franchise.  By niche, I mean it’s a franchise that most gamers will not have heard of unless they’ve played the series before.  I am, of course, talking about Hyperdimension Neptunia.  This game does cross genres, as you will soon find out.  With Idea Factory International completely remaking and revamping the original PS3 game, here is our official review of Hyperdimension Neptunia Rebirth 1!

Story

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The story of Rebirth 1 takes place In two realms.  The first is Gamindustri, the “mortal” world, and the higher realm called Celestia.  In Celestia, there reside four goddesses called “CPU’s” that maintain and balance the world below.  However, the four of them are caught in an endless struggle known as the “Console War”, fighting one another for the title of “True Goddess”, to govern all parts of Gamindustri, rather than just their designated realm.

In the midst of this fighting, three of the Goddess turn on Purple Heart, otherwise known as Neptune, aiming to annihilate her out of the picture for good.  Meanwhile, in Gamindustri, a young girl falls from the sky, her memory lost.  A Nursing Student named Compa finds this girl, named Neptune, and travels with her across Gamindustri in the hopes of restoring her lost memory.  Gaining allies along the way, they travel and uncover a plot that could change the fate of the entire realm.

The story of Rebirth 1 isn’t a ground-breaking story, but it is an enjoyable one.  While Neptune can be a little too casual for the situations she has been thrown in, every cutscene is full of comedy and references.  The references go from mentioning that they know the game is a remake or to giving allusions to other game franchises, like Tekken, Pokemon, Final Fantasy, and more.  The dialogue isn’t serious, but it will make you laugh at every turn.

Gameplay

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Rebirth 1 is an RPG.  As you play through the game, you will have a party of three characters to go into battle with, though you will gain more party members as the game progresses.  At its base, you could call this a console RPG, but also a dungeon crawler, as a lot of the game will be spent working your way through dungeons to start Story Events, fight enemies, gather items, and take on Boss Fights.

As you begin the game, you will have a World Map to select locations from.  The Map will be the entire world of Gamindustri and there will be four realms for you to explore, each governed by a different CPU.  As you start out and continue the story, locations will appear on your map that you can explore, in the form of dungeons and cities.  More of these will pop up as you progress further into the game and, by game’s end, you will have dozens of places to explore, fight, and gain items.

Cities have 5-6 main features that you can take part in.  The first is the Shop, where you can buy new weapons, items, materials, clothing, and accessories to better equip you for the next dungeon or boss.  The Guild is there for quests, letting you fight monsters or collect items to get rewards, like new items and equipment.  Disc Developer allows you to take materials to make specialized equipment.  The CPU Blog allows you to read updates on what’s happening in that city’s region from the CPU, herself.

The final two areas of cities are the Information and Museum sections.  The Information area is a place that constantly updates as you progress through the story.  This allows you to watch some scenes and talk with NPC’s that will give you items, mostly in the form of Plans to use in the Remake system.  The Museum is there so you can watch cinematic scenes and look at artwork you’ve unlocked, be it from Rebirth 1 or the original PS3 release of Neptunia.

The Remake System is one of the most robust features that has been added to this remake.  The Remake System allows you to gather materials and activate Plans that you come across as you play the game.  Plans can add a lot of things to the game.  Some plans can change what items and enemies appear in certain dungeons.  Other plans can create new weapons and armor for you.  There are also other plans that allow you to weaken or strengthen enemies, essentially giving you the ability to move into Easy Mode or Hard Mode at will.

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When you go into a dungeon, you will be in a large 3D area, full of items to collect, save points to save progress, events to activate, and enemies to fight.  Fighting enemies doesn’t take place in the same field as the dungeon.  So, when you find an enemy, you will have to attack them or have them attack you to start the battle.  Whichever attacks first will have the advantage in the battle, so always try to attack first.

Battles play out in a turn-based fashion, but also can feel like you’re in an Action RPG.  During battle, when it is your turn to move, you will have free roam to walk and run around the battle field at will, until you find an enemy in your attack range (which changes depending on the weapon you’re equipped with).  Once you do, you can attack them in various ways, be it a combo with equipped combination attacks, using skills that use up your SP (Skill Points), use Items, or even transform into more powerful forms to use other skills and EX Skills.  Winning a battle with these will net your party experience and the chance to Level Up to learn new skills and increase their stats.

As you progress further into the game, the EX Meter will be an important part of the game.  As you deal and take damage to enemies while you’re in a dungeon, your EX Meter will raise.  If you fill up a single bar of that Meter, you will be able to perform finishing moves with your Combination attacks, or use special EX Attacks, which are cinematic “Ultimate” attacks that deal a huge amount of damage to your enemy, or enemies.  Unlike Combination Finishers, though, EX Attacks will deplete your EX Gauge Meters.  There are also more powerful EX Attacks that can be achieved when certain characters are in battle together.

One of the biggest things to pay attention to in this game is making sure you’re always upgrading your equipment, raising your levels, and taking advantage of as many Plans as you can.  Even if you’ve got Easy Mode turned on, Rebirth 1 is not an easy game.  As you go through each chapter, the difficulty climbs very, very quickly.  There will be times, where boss fights will seem completely unfair, but if you think hard and make a strategy based on their weaknesses, the game can be a fun challenge.

This game is not a short one, either.  Rebirth 1 has everything the original game had plus the battle system of Neptunia Victory and a lot of extra content.  All in all, the game should take you at least 45-50 hours to finish, if not more.  There is a lot to do here.

Controls

One thing to note about this game is that it is one of the few PlayStation Vita games that doesn’t use the touch screen or rear touch screen at all.  While this could be good or bad, depending on your preference, you will only be using the physical buttons when playing through this game.  Once thing to note is that there is no way to re-map controls.  You will have to play the game as it is.

Moving around dungeons or the World Map is done with the Left Analog Stick and jumping between areas on the World Map is done with the D-Pad.  The D-Pad is also to use in dungeons to zoom in and out with the camera, whether you’re just wandering around or in the middle of a battle.  The Right Analog Stick will be used to rotate the camera, changing the angle and where the camera is facing.  This is also both in the field and in battle.

The Face Buttons will be used, mostly to choose commands for battle or in the menu.  Each of the Face Buttons has its own commands and attacks in battle, like combination attacks, using skills, transforming, and others, all of which is shown to you on the Battle Screen.  Outside of battle, the Triangle button is used to pull up the menu.  The X Button is used to select options and the Circle button is used to go back.  The L and R Buttons are used as well, to cycle through various options in battle.

Presentation

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The presentation of this game is something that is quite impressive, but also brings the game down a bit.  To start off with, the in-game visuals are very impressive.  When you zoom in on the characters, everything looks mostly crisp and smooth, and has a lot of depth to it.  In comparison, Rebirth 1 looks better, visually, than Neptunia and its own sequel do on the PS3.  For a Vita game to look better than its PS3 counterpart is something to be congratulated.

The only downer part of the presentation is the frame-rate.  There are many dungeons where the game plays smooth and plays great.  However, in a fair number of the dungeons, you will notice some frame drops, particularly when you’re in battle and using some of the more cinematic combination attacks and skills.  While this isn’t game-breaking, it drops a fair amount for anyone to be able to notice the difference, especially when they could see the same attack animation in a different dungeon run smooth without issue.  It’s a minor issue, but still an issue.

Overall

Hyperdimension Neptunia Rebirth 1 is a very funny and beautiful RPG.  The game’s story won’t hold the attention of those wanting a serious Final Fantasy VII level of story and the frames do drop a fair amount in some dungeons.  However, for everyone else, there is a unique RPG experience here that will be new for newcomers to the series as well as series veterans that will take up lots of your time and bring you a lot of laughs and smiles.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network Rates Hyperdimension Neptunia Rebirth 1 an 8/10

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