Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2: Sisters Generation Review + Video Review

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Title: Hyperdimension Neptunia Rebirth 2: Sisters Generation
Developer: Idea Factory International, Compile Heart, Felistella
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 3.4 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail

EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail
PSTV Support: Yes

Hyperdimension Neptunia should be a phrase that PlayStation Vita fans are already familiar with.  This franchise, which began on the PlayStation 3, has been taking over the Vita by force.  Ever since PS3 games began to come over to the handheld world, Idea Factory International has been bringing their flagship series to the Vita for handheld gamers to take part in.  This began with a spin-off game, Producing Perfection.

Since then, Neptunia has been getting game after game after game on the Vita.  Not that long ago, the first Neptunia PS3 game got completely remade for the Vita, and three more Neptunia games are set to release in the West later this year.  Although the in-development, Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory 2 is set to be PS4-exclusive, every other game in the franchise is coming to Sony’s handheld system, from remakes to spin-off games.

Since Rebirth 1 released last year, we have gotten a lot more interested in the franchisel.  Thanks to Idea Factory, we have had the chance to dive into their newest Vita game, which is a remake of Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk. II.  Having originally been a PS3 title and the first Neptunia game to be compatible with the PlayStation TV, here is our official review of Hyperdimension Neptunia Rebirth 2: Sisters Generation!

Story

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The story of Rebirth 2 takes place in the world of Gamindustri where the CPU Goddesses of each nation keep the world in order.  At the beginning of the game, we are given a scene where the four CPUs are being annihilated by an unknown enemy, which throws all of Gamindustri into chaos.  3 years later, IF and Compa come to a place known as the Gamindustri Graveyard and find the CPU’s, only to be driven out moments later.  Escaping with Nepgear, the CPU Candidate of Planeptune, they set out on a journey to rescue the other CPUs and bring order back to their world.

Rebirth 2 differs from the first game as it isn’t the same Gamindustri.  The story of Rebirth 2 is set in an alternate reality where the events of the first Neptunia game did not happen.  Because of this, the game has different origin stories as well as other small things that will not make much sense to players of Rebirth 1 if they don’t realize this isn’t a direct sequel.  However, it should also be noted that this isn’t a good starting point of the series.  While it isn’t a sequel to Rebirth 1, it doesn’t go out of its way to explain how the world works the way Rebirth 1 does.  It’s still recommended that you play Rebirth 1 before Rebirth 2.

As with the first game, the story is filled with comedy as well as references and parodies to anything you can imagine.  The game’s story, itself, is a parody of the handheld wars between the SEGA Game Gear, Sony PlayStation Portable, and Nintendo DS.  As you play through the game, you will find references to anything and everything from Final Fantasy, Metal Gear, Pokemon, Star Trek,  and even the newer game systems like the Nintendo 3DS.

Gameplay

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Just like Rebirth 1, this is a console-style RPG that is a cross between a turn-based RPG and an Action RPG.  Progressing through the game is just like it was in Rebirth 1.  To progress through the story and the game itself, you will be traveling around through the various countries to do quests, buy equipment, and fight your way through dungeons to acquire what you need to save the CPUs and stop the threat that the world is facing.

The system is actually the same system that Rebirth 1 used, but modified a little bit to accommodate Mk II’s story and settings.  However, the additions made to the system are more than just a few balances here and there.  The first addition is made to the countries, themselves.  Each country still has the Information, Guild, Shop, and Disc Development areas where you can talk to people, do quests, shop for upgrades, and create accessories.  There, however, is a new section called Stella’s Dungeon.

Stella’s Dungeon is a mini-game where you can send a young warrior known as Stella (a parody of the developer Felistella that worked on the game) into various dungeons to get items for you.  This actually functions as a small RPG game.  When Stella returns from the dungeons, she will gain experience and level up, as well as acquiring equipment only she can use.  On the contrary, if her quest fails, she will return without the equipment she went in with.  You can then equip her and send her in longer or to other dungeons, where she can find better items for you to use as you develop Disc Accessories.

The Remake System of utilizing plans to unlock content is still in this game as well.  You find plans as you progress through the game and must collect items and use Disk Space (which you earn from story progression) to initiate these plans.  They could be as simple as adding items to the Shop to completely adding or revamping dungeons that are already on the World Map.  This can get very extensive towards the end of the game when you find plans to be able to modify end-game dungeons as well as creating optional bosses to get high-end equipment.

Dungeon exploration and combat is mostly the same, though you can use four characters in an active party rather than 3.  You take your party with you in dungeons to fight in battles as well as collection items and progressing towards the next boss fight.  The Lily Rank system returns as well, offering you certain enhancements for linking certain people together, from combination attacks to stat bonuses.

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Combat, itself, remains unchanged.  When you go into each battle, you will take turns and have an open area to explore to set up each attack until you can unleash an attack combo or skills.  You still obtain Experience Points from winning battles and can gain new skills by leveling up from gaining Experience.  This is mostly changed with new characters, rather than changes to the system, itself.

The biggest addition that Rebirth 2 has that Rebirth 1 doesn’t is lasting content past finishing the game.  Rebirth 2 has more than 20 playable characters (many of which are exclusive to Rebirth 2) and nine different endings for you to achieve, some requiring very specific conditions.  While the game’s Normal Ending can be acquired in about 20-25 hours, the True Ending (which is canon) will take you a good 25-30 hours to achieve.  Getting all nine endings and characters will likely raise that time-frame up to 40-50 hours, depending on how you tackle it.

Controls

Players of Rebirth 1 will already be familiar with the control scheme for Rebirth 2.  Players of past console RPGs should also be familiar with this system as a lot of it is pretty standard for RPGs.  First of all, there are some touch screen features, like shortening battle animations, but nothing that you cannot also do with the buttons on the system.  It’s also worth noting that controls are exactly the same when you play the game on a PlayStation TV.

Controlling the cursor on the world map as well as your characters in dungeons is done with the Left Analog Stick and the camera is controlled with the Right Analog Stick.  The D-Pad can also be used for camera controls by zooming towards or away from your character.  The rest of the game is handled with the triggers and the face buttons, though this is mostly with the face buttons, as you don’t use the triggers for much.

The L trigger is used to center the camera behind your character and the R button is used to cycle menus when in battle.  The rest is up to the face buttons.  X allows you to confirm an action or choice in the customization or battle menus, and Circle allows you to cancel an option or choose to run or defend in battle.  The Triangle button brings up the menu for customization or battle skills, and the Square button is used to search for items in a dungeon or switch characters in battle.

All in all, the controls sound technical, and they can be.  However, the game has button prompts for all of the different battle commands, so all you have to do is look at a button symbol next to each option to know what to do.  While there are a lot of controls to learn, the game makes it pretty easy on you in case you ever forget.

Presentation

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As far as presentation goes, there hasn’t been a lot of changes between Rebirth 1 and Rebirth 2.  This game uses the same graphical engine that it’s predecessor used.  From this, the game is a nice looking cell-shaded 3D game.  While there are definitely some jagged edges in some of the character models upon zooming in, the game looks like an early PS3 game.  Everything looks very smooth and detailed, especially when compared to other Vita games.

One thing to make a note of is that the game recycles dungeons.  There is a lot of dungeon templates in Rebirth 2 that were taken straight out of Rebirth 1.  Another thing to note is that the game uses the same dungeon template throughout multiple dungeons in the game.  For example, the Midcompany dungeon looks exactly the same as three other dungeons in the game.

As far as how the game plays, it’s mostly good.  The game has pretty short load times, but does have some frame drops in a few areas.  Unlike Rebirth 1, the frame drops only happen in battle during certain animations.  They removed the dungeon lag from the Rebirth 1 dungeons.  It is an improvement, but there are still some frame drops, here and there.

Summary

Hyperdimension Neptunia Rebirth 2: Sisters Generation is: Great
Neptunia’s second game makes the jump from PS3 to PS Vita with new improvements, characters, and endings.  On the downside, the game has some frame drops in some sections and recycles dungeons throughout.  Despite this, the game comes packed with enough fun comedy and new content to keep an RPG fan's attention for 50 hours and beyond. 

8/10

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