Game Title: Superdimension Neptune vs Sega Hard Girls
Developer: Compile Heart, Sega, Idea Factory International
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: Vita
Download: 1.5 GB
NA Availability: Retail | Digital Download
EU Availability: Retail | Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes
Hyperdimension Neptunia has always been known as a series to parody other series. The first two games in the main series parody the home console wars (PS3 vs Xbox 360 vs Wii) and the handheld console wars (PSP vs DS). Since then, everything in the series has parodied everything about gaming, from characters based on gaming companies to monsters parodying known RPG enemies.
One thing that hasn’t been done yet, is the series actually crossing over with another franchise. It’s been known that many of the Neptunia characters are based on Sega consoles, and Sega took note of that. Working with the developers, they’ve made a cross-over between Neptunia and the animated series known as Sega Hard Girls (Short for Sega Hardware Girls).
So, here is my early review of Superdimension Neptune vs Sega Hard Girls!
Superdimension takes place in a post-apocalyptic world that has been reduced to a dead wasteland. A traveler known as IF seeks out a famous library known to hold records of the entirety of history in the hopes of finding out why the world is a wasteland. Upon arriving, she is drawn into an adventure across time as segments of history begin to disappear.
The plot of this game is more in-depth and less focused on comedy alone like the other spin-offs do. It does a fair amount to give background for eras based on Sega consoles as well as incorporating the Sega Hard Girls into the Neptunia series in a way that makes sense for them to be there and involved with the CPUs.
Like the main series, Superdimension is a turn-based RPG with additional unit management and platforming elements thrown into the mix. The game plays out very much like the Re;Birth games do on the PS Vita with world map exploration, quests, and story events pushing dungeon availability forward. If you’ve played the Re;Birth games, you have a very good idea of how you’ll be playing this game.
Main exploration has a new feature in the form of terrain you can interact with. New dungeons incorporate these and many returning dungeons have expanded sections. You can now climb walls, squeeze through crawlspaces, dash to make longer jumps, and climb on ropes to reach your objective areas. This is also encouraged with the inclusion of medals and baseballs you can pick up in each dungeon, normally associated with these interaction areas.
Although you can freely explore different eras through the world map, story progression is quest-based. Each time you want to do a side-quest or see the next story segment, you have to accept it as a quest from the library. Once a story quest is accepted, it will trigger an event in the appropriate era, and you can go into the dungeons and see those events play out.
The way this works is refreshing, but it also has a bad side to it. One thing I like is that there isn’t a set order for the story. You have four different time eras you can visit, and you can progress those story events in any order you want. If you want to do the Dreamcast era before the Mega Drive era, you can do that and it will not have any consequences. This gets more strategic later in the game when quests you take will affect the strength of the final boss. But it gives you a lot of freedom you don’t normally get from JRPGs.
The bad is that it feels repetitive. Some story quests are literally a cutscene and nothing else so you’re going through Accept a quest, watch a scene, backtrack to report quest. Accept next quest. Repeat process. This really starts to feel repetitive with all the backtracking you have to do with constantly leaving eras just to activate the next story event.
Combat looks similar but it has also significantly changed. You no longer set up combos with learned skills. You now have an Action Gauge on the left that fills when you move, use an item, attack, or use a skill. You have a lot of freedom in this. In previous games, you went through an attack combo on a single enemy and the turn was over. In this game, you could use a few attacks to knock out one enemy, and use the remainder of your gauge to move to a different part of the arena and start taking out another.
This is also changed with Overdrive, Gems, and the Fever Time systems. Overdrive is like a charged attack. If you hold the attack button, you can charge to do a finishing combo at any given time so you don’t have to use a skill to finish off an enemy. I personally prefer using most of my action gauge with normal attacks and ending with a charged attack.
Gems are floating objects that will randomly appear during battle. Jumping into these could do a lot of things, from healing you to regenerating SP needed for skills. There’s also a Gem for Fever Time, which builds up as you fight. Fever Time will give you extra turns before your enemy can go, increases all of your party’s stats, and give you access to EXE Skills, exclusive to Fever Time and only use part of the Fever Gauge instead of using SP.
The final addition is the use of Classes. Like other RPGs, each character can change classes, which affects what skills they learn. Characters level up for stats, but classes level up to give you skills, both offensive like SP skills and support skills that can affect battle, such as increasing the amount of EXP you get from combat or changing how quickly the Fever gauge fills up. You can keep support skills you’ve learned in other classes, so it’s worth the grind to be able to get those skills for the optimal setup.
This all comes together pretty well, giving the game a lot of customization, much of which is needed for the game’s boss fights. Normal battles don’t increase difficulty terribly quickly, but when bosses show up, get ready to give everything you’ve got. Every major boss fight is a struggle unless you’ve done a lot of grinding and have your EXE skills and Fever Time set up before the battle starts. It’s certainly not an easy game without all of those and a good formation setup.
As far as length is concerned, don’t expect to spend the same amount of time in this as you would in the Re;Birth games, but it does have a good amount to it. Your first run through for the story-based ending should take you around 20-25 hours. If you know exactly what you’re doing, though, you could probably clear it in a little less than 20 hours. Then you’ve got New Game Plus for the two alternate endings, quests you didn’t do before, and the NG+ exclusive secret boss fight to test your skills.
Controlling the game is pretty simple and there isn’t a lot different between this and previous games of the series. As always, the game is compatible with the PlayStation TV but there are no special controls, unless you consider hitting L1 as an alternative to the touch screen for skipping battle animations as a special control at this point.
The Left Analog Stick is used to move around and the Right Analog is for the camera. D-Pad can be used in menus, but also for zooming in and out when in the field or in combat.
Almost every other button is used in combat, though. The R trigger is used for escaping from battle or choosing to end your turn after you’ve done actions. X is used for attacks, Square for using items, Triangle for skills, and Circle for jumping. It’s pretty self-explanatory as all of those combat controls have their button displayed in the battle HUD.
Visually, this game is a step up from previous games. There is a lot more detail and higher quality cell-shading done to make the game look prettier. There’s a lot of physics done as well, showing character hair and costumes flowing in the wind, especially when rope-climbing and the shadows are very accurate.
This doesn’t come without cost, though. There are many areas that have frame drops. You can watch the video review to get an idea of this, but it’s more or less like the frame drops seen in Re;Birth 2. It’s not a huge deal since it doesn’t happen terribly often, but something to consider since a few of the drops are relatively significant.
Superdimension Neptune vs Sega Hard Girls is like a giant love letter to Sega. While the quest system is repetitive and there are some frame issues, the game’s made a lot of significant changes to the series formula that adds a lot more depth to it.