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Review by Dustin Murphy
+Well done transition from JRPG to Strategy RPG
+Carries on the series as a sidestory of the Hyperdimension franchise
+No annoyances in the ‘shares’ system for the Gameindustri market
+Semi-linear gameplay direction adds to a quick on-the-go experience
+Creative chibi like character models that make the game one of the best looking on Vita
-Boss difficulties, just as in other games, can be challenging and at times too hard
-A massive amount of tutorials that slow down the games pacing
-Characters do not heal up when leveling up in combat scenes, which improves the games difficulty
Where do you go with a franchise that has become so well known for its take on the gaming industry by having four CPU’s from different ‘realms’ and constantly fighting each other go to? A side-story adventure that puts one of the most anti-social of all the characters at the focus; her name? Goddess Blackheart or Noire for short.
Our story takes us into the world of Lastation where Noire (the CPU goddess Blackheart) has gotten tired of existing in the shadows of her allies; Vert, Blanc, and Neptune to name those allies. This time around we are finally getting to see Noire in action where her heart is full of hope, her mind is filled with determination, and her innermost embarrassments are for us to see as her secretary. That’s after she condemns the world into a ‘shares blackout’ and strips the CPU’s of their power. This is where you the player becomes important. For the first-time ever players get to see the world unfold in front of Noire’s eyes where she gets to put the spotlight on her, but also shares the advantage of being in her very own strategy role-playing title, which does itself a lot of justice.
The game takes us into the alternate universe known as Gamarket, which is a huge change from the traditional world of ‘Gameindustri’ where Noire, Vert, and Blanc are always going to war with each other and well Purpleheart or rather Neptune herself. In this newly unveiled world, we get to see Noire as the commander and chief who runs her world with an iron fist and lets the other CPUs know exactly where she stands. Unfortunately for her, there are a bit of issues where she’s tricked into wishing at the sharacite crystal, this being after she is tricked into wishing upon it, and loses all control of her power, the other CPUs power, and well each of the countries generals are out for blood, and hers is to be exact. After almost being attacked by a monster that would normally have been a simple task for her, you – her secretary in all reasons and purposes for this story – are her saving grace that allows her to have her CPU form back. This is, however, where the plot becomes paper thin and focuses on character development versus a solid story that would normally send fans into a craze.
With all of this aside, the games story is, as stated, very thin and leaves little to no room as to a heavy concern on what happened, but instead allows players to see the behind the scenes look at Noire as well as her personal inner-workings. With the game having done this, players will at times feel as if they aren’t playing the game for the story, but instead to experience the fresh-new-look at a series that hasn’t changed all that much since its days on the PlayStation 3. In this game, the new combat system is the most unique twist to the whole thing, which improves upon the old system with the newly implemented “Lily System”, which allows for characters to team up by standing beside each other, getting a peck on the cheek, and performing their skills. Doing this will cause abilities to require less skill points to perform, and will even allow for a buff to be given depending on who, how many, and when the ability is used. The best time for this usage? Making sure your entire team is around you and popping the ability to vanquish enemies that could be annoying to fight.
In this new system, players will also get a ‘kissing currency’, which can be used in order for characters to turn to their CPU appearance and allow for their HDD form as well as abilities to be used. In these forms players can take on using special attacks (just like in the previous titles) and even deploy more units on the field when they start digitally phasing out one by one like some bad sprite from an old game. However, do not think this is something you’ll want to focus on since it does mean that your arsenal of characters to choose from can be used up and leave you defenseless when you really will need those characters on the battlefield. However, who doesn’t want to see every character they can put on the field out in combat in all their animated chibi glory?
Even with the subtle changes to the old combat system, one thing does main majorly intact, and that is the individuality that each character portrays in previous titles while in combat. This means that abilities, their range, and even attack animations remain much the same, but it also means that abilities very rarely become overlapping, if at all. Something that was done quite well in the Re;birth 1 and Re;birth 2 titles (reviews coming soon). Thanks to how Idea Factory approached this, it’s not odd to Vert send a spear piercing through enemies and nuking their health bar to nothingness or see Neptune go into a flashy spiral and knocking a rather large chunk of their health bar off. Though this isn’t something that should always be celebrated. While moving across the battlefield may seem easy, the developers became crafty and allowed enemies to use traps (terrain, etc) against you, they’ve also managed to allow enemies to enjoy a bit of their own quickly dispatching attacks. Enemies can use a range of viruses, poisons, and even status ailments in order to prevent players from proceeding through battlefields as quickly as they would like. Players will also find themselves taking on CPU like characters (no HDD form, but very devastating are accompanied by them).
For those of you who like to move between one point to the next, it never hurts to opt out of attacking and instead moving an extra turn so that players may get to a goal that may need quickly maneuvered to. Luckily those of you who are constantly in trouble due to status ailments, it’s not hard to pick a character on your team setup (assuming you’ve failed the mission and returned to Lastation) can revisit the mission, build your team best suited for the mission, and retry it. Note, anything you’ve obtained or found will be lost upon the mission fail and will require a chance at re-obtaining it by once more taking out enemies and finding that hidden loot.
When not on the battlefield, players are given a chance to visit vendors that will seem rather familiar from the past titles, which is the item developer, disc developer and even a chance to visit the Basilicom. Here players can use special plans obtained from bosses, missions, or simply finding them from chests, this is something rather useful when wanting to create more powerful weapons and armour but this also means that players will be dealing with hard to kill bosses that can be an almost guaranteed one shot when trying to take them on for the materials and item plans. This is where the Lastation Hub becomes an important place when not in the middle of missions.
Visiting the Basilicom is something players can do in order to visit Noire and chat with her or even undergo a small conversation and spend some Sim Points in order to better situate her living area, which is just short of being a shack due to how trashy it looks to begin with. Here is where players can also undertake requests from the people of Lastation and chat with Noire regarding these requests. These requests give an insight into what the possible every day life of Noire must be like. Some of them causing a small chuckle as it tends to be a bit of comedy relief depending on the options chosen.
Outside of this, the game is rather straight forward as a Hyperdimension franchise installment in the fact that players will find themselves doing what they need at the Lastation hub when not trying to complete objectives, missions, and working with the CPUs as suggested, the game is creative and allows for a unique spin on the JRPG series it originates from. With even a paper-thin plot, the story, character development, and even graphics are eye popping and will leave players entertained longer than they would have thought, which is what makes this game well worthwhile.
Closing Thoughts: Reflecting on the Sim
When thinking about where the Hyperdimension series originated from, it’s hard not to see that the game itself has become a bit of a unique spin on the world of Gamarket and the look at what Noire would do if the world was hers. Luckily the game is amusing in every means of amusing and does not cut any corners to fill in the classic puns the series is known for. With requests for missions now being side missions, the game provides quite a bit of fun and even allows for a few of the games rib nudges that can get a small chuckle or laugh out of a person. The game itself is enjoyable and allows for a strategy take on the familiar RPG series. This is definitely one that fills a spot that has been void on the PlayStation Vita and allows for fans to enjoy the series, but for fans who want a very story driven game should look elsewhere for their entertainment.
Final Score: 6 out of 10
Editor’s Note: This version of the game is based upon a pre-release retail version of the game. Our copy was provided to us by the games publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, MMO’s, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable and can’t be softened by even the biggest names in the gaming industry. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. To follow Dustin, hit him up on Twitter over at @GamingAnomaly, find him on his Google+. Wanna game with him? You can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.