+Beautifully designed worlds that reflect heavily upon the RPG titles
+In-depth combat system as well as itemization for characters
+Extremely high replay value
+Two new characters based off Japanese media’s: Dengekiko and Famitsu
–Missions get repetitive
–Boring unlockable modes
–Story is almost impossible to follow
Where do I begin when it comes to a game series that has grabbed me and taken me for a bit of a spin into a new world of hilarity and anime-esque stories as a trope to the gaming industry as a whole? Perhaps by admitting for the first time, this game truly grabbed my inner anime fanboy by the hand and took him for a spin with this newest entry that was, guess what? Not developed by Compile Heart. Welcome to Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed, a title that was developed by renowned Japanese developer Tamsoft who we know for their titles Battle Arena Toshinden, Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad, and even Senran Kagura. Do any of these ring a bell? Well they should since these titles are all rather large to very niche crowds and they are favored by them as expected, but where does this mean that Hyperdimension Neptunia has gone? Down that same path.
As a fan of Hyperdimension Neptunia since the series originally launched on the PlayStation 3, I can’t lie that those games have grabbed my attention and dragged me along, and this installment is honestly the best one to date in the sense of gameplay mechanics. Why not? You get to kick the living Hell out of any near by enemies, but also the fact that missions are short, quick, and overall pleasing to go through the first time around, but why is that a great thing? When exploring the stories with characters Blanc, Vert, Neptune, Noire, and their younger sisters. Even as a franchise that I have come to love and adore, there is a few things that have always bugged me; duration, grinding, farming, and even having to explore rather large zones that can take more time than intended. With this route? The games would be quick, fast, and even offer a rather in-depth story that fans can enjoy with half the duration. But lets get to why this game is such a nice twist compared to the Re;birth series and even the originals.
So lets begin. Welcome to Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed, the first hardcore action game that has become a part of the long running series, and even offering the introduction to the newest characters Famitsu and her rival journalist Degekiko. Their goals? To land exclusive articles and news about the CPUs of Gamindustri and their sisters who just happen to be their candidates. So how do they join in on this adventure? By going into the heat of battle with these ladies and getting the story they want in a combat like style that could easily be noted as a direct play on Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus where players took on short, but sweet quests that allows for fans to put down the game and walk away once done. So why does this adventure structor work so well for this game? It allows for quick exploration of a games wacky story, but also the enjoyable duration that the game offers. Don’t want to play a sixty hour game? Great, that’s what Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action unleashed manages to accomplishes as it progresses. Players uncover the story through small cutscenes as they visit each of the CPUs Basilica’s in order to talk with them in regards to their portions of the story, which to some, will come off as mindless bantering, but underneath it all is a heartfelt story between friends and rivals.
Much like in previous titles, when not enjoying these cutscenes and setting up characters with new weapons, rings, and even costumes, players will find themselves undergoing a repetitive bout of taking on quests over, and over, and over again. Why? To unlock equipment, but also to level up characters as well as their Lily ranks so that players may uncover what is going on within the Gamindustri that has caused a rise of new monsters that are taking the world by storm. So what makes this adventure just all the more fun for these ladies? As they knowingly undertake the quests that the denizens of Gamindustri have given them, the ladies tend to undertake missions that are red, which does not give their mission goal requirements. What does this mean? The mission is merely a trial and error kind where players will be challenged to undertake special challenges in order to clear out what they need to continue on. Where does this put our silly ladies? In a bit of a predicament while they look to continue on in unraveling what is going on in Gameindustri.
Outside of missions like these, players will find that the combat, much like the characters, is very well done and carefully crafted, which will allow players to play each of the eight ladies and not find one fighting style close to the same. Want a good idea behind this? Much like games such as Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus and Dynasty Warriors, Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed, puts players into taking on the roles of each of the ladies, meaning when playing a character such as Vert, players will notice that her attacks put her at medium range while players can dart around enemies by mashing on triangle for her heavy attacks. When it comes to her specials? Vert is diverse, she moves between medium and long range combat depending on what ability is used. This means that much like her roles in previous titles, Vert plays much the same, and reflects on this quite heavily. Want to change to a ranged attack? This is where players will find themselves undertake the role of Rom or her twin sister Ram. These two are heavy ranged attacks who rely heavily on their wands in order to unleash powerful elemental abilities that will send enemies tumbling across the battlefield, but much like any of the CPUs or the candidates, these characters truly shine when unleashing this games version of the “Musou” made when players use the HDD form, which is each character’s ‘counterpart’ form. In this form the characters will be able to use even more powerful attacks, abilities, and unleash a powerful EXE attack or even smash enemies through by using the games Lilly Attack which requires a special link between two characters to absolutely devastate enemies on the battlefield.
This is something that will become a core mechanic within the game itself and will cause players to adapt to it once they blow through the games main campaign in order to complete the bonus missions that are unlocked once certain goals are met. This will allow players to play against several of the girls in a PVP like situation where they will be taking one another out in a tournament in order to prove once-and-for-all who the most powerful of the CPUs and their candidates is. For me? It was Vert, but don’t take this mode with a light heart as each of the difficulties make a significant jump in what is hard and what is not, which will confuse many players if it doesn’t take them by surprise first. The bright side? It makes the game challenging, fun, and overly enjoyable, but that’s not all this mode is good for. Want to break away from the campaign, fulfill the completion of Lilly Ranks and even hitting Lv. 99 on each character? Well this is where the game actually takes an enjoyable turn as players take on waves of enemies for the fifty levels of the tower till they take on the final boss in a brutal beat down within the Neptral Tower. This fifty floors of enjoyment while taking on a mix of bosses and even their minions in order to meet the levels needed while attempting to level.
/-/ Closing Thoughts /-/
With a departure from the traditional mechanics that Hyperdimension Neptunia has become known for as a franchise, players get to once more experience a new take on the universe much like Hyperdevotion Noire offered with its Strategy and RPG mechanic combinations. This time? We experience a direction that the series itself could heavily benefit from if it were to depart from the traditional RPG mechanics. Why? When looking at games on the Vita, many players want to depart from the long duration based games into scenarios that are quick, easy, and highly accessible and if this is a path this series takes? It is a very welcomed path and one that will bring in many new fans who don’t want to sit down, grind, and hammer out the high amounts of XP needed in order to complete the title. If this is the future of Hyperdimension Neptunia it is a bright one and one that could easily be expanded on to rival titles such Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors, and even Senran Kagura (hard to say since the title is developed by Tamsoft).
Our review of the game is based upon a pre-release version of the game. Our copy was provided to us by the games publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here. Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is now available for the PlayStation Vita and can be obtained in both retail and digital formats (PlayStation Store) for 39.99 USD.
Final Score: 7 out of 10
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, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. 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. You can find him on Twitter @GamingAnomaly,Google+ or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.