Superdimension Neptune vs. SEGA Hard Girls Review
Superdimension Neptune vs. SEGA Hard Girls
Publisher: Idea Factory International
ESRB Rating: T
Release Date:October 18, 2016
Superdimension Neptune vs. SEGA Hard Girls is the latest spin-off in the Hyperdimension Neptunia series. This time at the helm it’s everyone’s favorite Planeptune Guild leader IF. However, instead of running the quest guild at the Baslicon, she’s a wandering adventurer traveling the Wasteland of her homeworld, turning up wherever there may be treasure or adventure. At the start, I believed IF was a perfect protagonist for this kind of game, and I was not disappointed in how well she fit into the game’s overall story.
The game’s story starts out really simple. IF is traveling the desolate Wasteland she calls her home in search of the fabled Library. While searching for it, she discovers a girl falling from the sky and manages to catch her right before she lands. In doing so, she manages to find the library she was looking for. So she decides to take her there to see if there’s anyone that can help them. There, IF finds the Library’s curator, Historie. Histoire informs IF that the library they are in keeps records of all of the history in their universe, and is the centerpiece of all of history. While that is being said, a problem arises. Apparently, some parts of history are disappearing and there is no known reason as to why, and if it continues at the rate it’s going history may not be able to repair itself. So once the girl you just recused, Segami, awakens, Histoire modifies IF’s motorcycle, much to her dismay, to be able to travel through time. From here, you must go through the different eras to find out where history is disappearing and do your best to stop it.
Each era is ran by a Goddess (or CPU) and a SEGA Hard Girl, and in each era, they are in some form of conflict with each other. It’s your job to find out what is causing their conflict and do your best to resolve it. This is where the main plot points of the game come in. You are traveling through time to the many different eras to see what you can do to resolve the conflicts in them. Through your travels, you find out that a strange monster known as the Time Eater is causing all of the problems through history (totally not a spoiler, you find this out near the start of the game) and you must do what you can to stop him.
The Hyperdimension Neptunia series is known for its fourth-wall-breaking humor, over the top jokes and pop culture references. I can say without a doubt that some of the writing in this game is the best in the entire series. I never got tired of reading what was happening on screen, and I would sometimes speed my way through dungeons just so I could see what happened next. This game is worth playing for the writing alone, I enjoyed it that much. Not only did I enjoy the story a lot, but I could tell that the voice actors did too. You could tell by the way they were going at it in the game that they had a blast doing this game and it really cemented the experience. I am truly grateful that the writers went ham with this game’s writing to create a different, yet enjoyable time.
They also develop a lot of the characters in this game quite well. As someone who never really read or watched the SEGA Hard Girls, I felt like I had a good understanding of who they were and what their character traits were through this game. IF and Segami, the game’s two main protagonists, also went through a great deal of development and I loved it. IF did a great job in her role as the protagonist, and I can go as far to say she has been the best Nep to play the role of protagonist in the series in quite some time. She plays her part as a bit of a stand-in for the audience well, but it never takes away from her tsundere type character. She is very straight forward and blunt in this game and often plays the straight man. In a game like this where it’s nonstop jokes, it fits very well into it. With how well IF is developed in this game I would truly like to see her get more of a lead role in future Neptunia games. The game’s story can be completed in about 25-30 hours depending on which ending you are going for. I recommend doing your best for the true ending as the payoff was well worth it.
The gameplay in this game plays more like your traditional Hyperdimension Neptunia game, you explore different dungeons to trigger the events in each one that relates to the story. However, instead of exploring dungeons normally this game adds something different to the mix. A big focus on adventuring through dungeons is that IF has the ability to jump, run, crawl and climb through many different obstacles. Not only is this a welcome change of pace to the normal dungeon crawling in the Neptunia series, but running through dungeons in this game feels incredibly satisfying. It’s just a shame that the new parkour element of these dungeons isn’t really used much outside of a few circumstances. That being said, the run ability is everything I have always wanted as it makes avoiding unwanted enemy encounters so much easier.
The combat of this game is an interesting shake up to the normal Neptunia formula as well. In this game, you have a meter that keeps track of all your movements. The more you use of said meter, the longer it takes for that character to move again. This leads to a bit of a risk vs reward gameplay. You can choose to either go all out against certain enemies or try and think of the best strategy to fight them. While this removes the standard combo system from the other Neptunia series, it, in its own right, creates a brand new combo system for you to go through. You choose to use a skill attack, a standard attack or two and then finish it up with another skill or charged attack. This new system allowed me to create a playstyle that I needed depending on the different situations I was in. I really did appreciate the freedom that the game gave me, and it truly never made me tire of the game’s combat.
The other addition to the game’s combat is the inclusion of the new Fever Mode. You build up this fever meter by doing damage in battle, once it’s filled you can jump into a crystal to activate Fever Mode. In Fever Mode the enemy is unable to attack you for the entire time you’re in this mode. It really comes in handy against tough field or story bosses. So, when you feel like you’re going into a quest where everything may hit the fan, building up a full fever mode beforehand may not be a bad idea. While in Fever Mode you can perform your EXE moves. These moves can easily change the tide of battle but use them sparingly as when they are used it drains 25% of your Fever Meter.
This game also includes a class system as another one of its selling points. As your adventure goes on, you discover each CPU and Sega Hard Girl have a couple of classes they can change between. These class changes can change up how you use them in battle. Increasing the amount of customization you can have for your party in battle. Sometimes I found it better to switch classes of a character if a certain area was giving me trouble. On a side note, it should be mentioned that unlike previous Neptunia games, after every battle everyone gets the same amount of experience for their overall level and class level. So it won’t matter if they are in the reserves or the frontline they get the same amount of experience. So if you want to change up your party’s composition on the fly to try something out, you never have to worry about the latest characters you unlock being too far behind from the rest of your crew.
When it comes to accepting quests and advancing the story it is also similar to that of your standard Hyperdimension game. You take out quests with Historie and you must go to its respective era to complete it. These quests can advance the story, or they can just be filler quests to kill enemies or collect items in dungeons. That being said since time travel is involved things aren’t always as straightforward as they seem. Next to each quest there is a counter that goes down for every quest you complete. When this counter reaches one that part of history is consumed by the Time Eater.
The more quests he consumes, the more powerful he becomes. Each quest will add a new stat for him similar to when you level up. The Time Eater does not discriminate in the form of quests he eats, he will easily eat quests to advance the story if he manages to do that, that part of the story is locked out to you. That being said you can get those parts of history back by simply challenging the time eater and dying. This will cause history to reset itself to a point, all quests you have completed will remain completed and any other quests the Time Eater has eaten will be available to do again. The way this mechanic is set up, you have complete control in which way you want to advance the game’s story. That being said you can’t completely do all of the story missions and forgo the side ones. If you do that not only will you be making the Time Eater stronger, you will have a low OBS level, and some story quests and important side quests only become available once your OBS level reaches a certain rank. The game does have a way of rewarding you with the side quests you complete, on the world maps, there are different people you can talk to, a lot of the time these people are the ones who put up the side quest and they have their own little story about the backstory to their quest. It’s a nice little touch to see how your quests affect the rest of the world, and it can sometimes unlock bigger and better quests. Now I hope I was able to explain this well because, sadly, the game does not really explain much of the Time Eater and quests relationship in much detail. I had to figure it out on my own after a few resets.
Graphically speaking, this game is easily the best looking Neptunia game on the PS Vita. The art style they go for in this game is very nice and all of the character models seem to be full of life. That being said this game does start to falter on a technical level. While in most circumstances the game does manage to stay at 30fps, depending on what’s happening in battle or in the overworld, the framerate can take a massive dip. This could probably be given to the technical limitations of the Vita, but the frame rate drops were very noticeable when they did happen. Another technical issue with this game is the hitboxes. There were many times in the overworld where I clearly hit an enemy first, and from behind I might add, but the game’s hitboxes treated it like the enemy had managed to attack me first. This was extremely frustrating as many of my deaths stemmed from this issue where the enemy was able to railroad me because it was able to steal my first hit advantage.
The next thing I wanted to mention was that the soundtrack in this game is amazing. While the game does have quite a few returning tracks from previous games, it has quite a few newer tracks that add to the SEGA charm of this game. My favorite track was probably the one that plays during an EXE attack, that song just reminded me instantly of F-Zero GX. The soundtrack here was able to set the tone during the story very well. Thankfully, the game has an archive option that lets you listen to almost all of the tracks provided in the game (I still can’t find the track that plays during the EXE attack…).
Overall, Superdimension Neptune vs. SEGA Hard Girls is an amazing experience. The writing in this game is some of the best in the entire series, the combat changes are a welcome refresher to the series, the music in this game is on point and, overall, IF is a kickass protagonist. This game is easily one of the best spin-off games in the Neptunia series, and, if the game did not have some of the technical issues and did a better job at explaining the time travel mechanic better, I could say with confidence this game could have been the best game in the entire Neptunia series. For those of you out there who love Neptunia or SEGA Hard Girls, this game will be a treat for you from the start to the very end. If you are new to the Neptunia series I honestly think this game could be a good starting point for you as it is extremely newcomer friendly with the exception of a few in-jokes from previous games. That being said if the charm of the Neptunia games have not managed to capture you before then this probably won’t be the game to do it for you. However, this game was a massive treat for me from start to end, and I truly hope one day IF can return to the role of protagonist in the Neptunia series.
+AMAZING Story and writing
+Combat that suits you
+Refreshing change of pace
+IF is an amazing protagonist
-What are hitboxes?
-Time Travel could be explained better