Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;birth 2 Sisters Generation Review—ASIC is Evil

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The Hyperdimension Neptunia series follows an all-female cast through the world of Gameindustri, a reality full of meta references and knowing winks to the real-world gaming industry, in which the characters go on a fun adventure rife with humor.

The story in Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;birth 2: Sisters Generation begins with CPUs from different regions of Gameindustri fighting an antagonist. The CPUs lose the fight. Following their defeat, they are captured and held hostage in the gaming graveyard. Two protagonists, IF and Compa (named after Idea Factory and Compile Heart) manage to rescue Nepgear; however, Neptunia and the rest lay dormant in the graveyard.

While Nepgear was imprisoned, the Gameindustri was crumbling due to corruption brought about by a new religion/cult, ASIC (Arfoire Syndicate of International Crime). The evildoers have been spreading usage of the nefarious R4. Nepgear and her friends must restore order to Gameindustri and save the sisters remaining in the graveyard with the help of the other nations, Laststation, Lowee, and Leanbox, and with the additional help of the CPU Candidates.

The world of Neptunia is delightfully playful. It follows a lot of the quirkiness of much of the super niche Nippon Ichi Software, Idea Factory, and Compile Heart titles, yet it relates to our world and has a weight that grounds it.

From the start, a newcomer will soon wish they had the ability to be able to backtrack or catch up on the history of the game series, as they will be completely thrown off as to what is going on. Some sort of solution needs to be implemented, as it’s becoming ever harder for newcomers to the games to catch up with what has been going on.

The art is very solid in both its 2D and 3D character design. The designs are distinct, and have a fun quirkiness in their references to companies as beings with personalities and traits, which show through wonderfully in the character designs. Color-wise, I think they did some popping features on some of its layouts but the underlying issue is repetitive usage/style amongst other titles. It’s easy to see the similarity among Neptunia’s world layout and the same in titles like Fairy Tale Fencer F and Mugen Souls.

A big reason why this may be is level layout itself. These games have become lazy in their, reusing sprites from the aforementioned titles but with different shaders. As a prime example, the Bit enemy on here is the same as the one in Fairy Tale Fencer F.  That’s not to say that the reusable models are the worst thing but in conjunction with the flat approach to dungeon design, a bigger issue that permeates these titles, the faults do begin to pile up.

With the way the enemy AI interacts with the player, it would add more depth to the gameplay to add more complication to the level layouts—locked doors, puzzles, anything. Few enemies populate the areas, and strong enemies are immobile, and, since battles are triggered by touch, adding elements like this to the level layout would provide more depth to the dungeons themselves. As they are, the levels are cakewalks. The first dungeon literally consists of four little land masses in a straight line. Why not provide twists, turns, jumps, and interest?

The actual gameplay is a solid formula from Idea Factory’s other series. The game is a third-person action adventure, in which players initiate battles with foes in the world view a simple hit, and are able to jump around the world (a feature which should have been utilized more in the levels). During their turn, the team have a certain area in which they can move, aim their attacks, and pull off specials and combos.

The battle system is extremely similar to Fairy Fencer F and Mugen Souls. The big difference between Sisters Generation and those other titles is in the second form, called the HDD, that CPUs can activate through expending Special Points.

This HDD form grants the characters stat bonuses. There’s also Lily Coupling, which has a character partner up with an active party member. This helps build the relationship between the two characters and unlocks different attributes and ending combos, which are deadly when prepped correctly.

Turn order can be quite confusing, drastically changing depending on the actions you take. This is difficult to compensate for and makes little sense, as it doesn’t seem to be properly explained.

The game includes Plans, too, which allow the player to customize difficulty, item arrangement, add more enemies, and so on.

A nice little addition is the Stella’s Dungeon minigame; you can prepare this little girl to go to previous dungeons you have visited, and she will return with loot that you can’t otherwise get in the game. The way that this works and the presentation of the game itself are stellar.

Fans of the series will find no big reason not to buy this title. The world and characters are a ton of fun and, in particular, the milieu in general is simply a very enjoyable environment. If you are a fan of the Fencer or Mugen souls series, this is not too different in terms of gameplay and style, but has a more fully realized world.

Newcomers should be aware that Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;birth 2: Sisters Generation pretty much throws you right into the deep end.

The Verdict:  8

The Good:

  • Amazingly fun world populated with quirky characters
  • Relates to the video game industry in a fun, playful way
  • Solid gameplay/battle mechanics that allow you to influence the world to your whim
  • Great and poppy art with customizable 3D designs and solid voice actors for both English and Japanese audio
  • Stella’s Dungeon is a great multi-tasker mini-game, reminiscent of the Skies of Arcadia mini-game, which allows you to gain access to special items

The Bad:

  • The repetitive use of linear and flat level design makes dungeons boring and is the biggest negative of the game
  • The turn order in battles can be a little confusing, as performing certain actions with a character will fully remove them from the predetermined order, somewhat damaging strategy
  • For newcomers, it might be hard to fully grasp the story and world of Neptunia with no way to truly catch up

[Editor’s note: the last sentence of the review has been edited post-publication.]

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I have been an avid gamer since I was a child, playing Legend of Zelda on the NES and began true niche gaming during the SNES/Genesis battles.

  1. Eritach
    January 28, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    How does the game run on the Vita? Is it an improvement over the previous HDN Mk2 game for PS3? I remember the framerate being pretty sluggish in that one.

  2. Koroma
    January 28, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    Does this one run on vitaTV/PSTV?

  3. Steve Baltimore
    Steve Baltimore
    January 28, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    Yes it does.

  4. patyos
    January 28, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    And Rebirth 1 on pc is getting delayed >_>

  5. patyos
    January 28, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    I guess the bad is pretty much whats bad for every nep game didnt find turn order in victory confusing though

  6. Tromboner
    January 28, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    Just bought it, can’t wait to play it!

  7. Obbliglol
    January 31, 2015 at 12:51 am

    I haven’t even finished the first one yet, hold on! I’ll definitely be buying this digital. I already have the Nep 1/2/3 special editions, I don’t need anymore!

  8. Tromboner
    January 31, 2015 at 11:31 am

    If Rebirth 1 is any indication, it’ll probably run at 30fps, with occasional stutters as things load in, or during particularly effect heavy attacks. Not awful, but not great. Certainly playable without making me mad. It’s a JRPG, it’s not like a stable framerate is critical to success.

  9. Bananalint
    February 1, 2015 at 1:26 am

    Does this include all the dlc?

  10. Fire.fire.kun
    February 2, 2015 at 11:35 am

    I’m not okay with the negatives. Except for RB1, the rest of the games are just enhanced ports that improve over the originals, but don’t bring anything new if you have played Mk2 and Victory. I’m more excited for RB3 because of Plutie’s return, and Hyperdevotion Noire and Neptunia U because they provide different gameplay from the main series.

  11. Fire.fire.kun
    February 2, 2015 at 11:37 am

    If you mean from the original games? I believe so, because items that were once dlc in mk2 can be unlocked in the game if you have the plans.

  12. Chris Gollmer
    Chris Gollmer
    February 3, 2015 at 1:36 am

    I wish I followed the series from the beginning to have a stronger connection and understanding but I missed out =-. So I was hoping to come at the series from a newcomer perspective. Definitely appreciate difference in opinions, my word is never absolute haha. I can see why people love this series ^_^. The only thing for me is that from playing 3D Idea Factory/Compile Heart/NISA titles. They follow a similar formula for their level designing and just lacks the bite to create a more dynamic dungeon experience. Editing plans is a great direction but the big changes hopefully are more towards layout and structure of the level then just enemy/item swaps.

    Most of the time, my personal grading chart is very lax. I enjoy critiquing games somewhat critcally but unless they are gigantic crippling factors that hinders gameplay (i.e The Mugen Field crash on Mugen Souls Z T_T ) they don’t damage the score too badly. Thank you for reading the review though!

  13. Chris Gollmer
    Chris Gollmer
    February 3, 2015 at 1:38 am

    Enjoy, the story is a lot of fun!

  14. Chris Gollmer
    Chris Gollmer
    February 3, 2015 at 1:42 am

    I didn’t hit into heavy frame-rate issues. There may be a few stutters here and there but nothing that fully detracts or slows down gameplay. in my perspective at least haha.

  15. MaidKillua
    February 11, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    This actually looks kinda fun but also a little too fanservicey for my tastes