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
- 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 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.]