Review: Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory / Format: PS3 / Developer: Compile Heart-Idea Factory / Publisher: NIS America / Release Date: Out Now
When you think of the phrase "Japanese role-playing game" there are a couple of ideas that are guaranteed to spring to mind. Mainly girls of a questionable age with heaving bosoms bursting out of the skimpiest clothes known to mankind, and convoluted stories that may or may not make sense... Both are present and correct in our latest visit to Gamindustri, the setting for this third entry in the Hyperdimension Neptunia series.
Players visit several countries in the world of Gamindustri, each one loosely representing a different console and ruled by a leader known as a CPU. Series heroine Neptune, the previous CPU of Planeptune, has become lazy, preferring to sit around eating sweets and playing video games instead of concentrating on running her country, and her stats have reverted back to level 1. After encountering a rift in the space/time continuum, Neptune finds herself in an alternate-dimension 1989 Gamindustri where an outfit known as the Seven Sages is attempting to create a world without CPUs. It's up to Neptune to rebuild her stats and save the country/world/dimension!
See what we mean about “convoluted stories that may or may not make sense”? Even though there's a story here somewhere, it's unfortunately buried among endless cakes and sweets-based banality. And it really is endless – the game even makes a point of reminding you how to scroll through the text faster. It's a shame to miss out on the storyline, but there's just too much pointless chatter to even consider sitting through the scenes at their intended pace.
After the opening cutscenes are out of the way, we're dropped off at Planeptune's point-and-click-style menu. There's a shop, a “Basilicom” (where you can re-endure cutscenes at your leisure), and a Guild which is where you'll accept quests. After accepting a quest, your destination will be displayed on your map, and a couple of clicks later you can finally start exploring the world. The turn-based combat is fun enough, with the ability to move around the battlefield before choosing your attacks being a welcome addition. The usual JRPG elements are all here, with teammates having various different abilities to support your own character's attacks. Battles can be over extremely quickly though, with only bosses offering any real challenge.
This seems to be a game with lofty ambitions, but it stumbles in its execution. JRPG fans will take pleasure from its quirky characters and turn-based gameplay, but a bit more actual play-time and less of the pointless “my energy comes from the curry I eat every day! Let's be buddies!” chit-chat would surely increase the enjoyment factor. As it stands, aside from the occasional amusing reference to events from gaming's history, it can probably only be recommended for hardcore fans of the genre. If you like this sort of thing though, it's probably somewhere around a...