- System: PC
- Publisher: Idea Factory International
- Developer: Idea Factory, Compile Heart, Felistella
- Release Date: 12th June 2017 [Steam]
- Price:$29.99 [Steam]
- Rating: T for Teen
- Genre: JRPG, Action
- Players: Single Player
- Official Website: http://ideafintl.com/nep-sega-us/
Who it Caters to
As a spin-off, Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls has no relevance to the original series' canon, so while long time fans will be able to enjoy the return of Neptune, Nepgear, Plutia, Uzume, and Histoire, along with numerous 4th wall breaking references and meta in-jokes, newcomers won't be missing out on too much in terms of story background or character history, making this a decent entry to pop your head in on and see what the all the Neping fuss is about.
What to Expect
The other half of the game is button mashing, turn-based combat, which is fairly simple but has a few nice little mechanics to add some spice. The gameplay itself is certainly not challenging but does allow for a decent amount of customisation with 10 characters to choose from, each with more than one playstyle, as well as numerous different outfits to dress them up in, which is very important. The overall experience is somewhat akin to being in a rowboat on a river: sometimes you need to work those oars but generally speaking the flow just takes you where you want to go, and frankly, you're mainly there to relax and watch the pretty scenery anyway. And sometimes play dress-up with cute girls.
During the game IF and her new partner Segami must visit four different eras, with the help of IF's newly modified time traveling motorbike, and make sure that the history of each era remains safe. The eras are all based on old Sega consoles (Game Gear, Saturn, Dreamcast, and Megadrive) and the history related problems seem to centre on an old rivalry between the Neptunia Goddesses and the Sega Hard Girls that's getting a little bit out of hand. The more of time that you repair, the more prepared you are to face the Time Eater and save history!
The main quest line contains a large number of events that push the story along fairly quickly whilst also including some amusing banter. There's not much extra development regarding the plot within the side-quests, so they exist largely to get you to a high enough level so that the main quest bosses don't smear your adorable, squishy body across the floor. Although not part of the story, there are lots of extra characters that pop up, including a load of chibi Sega Hard Girls, who have some funny little dialogues and make the game feel more much populated.
To speak of the world today's 2D waifu inhabit: there's the main hub, the grand library, which has shops, quests, and basically everything you'd expect the main hub to have, and then there are four different versions of "the world" which you can port to. Each version, as mentioned before, is set in a different time period, and thus in some of them certain areas become available, unavailable, or change their layout somewhat. For example, the forest area has a different layout in each of the first three time periods and then gets a reskin to look much grimmer in the final time period. We're of two minds about this, as although it means a large part of the game involves rerunning what are essentially the same dungeons, there are enough differences that part of the fun becomes seeing the changes between each one. One final thing to note is that they've added some new mechanics to dungeons, such as crawling and climbing, which make them more interesting to traverse than in previous games.
Gameplay and Mechanics
When in battle you get an "Action Bar" that fills up with each action you make, such as moving around, attacking, or using items, and once it's in the red your turn is over. You can use fewer actions to strategically get your next turn sooner, or overload the bar for a stronger charge attack as well. As you deal damage you build up SP which is used for special attacks, some of which are pretty strong, such that the SP bar feels like a nice way to balance them. "Gems" sometimes show up on the battlefield which you can collect for extra health or SP, which isn't really necessary for most fights but adds a little reward for paying more attention during battles. The last main point to mention is "Fever Time" which you can activate once your "Fever" gauge builds up to full and essentially makes it continuously your turn for a large number of actions, as well as give you access to "Overdrive" attacks, which are super over-the-top and feel awesomely chuunibyou.
We would've loved to see perhaps some kind of combo system for regular attacks, similar to the main Neptunia games, as most random encounters are ended by just smashing the X button. Overall though the combat is just fine, and activating all your Overdrives during boss fights just feels so good. They've also hit a nice balance between giving the girls cute lines and animations during encounters, but also making them really cool with crazy attacks and very "anime" chants, which we think are both very important parts of JPRGs.
One thing that surprised us was how fast the leveling is in the game, though this makes sense given that it's shorter than your average JPRG. Because of this, you're constantly being rewarded with new skills and passive abilities which are always cool to test out in battles, and it's easy to switch out party members and play around with your new toys, particularly as even characters outside of your team get XP from battles. The girls also have multiple classes with different skills which you level up separately, but they level up so quickly that you can swap between them pretty easily as well. The whole leveling system really feels like it's designed for you to just have a bit of fun messing around with, rather than a standard JPRG grind.
Moving on from the battle mechanics, the way the quest system works is fairly interesting. Each quest is assigned a number of "days" before it gets "eaten" and removed, with a day passing each time you complete a quest. The difficulty of each time period increases as you progress through it, so if you burst through just one or two periods and ignore the others then expect some brutal boss battles and dangerous dungeon mobs. Without giving too much away, you will get the chance to redo the harder, or already eaten, quests later in the game, so achieving the true ending isn't too much work.
Art and Sound
Regarding the art and graphics, as we mentioned before they've gotten a bit of an upgrade from the PS Vita version, with the bright cel-shaded visuals looking really smooth and fitting the anime style of the series as always. The art in the visual novel style sections is lovely too, with some slight animation included making the girls look a bit more lively. The expressions during these parts are absolute gold and complement the equally amusing dialogue. Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls isn't exactly going to blow you away with its visuals, but it gives you exactly what you expect and feels nicely polished.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
The main downsides to the game would really be if you're not interested in cute girls being silly, or if you're after more complex fight mechanics. In the first case, well that's just what the whole series is about, and if you're not interested in the characters or comedic tone then the game just isn't for you. Regarding the combat, we'd say a little more could've been done to make it less repetitive, but there are no actual problems with it so we'll refrain from being overly critical. The final issue we had was some of the translations, which just seem exaggerated or over aggressive. The girls aren't effing and blinding their way through the Japanese dialogue, so we're not sure why they suddenly turn into balls of rage and hate in English sometimes.
- Awesome and cute characters
- Funny dialogue filled with references
- Short and sweet
- Quirky and enjoyable soundtrack
- Some odd translations and typos
- Fight mechanics and dungeons can get repetitive
- Cute girls aren't for everyone
Honey's Final Verdict:
Are you a big fan of the Neptunia series? What did you think of this latest release? Maybe you've even played the original Vita version! Be sure to let us know in the comments below.