Ultradimension! Fortune Material by nao (fripSide)
An unintelligible al-go-rithm in an enshrined dose after a long time♪
Will things be good because of peace? That’s the easy mode option
The meaning behind those dots were never seen
When you notice that, your satisfaction enters hard mode
I’ll entrust you with the strategy & flags
I’ll change everything with the press of one button
Open the hidden treasure box for quest domination
The world collapses from our total control?!
I don’t need such a setting
Aim for → new world
Spinning around, fortune starts
Do not go to yesterday!
Draw tomorrow to change to your advantage
Follow the path of history to arrive at your shining tomorrow
Aim for it! The ultradimension’s victory
It’s time for another Under Your Radar! This time, we’re covering the third game in the Neptunia series (a series I’ve reviewed previously), the PS3 game known as Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory. It is also known as Hyperdimension Neptunia V, Ultradimension Neptune V and Kami Jigen Game Neptune V (Godly Dimension Game Neptune V). In all cases, the V is pronounced “victory”.
The game was released in English earlier this year by NIS America, after Compile Heart’s release last year. An anime based on the series, Hyperdimension Neptunia The Animation (Chōjigen Game Neptune The Animation), has just recently started its run (FUNimation is streaming it).
Following a few years after the true ending of mk2, we open with a throwback to the first game’s opening cutscene. Neptune gets her ass kicked by the other three goddesses… except it’s a video game. Angered at how lazy Neptune has been, Histoire lectures her for several hours and then kicks her out to go do work, only for Neptune to realize she’s dropped to level 1 due to laziness. As she gets back into the swing of things, she encounters a group attempting to overthrow the goddesses, and their leader sends Neptune into another dimension, a dimension that’s much father back in the past.
This is where the story truly begins. Luckily, one year there is equivalent to one year in her home dimension instead of the disastrous situation had it been the inverse. Still, Neptune must find a way home before the person who sent her back takes the opportunity to establish her nation of Planeptune as a nation without a goddess. But she can’t focus on just that, as she must raise the shares of this dimension’s Planeptune to open the gate, and the goddess there, like Neptune, is lazy. In addition, there is a villanous group called the Seven Sages that generally cause trouble. As a result, Neptune cannot focus solely on raising shares and must first nullify the existing problems before even starting. When all is said and done, Neptune spends a good 18 years in the other dimension finding a way home.
Unlike previous games, there are only three endings. Also unlike previous games, none of these endings require share grinding, as the game will move to the proper ending regardless of the shares you collect (and, indeed, the shares you collect in each chapter reset to match the plot at the start of the next one, so such a system would be pointlessly sadistic). Instead, the endings are determined by whether or not you have seen specific events. You have to actively avoid the events in question to get a bad ending, and you need to know where to look to get the additional scenes for the true ending (hint: the scout system). When all is said and done, getting all the endings is a far simpler task than it was before.
Furthermore, the tone of the story capitalizes on the storytelling that this series is good at: light-hearted slice of life story scenes that connect the gameplay to an overarching plot. However, it’s not entirely focused on this, as Iris Heart, a new character, will make sadistic innuendo comments and torture threats to friend and foe alike on a regular basis, acting upon it a few times that we don’t get to see, but those times scar the victims and all others present for life. You WILL have her theme song stuck in your head whenever you think of the character. The game makes absolutely sure of that.
But enough about the story. The gameplay is an even more fleshed out version of the system used in mk2, cleaned up to not only be more streamlined, but also to actually make the goddess forms not impossible to practically use without grinding in the dungeon prior to using it. To explain the battle system to those unaware of it, your characters have a limited movement range in which they can move during their turn. after moving, you may then perform an attack, which has different ranges based on the weapon. You can map different attacks to the different parts of a normal attack combo. Alternatively, you may use a special attack that costs SP and has a different range from normal attacks.
Simple and elegant, and they bumped up the difficulty to make it really hard really fast. The problems come in elsewhere.
To start off, I should point out that, unless you have some DLC equipment (which is much more powerful than anything but endgame stuff), you will need to grind to proceed at most points in the game. Depending on how you go about this, however, the game may reward you as you go if you follow the game’s tips (grind through quests, use the scout system, and other things will reward you with immediate items or money and also increase your rating at the end of the chapter, which can get you rare items), so this isn’t as much of an issue as in other games that expect you to grind for grinding’s sake and to beat bonus levels that are hard solely to be hard (example: Disgaea‘s post-game).
Also an issue is the reused layouts between dungeons. With only a handful of exceptions, most dungeons don’t just reuse some sort of tileset, they reuse the entire layout, except maybe with broken bridges or added walls to block you from going to certain parts. For all intents and purposes, once you’ve seen one factory area, you know the layout for all factory areas. Same for caves. This is just lazy design and easily the main issue I can levy against the game as a whole.
Another problem is that, in typical Compile Heart fashion, there is a mechanic here that receives little to no explanation. In the first game, you’re not even told shares exist until you get a specific character that lets you see the share count, but nothing is ever explained about it. In this game, there are flags in every dungeon that you can have broken or standing. This affects… something. We’re never even given a hint as to what. To be perfectly honest, I still have no idea what flags do, so I just change them to standing whenever I see a broken one.
Finally, my last major problem is the repetitive and drawn-out nature of the boss fights (unless, again, you have the DLC weapons to make this go faster). mk2, if I’m recalling correctly, only narrowly avoided this problem, but this game ran head-first into it, no thanks to the fact that most bosses after a certain point will actually heal large amounts of health every time they have a turn.
All of the boss fights can be summed up as thus: Have all four of your characters enter their goddess forms (the game will usually do this for you – as far as I’m aware, the only characters who can’t are DLC characters), surround the enemy, pummel them with Break attacks until you break their guard, hit them with your strongest moves. Only break this pattern to make sure everyone is healed at all times. Rinse and repeat until either you’re unable to heal fast enough to not die, or the boss dies. Regardless of the result, this will usually take a good 10-20 minutes or more unless you’ve really been grinding as the game is trying to force you to do.
However, if one can look past these issues, there are no other major problems with the game. All that remains is a pretty solid turn-based JRPG that has enjoyable fights against normal enemies, minor crafting mechanics to make certain very useful items, and a story that parodies the console game industry’s history as a whole, reaching all the way back to when the industry was just starting in the home console space.
I have stated my major problems with the title rather clearly already. The question then becomes whether or not it’s worth dealing with the bad for the sake of the good. In my opinion, it is, but your opinion may differ from mine.
I think Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory could stand to be better, but it’s still easily the best game in the series.