Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 is the first in a series of remakes scheduled to bring the Hyperdimension PS3 titles over to Sony’s handheld. This retelling of the original Hyperdimension Neptunia is a welcome sight, as it replaces the clunky mechanics of the first Neptunia with the far more polished engine used in Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory. Although the basic plot is similar to the game it is adapting, the manner in which the story plays out differs considerably. Thanks to the tweaked narrative, new roster of characters and additional features buying Rebirth shouldn’t feel like double dipping on a carbon copy, even if you happen to already own the PS3 original.
As in the other Hyperdimension Neptunia titles, the game is set in the realm of Gamindustri, where four goddesses battle for supremacy in the eternal Console War. Rebirth’s opening scene has the titular Neptune getting tripled teamed by her rivals (Noire, Vert and Blanc.) The purple haired deity is sent crashing down from the heavens to the human world where she lands on her noggin causing her to suffer from a bad case of amnesia (and possibly brain damage given that Neptune’s intellect is on par with the likes of Jessica Simpson.)
The game sees Neptune scour the land in search of Key Fragments that may have the power to restore her lost memory. Neptune’s trek along the mortal plain is assisted by nurse in training Compa and Iffy, who makes a living completing quests posted by the nation’s guild. During her exploration of Gamindustri it becomes apparent that the land is being plagued by monsters that have been unleashed by a gothic witch, who aspires to claim the power of the goddesses for her self. Can the warring goddesses reconcile their differences and halt the usurper’s ambitions? Given that two more remakes have been announced I think it is safe to say that the answer is yes 🙂
Rebirth is broken up into eight chapters that cycle between fighting through dungeons and watching amusing visual novel like cut scenes. The determining factor on whether you’ll enjoy or loathe the franchise ultimately lies with your taste in comedy. If you are of a geeky persuasion and appreciate video game parodies there’s a good chance you’ll like the Neptunia series on some level. If on the other hand you find boob gags to be puerile I suspect that a lot of the game’s comedy will fall flat (unlike the size of Vert’s breasts.) If the one-liners don’t tickle your funny bone there’s always the chance that you can salvage some fun via the combat system so let’s touch upon that next.
Dungeon crawling involves traipsing around a level searching for the mighty boss that needs to be vanquished in order to advance the story. When Neptune bumps into one of the enemies patrolling the area a turn-based battle ensues. The clashes have the player commanding their three-man party on where to move, selecting what items/spells to use and most importantly striking foes. When launching an attack, players can string together a combo of power, break and rush moves. Power attacks drain the most health, break attacks reduce an opponent’s guard (which if shattered increases the damage they take) and rush attacks inflict the most hits (which rapidly increases the EXE bar that powers special moves.)
Initially the game can be taxing. Chapter two’s boss in particular came across as being considerably tougher than the enemies you have faced previously. Once your team levels up a bit and unlocks mightier abilities the game however becomes a doddle. The strategy of building up the EXE gauge with rush attacks and then wailing on a guardian with special moves is sufficient to overcome most of the challenges you’ll face. The bevy of characters you can recruit also makes things considerably easier. Iffy and Compa aren’t particularly potent so once they can be replaced things naturally become less vexing. To be honest most of the human characters in your party are rendered obsolete once you gain access to Neptune’s godly brethren. By transforming into goddess mode the quartet gains a substantial stat boost, which makes the mortals in your group redundant.
Given that a trilogy of Neptunia games has already been released for the PS3, most players should already know where they stand with this series. I suspect most people will be put off by the repetitive combat and quirky humour, but if you are in the niche that finds Compile Heart JRPGs to be charming this game will be right up your alley. As a remake, Rebirth is a substantial improvement over the original. The upgraded graphics are vastly superior to those found in its PS3 progenitor and the gameplay has been polished considerably. The story isn’t especially long, but thanks to the newly introduced remake system (that allows you to convert items into plans that unlock extra levels, enemies, weapons etc) there is a good chunk of content to tackle. I’m awarding the game four stars, although it is strictly something for fans of the series only.