Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed once again sees the Goddesses of Gamindustri abandon their JRPG roots in favour of a spin-off adventure. Previously Neptune and chums have appeared in a pop idol simulator and an excellent strategy RPG fronted by series favourite Noire. This latest title sees the anime deities (who are based on video game consoles) scrap in a brawler developed by Tamsoft – creators of the saucy Ninjutsu beat-em-up Senran Kagura. No surprises then that Neptunia U includes legions of enemies to smack in addition to destructible clothing. Just like celebrities, it appears that Goddesses are not immune to the effects of wardrobe malfunctions.
Action Unleashed’s wafer thin plot sees the CPUs and CPU candidates battling against a sudden upsurge of monsters that are plaguing their respective nations. Accompanying the heroines on their quests are a Famitsu and Dengekiko – a pair of journalists (named after well known Japanese video game magazines) who have been tasked with penning an article covering the exploits of Gamindustri’s rulers. The story is light on meaningful content and character development, but more than compensates for its shortcomings with fourth wall breaking shenanigans and gags that parody the video game industry. There are also boob jokes aplenty, which normally poke fun at Blanc’s less than ample bosom.
Gameplay wise HNU feels like a simplistic Dynasty Warriors, as the stages boil down to slaying hordes of onscreen enemies. Quest objectives include defeating a boss, killing a specified amount of foes, getting your hands on a prerequisite number of chests (that’s treasure not tits) or reaching a level’s exit. Combos can be executed by chaining a series of weak/strong attacks and each character has an array of special moves that can be activated by expending SP. All the playable heroines can also receive a temporary power boost by transforming into their spandex clad HDD alter egos. Whilst in the midst of battle be wary of getting hit, as suffering harm may cause clothing to tear off. The cheeky fan service that results is however rather tame when compared to Senran Kagura. No matter how much damage you sustain the heroines never go the full Monty or require strategically placed Band-Aids to conceal their nipples.
My rating for Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is three and a half stars. It’s shallower combat system and smaller roster of characters makes it inferior to Senran Kagura, but fans of the Neptunia franchise should still get some enjoyment out of it. The game would greatly benefit from smarter enemy AI, as most of the docile monsters you encounter simply stand about stationary waiting to get walloped. Due to the lack of challenge and variation the combat system can get repetitive so I would only recommend playing the game in short bursts. As the action doesn’t demand your full attention I found HNU ideal to play whilst listening to podcasts. Enjoying an audio show whilst moe girls jump across the screen (occasionally shedding their garments) is rather relaxing.
In terms of content the game’s story mode isn’t especially long. After two days of solid play (I estimate between eight to ten hours) I managed to triumph over the final boss. Completing the main game does however unlock two new modes to conquer. The first of these is a fighting tournament that rewards victorious characters with a range of stat boosting accessories. The final obstacle to tackle is the ominous Neptral Tower, which contains fifty floors infested with sex offenders. Those retro inspired spirits, floral girls and teddy bear slimes may look adorable, but watch out. Although normally passive, on the rare occasions that they do decide to strike they will strip Neptune faster than you can say Akiba’s Trip.