|Publisher||Idea Factory International|
|Release Date||October 21, 2016|
Review code provided
The Neptune series is probably one of the most prolific on the planet at this point, given that this is the third game from this franchise released in 2016. We’ve had the PS4-powered RPG, the zombie brawling Vita-based spin-off and now another RPG, though this one is Vita exclusive. It’s like comfort food at this point, an excuse to check in with the lovable and crazy characters that populate the series every now and then.
Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls is a JRPG crossover of the two Japanese franchises – taking the gameplay and setting of the Neptune series and adding a bunch of the Sega Hard Girls to the mix. It stars IF as she goes on a quest to find the Great Library, quickly running across the mysterious Segami who has apparently fallen from the sky and has amnesia. When IF finds the great library it turns out that all of history has been changed somehow, and the unlikely duo must travel back in time to try and fix it.
As premises go, it’s worth noting this is actually very similar to the second chapter of Megadimension Neptunia VII, released earlier this year, which also featured history being altered and a brand new set of characters being included. The whole of Superdimension will feel very familiar to anyone who played the game released earlier this year, or anyone who has played any of the Neptune RPGs.
There’s nothing substantially different from any previous entry. If you’ve played any of the more recent RPG entries in the series and found them not to your taste, then Superdimension probably won’t win you over. If you haven’t tried it before, and you’re looking for some light-hearted, fluffy JRPG goodness, then I can definitely recommend this game to you. And if you’re already a fan of the series, well, I guess you’ve probably already picked the game up and are here to see why I liked it.
There’s not a lot that I can really say that I didn’t already cover in my review of the last game in the series. Superdimension is a fairly simple game at its core. It knows what it is and what it wants to be and sticks to that pretty closely. It doesn’t take itself seriously, instead deciding to have a bit of fun. IF’s promotion to protagonist, previously a supporting character, works well enough and the addition of the Sega Hard Girls fits the world of Planeptune quite nicely.
Mechanically there are a couple of tweaks and differences between this game and the last one. It still plays the same, though there has been more of an emphasis put on traversal and platforming than before. There are long jumps, climbing and ropes to be travelled. This addition goes a little way to keeping things interesting between battles and story beats, whereas before it felt a little like you were just walking between point A and point B with very little to really keep you invested in between.
Combat has been given a bit of a facelift. It’s still turn-based, still built around movement and positioning as much as mashing buttons to win. Strangely, the excellent build-your-own combo system from Megadimension has been dumped in favour of a more traditional set of mechanics. You walk up to an enemy (or group of enemies) and batter it/them into submission. Though Superdimension does have its own ideas that set it apart from its JRPG stablemates.
First up is the Action Gauge. This gauge will dictate how much any given character is able to accomplish per turn. The more you use it, the longer you’ll have to wait before that character can act again. It’s an interesting system that forces you to consider risk vs reward – whether you want to do more damage and leave yourself open to a counter-attack, or act quicker but do less.
The second big change is the Fever Gauge. This fills up every time you land a successful attack on an enemy. Once it’s full a rainbow gem will appear on the battlefield. Touching said gem will active Fever Time, which increases the stats of the entire party by 10%, stops the enemies from getting a turn and makes your characters move faster. Brilliantly, when you use Fever Time the gauge behaves the same as the Action Gauge. It doesn’t completely empty and you only ever use what you lose, so there’s no need to save it for big fights. Superdimension encourages you to use it as often as you can.
These are the three biggest changes to combat, but there are some other, smaller ones. Battlefields are now littered with coloured gems that have different effects when you touch them. Some will restore health, SP and more. Lily rankings, a system that shows how close the characters are, make a return. Here, the higher this ranking, the more formations you’ll unlock, which can give you bonuses like more gems spawning in battle or stat boosts.
Superdimension’s mission structure leaves a lot to be desired, however. Playing as IF, you’ll make the Grand Library your base of operations and accept missions from Histoire. These missions send you throughout the history of Gamindustri, but most of them amount to little more than fetch quests. They also constantly send you to the same areas you’ve already visited. Luckily a lot of them are optional, which also makes them skippable, but things do start to get a little repetitive after a while.
Which is where the incredibly likeable cast of goofball characters comes into play. Whenever I felt like the game was dragging, I’d be saved by a lengthy cutscene. While not all of the jokes land, enough do that I was smiling more often than not. At this point in the series’ life there are a lot of in-jokes (seriously, how hard is it to pronounce “Neptune”) and the game still leans heavily on meta-humour. The characters and their interplay between one another are, as always, the highlight here, even in an alternate universe where they don’t know each other.
Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls isn’t a surprising game. In fact, it’s exactly what I was expecting it to be when I first heard of its existence. Like the other games in the franchise it’s a fun spin-off that brings the trademark humour, heart and charm of the Neptune series. The Sega Hard Girls are integrated seamlessly into the world and the crossover has actually put their Anime series (Hi sCoool! SeHa Girls) on my radar. The combat and general gameplay feels very familiar at this point, though Superdimension does bring a few new ideas to the table that force you to approach battles in a new way, though I was disappointed that the combo system from Megadimension Neptunia VII hasn’t been included. Still, this is a good time for fans of either Neptune, the Sega Hard Girls or anyone looking for a light-hearted JRPG.
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