One of the things that have made the JRPG genre lose its fame in the gaming industry over the last years has been a big decline on the games' innovation and quality, also many Japanese developers refusing to bring their games over the American continent and Europe. And when I play games like Hyperdimension Neptunia, I can't help but understand the haters a little.
I've been a JRPG fan since I was about 16 years old and the truth is that I've enjoyed pretty much anything the genre has offered, from Final Fantasy and Star Ocean to Dragon Quest and "Tales of". And why I truly believe that game preferences are purely subjective, we have to get real and know when a game is simply bad. Hyperdimension Neptunia is a bad game.
When I see companies like Square-Enix putting up amazing titles like Final Fantasy XIII or Namco-Bandai with Tales of Vesperia, I get to admire their resolve at keeping the genre fresh while staying faithful to the characteristics that define it. But then I encounter games like Neptunia, I simply ask myself why the hell are games like this being created.
Let me first explain what Hyperdimension Neptunia is. It is a very rare JRPG that has gotten some fame among gamers worldwide because it is one of the very few in the genre available for the PS3 and the rarity of it gets people interested, just like with others like Ar Tonelico or Atelier Rorona. After looking at the reviews, trailers, gameplay videos and opinions in many forums like the ones in Gamespot, Giant Bomb, etc I decided not to invest in the game because I was simply not going to play it.
But as I mentioned last night, a friend who tends to buy these rare titles and enjoys them, contacted me offering to sell Neptunia at a really good price. I simply couldn't say no. Today, he gave me the game with a pretty box (tough a bit broken), a pretty art book and a pretty set of poker cards with the game's characters on them. The game's physical presentation is very good, in fact, you can't get it any other way as far as I'm concerned. If you want the game, you'll get the art book and the cards with it.
Later, I went to my PS3 wanting the game to be good and started playing and Jesus Christ, I've seen PS1 games who play MUCH better than this. First of all, the game looks seriously bad. The box says it runs at 1080p but it doesn't look anywhere near a PS3's game's standards. I'm not asking for it to look like Uncharted 2, DiRT 3 or Little Big Planet 2 but seriously, I've seen many PS2 games who really kick Hyperdimension Neptunia's graphics.
Besides the crappy graphics, the game tells the story with the portraits of the characters speaking in annoying Japanese voices (or English ones) and a horribly horrendous music playing in the background. I didn't see any videos and the intro was simply a voice telling you a boring story. After about 20 minutes of a horrible battle among four oversexualized lolitas and an uncomfortable scene of two little girls on a bed tied in bandages, I visited a dungeon. The gameplay is extremely simple, the movements of your character (a purple-haired girl named Neptune) and the insanely slow battles made the game unbearable for me.
The only positive thing about the game I saw was the setting which takes place in a world where goddesses who each represent a real-world gaming console (Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 to be exact) have been fighting a "Console War" for countless generations, and it's up to a fourth Goddess named Neptune to stop the war and bring peace to a world called "Gameindustri". It's a very interesting setting for a videogame, especially a Japanese Role-Playing-Game, but sadly, it wasn't done right.
There's no innovation, the graphics aren't even on par with many PS2 games, the gameplay takes no risks at trying to be different from the classic formula and the characters are annoying and way too oversexualized, even for a guy who likes ecchi like me. I didn't like the game and will take my purchase as a long-term investment given the rarity of the bundle and the increasing prices in the different online-shopping websites.
While I would love to write a more elaborated review about it, I won't play it anymore besides probably showing it to my friends. I only write reviews about the games I like and I play a lot and finish. It's not like I'm getting paid for writing about gaming (though I'd love to). Hyperdimension Neptunia won't do anything more than sit on my shelves among my other PS3 games. I'm actually happy about owning a game this rare in my country but I won't play it.
Anyway, I took a few pictures of the bundle and the contents so people over the internet can take a look at what the game offers since I've seen many comments with people wondering about the art book size and things like that, enjoy:
This is the front of the box that carries everything.
Backside of the box, you can see that it is slightly broken on the side.
These are the contents: Game, art book and the set of cards.
Open game box and some of the cards.
The inside of the art book with the game box.