Saturday, May 23, 2015
Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed (PS Vita) Review
The Hyperdimension Neptunia series is no stranger to having spin-off incursions into other genres. Its latest game is their take on the hack and slash action genre, titled Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed. So instead of an RPG, think more like Dynasty Warriors... or Senran Kagura.
Actually, it is a lot like Senran Kagura. Considering that both were developed by Tamsoft, I'm sure it's no coincidence. Anyway, you run around stages taken directly from the Neptunia series and kill lots of enemies. You have a standard combo of normal attacks, and the Triangle Button is the power attack. There are a few variations of the power attack, depending on when you press the button, and some characters can even combo it. X is the jump button and Circle is a short range dash to get out of trouble, or move closer to an enemy. Up to three special attacks can be equipped and used by holding the R Button and pressing Square, Triangle or Circle. Each of these moves takes one or more SP bars, which are the little blue bars above your health bar.
Being a Neptunia game, you characters can ascend to their HDD forms. Once your EXE meter is half full or more, you can activate HDD for a strong power-up. Once the meter is gone, your transform back into your normal form. You can also cash out the remainder of your EXE meter to perform your super attack. Thankfully, all of these options are also available to the two new characters, even though they are just gaming journalists, and not gaming goddesses.
There are ten characters in all, but they mostly play the same. They have different combos and attacks, but the biggest difference is if they are a ranged or melee-type character. Ranged characters will strafe while you keep hitting the attack button while moving, rather than change the direction of attack. There is a decent variety of familiar Neptunia enemies to wade through, with certain ones being boss monsters. One strange thing is the dating sim enemies. There are three types, although they are effectively palette swaps of the same base one. However, all other enemy types don't have their palette swaps counted as different types, so I'm not sure why the dating sim ones do.
As either an intentional riff, or because they just wanted it in the game, the ripping clothes mechanic from the Senran Kagura series is also present. If you take too much damage, you will get an all-too familiar series of shots showing the outfit's destruction. Spamming the strong attack will weaken it too, but most times it was the damage that destroyed mine. You do get half of the EXE meter when this happens, so it is actually useful. It can also occur to the HDD forms, and will effectively increase the time you can stay HDD (since you get the half an EXE meter). It's a strange choice for the series, but there don't appear to be any down sides. Well, unless it happens to Rom or Ram, since that's a little creepy.
The story of the game is pretty much there to get you to play stages and kill lots of guys. There are only three chapters, but many missions to complete. The story mode isn't very linear. When stages open up, it gives you several, and you don't have to complete them all or in a certain order. To mix it up a bit, there are "irregular quests", which have hidden conditions. They are kind of like puzzles, since you have to figure out what to do. When they open up, it gives you all of them. I figured they would just unlock along the way, but nope, they just post them all. It's a strange way to do it. I took about 10 hours to get through the story mode and all the missions, but there was still a few more things to do.
Once you complete the story mode, "Gamindustri Gauntlet" opens up. This mode has you choose a character and then fight in a one on one tournament. It's not a very interesting mode to me, but I did it to try it out and to unlock the next mode, "Neptral Tower". Opening up with a silly discussion of translating names, the Neptral Tower is a 50 floor tower that has a stronger version of the story final boss at the top. Most fights in the tower are pretty short, but a few drag on a bit too long. Each fighter has to make their way up through every stage to make it to the top. Thankfully, you can do it in pairs so as long as you can use five of the girls, you can get them all to the top in a decent amount of time. It's a pretty fun mode, and a great way to grind out some of the trophies.
While the trophies in Neptunia U aren't hard to get, they can become really tedious. Maxing out all the Lily ranks for all characters (which now go to 10), getting all accessories, winning the Gamindustri Gauntlet with every character... you get the picture. And yes, for the Gauntlet, the HDD forms count as separate characters. Ugh. One cool extra though are cheats. After fulfilling certain conditions, you can unlock perma-HDD mode, infinite health, and more. These make a few of the trophies/parts of the game more bearable... like the max level story stages. These levels aren't required for the "all stages" trophy, and it seems they were DLC stages in the Japanese version, and just lumped into ours.
As a fan of hack and slash Warriors-type games, I was looking forward to Neptunia U. It definitely didn't disappoint me, and the game is really fun. It isn't quite as deep as the Warriors games, but there is the clothes ripping mechanic from the Senran Kagura series if that interests you. I really like that the Neptunia series is branching out into other genres. The first three excursions have been pretty fun, and I hope they continue to do more. However, I hope they expand upon the ones they have done. I'd really like another Action Unleashed title, with more of the characters seen in the other entries in the Neptunia family.