Game Review: Superdimension Neptune VS SEGA Hard Girls (PS Vita)
26/10/2016 Leave a comment
Idea Factory’s onslaught of PS Vita titles continues with Superdimension Neptune VS SEGA Hard Girls; a new spin-off into the Hyperdimension franchise which sees the ever lovable godesses take fight against the SEGA Hard Girls – which are of course living incarnations of popular SEGA consoles such as the SEGA Saturn and SEGA Dreamcast.
Does this mean that Superdimension Neptune VS SEGA Hard Girls has been designed with fans in mind? No, not exactly; instead it’s a welcome addition to the PS Vita and one that deserves your attention – especially if you enjoy either SEGA consoles or the Hyperdimension franchise.
Published by Idea Factory International, and developed by Felistella and Compile Heart, Superdimension Neptune VS SEGA Hard Girls is a unique entry into the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise and acts as a separate stand-a-lone spin-off to the JPRG genre we’ve become accustomed to throughout the past decade. Why is this title so special? Well not only does it feature the SEGA Hard Girls, which are anime incarnations of popular SEGA Consoles, but it sees IF – otherwise nicknamed as Iffy – become the lead protagonist of the game with Neptune and a selection of other goddesses, such as Izumi, Pluitia and Nepgear, acting as support characters. It’s a bold move and bizarrely enough it all seems to come together amazingly well.
The story within Superdimension Neptune VS SEGA Hard Girls is one that sees IF, who is actually an adventurer of sorts, being recruited by the grand libraries guardian histoire to travel back in time and restore the disturbances that have occurred throughout history. As part of this mission IF – who at this point finds herself partnered up with a blue haired girl known as Segumi – must travel to era’s of the SEGA Game Gear, SEGA Mega Drive, SEGA Saturn and SEGA Dreamcast to make sure that the events happen as they were initially described in the history books. Naturally attempting to stop IF and Segumi’s mission from succeeding is a mysterious evil eternity which plans to rewrite history to their own twisted desires; a desire which becomes more apparent the further you progress forward through the game.
As you can probably tell Superdimension Neptune VS SEGA Hard Girls features a time-travel-themed storyline and is in some way comparable to Dragon Ball Xenoverse with its “back-and-forth” antics from past to present; but in addition players are also tasked with helping Segumi recover from her amnesia which – at some points in the story – lead to some rather comical moments. Potential comical antics aside Superdimension Neptune offers a rather straight-forward story and it’s soon one that will see you control IF, and in turn Segumi and other characters from both SEGA Hard Girls and Hyperdimension Neptunia, in order to save the past from being altered. How exactly is this achieved you may be wondering? Well like I said before it sees IF and Segumi travelling through time to the different era’s of gaming history; each of which progress forward in the form of missions received from histoire.
In this particular game the grand library acts as the hub world and upon accepting a mission from histoire it will unlock your next destination within the past. For example; speak to histoire, accept the mission and then by selecting IF’s bike from the hub world menu the player can travel to the past to move the story along; either by visual-novel-styled dialogue elements (of which have become the norm in these games) or by exploring a relatively large dungeon area. Strictly speaking the storyline progression is a lot more direct than your traditional JPRG game as each time you talk with histoire, or other members of the library, you’ll find yourself unlocking the next part of the story. It’s simple, straight forward and effective.
Of course while accepting a mission from Histoire will unlock a new element in the past, such as an unexplored location or dungeon, you are free to explore other areas within it. For instance; leaving the hub world of the grand library will take you to another map in the past which acts as that hub world for that timeline. Important ‘mission based’ parts of that map will be indicated with an event icon; however if you so desire you could explore the other areas of the map to engage with other characters from the past or explore the other – non story related – dungeons. As it stands dungeon designs remain consistent with previous entries into the Hyperdimension franchise, especially the JPRG games, although some minor tweaks have been added. For instance not only are different types of enimies are available but players are now able to collect coins – which in turn can be exchanged at the shop – and a bonus will be offered for those collecting them all within a single dungeon.
Gameplay wise Superdimension remains very similar to the gameplay found within previous Hyperdimension Neptunia titles, especially the Re;Birth remakes, and as such fans of the franchise will easily find themselves becoming comfortable with the overall gameplay mechanics of the game; both in combat and during exploration. As per usual players can opt to preform a regular attack, and chain them together to create a combo, or use SP to attack with a skill; with SP automatically returning upon dealing damage to your opponent. The only real difference with this games combat system is the newly introduced move gauge during the turn-based-combat. This particular gauge monitors your character movement and attack patterns during turn based combat and acts in a way that makes your ‘wait time’ last longer if you opt to attack or move more during your turn. It’s actually a rather frustrating feature but it does add that ‘deeper management’ aspect to the game. For instance do you simply move and end your turn so that you can attack sooner in the next turn or do you use your entire gauge up and wait an incredibly long time until your next turn. It’s frustrating; but it works. Other tweaks to combat include Fever Time, which acts as a replacement to the EXE Drive, and the ability to jump; both of which go hand-in-hand for stronger attacks against opponents.
As per usual while exploring dungeons players can opt to ignore enemies or choose to engage them and depending on how this is done will result in either a surprise attack or symbol attack being triggered; the former of which will give you first move. Personally I opted to choose attacking enemies rather than ignoring them; simply because later stages of the game – especially boss fights – can become staggeringly difficult; so much so that you’ll find yourself later re-exploring old dungeons just so that you can level up. This is a JPRG after-all so while the story might move along at a brisk pace so do the enemies; and as such you’ll always want to level up so that you don’t find yourself being constantly beaten by your opponents.
It’s also worth mentioning that while accepting missions from histoire in the ‘main’ hub world of the grand library will progress the overall story other side-missions can also be accepted. Some of these are simply to acquire selective items, or destroy a certain number of enemies, but the rewards can further aid you on your quest to completion of the main story. Truth be told it wouldn’t be a JPRG without the inclusion of side-missions alongside the main story; and once again Compile Heart have pulled through by adding these additional elements to the game. Interestingly enough however these side-quests do not feel like they are discouraging you from the main story and, at times, makes you wonder if they are even a side-quest at all.
Speaking of additional elements Superdimension Neptune offers quite a lot to explore; both in story-related-content and within the hub world. Sure enough majority of the gameplay will be had viewing on-screen dialogue or repetitive grinding within the dungeons; but elsewhere within the hub world you will find all-sorts of characters to interact with. Some of these, such as the shop, will unlock new weapons and equipment for your character; while others will just provide information or assistance when needed. The same can be said for additional combat mechanics such as IF’s ‘Break’ mode which basically sees her going HDD or the link between characters to make team-attacks work more strongly.
At first you’ll pay no attention to these and have no interest in them; but the future you explore the more you’ll rely on these features to further progress forward. Basically there is lots to explore within the game, including being able to climb up ladders and crawl through gaps in dungeons, and as such even three hours into the game you’ll still find yourself being displayed with helpful tutorials from histoire.
Superdimension Neptune VS SEGA Hard Girls uses the ‘SEGA theme’ to boost it’s moral and dominancy within the world; but in hindsight even without the SEGA Hard Girls being included a reasonable story has been provided with some solid gameplay mechanics. Sure enough some complaints can be had; for starters frame-rate-drops occur quite often during combat and dungeon exploration and that travelling back-and-forth between the future and present to further progress the story forward does become tiresome; but like I said before Superdimension Neptune VS SEGA Hard Girls provides a solid JPRG experience, and a great-nod to the retro SEGA community, in more ways than one and last but not least the quirky dialogue between characters remains intact which is easily one of my favourite aspects of the Hyperdimension franchise.
Superdimension Neptune VS SEGA Hard Girls is easily one of the better spin-offs of the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise; but in my eyes it’s also one of the best titles within the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise and it’s one that should be added to every PS Vita fan’s collection.
Superdimension VS SEGA Hard Girls is now available for the PS Vita as a digital download and as a retail cartridge within the UK and Europe.