Developed by Compile Heart, Felistella Published by Idea Factory Reviewed on PlayStation Vita
Fall is here, the leaves are changing color, and another Neptunia game has arrived…what a time to be alive! Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls is the latest Neptunia spin-off to appear on the PlayStation Vita. As the name implies, this game is a cross over between Idea Factory’s Hyperdimension Neptunia series and Sega’s Sega Hard Girls franchise. These two series are similar in that both involve gaming consoles personified as cute female avatars. Unlike the Neptunia series, Sega Hard Girls focuses exclusively on the Sega consoles. There is a slight drawback to this cross over because the representatives from the Neptunia series are also limited to the Sega themed characters (Plutia/Iris Heart, Neptune/Purple Heart, Nepgear/Purple Sister, and Uzume/Orange Heart) and the main protagonist, IF (who represents Idea Factory). There’s also a new character named Hatsumi Sega. The other Neptunia goddesses, sisters, and secondary characters like Compa are not playable in this game.
Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls continues the Neptunia series tradition of taking place in an alternative universe apart from the other games in the series. The story opens with IF in a post-apocalyptic world heading to the Grand Library when out of nowhere a girl falls out of the sky. When IF arrives at the Grand Library it turns out that the girl is Hatsumi Sega, Segami for short, and she has lost her memory. After encountering Histoire in the library, IF and Segami learn that history is starting to become corrupt and lost. So it’s up to the two of them to travel back to the past to figure out what’s happening.
The graphics for Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls are similar to what has been seen in other games. It uses the same anime art style that still looks good on the Vita. The game sometime suffers in the frame rate category but quickly recovers from those drops. It should be noted that the game still uses the PhyreEngine like past iterations have. This may be the last Neptunia game to use this engine as the next game, Four Goddesses Online: Cyber Dimension Neptune, is going to be powered by the Unreal Engine 4. Most of the Neptunia games shares the same music and this entry is no different. Where this series really shines is its voice acting and vocal music tracks. Sadly, like most games in the series, the game’s English dub doesn’t cover all the dialogue that the Japanese dub covers, leaving awkward silence during some of the more important story beats.
The majority of the games in the Neptunia series are standard RPGs and Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls is no different. This iteration tries to shake things up by changing the battle system. Instead of the normal combo system used in the previous games, this game implements a meter based system. Every action has a set amount meter usage; learning to manage the meter is crucial since it affects how each one of your characters’ turns are spent. At first it’s a little tricky to understand if you’ve gotten familiar with the previous entries, but it eventually becomes easy to use effectively.
Fans of Chrono Trigger will appreciate various aspects of Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls. This time traveling adventure has you hopping back and forth between different eras to uncover the whole story. Also like Chrono Trigger it allows you to face the final boss at any point in the game. Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls also has a condition that no other game in the series has: a time limit. You have a certain amount of time to complete each mission or else the mission itself will be consumed by this monster called the Time Eater. If a mission is eaten it will power up the Time Eater; the more important the mission is the more powered up that the Time Eater will become. If you lose to the Time Eater you’ll be sent back to a point where all of the missions have not been devoured, allowing you to retry the missions. Another new series feature are the set formations. The amount of baseballs you collect determines how many formations that you can unlock. Some formations offer stat boosts and affect other aspects of the battle system. The stages and areas now have additional exploring and climbable aspects as well.
Unfortunately this game falls prey to the standard shortcomings found in the other Neptunia RPGs, specifically balance and grinding. Balance has been a major issue series; if you have a character with a high magic stat, you can rip through most of the game. Then you’ll eventually encounter a boss who can eliminate your party in one move, forcing you to grind more levels until you can just walk through them. Overall the game’s RPG elements are more of the same with minor tweaks.