The Hyperdimension series has will always be remembered as one based squarely in parody and also one not shy about releasing multiple spinoff series, though Superdimension neptune vs Sega Hard girls is the first time developer Compile Heart have strayed into direct crossover territory. So how will a meeting of NepNep and Sega Hardware Girls on Playstation Vita go down?
Starting off Superdimension takes place in a kind of post-apocalyptic world where you find your main character IF searching for a magical library known to hold the records of all of history in an attempt to work out what has caused the world to be reduced to rubble, not long after finding said library IF is thrown headfirst into an adventure across time after parts of history mysteriously begin to vanish. For a spin off title in the series which I feel tend to have weaker stories I was very surprised to find Superdimension had one of the strongest stories for the spinoffs of the series, something that is knitted together well in most all aspects of the story and character communication.
Being a crossover I was concerned that Compile Heart would be unable to tie the two series together well, lets just say I was quite wrong in that regard as the Sega Hard Girls are really given as much attention as the CPU’s, their personalities mesh well and their reasons for being involved in the situation are valid and never feel shoehorned in.
Much like the main Hyperdimension series the gameplay comprises of three main elements, cutscenes & character interaction to explain the story, world traversal via platforming which with the new terrain interaction makes exploring the world around you mostly a pleasure and Combat which is standard turn based RPG fare with a few new mechanics to keep it feeling fresh.
The cutscenes & character interaction are as always with the series strong, funny and although it often edges on it doesn’t push the boat out too far with parody and humour. However the story progression does have one major flaw, when you go to the library you get the chance to unlock events within certain era’s and explore those dungeons and events in any order you choose, this causes an issue where because they want to be as far reaching as possible, most quests actually boil down to the accept a quest, watch scene, finish quest, rinse & repeat which in other titles wouldn’t be an issue but without the larger overarching cutscenes to break it all up it gets repetitive and you get no chance to break that until towards the end of the game when your choices start having a effect on particular events.
Main exploration is the most fun part of this title, moving through the world with crawlspaces, ladders, walls for you to climb and the dash to make those longer jumps in an attempt to claim a secret never really gets old, particularly in a world this pretty and varied. This style of exploration is heavily encouraged with the developer including baseball and medal items to be collected in each dungeon. The only real letdown with the exploration is the frame-rate issues which I will cover later.
Combat is fairly similar in as much as you and enemies are in a circular area and you take it in turns to pummel on each other using various skills, the slight difference now is that with the action gauge you can set up to attack one enemy and then still have enough AP to move across the field towards another, this adds a certain strategic layer which is great but for a series known for its simple combat mechanics feels a little wasted beyond being able to under-use your gauge to get your next turn faster and visa versa when overusing. The Overdrive and Fever Time systems change this up a little, Overdrive allowing you to hold the attack button for a charged attack at the expense of your entire Action Gauge. Fever time is controlled by a secondary bar which charges up as you fight, once full it can be activated which will give you extra turns, a boost to stats and access to your EXE Skills which use a portion of the Fever Gauge instead of the usual SP cost.
Gems are an interesting concept, randomly appearing during battle and requiring you to spend your Action Gauge to approach and jump into them to unlock the random effects (though I found them to mostly be HP or SP regeneration)
Finally we get to classes, in a similar style to most RPG’s your characters can change and level up different classes to unlock various skills to change up battle, these also include passive skills to do things like increase EXP earned in battle. These passive skills can be used regardless of class as long as they have been unlocked by levelling up the original class enough making the expected grind feel a little less well…. grindy.
Hyperdimension games always look pretty, but Superdimension actually finally feels like the step up that the series has been waiting a few games for, very high quality effects and more detail make the game just look that much better. There is even a fairly well done physics system which is a complaint I have often had with the series on a while, characters hair and clothing move around naturally as they move which feels a lot more immersive overall.
This sadly isn’t an entirely easy change though as I mentioned previously the title suffers from some quite significant frame rate drops, all games suffer from some degree of frame-rate stutter and this is to be expected, but in the case of Superdimension they actually grind the game to a halt for a brief moment, although this doesn’t happen constantly it is jarring enough to be very off putting when it does happen.
The sound quality and voice acting is as always very high and something that is just expected of Compile Heart these days, the sound effects are fun and add a little extra spark that the combat system needs. Cutscenes are fun to watch already but without such strong voice actors to really bring it alive would sadly be just yet another visual novel, and that is something nobody wants for NepNep.
Overall Superdimension Neptune vs Sega Hard Girls is a great but slightly flawed gem with beauty and gorgeous sound offset by frame-rate issues and a somewhat repetitive story system, but overall when you compare it to some of its sister titles it is very strong and it is very easy to put aside those little niggles. This is certainly one of the side titles I am very much looking forward to a future PC release for. This game should last most players between 20 and 25 hours to complete depending on how good they are at clearing the bosses.
Superdimension Neptune vs Sega Hard Girls - 8/10
Who Should Buy This
- Fans of either series
- Players who love comedy in the games
- Fans of Anime stylings
Who Should Avoid
- Anyone who dislikes the Neptunia Series
- Players looking for a deep strategic combat system
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