Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls Review (Vita)

Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls, at first glance, is just another generic anime spin-off game mashing two series together with a cast consisting entirely of young female girls. Well, in a sense you would be completely correct in that assumption; however, there is a straying from this path of mediocrity: the writing and story. In the world of Hyperdimension Neptunia, the majority of the characters are goddesses that represent video game consoles. In Sega Hard Girls, the characters are specifically based upon Sega consoles and products. While that is odd enough, the combination of the two games, with the quirky writing, is definitely a ride to behold.

Speaking of quirky writing, the characters in the game all have borderline unoriginal names that are so bland that they can almost be explained as pure perfection. Since most of the characters in the game pay homage to the names of one Sega product or another, it can actually be fun guessing what character may represent what console just by their appearance. Of course the greatest, if not most ridiculous, homage has to be the main character’s name IF. It literally is an acronym for Idea Factory, the creators of the game. If that wasn’t extremely idiotic, the co-protagonist is named Hatsumi Sega — a name based off of the famous voice program turned famous internet pop-idol Hatsune Miku — and has a similar appearance to top it off. And while I may have called it idiotic, most of the game’s pull for me came from the oddity of the story and really the characters that came from the very concept.

Moving forward with the game itself, the story starts off with a cutscene of the main goddesses from the Hyperdimension Neptunia series clashing against the Sega Hard Girls.

2016-10-10-112926

It doesn’t stop there, as the two forces collide, the scene switches to IF traveling across a desert wasteland on her bike alone. As she drives along, a girl, Hatsumi Sega, falls from the sky unconscious and IF rushes to catch her. She manages to do so, taking note of the sheer oddity of the event, but it doesn’t stop her original mission: finding the famous library which stores all of  the world’s history and knowledge. While it may seem as though there would be some trouble getting inside such an important sounding place, she walks in with virtually no issue. As she does so, she is greeted by Histoire, a minuscule fairy-like girl who apparently is the librarian of the place. She’s virtually unfazed by IF’s unannounced intrusion, remarking only upon the fact that she had not had a visitor for quite some time. She does notice the unconscious Hatsumi Sega; however, and due to some commotion in the library, prompts IF to investigate and leave her in Histoire’s care.

I would just like to reiterate the fact that the dialogue is comedic and meta, sometimes borderline being a commentary of video games and the series’ themselves. Just to give a taste, take a look at some of the dialogue:

2016-10-14-171502

 

2016-10-14-120904

At this point the game starts to open up a bit more, as the general home base (the library) screen is shown with only a single place that can be interacted with. And after going through some tutorials and more story segments the game opens to what you’ll be seeing for the remainder of your game. The game itself progresses by getting missions from Historie, which prompt you to travel across time, meeting characters from both series’. By this time, the entire game has been seen, as the game’s story is told exclusively in the visual novel format, and the dungeon parts being the major component of gameplay.

2016-10-14-121530

 

Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls is played in a 3rd person perspective, three-dimensional plane, with controls similar to the other JRPG series of the same fashion. To put it simply, the game is split into two parts: the visual novel story aspect and the dungeon crawler fighter. In the dungeon crawling aspect, the player is really just allowed to move around breaking some objects and collect items. Of course there are enemies scattered across the dungeon that wander around, respawning after defeating them around the dungeons.

2016-10-12-212428

Fighting is meant to be the main aspect of enjoyment apart from the story, but quickly becomes tedious. While it has the same basic turn-based type system of other retro-styled RPGs, its attempt at a variation got stale after the first few hours of playing. This is because of the lack of content in the system itself. Even when comparing it to the other Hyperdimension Neptunia games (after researching) there really is a lack of content. To put it into perspective,  Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls gameplay allows each character in the party (max four) a turn to do a variation of walking, defending, jumping, using an item, and attacking enemies in a certain radius. Each action, besides jumping, takes an amount of the turn. To attack, the character in action walks up and attacks the enemy either with a normal attack or charge attack, which is done by holding X. Besides that, you can use some transformations and spells to attack.

2016-10-12-212124

In comparison, the original Hyperdimension Neptunia game had these aspects, but allowed the player to create their own combos and move sets, which at least made the variation between retro turn-based justifiable. By the end of the first dungeon I was walking up to the nearest cluster of opponents and mashing the x button until it was over. The items, besides the healing ones, seemed completely useless, and I rarely found myself wanting to keep grinding other than to get a few levels to progress. The skills are nice, and the other gimmicks are interesting to a certain point, but that’s the problem. Most, if not all, of the mechanics are somewhat of gimmicks that draw attention for a little bit but gradually become mundane.  The gameplay–along with the skills, equipment, and stats–are really basic and don’t really feel any different from any other JRPG, and that might actually be the point.

The story itself is actually quite intriguing, and I give a thumbs-up for that aspect. However, it really all culminates to just another spin-off of a game series that already has multiple games. While I can deal with the mundane aspects of the odd take of the turn-based system, it could be so much better with more than just a couple of goddess gimmicks.

Much like other JRPGs, you have to grind, a lot. And that isn’t the real problem, the issue is that the game punishes the player for not following that rule. When you select missions, there isn’t very many indications of what level you should be before going headlong into a mission that is just selectable like a normal mission. Sure, there’s an indication of which mission is harder by the description, it barely lets you measure anything, especially for someone new to the series. This is prevalent as well because the average enemies range from complete pushovers to massive meat shields in the difference of two consecutive dungeons. Plus, they do not in any way culminate to bosses.

Speaking of bosses, you’ll encounter the first true boss at the very least 10+ hours into the game. While the game shouldn’t be marked for its positioning of the first boss, there is an unfortunate factor when the first boss can literally destroy your entire team within a turn. This of course happens when the boss decides to use their AOE skill move three times in a row, which in fact happens (of course you can pin me on the fact that I did group up all of my teammates, allowing for this unfortunate outcome, but I didn’t really know that the boss could use an AOE, much less use one three times in a row).

In terms of other aspects, the music is rather repetitive and doesn’t get much variety. The English voices are fine but aren’t great. Dungeons are literally identical, including the collectible placement. In each of the eras, the enemies are beyond dull and unimaginative, and the sound effects when moving in dungeons are grating to the ear after a dozen or so hours of play. There is also a shop in the game where a variety of RPG items can be found such as weapons, armor, healing necessities, and accessories. Yep, accessories, and there are a whole lot of them for specific characters in the game. More unlock throughout, but just playing through a few hours can unlock quite a bit for a single character.

2016-10-14-114210

The game is overall pretty mediocre, not because of the story or the concept of the game but because of the lack of creativity behind the gameplay. At the very least it’s worth a try, especially for fans of the Hyperdimension Neptunia or Sega Hard Girls series. The dialogue is whimsical, the characters literal personifications of Sega’s consoles and products, and of course the overall concept of the game a hilarious way to entice people into at least checking it out.    

Jasper Song
the authorJasper Song

Games have always been an inspiration for me. Seeing what can be done and expressed through experiencing each game is what makes me want to write about video games, to share those moments with others.