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Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation Vita
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Release Date: June 12, 2017

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


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PC Review - 'Superdimension Neptune vs. Sega Hard Girls'

by Brian Dumlao on July 25, 2017 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

In this RPG adventure, our usual heroine of the Neptunia series, Neptune, is transformed into a motorcycle and now IF, who has always been supporting Neptune from the side, must take main stage!

Buy Superdimension Neptune vs. Sega Hard Girls

Superdimension Neptune vs. Sega Hard Girls marks a milestone for the series on the PC. If you leave out the Producing Perfection spin-off, every game that was released on the PlayStation family of consoles in North America has finally made it to the PC, with at least a resolution bump to show for it. That's pretty much what you're getting here, except this game is even more oddball than the last.

The setup for Superdimension Neptune vs. Sega Hard Girls is much bleaker. In an alternate future from the main storyline, Gameindustri is in shambles. Long periods of fighting and gamer apathy have resulted in the once-prestigious land turning into a barren wasteland. IF, a guest character for most of the series, is an adventurer who is looking for a legendary library of history when she rescues a woman falling from the sky. Both IF and the amnesiac known as Segami reach the library, only to discover that the history written in the books is starting to disappear. The duo travels through time to keep history stable by preventing the Goddesses and Sega Hard Girls from fighting.

The idea of a crossover with a Sega property might seem weird, but take a look at the anime Hi-sCool Seha Girls, where the Sega Hard Girls originate. The main characters are all personifications of different Sega consoles, and their personalities match those from the Hyperdimension Neptunia series. There's a lot of funny banter and hijinks in the anime as well as in the game series cut scenes, so in a way, they're a perfect fit.

You'll want to have some experience with previous titles to have a better understanding of some of the jokes and references. You'll get that Neptune is dimwitted, but you might not immediately understand why she refers to herself as the protagonist or gives everyone a nickname.

Since the game is an alternate tale instead of a mainline one, SNvSHG is loaded with humor. That's always been a hallmark of the series, but things are ratcheted up here, with the fourth wall constantly being broken and oddball tangents being taken. The humor can also be risqué at times, such as jokes about people wanting to ride a Goddess-turned-bike, but there's less reliance on fan service this time around.

Speaking of cut scenes, this game is just like the rest of the series in that it is steeped in them. Unless you're partaking in a side-quest, every mission is bookended with visual novel-style cut scenes that are quite lengthy. Even if you choose to display all of the text at once, you'll spend the same amount of time watching the game as playing it. The story is always a big part of the appeal in these games, so if you're interested in more action than reading, this isn't for you.

As far as gameplay goes, you can split it into three main sections. The first is the world map, which is nothing more than a menu system with chibi-style characters representing the various sections. You can change the equipment on your party and buy more items to replenish various meters and cure ailments. You can take on missions, with the Triangle button acting as a guide to help you find the correct areas to fulfill the requirements for side-quests. You can also catch up on the game's lore and talk to characters to unlock more missions or give the world some depth.

There are a number of additional changes. Both main quests and side-quests have timers, and while main quests temporarily disappear when the timer expires, that does give the player a sense of urgency. Parties have access to formations, which seem trivial on the battlefield since this isn't a strategy RPG, but the formations dictate the bonuses you get and which characters get to improve their Lily rank. Classes also debut here, so you can now change each character's abilities. Classes appear far enough into the game that some may not bother to take advantage of it, especially since you can level up the classes separately from the characters. The option is good for those willing to change things up without switching out the characters.

The dungeon exploration is presented in a traditional third-person perspective and is similar to past jaunts. Players can roam around, jump on higher ground and break boxes in real time to get items for battle. Enemies are also visible here, so encounters aren't randomized. What you can't do is clear an area of enemies, since vanquished foes simply return to the field after a short time has passed.

The changes waver between appreciated and largely superficial. You can now engage in an active run, so you have a better chance of escaping from monsters that chase you down. You can now ascend and descend vertical surfaces, giving you more room to explore. Crawling is also available, though that's automatically done once you get near a passageway. There are also medals and baseballs that you can collect in each dungeon. The former gives you cash while the latter gets you items once you turn them in to the right person in the main game hub. They're good additions but don't give you anything you couldn't already get from combat or the environment.

Interestingly, SNvSHG does a poor job of determining first attack rights. The game records your slashes from a further distance than before, so you don't have to get very close to an enemy to engage in combat. However, there were more than a few times when a slash was initiated on a stationary enemy, and the game recognized that as the enemy actively pursuing the heroes, so they got the attack initiative. Until this is patched, make sure to bring along extra items to prepare for this crippling bug.

As far as combat goes, there is so much that's changed here that it is much different from the mainline games, even though it looks the same at a glance. The battles still have restrictions in that characters have a small attack circle and a limited amount of space to move during their turn. Everything they do is now governed by an energy meter that fills for every action taken. Moving around the field doesn't take much energy, but attacks, magic spells and defensive maneuvers eat up most of that bar.

The meter isn't the only addition to combat. Charged moves are available that call in a partner to unleash a combo attack, and the strength of that attack depends on your Lily rank with one another. Power-ups now appear in battle, so you can replenish meters by moving underneath the icon and jumping to reach it; its appearance is a blessing if you're frugal about item use or simply don't have any at hand. One of those power-ups is a fever star, which appears once your attacks and moves fill up a fever meter. Grabbing this allows you to unleash a full-on assault against the opposition, since they're robbed of their turns to attack. You'll want to save this for boss encounters instead of using it against normal foes.

The result is a combat system that is more appealing to those who tire of the genre's standard menu system. It's similar to what's in the Tales of series from Bandai Namco, but the attack and movement areas are smaller in scale. People will miss the ability to hit multiple enemies in one shot. No matter how close enemies are to one another or how wide your attack circle is, all of your efforts are concentrated on one foe unless you're using magic. Considering how often enemies are clustered during the first phase of combat, it can be disappointing to lose the multi-hit ability from earlier titles.

The big knock against the title is the rather large-scale recycling of elements from prior games. It doesn't take long before you hear the same tracks, almost to the point where you believe that every track from the first title is present. The enemies and environments are pretty much the same. There have been a few tweaks to accommodate the wall-climbing and rope-shimmying abilities, but otherwise, the layout and enemy locations are exactly as you remember them.

The graphics are exactly what you'd expect from the series. Compared to the Vita originals, the texture work is massively improved, and the frame rate can easily hit a smooth 60fps. The anime art style and large color palette work fine, but the big change is that the resolution is now capable of hitting 4K.

Likewise, the sound quality remains a constant from game to game. The new tracks fit in pretty well with the old ones in terms of quality, and the effects remain good. The choice for both English and Japanese voice tracks is still here, and both casts deliver terrific performances in every scene. Overall, the presentation remains solid.

Superdimension Neptune vs. Sega Hard Girls maintains the status quo. The lighthearted story is a great contrast to the serious RPGs on the system, though the lengthy cut scenes can be grating if you aren't already on board with the oddball tale. It's a shame that a large swath of the game is taken wholly from older titles with minimal changes, but the improvements in the combat and skill systems greatly make up for that. In the end, this title won't sway the minds of those who want deeper and more serious fare, but it will please those who are already fans of the series.

Score: 7.5/10

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