I don’t know exactly when it happened, but at some point down the line, the rather bizarre and unfathomable Japanese JRPG/Musou series, Hyperdimension Neptunia became the PlayStation Vita’s flagship series. I’ve already reviewed two of the Vita’s five currently available Neptunia titles, and with two more on the way, I suspect my days of reviewing, Idea Factory and Compile Heart’s utterly bonkers but always technically impressive series are far from done…….and honestly, that’s fine with me. If you’ve had a chance to read any of my previous reviews for either the Dynasty Warriors inspired, Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed or the more traditional JRPG mainline release, Re;Birth 2, you’ll know that, despite a questionable representation of young women (one that somehow manages to simultaneously empower them and portray them as subjects of potential perversion), both series have ultimately provided well-made, entertaining games that have proved especially impressive on the Vita platform.
Despite being another remake of the PS3 equivalent, like all Re;Birth titles in the series, Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation continues the unusual trend of delivering Vita ports that are arguably superior to their console counterpart. This is one of those rare examples of a console quality title on Vita that not only improves upon the PS3 release, but genuinely matches the Vita’s original modus operandi. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that the Vita has so many fantastic indie games, but really, isn’t this the kind of game that we all bought a Vita for in the first place? Well, perhaps not this game exactly, but you know what I mean. This is the kind of large-scale, technically impressive console quality release that we were essentially promised from the offset, and with Sony officially throwing in the first party towel, will remain one of the few series to go big on a platform that seems happy to go small.
As with previous Re;Birth titles, V Generation isn’t without its faults, and as always, many will find the sexualised imagery and tone decidedly off-putting, but for those used to such a Japanese aesthetic, and for those who can appreciate the self-aware nature of both the storytelling and the characterisation, then honestly, there is a heck of a lot to like here. As I mentioned previously, if nothing else, the game is a technical tour de force. It’s predecessor was an already fantastic looking game, and while Re;Birth 3 is far from a quantum leap forward for the series, there have been improvements made to the frame-rate and visuals, subsequently making this one of the Vita’s better looking games. Sure, the dungeons can be a bit bland, but for the most part, this is a very attractive game that runs admirably on the Vita hardware – heck, even the load times aren’t that bad.
In terms of the actual gameplay, well, as one would expect, it’s largely more of the same. There have been a few refinements to the combat and a few tweaks to both the mechanics and the sense of progression (SP not automatically replenishing after battle certainly makes a difference), but for the most part, those familiar with its predecessors should feel right at home from the get go. The mix of standard JRPG mechanics with free movement across the battlefield is once again utilized impressively – improving your angles and using SP wisely are once again essential to your chances of success. It’s hardly the toughest JRPG in the world, but boss battles do represent a decent spike with at least some grinding and a fair degree of tactical nous required for victory. Completing the game as standard shouldn’t provide most gamers with too many problems, but as always, those looking for the ‘true’ ending, will have to put it a lot more time and a heck of a lot more effort.
Speaking of ‘true’ endings, the story here continues on a few years after the ‘true’ ending of Re;Birth 2. Despite Gamindustri now being at peace (it’s about bloody time), Nepute somehow manages to get sent back in time to an alternative universe of 1989 that, surprise, surprise, has its own set of gaming related problems. As always, the tone is light-hearted with an array of both classic and contemporary video game references providing a lot of the entertainment. It’s hardly the sharpest parody in the world, but it’s certainly a good-natured one with both the story and the (majority of) characters proving pleasantly likeable.
It’s unlikely to change the opinion of naysayers and certainly won’t add swathes of new fans to the series, but for pre-existing players of this decidedly niche series (niche in the West anyway), Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation delivers yet another fine example of what can be achieved with Vita technology and yet another very solid action RPG for a platform painfully short of such technically ambitious titles. It won’t be for everyone, but for an increasingly niche gaming platform, this incredibly niche JRPG feels like an increasingly perfect match.
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