December 19, 2016
From the outset, things are a tad different in this game. Instead of playing as the usual Neptune, you’re in control of character IF with a cutscene showing her riding through a desolate landscape on a motorbike. You see goddesses fighting, but instead of the usual ones you’d expect they’re another set of separate characters based around SEGA Hard Girls.
So essentially what’s going on is that the usual Neptunia goddesses are fighting against these new goddesses. And of course as is par for this series, there’s different time periods involved as well. And for those wondering what caused the switch up for IF instead of the usual series stalwart Neptune, the latter amusingly gets turned into IF’s talking motorbike (although for you Neptune fans out there, there is a clone of her you can unlock to use in battle if you really wish to use her in there).
While the plot in general is standalone from the other games, if you do know of the other titles there are some minor references that’ll make things more interesting for you. The central narrative surrounds a entity called a “Time Eater” who’s slowly erasing history. Taking a page from Idea Factory’s recent Trillion: God of Destruction, after spending a set amount of time training and advancing the plot you are forced into battle. If you fail, the world resets and you start over again with your levels and quest progression intact.
While I liked the humor, which routinely breaks the fourth-wall as one would expect from this series alongside its mix of CG and visual-novel scenes, and the Time Eater mechanic is a nice change of pace, it’s still a wrapper for the usual quest -> dungeon -> repeat process prior games in the series have employed. Not saying that’s a bad thing either way, but if you disliked prior games in the series because of this, nothing in this game will change your mind. In addition — while you have different time periods you can switch between, the map is identical and for the most part the spots on them are too, so prepare to see the same areas over and over again.
Outside of the narrative, there’s also other areas where Superdimension changes things up from prior games in the series. Combat receives a major change with the usual choice of three attack options (break, power and rush) being replaced with a single attack option. As you attack, this fills up a meter and once it’s filled you end your character’s turn. It creates a mini-risk/reward system, as you can either do a small amount of attacks and attack again sooner or deal a large amount of attacks but have to wait longer to attack again.
The arenas themselves also get modifications in Superdimension. Stars appear when you enter a battle, which you can optionally jump to collect and get stat boosts. Tying into the attacking mechanic mentioned earlier, you have a secondary meter which upon filling up gives everyone unlimited turns while the meter is filled.
Continuing on the jumping mechanic — outside of battles this mechanic, which was generally an afterthought in other games, is utilized much more intensely here as it’s necessitated to traverse platforms and other obstacles. So while you may have to retread the same ground over and over again in some cases, at least you can do so vertically to some degree. One issue I noticed is that the camera hasn’t really been tweaked from prior games, so there will be times it outright doesn’t cooperate when you need it to. This combined with the need for a better camera system due to the increased reliance on jumping doesn’t always lead to great results.
As far as performance goes, generally things are pretty solid but there are areas where the Vita is getting taxed to a degree — but nothing crash-wise or the like happened during my time with the game and it only happened when a large amount of objects were on the screen at once. The graphics and music are about what you’d expect from prior Vita Neptunia games, with some assets from the Rebirth titles especially being reused here.
If you’re wanting a more traditional Neptunia game on a handheld, this is an decent choice as long as you were okay with the previous Rebirth titles for their highs and lows as this is very similar in many ways. For those who disliked those games or the series in general, there isn’t anything here to sway your minds.