Last August, Idea Factory's new International branch released Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1, a PlayStation Vita remake of a property that until that point was released in the West by NIS America. Featuring a retranslated script and re-recorded voices, the game took what was a universally subpar game on the PS3 and made it playable on the PlayStation Vita, even if some of its additions weren't improved as much as one would have hoped. So at the start of this year, IFI has brought over the second title in the Re;Birth series: Sisters Generation, a reimagining of the second game in the series. It has its own set of issues at times, but this entry is an improvement over Re;Birth 1 in a number of ways.
For those new to the Neptunia series, it takes place in the world of Gameindustri, where there's more game and game culture references than you can shake a game console at. The countries making up the world are ruled by goddesses who are essentially personifications of game consoles. Sisters Generation starts off with the goddesses from the first game being imprisoned by an entity known as Arfoire (a playful pun on the infamous "R4" cartridge of pirating fame). A new CPU candidate, Nepgear, is also imprisoned with the goddesses but is freed by Iffy and Compa, who are obvious references to publisher Idea Factory and developer Compile Heart.
Like Re;Birth 1, the story generally takes a backseat compared to the eccentric cast of characters who also include "cameo" characters from other non-Idea Factory properties such as Nihon Falcom's Ys series. The antagonists are generally forgettable and the main plot doesn't really develop and doesn't have much of a satisfying end. Unlike Re;Birth 1, there wasn't a major need to fix things as the original has a much more solid base here so if you disliked this aspect in the PS3 version there's not anything here that'll change your impression of the narrative.
For those of you who read our previous review of Re;Birth 1 or played the game yourself, the battle mechanics return in Sisters Generation, which was an enhanced version of that found in Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory. The same turn-based mechanics return again where you move the characters freely along the battlefield to get the best attack position on the enemies on the field. The major fix I noticed in this game compared to its predecessor was that the difficulty scaling was much, much smoother this time around.
In the prior game, regular battles were a cakewalk and boss battles turned into long-winded affairs as the only way to win was to build and spam your super-level attacks before the boss's instant-kill attacks defeated your party members one-by-one. This idea is still in play in Sisters Generation, but the bosses are scaled better stat-wise so their super-level attacks bring you close to death instead.
This minor but important change turns the boss battles into a game of skill balancing the need for healing and attacking. It's a small difference, but I felt much more inclined to continue and even take on some of the more difficult side-quest only bosses because of it.
The Remake system from Re;Birth 1 returns again here as well. This mode allows the player to change the game's difficulty and the amount of monsters on the current map (and their relative strength) as a few examples. It's a nice addition for both returning and new players, as newcomers can make things easier for themselves and veterans can make their return to the game more difficult than their first time around.
Graphically there's a noticeable improvement over the original PS3 version. Frame rate drops that were issues at times in the original aren't present here and the graphics look cleaner due to the smaller PPI of the PlayStation Vita's screen compared to your typical HDTV. The fonts this time around are much clearer to read which was an issue was in the prior Vita release. There is heavy reuse of the enemy models from area-to-area, but the character models vary more than well enough to compensate.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2: Sisters Generation is a much more consistent game, due in part to its original source material being kept much more intact than Re;Birth 1 ever was due to the extreme changes it needed to be brought in line with the newer games in the series. The storyline is passable and forgettable to a degree, but the gameplay and jokes should keep players entertained if they click with the player. Fans of the series will find reason to come back and replay the game over again but those who were disinterested with the original PS3 release won't find much new here, as the new Remake system among others is targeted solely to newcomers and veterans.
|The fonts don't have the rendering issues the previous Vita entry had.|
|The enemies and bosses feel much more balanced this time around.|
|The frame rate drops present in the PS3 version were fixed in this version.|
|Characters still take priority over the overall narrative.|
|If you disliked the first Re;Birth title, it's the same gameplay mechanics over again here.|
|If you don't like Hyperdimension Neptunia's style of humor, Re;Birth 2 does nothing to change that.|