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Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 review

One step forward for gameplay, two steps back for dignity

Combat isn’t the only thing that’s been improved. The game moves at a brisk pace, with new and interesting characters joining the fray from fairly early on. The areas you can explore are smaller and quicker to traverse, which makes them far less of a chore to run through. The interface in and out of combat is easier to navigate, and items can be freely used at any time. But there are still some problematic bits: environments still suffer from constantly recycled assets, a substandard framerate, and a camera that seems to want to spite you at times. (When you want to avoid an overpowered mini-boss, the last thing you want is the camera to focus on the top of your character’s head instead of what you’re trying to dodge.) Much of the silly, random-gaming-reference-laden humor from the original has also been toned down. Regardless of what one might personally think of the quality of said humor in the previous game, it was one of its major selling points, and seeing it reduced in quantity is a disappointment.

Although the humor’s been subdued, the tiresome anime storytelling clichés and moe tropes have been increased exponentially. The original game had a heavy dose of questionable innuendo, but Neptunia mk2 goes above and beyond what's necessary with double entrende-filled dialogue, ridiculous outfits, and scenes that can hardly be perceived as anything other than titillation (for example: Two young females have to seemingly kiss to unlock one’s true power? Makes perfect logical sense!). The fact that the central heroines seem to be of a much younger age than the previous game also makes the leering eye they’re presented under that much more discomforting. It could certainly be argued that this game is tailor-made for a very, very specific niche (i.e. Japanese media otaku who get their jollies from watching girls of dubious age in suggestive situations who also like gaming in-jokes), but by pandering so hard to these players, Neptunia mk2 successfully alienates almost everyone else who thinks a game poking fun at the console biz would be enjoyable. It’s a disappointing approach to a subject ripe for parody.

As it stands, Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 is easily a superior effort to its older sister in the gameplay department. Despite this, though, it really isn’t that much more fun. With fanservice taking precedence over parody, the impetus to play further becomes less “what element of the games biz will be referenced next” and more “is this game really going to go there?” But even that trainwreck-watching mentality becomes tiresome over the game’s brief campaign. There are better satires of gaming in other forms, and they likely won’t leave you feeling kind of dirty afterwards.

More Info

GenreRole Playing
PlatformPS3
US censor ratingRating Pending
Alternative namesHyperdimension Neptunia 2
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