It's hard to know what to expect when it comes to the Hyperdimension Neptunia series. This spin-off features classic characters from the series plus the cast of Sega Hard Girls so get ready for one crazy adventure!
The plot of Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls follows IF: an adventurer from a post-apocalyptic world who should already be familiar to Hyperdimension fans. She simply roams the land looking for her next big adventure. Upon reaching a magical library on her trusty bike, she meets Histoire and Segami (AKA Hatsumi Sega). They find out that history has been disappearing so they take it upon themselves to get to the bottom of the problem by time-travelling to various eras. These time periods are represented by some of Sega's consoles such as Mega Drive, Sega Saturn, Game Gear, and Dreamcast. They eventually team up with the Sega Hard Girls (from the Japanese light novel series and accompanying anime) on their way to finally defeat the Time Eater and bring peace to the land. It's a simple story that's full of references (to games and characters such as Spelunker and Toad), humour, and self-awareness which makes it an absolute joy to play... if you're into these sorts of odd Japanese games.
Superdimension Neptune's gameplay is similar to the main Hyperdimension Neptunia games. You divide your time between exploration, managing your party, and fighting enemies. Exploring is quite enjoyable as you'll collect coins and loads of different items from breakable objects and Super Mario style overhead boxes. Your party leader has some nifty abilities as you traverse areas including climbing across suspended ropes and running jumps. You can also strike enemies before entering battle in order to gain an advantage. Battles are turn-based and grant you a considerable amount of freedom as you run around the arena, collect bonus gems, and unleash a barrage of attacks and skills on your foes. Having characters transform after you enter fever mode then giving your opponents all you've got is incredibly satisfying. Between the action, you can equip characters with the best gear, change classes, assign skills, and put accessories on to make them look even cuter. It all comes together to make a fun JRPG formula that's sure to delight fans.
Fun Fact: the Sega Neptune
After releasing the 32X add-on for the Genesis / Mega Drive, Sega was planning on making a console that combined the Genesis and 32X. It would be known as the Sega Neptune, but it was never released due to 32X's discontinuation. The character of Neptune in the Hyperdimension Neptunia series is named after this never-released console.
The best part of any Hyperdimension game is its characters. Each one is lovable in their own unique way and watching them interact is a joy. The English voice actresses are fantastic as they bring loads of personality to each girl. One thing that surprised me is the animation. Watching IF explore the environment is quite a treat as she clearly gives every action her all whether she's climbing ladders, running around, or crossing a suspended rope as her body dangles above the chasm below. It's rare to see a JRPG with animation this good.
A major part of Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls is its missions. You basically take one on, complete its requirements, then report it. However, each quest has a time limit. The time goes down upon completing a mission so you have to finish the ones expiring soonest first. You'll definitely have to forgo a significant amount of them as you progress which might be frustrating to some, but I found trying to complete as many missions as possible to be a rewarding challenge. When you fail a quest, the Time Eater becomes more powerful so if that's not incentive to do your best then I don't know what is. That being said, you could always rewind time.
Although I loved playing through this portable JRPG gem, some aspects can be annoying. For starters, the environments are rather small and there are too few of them. Considering you basically play through the same ones but in different time periods, they get repetitive very fast. Next, the platforming can be a nightmare. Watching IF unexpectedly slip and fall off the edge of a cliff and having to climb all the way back up will cause much needless frustration. Finally, the missions don't have any clear indication of difficulty so you'll frequently run into bosses that rip you to shreds and have to grind for hours to beat them. These difficulty spikes are a huge pain to deal with.
There's no denying that Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls is a special JRPG that's bursting with vibrant personality and loads of fun. It may have a few issues but fans of the series will surely find a lot to love in this delightful crossover.
- + Great blend of exploration, party management, and an enjoyable battle system
- + Lively characters with awesome animation
- + Rewarding quest-based progression
- - Environments are small and you have to revisit the same ones too many times
- - Platforming can be annoying
- - Occasional difficulty spikes