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Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory

Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory is one of those games that has to fight an uphill battle with every preconceived notion its boxart of a scantily clad anime girl and pedigree as an obscure JRPG series brings to mind. It’s actually the third installment in the Hyperdimension series, which attempts to differentiate itself from the pack by trying to be a parody of the current climate of the gaming industry despite clinging to many of the well-worn conventions.

Victory centers around the unsubtle-sounding land of Gamesindustri and the political squabbles therein—namely the four regions jockeying for overall dominance. Each is guarded over by a goddess CPU, and Neptune is the guardian of Planeptune. The problem is she’s too busy playing videogames herself to be of much use to anyone until she’s thrust into another adventure to a similar Gamesindustri where unfortunately all her friends don’t remember her.

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The characters and dialogue are insipid, and for every occasionally amusing thing said or done there’s a dozen instances of groan-inducing exchanges between characters that have little to no relevance. Since this is an RPG, static images of characters carrying on conversations make up the bulk of the experience, and even the option to skip past most of it doesn’t alleviate the monotony. Hypderimension Neptunia Victory tries to distinguish itself from other JRPGs by being something of a parody of the games industry, but its jokes fall flat and nothing feels relevant to the past decade or so of what’s been going on in the gaming world.

Exploring the towns in between dungeon-crawling doesn’t hold much entertainment value either. Static images of townfolk blurt out random verbiage and there’s not much exploring to be had. Most of the guesswork of what should be accomplished next is done away with as ‘event’ icons tell players precisely where they should be going, eliminating the need for exploration to discover any interesting sidequests.

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The gameplay doesn’t pick up any of the slack left in the absence of a compelling experience. It’s a turn-based system where players have the option to use magic, light and heavy attacks as well as a tiny bit of strategy in positioning your character to hit multiple enemies at once. It’s a serviceable system that unfortunately can easily be mastered through thoughtless button-mashing. Battles quickly become old-hat and grinding for higher levels seems to be the only reason to continue in the game in lieu of an intriguing plot or engaging gameplay.

Its graphics certainly give the feel of a budget title, something that might’ve been passable in the PS2 era but can’t hold up to anything current. The overuse of still images creates the feeling of going through an animated storybook versus an actual game, and none of the game’s towns or characters feel lively.

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For a JRPG, having no worthwhile character development or well-written plot is a death sentence, and Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory is guilty on all accounts. Its annoying characters will test even the most ardent of JRPG players and its ho-hum, dungeon-crawling gameplay leaves much to be desired. Even with the excuse of being a niche title, Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory doesn’t meet even the most basic requirements expected of the genre.

3 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in March 2010.

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