Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 3: V Generation Review

2015-07-01-231057“It’s time to Nep-Nep like it’s 1989!”

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 3 V Generation (PS Vita) is the remake of Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory which was released on the PS3 in 2012. It was the last game in the PS3 trilogy and arguably the best one due to its more polished gameplay and presentation, good usage of both new and old characters and its fair amount of content to mess around with.
V Generation is the final game in the Re;Birth trilogy and the 5th HDN game OVERALL to be localised and released in the time frame of 1 year. (Re;Birth 1 came out in August 2014, Re;Birth 2 in January 2015, Noire in February, Action Unleashed in May, then this.)
The game was developed by Felistella while Compile Heart and Idea Factory both contributed to the production and publication of the game. Idea Factory International was responsible for the localization.

The release dates for this game are as follows:

  • Japan: 18th December 2014
  • NA / EU: 30th June 2015 / 3rd July 2015 respectively

Re;Birth 3 comes with a lot of tweaks and changes to the overall game system while also experimenting with some different ideas as well. For me, it feels like it came to the point where it really feels more like a remake than an enhanced port this time around. Does this all work out though? Are these changes a good thing or should they had just stayed true to the original formula seen in the previous games?

Story
Gamindustri. A world in which 4 nations reside, each led by a goddess or better known as a CPU (Console Patron Unit). The nations are: Planeptune, led by Neptune / Purple Heart… Lastation, led by Noire / Black Heart… Lowee, led by Blanc / White Heart… and finally, Leanbox, led by Vert / Green Heart. It’s been peaceful ever since the events of Re;Birth 2 in which they all fought the Deity of Sin who wanted to destroy the world and thus, our characters are slacking off and playing video games all the time. 

The game starts out with an extended prologue chapter, which basically acts as the tutorial chapter. You get to learn the basics of both dungeon exploration and the battle system.
However the story doesn’t kick off until later on, in which Neptune gets sucked into a wormhole which takes her to a different dimension of Gamindustri. She has a hard time adapting to this new environment as the world itself is different. She loses her ability to transform, all her “friends” that she meets have slightly different personalities and have no knowledge of who she is, and seemingly has no way to get back home… but she does also gain some new friends like Plutia, who is the CPU of Planeptune in this dimension.
We eventually find out about the bad guys of the game, a group called the Seven Sages, who wish to govern and rebuild Gamindustri into a world without CPUs. Each member gets to play a big part in the overall story.

So yeah… that’s the gist of this game’s story. It gets quite eventful as you progress with plenty of references to both old and new gaming material, acting as part of the storyline as well.

2015-07-04-153700 The other dimension of Gamindustri Neptune gets warped into. Leanbox is located on the smaller island, at the bottom of the map.

Changes / New Features
Re;Birth 3 comes with a whole bunch of both new and recurring features seen in the previous games. In fact, so much that it couldn’t hold the content for the Japanese voices and dialogue (they had to make it a separate DLC instead).
Some recurring features include item synthesis and the “Remake” system in which you can add and change the contents of the dungeons while also able to change or turn on / off different game mechanics. Stella’s Dungeon, a mini-game seen in Re;Birth 2, also makes a return. It’s more or less the same but has some slightly changed mechanics such as the ability to find different partners for Stella.

2015-07-02-232931Stella’s Dungeon makes a return in Re;Birth 3. From what I experienced so far with it, it is more forgiving in terms of time required for her explorations, and seems to be less RNG based than before.

The game features a number of tweaks and changes to both the overall game structure and the dungeon exploration portion of the game:

  • The main menu and battle system interface have both been drastically changed. The main menu is able to show off more information without much scrolling while the battle interface is less clustered, providing more room to view the battle itself. It took me a while to get used to them but personally I welcome these changes.
  • In addition to items and materials to scavenge in dungeons, there are also hidden blocks. In traditional Mario style, you can jump under them to get some money and perhaps items as well.
  • The shops will now let you check out equipment and accessories before buying them. This is extremely helpful especially if you’re into buying costumes as well.
  • Challenges are like mini achievement goals that each character has. By doing certain actions a number of times in both dungeon exploring and battling, they can get bonus stats and new items.

2015-07-02-2246512015-07-03-101734
The menu and battle screens. Both of them have been changed significantly to allow an updated and cleaner look.

Re;Birth 3 uses the same turn-based battle system seen in the previous games. Each character can use a combination of Rush, Power and Break attacks to defeat their enemies. Skills and items also come into play along with being able to transform, increasing stats, and changing some attacks and skills as well. The Lily Ranking system makes a return, playing a small role in the battle system. It allows characters to pair up, offering bonus stat boosts and passives, new combo finishers and depending on the pair, new skills as well.

There are a few tweaks to the battle system however:

  • The game will now let you know if you strike an elemental weakness / resistance or not to an enemy. It will also let you know if they dropped an item or not upon defeat.
  • The SP (Skill Points) bar works differently now. In addition to keeping track of whether certain skills can be used or not, it also acts as an indicator for the usage of combo finishers called EX finishers. This also applies for the character’s ultimate skills called EXE Drives, in which they require a certain amount of SP to be filled before they can be used. SP is capped at a certain amount for all characters. Attacking enemies and receiving damage will slowly replenish SP.

Presentation, Graphics
Re;Birth 3 retains the usual visual novel format seen in the previous games of the trilogy (2 character portraits on screen at a time) rather than the spin-offs, where they could fit in 4 or even 5 portraits onto the screen at a time. There are a few in-game cutscenes scattered throughout the game this time around but they are mainly used for the introductions of each member of the Seven Sages as they become story relevant. The game consists of both old and new types of dungeons to explore such as a huge City area. Keeping true to the JRPG nature, we do see repeatable dungeons, enemy palette / colour swaps, and music that is shared between the different dungeons.
I swear for some reason when navigating through the world map and main menu, it is so smooth… like, 60FPS smooth. You don’t see any lag input or stutters in any way… wish I could say the same for the rest of the game though, but otherwise it’s the standard HDN style and presentation. Environments are decently detailed, the attacks and skills are fast, explosive, wacky, weird, even fanservice-y… it’s all there. Not much else to say, they’re always fun to watch and execute.

2015-07-04-151950 One of Neptune’s skill in action. All attack-based skills are shown with a cutscene like this one while most supportive / healing skills are simply shown on the same screen as they use similar animations as one another.

Music, Voices
I personally enjoy some of the music pieces in Victory / Re;Birth 3 such as Plutia’s theme, the Seven Sages theme and the world map music… it sounds more traditional to the RPG genre while also trying to retain the whole “1990s gaming era” feel to it since that is what Re;Birth 3 is loosely based on.
As usual I enjoyed the English cast, with a lot of characters present this time around expect a lot of different voices and archetypes spread throughout the game. However I wished there were more voiced scenes, because I think around half the game (or even less) is voiced… but it should be more than what the original (Victory) offered, back when NIS America handled the HDN series. I could be wrong though, I’m just assuming at this point. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by the spin-offs because they had SO MUCH voice acting compared to the Re;Birth games… anyways, I also noticed that there are a few lines in which the text and the voiced dialogue do not match. One example is where Noire says something like: “It’s just a bit further” but the text displayed was “It’s just a bit farther”. Grammatically both are correct but it is those little instances that CAN piss off some people for some reason… I’m not too annoyed by it but I just wanted to point it out. These mistakes can be heard throughout the game.

Overall
Re;Birth 3 is possibly the best game of the trilogy, despite these small mistakes that can be seen throughout. It has a lot of content, both old and new, to mess with while also trying to add some… unique functions to make the game more interesting and different. The gameplay is still as enjoyable, the new characters specifically for this game for interesting and fun and the story telling is not too bad. As usual, the gaming and anime references are always fun to spot out and sometimes the story dialogue tends to play around them. Which works, even if it may come off as plain stupid at times… but it still makes me laugh anyways. That’s what counts.

My rating of the 3 games would be: Re;Birth 3 > Re;Birth 1 > Re;Birth 2.
I still enjoyed 2 a lot but in terms of story, humour and entertainment value overall, it was pretty low since it was more generic compared to 3 and 1. 1 gives you the opportunity to witness the style of dialogue and humour the series can offer while 3 expands upon that and points out to both old and new gaming references.

Any fan of turn-based JRPGs, anime or moe girls in general should really give the HDN series a shot. The first 2 Re;Birth games are available on Steam as well, with Re;Birth 3 coming sometime in the Fall.

2015-07-04-145834 Nepstation. It’s an extra mode that showcases various non-story related events in-game while also providing shopping deals and holding a mini-quiz show once every chapter.

So what’s in store for the future of this series?
HDN Victory II has already been released in Japan, with still no word of a localization. However, knowing Idea Factory International the question is rather: “When?” Aside from that, there are 2 more games for the Vita: The Blanc zombie game and a crossover game called Hyperdimension War Neptunia VS Sega Hard Girls. Not much info is known about both games at this point but most likely will be released near the end of this year or early next year.
As a fan of this series, I cannot wait!!

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