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Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2: Sisters Generation Review

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The torch has been passed

If you’ve ever picked up a controller, handheld or gaming peripheral, then congratulations, you’ve become a part of the Console War. Ok, so maybe it’s not as dramatic as all that, but even casual gamers come to develop a preference in their console. But imagine if you will a world wherein the first sentence is true, better yet, a world wherein gaming is crucial to the continued existence of the populace. With the companies and technology personified, welcome to dream/nightmare of players everywhere, welcome to Gamindustri.

Kicking things off at what the climactic end to a previous adventure, we are privy to witness four consoles personified getting the ever loving crap kicked out of them by a scantily clad villainess, not that our heroes have the most reserved wardrobe themselves. Regardless, our champions of justice are roundly defeated and thus evil is triumphant…

Jump cut to 3 years later, as two intrepid companions make their way to the site of the previously mentioned battle, with the intention of freeing the four captured heroes. Due to a lack of power, IF and Compa are unable to completely realise their goal and manage only free their friend Nepgear from imprisonment. Angry at herself for lacking the strength to save the captured CPUs, one of whom is her own sister, Nepgear vows to gain the power necessary to free the heroes of Gamindustri and quell the evil that has arisen during her 3 year absence. Thus the JRPG adventure begins and Nepgear, IF and Compa travel the land in order to acquire EXP, allies and the approval of the populace, most of whom have fallen under the destructive influence of the Deity of Sin; Arfoire.

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Dressing the part

Following in the tradition of many an RPG, that the game itself may reference, Re;birth 2 features a turn based combat system. Interestingly however, characters may be freely moved within the battlefield before an attack is selected, though the distance is dependent on their own MOV stat. Attacks themselves are initiated by aligning an opponent with a highlighted strike box, that varies from weapon to weapon, allowing multiple foes to be damaged if they are unfortunate enough to be clustered together (something to be kept in mind when organising your own team). Speaking of attacking, I feel that this might be a fortuitous moment to explain the combo system of Re;Birth 2…so I’m going to. Split between the Triangle, Square and Cross buttons, combos exist in Rush, Power and Break forms. Focused on multiple strikes, the Rush option allows you to quickly boost the EXE Gauge, granting you access to an additional strike in your combo chain, along with the devastating EXE Drive super moves (though this is not available until after a few hours of play). Power moves focus on sheer strength an deal the most damage of the three, whilst Break sacrifices HP damage in order to more quickly lower the enemies Guard Gauge, which when broken allows for more damage to be dealt. It’s actually a pretty fun combat system, allowing for customisation depending on which facet of assault you wish to focus on.

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Ouch…

Combat is also amplified by the implementation of the Lily Rank sytem, wherein characters form bonds with each other, sharing stat boosting abilities and helpful Assist Attacks. The trade off for this however, is that supporting characters do not directly take place in combat, remaining as support unless switched, at which point the current fighter is relegated to the background. Thus, whilst four characters may fight at one time, eight technically exist in the active roster. My main issue with this system is the point at which it is introduced in no way coincides with the point at which it is useful. All things considered, you spend far too much time in the game with an incomplete party of 3, not even enough to fill the front line. Therefore, in order to implement the Lily Rank within the early hours of the game, you must sacrifice your numbers. Given that my other main complaint is the difficulty of this portion of the game, this system does not become useful until well into your adventure. Since I so slyly just brought up the difficulty, allow me to elucidate on my thoughts. Quite simply, the early game is annoying. After mopping the floor with some weaksauce opponents in a tutorial mission, we are given access to our first mission; destroy the monster who have gone viral, a dark power-up that actually doesn’t appear to much in the game, but I digress. Being the literal first story mission of the game, I was not expecting to experience the need to level grind for quite some time…man was I wrong. Seriously, one mission in and I have to train? Sure it’s not the most time consuming thing to do at such a low level, but it’s still pretty ridiculous. I just started my adventure, can the tedium not wait for a while?

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Some sketchy looking foes

Outside of battle, you/we take control of one character in the active roster and use them to explore the current dungeon, populated by overworld sprites to either avoid or challenge. Due to the nature of the quest system, the fact that these locales are on the small side is a positive for completionists, as the name of the game for 100% is revisiting. Especially given the Remake System and its ability to alter the items, enemies and layout of dungeons. Certainly an interesting feature, it also proved somewhat annoying for me given that certain items are required to implement these changes. Sounds simple right? Well your naivety is nostalgic, for I too once felt that way…then I found a specific plan I wished to utilise. Unfortunately for me, the item I needed was unavailable to me without first activating a dungeon shift, which required another item, which required another dungeon shift, which required another item. It’s a vicious cycle that forces you to ask one question; Is it worth it?

As you may have already guessed, what with all the screenshots in this article, Re;Birth 2 is a cute game. Now, I did a lot of research and concluded that this may be because the game revolves around a cast comprised almost entirely of cute girls. Of course that’s just the conclusion I’ve come to and your own investigations may turn up something else. Apart from three brief CG cutscenes, the game is presented in a visual novel style, with 2D art of characters conversing above text boxes; aka the typical style. That being said, much must be imagined in these sequences as the appearances of enemies is mentioned only through dialogue, often time overly descriptive dialogue. It’s not a major negative, but it’s pretty weird to have a game explain to you all the cool/interesting/dangerous thing that are happening just out of sight.

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Putting the RPG into JRPG

All things considered, Re;Birth 2 definitely feels like a PS Vita title. Though the quaint dungeon size helps to prevent some late game aggravation, it also make the game feel like a JRPG-lite. Not that this is a bad thing mind you, who doesn’t want a game that feels 100% at home on the console it’s on? Now I know that Re;Birth 2 is a remake, but I feel like this portable form suits it perfectly.

Ultimately, Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2: Sisters Generation was a fun game to play. Sure it had its problems, but the positives still justify spending time trying to complete a few of the optional quests in order to bolster your strength and really give the enemy the ol’ what for. However, partly due to my own haste, the game ended in a rather anticlimactic fashion. Seeing as I did not meet the requirements to initiate the true ending, after doing a little online research I learned that I missed out on two whole chapters of gameplay. Now I’m all for completion bonuses, but missing out on all of that because I didn’t boost Nepgear’s Lily Rank with every character kind of irks me. Especially since beating the game threw me into New Game + and, should I wish to see said ending, I must beat the entire title over again. I mean I wouldn’t mind playing the game again, but that seems like a pretty unfair trade off to me, being punished for sticking my characters with one partner for their whole adventure. What about loyalty? Doesn’t that mean anything to people anymore? More like Silly Rank am I right? (Note: Those last few question are venting and should be taken with a grain of salt). It just felt as if the game left a tad too much unexplained, as I also believe that I missed the opportunity to recruit a whopping total of 10 characters into my roster. Sure mystery is fun, but at least give me a hint that the side quest portion of the game could culminate in something so major.

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Mopping the floor with evil

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2: Sisters Generation is a game that will throw you into a meta world that is essentially one long anti-piracy PSA. Jam packed with references, parodies, legitimately funny jokes and anime girls doing violent stuff, Re;Birth 2 is a fun endeavour that’s worth the effort you put in. Just don’t get burned like me. Boost your Lily Rank people! Save Gamindustri with the power of friendship! Also, how cool is the name Arfoire? It’s like a joke, reference and a pun all fused with each other and then had a videogame built around the result. Hooray for referential comedy!

Do you have what it takes to be a CPU Candidate? Why not visit IF (the company, not the companion) and find out for yourself?

Grade: B+

-30-

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