Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls Review – Crossover Appeal (Vita)
Despite the majority of Neptunia games being of a mediocre quality, I do have a certain affinity for them at this point. Somehow Compile Heart’s role-playing game series has spanned four main entries, even more spin-offs, and several enhanced remakes. Considering I’ve ended up reviewing most of these titles, it’s safe to say that I’ve been through a lot with Nep Nep and her friends over the years.
Neptune’s latest adventure has her taking a backseat (or in this case, literally becoming a seat) as the story focuses instead on a misadventure of IF, an explorer who ends up traveling through time and crossing path with characters from SEGA Hard Girls. If, like me, you only have a passing recollection of what the SEGA Hard Girls are, it’s an anime (and multimedia project) that imagines SEGA consoles as Japanese schoolgirls. Yeah, it’s super dumb, but Dreamcast (yes, the characters are directly named after the consoles) has a VMU on her face, so it’s also super dope.
Various mishaps end up taking place and IF ends up meeting an original character named Segami who can somehow transform into every SEGA Hard Girl she meets, and Neptune ends up becoming IF’s talking motorcycle. It’s basically the Neptunia version of Knight Rider, except Neptune talks way more than than KITT ever did. The trio is then tasked with stopping the deletion of history itself, and most travel to different gaming eras (Master System, Dreamcast, etc.) to fix everything back to normal.
Ar first, I was really impressed with where the story was headed as taking Neptune out as a playable character was an incredibly daring move. Then I conveniently unlocked a clone of her that I could use in battle, and reality sunk back in. As with other Neptunia games, this features a tremendous amount of text that would’ve had me fast-forwarding through a chunk of it if I had been playing at my own leisure. The writing isn’t bad, far from it as it features some of the sharpest dialogue the series has had and even takes some jabs at its own fanbase, but there is just so much talking that amounts to very little character development. I guess after so many games, Neptune and crew’s jokes are starting to get stale for me. Thankfully, the characters from SEGA Hard Girls add a more serious-tone to the events and keep it feeling fresh.
Unlike other spin-offs that have taken place in different genres, Superdimension Neptune VS SEGA Hard Girls is a turn-based RPG like the main series. There are some key differences, though. Instead of unleashing a string of attacks, players instead are taking their turns while managing a stamina meter. Everything from movement to item usage takes up space, and it’s all about maximizing your turn (such as using two regular attacks before using a skill that would otherwise max out the meter). This makes the battle system feel fresh, which is something the series desperately needed after how stale Megadimension Neptunia VII felt.
Players also manages a squad of four characters, and making sure they are placed appropriately during a battle can be the difference between winning and losing. I had to make sure that they weren’t all grouped up in one section as enemies could take advantage of that, while also keeping characters close enough that they were still in healing range. It’s a delicate balance, but it was a challenge I enjoyed. Other small additions to the battlefield, such as environmental items that players jump to activate, also are a fun addition
While Superdimension Neptune VS SEGA Hard Girls isn’t afraid to try something new, it also feels familiarly like a Neptunia game for better or for worse. It continues the series’ trope of reusing the same levels (yes, you’ll be going to Virtua Forest for the 7,000th time), but thankfully the addition of some action segments (players can climb walls as if they were Nathan Drake and are much more mobile) keep them from being a lazy rehash. Since the game also has the time traveling aspect, players also get to see areas slightly change over time which is pretty cool.
One bad trait it carries over is the need to grind in order to progress through the story. Due to the revamped combat system I didn’t find it as monotonous here than in other recent entries, but it’s still not the best way to spend valuable gaming hours. On the bright side, side-quests have a greater meaning in Superdimension Neptunia due to them weakening a powerful boss called the Time Eater, so there is at least some meaning to killing random enemies this time around.
There’s also a new layer of customization for the characters, as players can select character classes for them to use. These classes level-up separately from the characters, and will offer different stats for the characters. For example, IF starts out as a Nomad and can change into a Noble Thief later on. The latter class focuses on hand-to-hand combat, so it was a natural choice for me to switch to it.
Superdimension Neptune VS SEGA Hard Girls still carries over some of the faults from past games, but it makes meaningful changes that really help improve the formula. It’s a refreshing step forward in a series that seemed to be treading ground. It’s a formidable RPG, and fans of the franchises crossing over should definitely check it out.
Review code for Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation Vita. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.