I want to preface this review by saying that if you like old-school RPG's, anime, and giant boobs, then Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory is for you. Niche games are niche, but I have to admit that this game speaks to the fourteen-year-old in all of us that felt that guilty tingle in their pants every time they watched Sailor Moon. This game is full of self-aware video game references and is very Japanese. Have I sparked your interested yet? If so, let's take a trip to Gameindustri and log into the third installment of this JRPG franchise.
Victory is definitely far from a perfect game, but what it lacks in original gameplay and gorgeous graphics, it makes up for with charm. The story for this third installment revolves around a CPU named Neptune non-nonchalantly falling into different dimensions a.k.a. points of time in gaming history. As a gamer since birth, I can appreciate the consciousness that this game embraces to itself and to video games in general. That spirit seems starkly contrasted by the way the characters interact though. The fact that these characters are teenage girls and, at times, pre-pubescent teenage girls makes their behavior seem even weirder. I'm not sure who the target audience for this game is, but, hey, it's a game people. I'll play along.
The graphics are bland and some environments lazily recycle dungeon areas. Victory provides crisp and detailed anime character models during its portrait cutscenes, but everywhere else, all you see is the same muddy, PS2-era graphics. On the opposite end of the spectrum, composer Nobuo Uematso and his band Earthbound Papas provide the soundtrack to Victory, which is catchy, fun, and befitting of the themes within the game.
Hands down, the most stand-out aspect of Victory is its gameplay. Its battle system doesn't reinvent the wheel at all, but it still delivers tried-and-true, turned-based RPG mechanics. You position your characters one at a time against your enemies, which range in obscureness from mustachioed coins to lance-toting robots. You will then be able to chain together combos between your characters by using power, break, and rush attacks against your foes. To deliver an even more brutal beat down, you can use SP skills for more devastating results.
Victory starts off with the best of intentions, but never really commits to a direction or innovates on what it is succeeding at. You will simply grab a quest, complete said quest by collecting the loot of your enemies, and occasionally fight a boss. Rince, repeat. I was also disappointed by the game's imbalance of the portrait story sequences versus the actual amount of time you spent enjoying Victory's gameplay. While I stated that the story was intriguing, its execution was questionable at best. But, hey, if you like JRPG's are your thing I'm not going to question that. I just wanted to point out that I would rather not listen to annoying, middle-school-aged girls talk about playing MMO's on their computer even though their technically in a computer (your PS3). So meta Japan. So meta.
What could have saved Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory from mediocrity? Innovation. Being a classic-style RPG with a bit of flash nowadays isn't going to hold anybody's interest. With vastly superior games like the Persona series on the market, Victory needed a tad more of everything in most of the areas it was trying to shine. While the saying goes that third time's the charm, Victory fails to impress in this iteration.
Review by: Michael Engle | Reviewed on: Playstation 3