2010 was a pretty great year for video games. There were big entries in huge industry franchises such as Call of Duty: Black Ops, Halo: Reach, and Fallout: New Vegas. If you were looking for something a bit different, indies began to gain traction with titles like Super Meat Boy and LIMBO, alongside some studios making a bigger name for themselves with cinematic titles like Heavy Rain and Alan Wake.
And yet, one of the games I remember most from that year was a game that my friend had imported called Hyperdimension Neptunia.
You might be wondering how I could list a colorful visual novel with RPG dungeon elements next to some of the most revered games in history. I honestly have to take a moment and ask myself the same question as true RPG-focused games are some of my least played. To be totally honest, I think it all lies in the premise of the game.
Neptune, Noire, Blanc, Vert, and the Console War
Hyperdimension Neptunia takes place in a world called Gamindustri that’s inhabited by four lands: Planeptune, Leanbox, Lowee, and Lastation. Each of these lands is ruled by a CPU: Neptune, Vert, Blanc, and Noire respectively. The events of the game occur after a long battle between the four CPUs that rule each land (dubbed the Console War).
In case you can’t see the parallels, the world and its characters are all based on video game consoles. The “Console War” represents the common competitive nature between the primary video game consoles (and their fandoms). Lastation represents PlayStation, Leanbox represents Xbox, and Lowee represents the Wii. Planeptune and its CPU, Neptune, represent the never released SEGA Neptune console.
When I first heard this I had the only response a high schooler could give: “is this legal?” To which he responded with, similarly, the only response he could give: “I don’t know.” We now understand that it’s all good in terms of parody, but at the time we really hadn’t seen anything so obvious in its parody.
While the parody element is what attracted me to the game, the rest of the game more than proves itself. The dungeons can feel a bit grindy (as JRPGs tend to be), but it feels fun the whole time. And the humor is always on point when it comes to the cutscenes which do look pretty great as visual novels can.
These aspects carried themselves to the rest of the games in the main series, with updates of course. But, newcomers might find it quite difficult to tell what these last ten years of entries all are. Each game’s plot being treated as a different universe with similar elements can make that harder too. The following serves to organize it all.
What Titles Like Re;Birth 1 and U: Action Unleashed Are
To put it simply: there’s the main series, the remakes of the main series, and the various spin-offs. They’ve all released interchangeably and quite a few years saw multiple titles released. Their names don’t make it much easier to tell it all apart.
The main series is as follows:
- Hyperdimension Neptunia
- Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2
- Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory
- Megadimension Neptunia VII
The Remake series adds a lot to each title. Each of them adds updated visuals, gameplay, and in the case of the first remake actual changes to the story. The remakes are as follows:
- Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1
- Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2: Sisters Generation
- Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1: V Generation
- Megadimension Neptunia VIIR
There are 10 spin-offs in the series, many of which were released on the PlayStation Vita (but thankfully ported to Steam after). A list of them is below, along with descriptions of each:
- Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection – A mix of a life and dating simulator with rhythm-based gameplay.
- Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart – A turn-based RPG that sees Noire as the protagonist.
- Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed – Dynasty Warriors hack-and-slash that includes a clothes-ripping mechanic.
- MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies – Cooperative hack-and-slash that can support up to four-player multiplayer online
- Superdimension Neptune vs Sega Hard Girls – A spin-off that follows the same gameplay as the main series but crosses over with the Sega Hard Girls franchise with sees Sega consoles anthropomorphized.
- Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online – A four-party hack-and-slash game that can be played online with three other people.
- Neptunia & Friends – A mobile game that lets you interact with the characters in various outfits.
- Nep-Nep Connect: Chaos Chanpuru – Free-to-play card game that was only released on the PlayStation Vita in Japan.
- Super Neptunia RPG – 2D RPG with platforming elements.
- Neptunia Shooter – 2D shoot em’ up that’s exclusive to PC.
There’s An Anime As Well
The series would prove popular enough to receive its very own anime. Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Animation would air in 2013 and be heralded by David Production. Similarly to the games, it would follow a separate story.
Reviews of the anime would be mixed. Its original story combined elements of the games focused within a few small arcs of the 12 episode series. The characters would be praised for staying faithful to their game counterpart (even the VA’s returned), although a critique would be made for the number of characters they introduce and the little screentime given aside from the main four.
Is It Worth A Play?
This is a series that has had multiple entries and related works since its debut ten years ago. For it to last that long surely must say something about the quality and devotion of the fanbase. Even more so when you compare it to other visual novel series.
Those that love their JRPGs will feel right at home with the series. For those that aren’t as well-versed in the genre, it may take a while to get used to everything. But if you’re willing to be patient with it, you’ll be well-rewarded with incredible art, hilarious dialogue with great video game and anime references, and satisfying gameplay.