Neptunia PP review
- First off, I would like to say that this is NOT an objective review of the game. It is not my intention to give a balanced or “professional (god forbid)” view on this game, and I do not claim to any such thing. It is also worth noting that this game is almost a year old (despite being released in English just recently), meaning that much has been said about the game in this time. For this reason, if anything said here has been said elsewhere, then it is unfortunately just an effect of reviewing the game at this point in time. Also, I will be going into the game to a decent degree of depth here, so (obviously) spoilers for the game will follow.
- Hyperdimension Neptunia Idol PP is one of the biggest disgraces to an established franchise I’ve seen in recent years (and considering some of the titles that have come out in that time for series like Thief, that’s saying something). I was never on board with the idea of a Neptunia idol sim, and while some may say I never gave it a chance because of this, even if I did the result was honestly the worst thing that could have happened in my eyes. I’m baffled by how anyone can call this acceptable after a playthrough, especially when looking at past games in the series. It's so bad that I will need to talk about this game in sections to pick it apart.
- The story is, for lack of a better term, near-nonexistent. For starters, you never even see the main villains of the game, and they are namedropped all of one time within the prologue. I don’t know about others, but when I hear about a group of baddies, I expect to at least see or be updated on them. But they have such little effect on the main story that the characters seem to forget about them almost as quickly as I did.
- That being said, not all stories need a strong villain. If you're not going to have a strong adversarial position, you can instead have a strong setting and focus to hook people in. Unfortunately, PP is a failure here as well, not only using the imaginative setting of Neptunia as much as the other games, but also losing it's focus incredibly early on. Part of what grips you into a story and keeps interest to keep following it is the focus of the story, and that's exactly what the other games have. In the other games, you are introduced to the central focus early on; in HDN1/RB1 the focus was to get the goddesses to stop fighting and free Histoire and defeat/purify Arfoire. In Mk2/RB2, it was to free the goddesses from their imprisonment and defeat the Golden Kings. in V, even if it's start was a little slower than the other two, it still had it's focus introduced and followed early on; for Neptune to get back to her home dimension, and to discover the true nature of Rei and the Sages. While the games have a tendency to quite often goof off from completing these goals, they are still brought back to them to the end, and you stick around because you want to see the dilemmas resolved.
- PP introduces it's focus, but doesn't follow it as much as it should. For an apparently desperate situation for the goddesses, they seem incredibly lax about the whole situation, as does the player character; It (I refuse to give a bland cardboard cutout a gender so I will just call it It) seems to passively go along with it, and just suddenly begins going along with the goddesses. I don’t know about other people, but if I suddenly got sucked into a game and had characters all over me, I would be just a little freaked out, and for a character that’s supposed to be “me in this game” to not even acknowledge that causes a disconnect from the get-go. The focus is also a very weak one compared to the other games; it is, quite literally, “get shares”. A goal that, once again, the story seems to not be intent on following, instead goofing off into hijinks (almost solely involving It and It’s goddess of choice, meaning that there is little variety and as such they are rarely entertaining). The pacing is so poor that it also results in the game feeling exceptionally boring, since I ended up not caring about what the objective was or any of the characters or their relations (a point I will get to later).
- On top of the story being non-existent, it also fails to make any logical sense. While Nepgames have a reputation for being over-the-top and silly, something the series thrives in, PP goes beyond the realms of silly into just screwing the realm it is set in in order for itself to thrive, which is one of the worst things a story can do to its setting and characters. A few simple queries, if I may; why would a group of goddesses ever need some person (who was literally just sucked into the game) from a world not of their own to help them produce, especially when they proved to be able to do it themselves in V? If they did need help, why would they not just ask someone else, like the Oracles (a dilemma made doubly confusing by the fact that the Oracles do produce the ones you don’t pick), who would probably have more experience in business ventures like that? Why were the invisible villains capable of taking shares from the goddesses, when they aren’t even figures of divine worship like Arfoire or Rei/YH were? Why was the effect of the invisible villains equally invisible, since each nation appeared to be doing just fine and thriving? These are just a few of the questions brought up by the shoddy story, but none of them are ever answered.
- You might be saying that “the story doesn’t matter, if the characters are good like they usually are”. This is true, since characters need to be interesting and fun in order for you to care about them, and is something that Neptunia has done a good job of in the past. Well, PP, once again, drops the ball here.
- I want to say, first off, that the characters are NOT ruined solely because they fall for It (an event which, yes, does happen). This seems to be the thing a lot of people focus on, but I would just like to say that it is NOT the sole reason the characters are bogged down and feel strange. It is, at least for myself, for other reasons. Here are some examples; in one event, Neptune is to go to an audition. However, she feels exceptionally nervous about it, to the point where she backs down so another can go in her place. Now when has Neptune, a character constantly craving attention, ever been thought of to do something like that? Some may say that this is acceptable because it shows more sides to Neptune, but that is hardly the case; an extreme extrovert like Neptune would never back down from something like this, and as such it conflicts with established character rather than building on it. For perspective, the scene where Neptune talked about regaining her memories with Noire in HDN1 gave much more perspective on her inner thoughts as a character, than anything in PP did. Similarly to this, is when, Noire, a character who has long been introverted and, despite her visions of grandeur, extremely shy and antisocial, seemed to be completely gung-ho about becoming an idol; an idea which didn’t sit well with her at all in V. These are two of the bigger examples to me and as such it may feel like nitpicking, but there are a good deal more, to the point where the characters begin to feel foreign.
- While I said that I don’t think the characters felt worse thanks to falling for It, one thing that did cause that feeling was the pacing of the relationship. While I enjoy some of the pairings established by the game and it’s fanbase and the like, I can’t say that I support more romantic tones in the series, especially with faceless self-inserts. If you’re going to have them, though, you should at least do them justice, which PP doesn’t do at all. The characters seem to be all over It almost as soon has It comes to their world, for no discernable reason whatsoever (even Neptune, the character that comments on everyone and everything’s looks, only refers to him as a cardboard cutout, meaning even looks hardly factor into it). This attitude persists, with It calling their group a “harem” and the goddesses that aren’t produced by It being almost jealous of the one that is. Neptunia has developed some good relationships in its time, like the ones between Neptune and Noire or Noire and Uni, or even ones like IF and Compa, but this is honestly the kind of stuff I would expect from a bad harem or romcom anime, and consider the series to be beyond that at this point. Watching a bunch of goddesses (especially Noire and Blanc who are usually very dignified about themselves) bicker over It like a bunch of schoolgirls was honestly somewhat foul to me.
- This is compounded further when they once again fall all over It in the ending (Neptune going as far as to leave her dimension for It’s), despite It being exceptionally bland and never really showing much care for them outside of thinking they’re hot. The sole reason I could think of for this is because It is supposed to be an extension of “you” in this world (even if I felt disconnected from the get-go), and as such they wanted the characters to be welcoming to you, but PP goes way beyond that, and that’s far from being a valid excuse.
- I would also like to add that being out of character at certain moments isn’t a bad thing—in V, Blanc’s breakdown after being put in jail was one of the more emotional and sentimental scenes in that game, as well as expanding on her inner thoughts greatly, despite being out of character from what we usually knew about her. This is because it had a good setup and a good payoff, with Blanc being pushed into a corner with nowhere else to go without letting her feelings that she keeps under her cold exterior flow through. Similarly to the scene in HDN1, this scene towers over absolutely anything offered up by PP. Being out of character on occasion is okay, but PP handles it extremely poorly.
- As for gameplay, which I have yet to discuss, there is honestly little TO discuss. There is little interactivity in this game. I know that gameplay has never been the primary draw of Neptunia games, but I at least expected a bit more than what I got. Concert sessions have a few effects you can throw on-stage and different angles and whatnot, as well as a button to change into HDD. Text and dialogue for the most part is pretty straightforward. You gain the “bad ending” by letting the goddess be too stressed out, and I actively had to TRY to get this bad ending, the game is that lenient. I will admit I liked all of the customization options you could have in it, but it ultimately feels more like a glorified tech demo than an actual game thanks to the lack of effect you have on it. I guess it’s also okay that you can name It what you want, since I kind of liked the feature of being able to name the goddesses in HDN1 (a feature a surprisingly few people know about), and would like to see it return in some form in the future.
- I guess the sole good point about PP aside from the customization is that the songs are nice; even if I was never the biggest fan of most Japanese singers, they sound good enough, and have a decent rhythm. But I do kind of wish there was more of a selection to them; the choices you have seem sorely lacking. However, a better thing than having some more variety to the songs, is having a game that doesn’t fucking EAT.
- In conclusion, PP is a failure. It’s a failure as an Idol game. It’s a failure as a rhythm game. It’s a failure as a Neptunia game. It’s even a failure as a dating sim. It pleases no audience that the series should be pleasing. I refuse to even call it a game; it’s a text-scrolling and lighting simulator with some Neptunia cameos. I’m glad they’re at least moving past this failure and on to things like RB1 and V2, since other series seem to get killed or permanently thrown in the gutter for fuck-ups on this scale (RIP DMC).
- Again, this is not an objective view of the game, but my personal thoughts on what I consider to be a travesty to the series.
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