Written by Natalie Houghton
This is the best Hyperdimenson Neptunia game out there so far - there I've said it. If this is your particular poison then run out to the front lines and grab a copy and prepare to Nep your way into oblivion for what may seem like the 100th time this year.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation starts with a firm boot to the head where all of the Goddesses (CPU's) are attempting to rid themselves of Neptune by beating her to a pulp so that they can take over Gamindustri once and for all. This inadvertently starts off a chain reaction which leads to Neptune being sucked into a portal and then falling hilariously face first into a 1980's tinted version of Gamindustri.
After a dose of re-orientation to this new and seemingly outdated land (but not before helping Neptune acquire her transformational powers again), it is determined that in order to return Neptune to her own dimension, she must raise the shares of Neptunia sufficiently enough so that a portal can be opened and in any Neptunia game this can only mean one thing: an epic quest fest.
In the mean time, she plays along with the CPU's of this alternate world and gradually re-discovers her old friends as well as making some new ones. Enter Plutia - a welcome addition to the cast who initially starts off as the only CPU for Planeptune. At the onset she comes across as being a complete and utter airhead. However, in her HDD form her personality does a complete switch and she turns into the sadomasochist otherwise known as 'Sadie' - this helps to create some of the most amusing scenes in the game.
The whole premise is to essentially get Neptune home and in one piece whilst traversing the console wars of the 80's and 90's, battling monsters and avoiding the evil machinations of the Seven Sages who will do almost anything to try and eliminate the CPU's and control Gamindustri themselves. Along the way there is also a multitude of quests to complete, dungeons to explore, special monsters to smash, items to gather and plans to unveil.
Characters level up in the usual way, although they can also have their skills and stats enhanced by effectively upgrading themselves with plans that can be found. Plans apply not only to characters but to almost everything in the game, dungeons can be changed, weapons and items discovered and monsters strengthened or weakened. So it's imperative that you utilise plans effectively.
The lily system also makes a return - characters who fight together will eventually find true love together. Maybe not quite... but they will both become stronger if they are coupled together, one in the front and one in the rear - seriously! The higher each character's lily rank the more abilities they will each gain when in one another's sweet embrace.
Most of the previous game mechanics are left intact or are very similar - Stella's dungeon (a roguelike mini-game that consists of Stella endlessly climbing a huge tower in search of loot) also makes a return. Combo skills are the basic attacks that are utilised in battle and they can also be heavily customised to your specific tastes or elemental preference. Gradually you'll unlock more slots which can result in some quite impressive combo moves. The usual ream of skills is also present along with a wide array of challenges that increase character stats and unlock various upgrades the more that are completed.
In order to combat the EXE drive abuse that was the optimum strategy for the last game, HDD mode is now tied to the amount of SP that you have. SP is restored by hitting monsters and whilst this is good in theory, the rush attacks give you a lot more SP than any other kind of attack so a lot of the time, you'll simply be hammering rush attacks and then unleashing either your special moves or EXE drive. This means it has simply swapped one unbalanced tactic for another. Bosses or stronger mobs do at least require some more thought as you have to break their armour down first. The battle system, whilst good could easily have been a bit deeper and tactical.
The dungeons are typical Neptunia fare and I've no doubt that you'll have seen a few of them already if you've played any game in this series before and this is where the game falls down slightly with re-used dungeons, monsters, textures and music all beginning to seem a bit too familiar with most of them having been almost copied and pasted from the 2nd game. Graphically, the colour palette is energetic and as vivid as usual and all of the models do look quite sharp on the PS Vita with absolutely no slowdown experienced.
Overall, the dialogue is quite interesting and the characters know how to poke fun at themselves and the game industry as a whole. However, they are in desperate need of an editor as the cut-scenes are overly long and often tend to have a bit too much pointless waffle included. There are indeed many subtle nods to the console wars throughout various eras and the differences between them.
The soundtrack has quite a light hearted upbeat tempo which suits the game quite well (as it is after all intended to be an adventure that doesn't take itself too seriously). For all intents and purposes, given that the characters are almost 100% clichés and the plot is filled with a ton of video game references and cultural in-jokes I shouldn't have liked this... but as always and once again, it turned out to be quite a juicy guilty pleasure.