Review: Hyperdimension Neptunia Re; Birth1 (PSV) – A fun fourth wall breaking RPG
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re; Birth1 for the PlayStation Vita is a light hearted comedy RPG that takes the video game industry and turns it into a fourth-wall breaking, self referential parody experience.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re; Birth1 is a remake of the first game in Hyperdimension Neptunia series, which was released for the PS3 in 2011. Despite being a remake Re; Birth1 does have numerous alternations. The two most striking changes is the fact that the original combat system has being replaced with Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory’s free movement combat system, and the scout system being replaced with the remake system.
Re; Birth1 is a game that can’t help but make jokes from the playable characters being human representations of consoles, developers/publishers and a popular game series to the game’s story basically being about the four goddesses (Four consoles – PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360 and the never released Sega Neptune) fighting piracy as the main villain is simply named Arfoire after the R4-card that allows players copy and place pirate game ROMs onto flashcards. Re; Birth1 is a game that doesn’t want to be taken seriously, but I surprisingly found myself enjoying the outrageous nature of the game as I found myself going with the flow and laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of some of the game’s dialogue with my personal favourite being an attempted capture by an enemy turning into a Pokémon battle with ally characters shouting “Nep-Nep, I choose you” and the main character, Neptune shouting “Pika!”. Now with all that said if you aren’t a fan of parody and comedy would you enjoy this game? The answer is simply no. Hyperdimension Neptunia Re; Birth1 is for a niche audience who love the video game industry and consider themselves part of the Otaku culture.
Re; Birth1 has a whole host of interesting characters from the easy to anger from Blanc (CPU: Lady White Heart) to the easy going and relaxed main character Neptune (CPU: Lady Purple Heart). The game hosts about eight playable characters, which including Blanc and Neptune are – Neptune (CPU: Lady Purple Heart), Vert (CPU: Lady Green Heart), Blanc (CPU: Lady White Heart), Noire (CPU: Lady Black Heart), IF and Compa, MAGES, MarvelousAQL, Falcom, Broccoli, Cyber Connect 2 and Tekken. As you might be able to tell a lot of the characters reference well known Japanese video game companies, for example the character IF represents Idea Factory the publisher of this game. The characters with CPU names in brackets are the game’s four Goddesses (CPU names are what their followers call them, and the non-bracketed names are their real name). Incidentally each CPU controls a city state: Neptune controls Planeptune, Vert controls Leanbox, Blanc controls Lowee and Noire controls Lastation. As you can see the game really throws the references in your face.
The interactions, which are all done via visual novel style conversation windows, between the characters is what truly makes me enjoy this game as Neptune teases Noire over the fact she is a loner and IF getting close to Vert. Funny interactions aren’t just between allies as there also scenes of Neptune trying to pronounce Arfoire’s name and constantly failing. It is also worth noting that there are only a handful of male characters all of which are only seen as tiny avatars and in text boxes.
To give a personal feel to the game you can buy clothes for your characters to wear, while the majority of these are cosmetic some do improve your stats.
Re; Birth1 story is rather simplistic, apart from the save the world from destruction there are numerous other plots that include Neptune losing her memory, searching for and allying with her supposed enemies the three other CPU Goddesses of Gamindustri, defeating a major military organisation and most importantly of all gathering four key fragments to free the tomb called Histoire. The story is spread across eight chapters with the first creating the general outline of the story, second to fourth chapters focusing on finding and saving the other three CPUs and remaining chapters focusing on saving Histoire and stopping Arfoire from destroying the world.
Personally I found the story to be alright, if it wasn’t for the constant barrage of jokes I think I would have gotten bored of the story pretty quickly. Some plot resolutions such as Neptune’s memory loss are ignored and only brought back up again when there is either a joke to be made or when the story requires the characters to remember it. The game’s ending to me felt underwhelming as it never gave me a feeling of accomplishment, sure I saved the world, but I would have liked to see something point towards how the CPUs decided to end their “console war”. Although I did like the brief epilogue that showed off what everyone was doing post victory.
In the game combat takes place in various dungeons that you are required to explore, to keep within the theme of the game a lot of the dungeons reference popular video game franchises with names like “HALO MOUNTAIN”, “SOULSAC CAVE”, “NEO-GEOFRONT” and “HYRARULE SNOWFIELD”. Like most JRPGs you wander around and try to avoid, run into or get a first strike on the monsters around you, these monsters can be placed into two categories, normal and strong. If you are entering a new dungeon for the first time you may want to avoid the strong ones unless you want a challenge.
Re; Birth1’s combat system “Free movement combat system”, which is the same combat system from Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory replaces the dull turn-based combat system from the original game and as such brings some much needed life to combat. While it adds more life the system feels bogged down with a large array of commands. Your average combat turn in Re; Birth1 consists of moving your character into position to attack one or more enemies, select your attack type: combo skill or EXE move if charger, if you pick combo you have a choice of rush, power or break attacks, which you must pick three times, and finally if your EXE bar has a charge select an EX Finish move. You than repeat this process with your three active characters until the battle is over. Although if you are fighting a strong or higher level character you have to first break their guard bar, which means you have to make all three of your characters use break attacks until it is gone. While Re; Birth1’s combat is repetitive the game does allow you for some variety as you can setup your combo list and EX Finish moves. While there is so much to do the game has a fast-forward button that allows you to skip player and enemy attack animations, however I recommend watching the attack animations at least once.
Since only three of your eight characters can fight in battle the game has the Lilly rank system that has you set three front and three back characters, your front characters are those who fight and those at the back have the ability to give your front character stat buffs and assist attacks. The system also encourages you to keep line-ups together as the longer they stay together the more they like each other and unlock more powerful assist attacks and buffs.
While levelling in Re; Birth1 can be monotonous at times it really doesn’t seem to drag as much as you might expect as all dungeons have items that can be used for various side-objectives.
While Re; Birth1 is all about saving the world there is a lot of side-objectives to keep you entertained, side objectives include: quests, the new remake system and Disk Development. Quests are self explanatory and can be broken down to kill and gathering quests.
The remake system, which is one of my most enjoyable parts of the game, allows you to tweak various aspects of the game-world. Tweaks include making all enemies weaker, increasing the speed at which your EXE drive fills, creating new items, clothes, weapons and more. To me the remake system feels like a scavenger hunt, you are first given a plan from a person and you are told you need to gather X amount of items, once you get the items and create the plan the creation from the plan becomes available for purchase in the game’s store.
Finally there is Disk Dev, which is in my opinion the blandest of the three side-objectives. Disk Dev works by attaching stat altering programs to blank discs and using said discs to buff one of your characters. The programs are easy to find, but the blank discs are only available by defeating bosses and mini-bosses.
When it comes to graphics Re; Birth1 really stands out with the PS Vita remake looking on par if not at times better than its PS3 original. When in 3D the characters are well modelled with a black outline helping to direct your eyes to the character and the general space surrounding it, but with that said the quality of the dungeons really vary the digital styled dungeons are very in your face and are a joy to look at, but the forest dungeons look bland as if only the bare minimum of texture work was done to them.
English dubs of Japanese games have had a tricky history especially when it comes to appeasing hardcore audiences. Personally I had no problem with the voice work as each character captured just how I would imagine. Melissa Fahn, the voice of Neptune, gives my personal favourite performance as she managed to really capture Neptune’s child-like attitude. The other voice actors aren’t bad although I feel Wendee Lee, the voice of Blanc, seems to be the worst of the bunch although I feel this is down to the fact that Blanc tends to jump from quiet composed character to a foul mother angry character in the blink of an eye.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re; Birth1 is a fun game with entertaining characters and lots of side-objective. However an average story and needlessly over the top combat system does hurt the game. If you are looking for a game where you can relax and just laugh, Neptunia Re; Birth1 is worth checking out.
+ Comedy filled parody of the video game industry
+ Entertaining characters
+ Lots of side-objectives
– Average story
– Over the top combat
SCORE: 7.5/10 (good)
|Compile Heart / Idea Factory
|Idea Factory International
|August 26 (NA)
August 27 (EU)
Author: Ash Meehan
Hi, I’m the creator of SG Gaming Info. When I’m not working on my writing or creating content for this site’s YouTube channel, I like to relax and enjoy character driven story games.