Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth2: Sisters Generation - Review  

Game Gear Adventures
by Michael "Wheels" Apps

Click here for game
20-40 Hours
+ Great boss battles
+ Entertaining battles system
+ Enjoyable cast of characters
- Boring main plot
- Dungeons reused multiple times
- World is a bit lacking in content
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   Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth2: Sisters Generation is a port of the Neptunia series' second entry. While moving from PS3 to the Vita may seem like a downgrade, the result proves to be very well-suited to Sony's portable. Sisters Generation's tale of the CPU candidates, meant to be references to portable gaming systems, definitely has its share of unmistakable issues. Though plenty of good gaming related humor is present in the world and the cast is likeable, the overall story isn't very good. There are some issues in the realm of gameplay as well, but thankfully on the whole the battle system is good fun. Combined with the humor that is present, the overall experience is an enjoyable one.

   For those unfamiliar with the Neptunia series, it takes place in Gameindustri, a fantasy world full of references to games and game culture. The countries in the world are ruled by goddesses representing the various consoles, with the title Neptunia being a reference to Sega. The world is rife with jokes and references of all sorts, so just poking around and finding everything the developers included can be fun.  Most references are obvious, but some are more subtle and may fly under the radar of many players. On the other hand, the overall plot leaves a lot to be desired.

   The game begins with the Goddesses from the first game, also called CPUs, imprisoned by a powerful enemy. The CPU candidate Nepgear, an obvious Game Gear reference, is also imprisoned but quickly freed by Iffy and Compa, barely-veiled representations of Idea Factory and Compile Heart. If this all sounds very absurd it largely is. An enemy organization promoting game piracy serves as the focus of the story, but this premise is sadly underutilized outside of a few elements and enemy names. The cast of characters entertains, especially the playable characters representing various game companies and consoles. The main plot on the other hand, never develops and eventually ends without much of a satisfying resolution. The antagonists are especially disappointing, coming off mostly as annoying, creepy, or just boring. It's a shame, as there's plenty that could have been done with the goofy premise, but at least the playable cast offers a good deal of entertainment.

Boss fights are usually as
                                        intimidating as they look. Boss fights are usually as intimidating as they look.

   Though it follows the overall gameplay model Idea Factory has used for everything from Mugen Souls to Fairy Fencer F, Sisters Generation manages to provide a solid experience. The setup is simple: the world map is a quick selection of locations for players to go, towns are just menus, and dungeons are relatively small areas to explore. That's not to say there isn't a great deal of content, as plenty of side quests that require tracking down specific creatures and items, party conversations, and character customization are available for perusal.  Those looking for a detailed world to explore, however, will be left disappointed.

   Dungeons and combat are where the game puts its best foot forward. Dungeons are simple, but with enough branches to not feel sorely lacking. They have a nice variety of visual layouts, though these tend to be reused throughout the experience. The player has the ability to jump during exploration, but oddly this serves almost no function. Similar to many games that show enemies on screen during dungeon exploration, the player can try to time an attack for getting the drop on enemies, while the foes will go first if this fails.

   Combat is turn based, and each character can freely move around the battlefield to get into position for attack during her turn. When using regular attacks players can mix and match several varieties of strikes to create a combo. These either do more damage, decrease the enemy's guard, or increase the player's burst gauge used for super attacks. Each character's weapons have different ranges and attack radius so it is possible to hit multiple enemies with these combos, and from a safe distance for some of them. In addition, there are special attacks that use a run of the mill MP system, and the aforementioned super attacks that are unlocked as the game progresses. Regular battles are not overly challenging, but tend to require strategy and intelligent use of special abilities until a few levels have been gained in each new dungeon. There are more challenging enemies in the dungeons, which often are targets for optional sidequests. These formidable foes won't chase after the player, so they remain completely optional.

Falcom is easily one of the
                                        coolest party members. Falcom is easily one of the coolest party members.

   Boss battles tend to be challenging and fun. They require careful strategy and plenty of restorative items, plus a bit of good luck on occasion. Once the player unlocks super attacks for most party members, these battles can turn into grind out affairs, fighting to stay alive and building up to another super attack. Most bosses heal HP every turn, which further adds to the difficulty, especially when much of the party is in need of recovery. In the end, the combat absolutely steals the show. This is aided by a great graphic engine that runs much smoother than similar Idea Factory games on the PS3, despite the Vita's hardware being less impressive. This makes even easy and boring encounters at least have some nice visual flare.

   On the whole the game has a nice look to it. Character conversations are all told through 2D portraits, but these move attractively and do a great deal towards helping them feel less static. Battles and dungeons use the same character and enemy models to keep things consistent, and the graphical pizzazz of the environments helps alleviate the annoyance that results from visiting some of them more often than necessary. Voice acting is mostly good, which is impressive given some of the off-kilter lines that show up in the script. A few character voices prove to be annoying but thankfully none in the primary cast. The rest of the audio is pleasant without being memorable.

   Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth2: Sisters Generation proves to be a solid port on the Vita, one that may even be technically superior to the PS3 rendition. The characters and world provide plenty of goofy fun despite the lackluster main plot. There's plenty of little gaming culture references to track down, and the novelty of various consoles and companies brought to life in the form of anime girls is surprisingly entertaining. Its problems are certainly hard to ignore, such as the world not offering a ton to do except march through dungeons that aren't very big and are reused too often. The combat engine is fun though, especially the boss battles, but the lack of a satisfying plot can suck some of the fun out of it. Still, Sister's Generation is a fun game, and certainly worth checking out for any Vita user starved for RPGs.

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