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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: NIS America
Developed By: Idea Factory/Compile Heart
Genre: RPG
Players: 1
Rated: M for Mature (Fantasy Violence, Language, Sexual Themes)
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

April 26, 2012 Ė Little over a year ago, NIA America brought the first installment of Hyperdimension Neptunia to North America, which brought about unique responses to the title and the genre it was representing. Our good friend Anthony Cara talked about the title, and while he didnít praise it as the best thing since slice bread, he did touch on some good qualities the game brought about. Here we are, one year later, and reviewing the sequel known as Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk-II. The guys and gals over at Idea Factory took a lot of the feedback given about the game; based on the Japanese release, and tweaked and enhanced the gameplay experience for the sequel. While a lot of the staples that were established within the first game, Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk-II is a step in the right directionÖ but how much?

The events within Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk-II take place roughly three years after the first game. It seems a Neptune and her fellow goddess CPUs (Console Patron Units) of Gamindustri have been imprisoned within the Gamindustri graveyard due to a failed attempted at thwarting the uprising of ASIC. Not standing idly by and doing nothing, Neptuneís friends Compa and If attempt a rescue mission but are overwhelmed. Barely being able to make it out with their lives, Compa and If were able to rescue Neptuneís little sister Nepgear; a CPU candidate in training. The three return to Planeptune in order for Nepgear to regain her strength and soon set out on an epic quest to remove ASICís hold on the world, defeat the mighty Arfoire and reclaim the missing goddess CPUs.

Those who have played the first game and enjoyed it will be happy to know most of the characters from the first installment make their return, with the exception of RED. For those new to the series, you are definitely in for a treat. Throughout the game you will hear some unique character and location names, which are actually a play on different facets from our gaming industry. The main protagonist Nepgear represents the Sega Game Gear. Additional protagonist you will meet along your journey include Uni (Sony PSP) the younger sister of Noire, Ram and Rom; whose names are derived from RAM (Random Access Memory) and ROM (Read Only Memory). Some of the locations you will visit include Lastation, which is a direct reference to the PlayStation and is established within the game as the landmass with building colored black. There is also Lowee (Wii) and Leanbox (Xbox), which are represented by a landscape being colored white and buildings seemingly simple in designed, yet futuristic. There are countless other in-game references which are humorous and true in a lot of ways.

The theme or premise behind the game is that of piracy and how the industry as a whole must band together to vanquish it once and for all. The enemy Arfoire, as in R4 cards that plagued the Nintendo lineup of handhelds are trying to take over the world. Instead of taking a serious approach to the issue plaguing the industry, itís presented in a humorous way and through the very media we, as an industry, need to protect.

While there is a lot to do while on your journey to saving the other CPUs, you will find yourself spending most of your time taking on various quests, battling enemies, and fitting your characters with new, more powerful gear. This game is very similar to the first installment in that itís a turn-based RPG. The quest you can take vary, however they are all based around either gathering certain items or hunting and killing a certain number of enemies. Early on the quest relatively easy to complete, however after your first 10 or so quest, you will notice them becoming increasingly more difficult. What makes matters worse, you will be offered dozens of quest at a time, which can be overwhelming in the beginning. As you complete a quest and turn in the results, you lower Arforieís influence within the given region, making certain tasks much easier to be accomplished. When you do take on quest that involving vanquishing a certain enemy, you will be happy to know the enhancements made to the combat system make a world of a difference.

While the combat system is similar to the one within the first installment, there have been a few changes for the better. The first notable change is the ability to move your character around the battlefield, though itís only within a given amount of space. Your characterís movement is gauged by a giant blue circle which they can move around in. As your character levels increase and you acquire better weaponry and gear, you are able to increase the parameters of the circle. Positioning is very important on the battlefield. Placing two or more comrades too close together can result in both being attacked by an enemy at the same time. Since the enemies are also confined to a certain parameter for their attacks, positioning a dying ally further away from the front line can buy you time in order to heal them.

When not on the defensive, your characterís attacks come in three flavors Ė Guard Break, Heavy Attacks and Rapid Attacks Ė all of which have their unique advantages and disadvantages depending on the enemy you are facing. Guard Break attacks allows you to lower an enemyís guard points. Once the guard points reach zero, your attacks deliver much more damage as their defenses drop dramatically. Heavy and Rapid attacks are pretty self-explanatory, however another weapon at your disposal are Team Attacks, which can turn the tide in a battle. Two characters attacking in unison can result in an EX finisher, which will string the combo into a devastating final blow. All of your attacks will utilize AP (Attack Points), SP (Special Points) or a combination of the two. Whenever you find yourself in a pickle, or simply want to enhance your combatantsí abilities, you can utilize defensive attacks which can boost the starts of your party members. Knowing when to use an offensive attack, defensive attack and field positioning will be a must once you are a few hours in. Some enemies that look weak are able to deliver devastating attacks, which you wonít see coming.

When you are not question in various dungeons or locations, you will be at one of several hub worlds like Planeptune in order to configure your party and its equipment for upcoming battles. It is here you can also explore the shops for health boosts, new weapons and gear and even craft new items. If you want to have fun with Twitter, but not actually use Twitter, you can check out the Chirper. Here, you can interact with several different characters having various things to say or comment about. Some of this conversations even lead to quest you can partake upon if you choose to. These quests usually lead to acquiring hidden items, improving your friendship bonds between your party members or learning a new ability.

When it comes to the visual presentation, you definitely see an improvement within the overall presentation, though nothing groundbreaking. The 2D character models used within cutscenes have been replaced with 3D models, allowing for more personality to be expressed within these moments. Character animations are more fluid and the world is presented through bright vibrant colors. The frame rate issues have been improved upon in comparison to the first game, however every once in awhile I notice my game slowing down for a second or two. The audio, just like the visuals, isnít awful nor fantastic. It does the job of delivering important information and making us laugh at the silliness that comes out their mouths, however you wonít be running to your friends telling them about what Nepgear said in-game. A nice addition that is usually omitted from games is the inclusion of the original Japanese voiceovers.

While this game isnít perfect, you can definitely tell that itís a step in the right direction. You can expect to spend at least 30 hours in this game depending on how you approach the title. For myself, I clocked in around 75 hours seeing as I tried to do everything and see everything possible. It also doesnít hurt that there is tons of DLC for game; both free and paid. Developers Idea Factory and Compile Heart took a real issue plaguing the gaming industry and made it into a whimsical adventure that will keep you entertainment when given the chance to. If you are a fan of anime; especially of the girl click variety, then you will find enjoyment within this experience. If you despise anime and groups of girls with combative points of view, then you will wonít to stay away from this game. For those who are wondering if the third timeís a charm, keep an eye out as the third installment will soon hit Japan and the western gaming community shortly after.


Review copy of the game provided by publisher.

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