Even though 2015 has just begun. Idea Factory International is already preparing to fill your Vita with not 1, not 2 but 3 Hyperdimension Neptunia titles for western PS Vita owners over the next few months. The first of these releases, HyperDimension Neptunia Re;Birth2: Sister’s Generation launches later this month in North America and early February in Europe. (The other two being HyperDevotion Noire & HyperDimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed).
If you haven’t been exposed to the Hyperdimension Neptunia series so far, the main games are a series of 3rd person JRPGs centered around characters based on game consoles and companies filled with tonnes of gaming references. Re;Birth2 is remake/revision of the 2nd title in the series, HDN mk2, which came out back in 2012 on the PS3 and tells the same story as the original, where the sisters of the CPUs fight to save the 4 CPUs trapped in Gameindustri graveyard. As with last year’s Re;Birth1 release, this new version brings several series enhancements carried over from HDN Victory, as well as some completely new additional content.
In comparison with how the original mk2 game looked & played, Re;Birth2 has the battle system used in Victory & Re;Birth1, which means that you now can use the EXE Guage for Ex combos and special EXE Drive attacks and no longer need to worry about AP or waiting for your SP bar to charge up. If you’ve played Victory or Re;Birth1, this game should play quite similar to those ones in battles.
The dungeons you explore throughout the story also see some slight visual changes compared to the original and the frame rate seems to be smoother than mk2, with fewer noticeable occasions of it slowing down during game play. Compared to the PS3 version, some of the dungeons in Re;Birth2 look more vibrant but also look a bit washed out, possibly since the Vita is rendering it at a lower resolution than the PS3 (even on the Vita TV, it’s only rendering at 960×544 then upscaling it to 1280×720 or 1920×1080). It should be good to see how this will look once the recently announced Steam version appears later this year.
Several additional characters who weren’t present in the original game are also playable, including Red (based on Japanese developer RED Entertainment) who returns to the series in Re;Birth2, after being absent in mk2, Victory and even Re;Birth1 after originally appearing in the first HDN game as a DLC character. Broccoli also joins your party in Re;Birth2 and Falcom & Cave, who were previously DLC only, can now be added to your party during the story via event scenes. With these extra characters joining the fray, Gust and NISA are absent from this version, which is a bit of a shame since NISA was a fun character.
Bringing the art style in line with Re;Birth1 & Victory, RB2 ditches the 3D models for event scnes used in mk2 in favour of animated 2D character art. The dialog script as also seen some changes in this new version, along with revamped voice overs for the characters and several new event sequences.
The remake system from Re;Birth1 also is present in RB2, allowing you to change what items and enemies appear in the dungeons, create items and modify many different aspects of the game to add features and tailor the game to how you want to play. A completely new element in Re;Birth2 is “Stella’s Dungeon”, which is a real-time dungeon crawling minigame that takes place while you’re playing the main game. In this mode, you send Stella on scouting missions to different dungeons to find items and treasure. This is somewhat similar to the Scout system introduced in Victory, but you can equip items for Stella as she will encounter monsters and traps when she is wandering through these dungeons.
Each scouting mission takes a certain amount of time to complete, with some lasting a few minutes and some could be a couple hours, depending on the difficulty of the dungeon and area, but, since it’s taking place in real time, Stella will continue her mission even after you save and turn the game off. Unfortunately, you don’t get to see any of this happening but just see the results as a text log.
From my current time with Re;Birth2, it looks like its following along closely with the core story of Neptunia mk2, while updating the game using the template set by Re;Birth1, using the improved interface and battle system, along with the remake system as well. Hopefully these features along with Stella’s Dungeon and other new additions continue to augment the overall game play experience and breathe new life into this re-visioning of HDN mk2.
– The mousey mascot for the enemy faction, ASIC, has returned to his original Japanese name “Warechu” in the English localisation for Re;Birth2, instead of “Pirachu” which was used in the original English version of mk2.
– Costume Canvas is no longer available in RB2, which was a feature you could use to customise your characters’ HDD costumes using images saved on your PS3. Some may be sad to see it go but I never really knew many who used that feature more than once to just try it out.
– If you leave the cursor idle on the map screen, characters in your party will start taking, basically telling you to get a move on and choose where to go.