The girls of Gamindustri are back in this revamped adventure for the PS Vita, but this time, the younger sisters of the 4 goddesses are taking the spotlight in Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth2 Sisters Generation. Compile Heart, Idea Factory & Felistella have re-imagined the 2nd HDN game (HDN Mk2) for the Vita, enhancing it with new characters, events and monsters, an improved battle system and additional improvements to make it a more approachable and enjoyable game than the original.
Taking place in a world known as ‘Gamindustri’, the Hyperdimension Neptunia games are based around the concept of Game console companies being personified as goddesses and the heads of 4 nations, with several key characters also representing real world games and companies. Re;Birth2 is set in a similar but different timeline/dimension to the previous game and begins three years after a catastrophic battle, which left the 4 CPUs (Console Patron Unit), Vert, Blanc ,Noire & Neptune, along with her CPU Candidate sister Nepgear defeated and imprisoned. Compa (Compile Heart) and IF (Idea Factory) have ventured into the hostile wasteland in hopes of rescuing the goddesses, but are only able to recover Nepgear and escape from an overpowering enemy guarding the area. With Nepgear, Compa & IF, your aim is now to gather enough share energy from believers and gain allies so that you can return to the graveyard to rescue the 4 CPUs still trapped within.
While the game may begin with a serious tone and dire situation, the story is quite light-hearted & easy-going most of the time, which is primarily used as a vehicle to introduce new event scenes with dialogue between the characters. As such, you’ll quickly become accustomed to the different characters and their personalities as you progress through the story and experience more event scenes along the way. The protagonist, Nepgear begins as timid younger-sister archetype that’s common in anime & games but eventually becomes more confident later on. Compa is your ditzy yet caring nurse in training & IF is the cool-headed adventurer . Before long, you’ll be encountering other characters willing to join your party and fight alongside Nepgear & Co.
For many, the characters and event scenes are one of the main draws to the series but the majority of the game revolves around you taking on quests at the guild, trawling through dungeons and completing these quests to reach the next story event, or to gain share energy for the 4 nations (Planeptune, Lastation, Lowee & Leanbox). The dungeons can be interesting to explore when you first encounter them but they quickly become familiar as you’ll be returning quite often to hunt monsters, gather items and grind levels. The dungeon design and layouts would have been one of the areas I was hoping would be refreshed in this remake as they can become a bit boring once you’ve gone through each one several times. While some minor visual changes are apparent, the dungeons are basically the same as in the original game. The fact that some dungeons also share the same motif and style doesn’t help either, leaving you waiting even longer for an entirely new dungeon to appear.
Altough, once you encounter a monster, the battle system has seen significant improvements over the one present in MK2, but should be famlilar to those who have played Re;Birth1 or Victory. Compared to the original, battles no longer have an AP meter and use an easier to manage approach to using attacks and abilities. During each of your character’s turns, you cab choose to perform a basic or combo attack, use a skill by spending SP, or preforming an EXE Drive attack, which becomes available later on in the game. The CPU & CPU candidates can also activate ‘HDD’ mode which boosts their strength , defense and other stats. It may look like a lot to take in at first, but the game does a good job of introducing different elements of battling monsters in stages so it doesn’t overwhelm you all at once.
It wouldn’t be a Hyperdimension Neptunia game without a varied cast of characters to join your party, and Re;Birth2 faithly follows that formula. One of the many party members you’ll encounter, Red (Red Entertainment) is one of the additional characters added to this remake, who long time fans of the series may recognise from the first Hyperdimension Neptunia game back on the PS3. With each character having their own different abilities and weapons to use in battle, you’re given a lot of opportunities to mix up different combinations and formations of characters for your party. The other 3 CPU candidates (Uni, Rom & Ram) also join your group along the way, giving you more characters capable of using HDD.
Re;Birth2 also gives you the chance to recruit the 4 oracles (Chika, Histoire, Jun & Mina) as party members, which is another new addition to this version of the game to give you even more characters to choose from. Thankfully, your characters all receive experience as you battle, so you needn’t worry about trying to constantly swap out characters to level them up, giving you the chance to change your characters and formation whenever you want without being stuck with characters at a much lower level than the rest of your team.
Compared to MK2, the overall story is generally the same, but the script has been reworked, along with new character interactions and event scenes. This can be found in the events for the new characters who weren’t in the original, and different bits of dialog for similar scenes. As references make up a large part of the dialog in HDN games, you can expect to see quite a lot of these throughout the story, with RB2 taking every chance it has to make any references it can. With the event scenes and dialog updated for the remake, you can expect to many subtle and some pretty obvious nods to other games & companies such as Persona, Monster Hunter & Danganronpa. They even find space to squeeze in a few Xbox One & Kinect jokes in the dialog.
Most of the characters are on the usually pretty likeable and watching the way they interact with each other provides many interesting and amusing moments. That said, I found Nepgear to be probably the least interesting of the 4 main characters, but that seems to be intentional, as if the game knows she doesn’t really stand out as a main character.
Aside from the core game play, there are a ton of extra facets of the game which you can use to enhance your experience & tailor the game and your party to your needs. The newly introduced ‘Stella’s Dungeon’ lets you send your helper, Stella, out to dungeons while your busy playing the game to gather items and materials but sometimes the effort of sending stella out on a run doesn’t pay off or give you useful rewards. The Remake system also makes a welcome return from it’s introduction in Re;Birth1, letting you change things like the monsters found in certain dungeons, what items you can find as well as even raising or lowering the difficulty of the game and building special weapons and items, which can definitely be a boon when you need a helping hand (as long as you’ve conveniently got the required items and materials for the plan on hand).
If you haven’t played any of the Hyperdimension Neptunia games before, Re;Birth2 could be a good starting point, as it essentially has no direct story connections with the previous one, as mentioned earlier, although I personally enjoyed the character interactions & story of the first one more than RB2.