A Neptune to the Past

That’s what you get for going into the light.

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3 V Generation is an alternate universe continuation of the story present in the preceding entry in the series. We’re also in the past… so it gets a little confusing as to where this Gamindustri fits into the universe, whether we’ll see it again, or if it’s just a pudding induced Neptune fever dream. Or eggplant induced fever dream. Stella’s Dungeon makes a return alongside a new Remake system with the (much appreciated) ability to search for materials, while everything else is generally bigger and better.

Stella’s Dungeon has an impact on the main story now, too.

Each time you successfully complete an area you’ll get a bounty of goodies- items, plans, materials, keys to the next area, and much more will be awarded for your efforts. These not only help when progressing to new areas in Stella’s Dungeon, but also with quests and the like where these materials will help you meet the requirements. It’s also a steady source of easily attainable income.

There are also new character challenges which fit into the Remake system to provide further party customisation. Most are statistical changes and are valuable in varying degrees of importance, but some will unlock new skills and new passive bonuses. The EXE Drive system has been completely reworked as well. SP is now immediately and permanently set to a maximum of 1000 for each character, it’s generated through Rush Attacks (or through general combat), and will be how you activate the EXE Drive. Either through having to reach a particular amount to use EXE Finish Skills, or by consuming a considerable portion of SP to unleash an exceptionally devastating EXE Drive Skill. It’s a change which adds a strategic layer to most combat.

Within which there are many positive changes from having more EXE Drive Skills available per character, more advantage being taken of the various Coupling and Formation Skills, further choices for the equipment CPUs and CPU Candidates will use in their HDD form, and a fifth combo slot for each attack type which expands the potential for damage and chain bonuses. It definitely feels more content dense (in a good way), while, at the same time, there are opportunities to expand on these mechanics even further in later entries in the series.

Which the Hyperdimension Neptunia series has done quite successfully so far.

No two entries are the same and that’s a good thing. It’s enjoyable to experience new mechanics or at the very least alterations to existing ones. This makes the desire to continue playing through the series even stronger than it normally would be, as you can’t wait to see all of the positive changes they’re making. Or all of the new things you’ll have to get accustomed to.

I’ve definitely spent more time with this entry than anticipated but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the time spent. Which is why I would recommend this series to anyone looking for something akin to the JRPGs of old from the days of the SNES or the PS1. They’re light hearted, fun, and not too complex. There are a lot of characters to choose from (especially with the free DLC options) and each is genuinely interesting in their own way. It’s also sure to induce a few pangs of nostalgia given it’s a parody of the gaming industry (and many of the series and characters therein). There are also quite a few different titles available which branch off from the main series in interesting ways, which might also interest those who love the characters and want more from them.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Emotions Are Prohibited

For the most part.

NieR: Automata is an exhilarating experience which flawlessly blends intense action with a deeply emotional story to deliver a truly unique adventure. It also boasts a number of endings, various character perspectives, deep character development mechanics, and multiple weapons to collect. There’s a rather unique use of the New Game+ mechanic, too. Each main ending will open up a new Route, which allows you to experience different perspectives or entirely new portions of story with different characters.

Most of your progress will carry over, though.

So when you’re starting Route B (or beyond) you’ll have the same weapons, side quest completion, inventory, and general collection statistics. That said, there will be some weapons or side quests which are only available on these different Routes. But it’s well worth experiencing the collection of main endings to fully understand and appreciate the story.

I’ve particularly enjoyed the various side quests as they tend to explain more about the history of the world, the different characters, and even (at times) hint about some of the later story developments. It’s interesting as those story developments are often restricted to the main quests, but NieR: Automata continually rewards you for going out of your way to do as much as you can across the rapidly deteriorating world. It’s a pretty large world, too. There are quite a few things hidden throughout the locations you’ll visit. There are also a number of smaller endings you can experience by doing certain things in certain places. Which, again, is interesting, as often you would humorously suggest but never be able to actually do those things in other titles.

For those who aren’t really interested in the story and the side quests, the combat is incredibly satisfying and the range of weapons you can collect is diverse and enjoyable in its own way. Each weapon will perform differently both when they’re first obtained and when they’re fully upgraded. Often with the weapons gaining new, unique, and powerful abilities as a result of investing time and resources in them. There are also countless other customisations you can make to the characters to change how they perform in combat and even in the field.

It’s an extensive adventure in several ways.

There’s an absurd amount of attention to detail in the world, which truly shows that it was a labour of love and care as there are so many minor (seemingly insignificant) details that are intentionally highlighted. Alongside a rather mysterious and constantly evolving universe which is quite unlike any setting I’ve seen before. It really does have something for everyone.

I’ve immensely enjoyed my time with this title. It’s one of those rare occasions where everything comes together in the most satisfying way, where the combat is fluid and the controls are tight, where the world is interesting and intentionally kept mysterious, and where you will enjoy exploring the various locations because the soundtrack is incredibly good. There is so much to say about NieR: Automata but it’s one of those stories that’s best experienced as blindly as possible. However, I will say that this title has repeatedly surprised and impressed me and that it has exceeded any expectations I may have had regarding it. I highly recommend this title and can almost guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Hope for Planeptune

CPU Candidate Nepgear has arrived.

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth2 Sisters Generation is a slightly shorter but just as enjoyable sequel boasting multiple endings, an excessively huge roster, and an alternate universe Gamindustri that doesn’t reflect the events of the first entry in the series. There are new mechanics in the events of Stella’s Dungeon, an expanded Remake system, and even in the character progression. In comparison to the previous entry you’ll find that many characters now have multiple roles, with healing being more generously distributed.

In fact, one of the CPU Candidates of Lowee, Rom, is an excellent support caster.

While I would still agree that healing magic is probably not required to reach any one of the endings (due to an abundance of healing items) it’s nice to have the option. Even Nepgear has limited single target healing capabilities. The offensive magic selection across many characters has been improved, too. While the selection of EXE Drive options has been vastly expanded.

That’s one of the recurring positive elements of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series. The roster of characters is quite extensive, with each having their own particular approach and weapons to use, but each also provides benefits to others through the Lily Rank system, so you’ll be spoiled for choice as to who will make it into your party. The party itself is slightly bigger, too. Now with four members compared to the three from the previous entry. It seems like a minor change but it does alter the pacing of the combat enough that it remains fresh. It does get slightly expensive to outfit all of these characters for combat, though. I tend to just keep their weapons up to date and shuffle the accessories around the active party.

I think that’s one of the reasons that this series appeals to me as it does. It feels very much like a classic JRPG, with characters that you don’t necessarily develop in any way other than by accruing experience and providing their various pieces of equipment. You can’t make Nepgear into a second Rom and that’s nice. It’s nice to have a party of individual characters, each with their own strengths, and each with their own reasons to be in a party, instead of having an army of clones that you could change into what you required them to be.

If they were clones I’d never have got the opportunity to hit someone with a guitar.

This entry leans heavily on New Game+ with some of the events, dungeons, and other goodies sealed behind a second or third attempt. It will be interesting to see what they deem so important that they hide it behind completion, though. There’s a host of secret optional characters which technically require multiple attempts as well. In that way it’s quite content dense.

It’s going to be interesting seeing how they take it forward from here. I don’t believe there will be many changes to the core aspects of these titles, but I do believe that the next adventure is set in the same alternate universe Gamindustri after the events of this entry. So it will be nice to see an actual sequel. Then, it’s onto the last available title at the moment which I believe is a direct release to Steam instead of a remake. But I’ll be getting to that much later. Until then if you’re looking for an engaging, funny, and enjoyable JRPG that makes many humorous jabs at events in the gaming industry I’d recommend this series. It’s also a pretty cool series to follow if you enjoy anime. As I do believe there’s a Hyperdimension Neptunia anime, too.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Dressed for the Occasion

At least you won’t need to pay for dry cleaning.

Which, now that I think about it, is actually a really good question- who developed sphere technology that dresses you in different clothing and armour? It seems like such an odd thing to develop. You’d think they’d prefer to develop an infinite food source, or technology that doesn’t try to kill them, or even the ability to capture fiends in spheres which they would use to battle other fiends.Dressed for the Occasion Those would be useful options. Copyright infringement aside. But, no, they decided to put clothes into these spheres.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand Spira.

Final Fantasy X-2 is an interesting sequel in many ways. Most of the original characters are scarcely present, the Sphere Grid is gone, Garment Grids and Dresspheres provide most of your character customisation options, you’ve got an airship available from the moment you finish the introductory mission, and it’s probably best if you don’t take the story too seriously.

That doesn’t mean it’s not a suitable sequel, though. It’s just that it might not be the sequel many were expecting. Most were probably anticipating a prequel which looked at the events surrounding the journey Braska, Auron, and Jecht embarked on before the events of Final Fantasy X. Instead they got a slightly ridiculous insight into the events following the Eternal Calm. But I think it was a bold choice to introduce new story elements instead of dragging out existing ones. The aforementioned prequel would have been such an easy choice, too. That said, while I feel that the sequel does conclude the story fairly well, I also feel that the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy concluded things more satisfactorily, which shows that the series has progressed over time.

There were a few things about the Final Fantasy X-2 HD Remaster which I do believe weren’t present in the version I have on the PS2. Such as the Creature Creator system, which allows you to recruit fiends into your party that you develop in a very similar way to strengthening Aeons in Final Fantasy X. There are also new accessories, altered accessories, an extra chance to get the Mascot Dressphere, numerous changes to the enemies you’ll face, and even some slight alterations to the events you’ll experience.Dressed for the Occasion

Whether those are positive or negative changes is open to interpretation.

I’m particularly impressed with the graphical enhancements in the HD Remaster as well. It looks gorgeous. Especially when you consider that the original versions of both titles on the PS2 didn’t look that bad, in fact, at the time, they were some of the most impressive titles on the market. But the enhancements present really breathe new life into the world of Spira.

I’ve enjoyed playing through both of these titles again. While I will admit that I prefer Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2 is an interesting look into a familiar universe with both established and newly introduced characters. It also features (for the first time in the series) an all female cast. Then there’s New Game+, which I’ll be able to use to experience the story once more and finish off all of the things that I missed in the first attempt. So neither is finished just yet. But, for now, it’s time to bid Spira adieu and move onto new adventures. I’d still highly recommend the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster package. It’s well worth the price of admission if you enjoy classic JRPGs.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Journalists of Gamindustri

They’re looking for promising CPUs to do numerous quests.

Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is an extension of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series (believe it or not). It’s an interesting mixture of brawling hundreds of monsters, exploring the events of Gamindustri, collecting medals from fallen monsters, and individually developing each character. That said, the character development is fairly simplified in comparison to a main instalment in the series. Most characters have three available weapons, accessories are shared, and even their skills are fairly limited.

However, it’s an enjoyable and fun diversion for 20-30 hours.

Your time will vary depending on how far you want to push the quests, whether you care for the additional modes, and whether you’re interested in JRPG-like grinding. But there’s a lot to do even if you’re not interested in pushing past the final chapter. You’ll need to do a small amount of levelling to cover all of the main quests, too. Especially for the Candidates.

The good news is that each character has a unique fighting style so it tends to stay fresh. You can also access a HDD transformation for every character, the EXE Drive is available, and there are even Lily Specials which pair specific characters together. Unlocking many of these things will require you to progress through the story or complete specific quests, but it won’t take you too long. For that reason it’s actually a fairly good idea to move to the final chapter as early as possible as you can complete/repeat all prior quests. If you’re feeling particularly masochistic, there are even quests which require you to be at Lvl 99 in which the enemies have health numbered in the millions. They can also knock you out in a single hit. Which is fun.

Forever twirling to victory.

Forever twirling to victory.

The above quests are not counted for the quest completion statistic, though. So don’t worry too much if you’re going for that particular achievement. Once you’ve completed the main story quests you’ll be invited to take part in the Gamindustri Gauntlet, which is a short tournament amongst the characters. There’s a Dogoo, too. They fill in one of the blanks but they can never (as far as I’m aware) actually progress to the next stage. While a fairly short mode, to get the full value from it you’ll need to complete it with every character (and their HDD transformation).

So you’re going to be there for a while.

Then, finally, if that wasn’t enough, on the first completion of the Gamindustri Gauntlet you’ll unlock the Neptral Tower. This fifty floor tower serves as a way to test yourself against increasingly more difficult monsters, to farm any medals you may be missing, and to even gain access to a special monster that you don’t see in the quests. It’s well worth your time to do it at least once.

Much like the Gamindustri Gauntlet, to get the full value from the Neptral Tower you’ll need to take every character through each of the fifty floors. The difference here is that HDD transformations aren’t required, characters can pair together (giving you two progressions per climb), and you’re able to pause at any point. There are numerous rewards available for completing either of these modes that play into many of the achievements. Plus, there are even special achievements you can only unlock through these modes. So it’s a pretty comprehensive and content dense title. Even if it does get a little repetitive at times. I’d still recommend it, though. Especially if you love JRPGs or the Hyperdimension Neptunia series.

Have a great weekend, all!

Moggie

The Summoner’s Pilgrimage

It’s quite the journey.

But with the help of a legendary guardian, a man obsessed with Blitzball, a lady who loves belts so much she made a dress from them, a powerful warrior from a distant land, and someone who just appeared in Spira you might just make it. You’ll need a little more than luck on your side, though. You’ll need to have Fayth. Myriad Fayth. Which is the whole reason you’re on this journey in theThe Summoner's Pilgrimage first place. That and exploring the world around you, looking for meticulously placed treasure chests in random locations, and (of course) farming AP like there’s no tomorrow.

Mostly because if you fail there probably won’t be a tomorrow.

Unlike most Final Fantasy titles I’ve completed, this particular title boasts a new challenge through the Expert Sphere Grid which is (almost) entirely new to me. I’m still not sure what it really does, either. Other than change starting locations, shuffle around certain nodes, and allow for complete freedom with character development. Maybe that is literally all it does. I don’t know.

In either case, it’s been interesting going back through the various characters and creating strategies of my own. I’ve got a fair few Black Magic users. Got a couple of White Magic users, too. I’ve seen the wondrous cacophony of destruction that is a Doublecast Ultima. I’ve also witnessed Auron cleave an enemy for nearly 100k damage. It’s honestly a little disgusting. I’ve experienced the better parts (exploring the Omega Ruins) and the worse parts (trying to obtain the Sun Sigil) in equal measure. I can’t say I haven’t had fun, though. I can’t say whether it’s made things easier or more difficult, either. I think that having a secondary White Magic user in Rikku (who practically mirrors Yuna) has proved invaluable.

Then again, with the acquisition of the Nirvana, and full Black Magic spell availability, Yuna has become a force to be reckoned with in her own right. Able to easily break the damage limit and deal 30-40k per spell. It, again, is honestly a little disgusting. It wouldn’t scratch the super bosses… but that’s for another time. Maybe. It’s actually funny that I don’t enjoy Blitzball enough to bother trying to get Wakka’s Celestial Weapon, but he’s a good candidate for breaking the damage limit. He’s got nearly as much Strength as Auron does.
The Summoner's Pilgrimage
That said, I love the way the Masamune fits so perfectly with Auron.

He’s probably the only character who has consistently been able to take a punch and get back up throughout the entire experience. The fact that he now becomes even more powerful each time he gets hit just makes that sweeter. Especially considering he was one of the first to reach the health limit. He’s got a bountiful pool to draw from and it’s immensely useful.

I’ve always felt that Final Fantasy X was a genuinely difficult entry in the series. It’s one that has very interesting mechanics for key fights that rely more on your ability to understand, react, and survive than simply deal damage. Significantly easier when you’ve got Auron and the Masamune- but still an experience. I highlighted many of the key changes to the Final Fantasy formula which I think Final Fantasy X exemplified through An Evolving Narrative. It’s still one of my favourite entries in the series and one that I still enjoy to this day. That said, I’m looking forward to Final Fantasy X-2 as well. There are a number of things that I love about that one, too. Despite (in my opinion) being easier than the previous entry.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Heavenly Pudding

How dare you taint pudding time.

I’ll preface this post by saying that I understand very little of the history behind Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 and whether it came before or after Fairy Fencer F. I do know that the Re;Birth series is a remake of the original series. But that’s about it. I went into this one completely blind and I can’t say I’m disappointed. It’s a really enjoyable JRPG with surprisingly deep combat, actually requiring the use of various characters and abilities to easily dispatch your foes.

Heavenly PuddingI realise that seems like a silly thing to be surprised about.

But it’s actually quite rare to find a party based JRPG where each character can either help or hinder the party. Especially when you consider that some characters (like Neptune or Vert) can increase their power via the HDD system, which you would assume is the answer to several problems, but it actually isn’t, as sometimes you need something else to tip the balance.

The party mechanics are really well done, too. You’ve got a partner system that allows you to pair up characters to combine their traits, to allow them to use special partner abilities, and to allow you to switch between them in combat. It’s a really nice touch. It’s incredibly useful to have a character like IF in the front dealing damage being able to switch to Compa for healing. It allows for so much more flexibility when building a party, as you don’t necessarily need to have a healer in the default line up. Or at all. If you’ve got the right combination of other benefits. It’s also really neat that they have different types of basic attacks, giving you freedom to focus on breaking down guard or dealing an exceptional amount of damage with power attacks.

Given that you’ll be doing a lot of fighting (and grinding) in JRPGs, it’s nice that they’ve taken the time to create systems which are enjoyable and complex enough for you to remain interested in them as your characters level up. Of course, there’s always going to be that break point where you’re too strong for everything and so it becomes trivial in the end- but that’s forty hours away. Or less. If you like grinding. Which I kind of sort of do and ended up being incredibly confused in the early game.
Heavenly Pudding
I didn’t know they unlocked those abilities later.

In a year that has been strangely riddled with nostalgia, Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 comes in as something that I’ve really enjoyed and I think was well worth the price of admission. It reminds me of the JRPGs of old- but newer- with updated systems to reflect modern concepts. It also has some of the best/most hilarious dialogue known to man.

I’ll be looking forward to experiencing the rest of the series after this. I don’t know how they will differ from the first, but I’ve got high expectations of being able to explore and do as much as I’ve done in this title. There were so many dungeons, quests, plans, and other things to discover. Then there was the grinding. So much grinding. Not just me, either- IF and Vert were doing some. That was a weird afternoon. But I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. I’m slowly having my interest in JRPGs thoroughly revitalised, which is pretty awesome as I have a PS Vita full of them and I do need to get around to finishing some of those as well. Like Final Fantasy VII. That I started several months ago.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie