Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 3: V Generation Vita Review
The recent announcement of the Final Fantasy VII Remake was met with thunderous applause and worldwide acclaim, as well as a flood of reaction videos archived on YouTube for posterity. To say that it was the single biggest RPG announcement in years would be an understatement, as well as the single most requested remake of all time.
Meanwhile, the Neptunia series is now on its third remake in five years, trailing well ahead of Final Fantasy and any other JRPG with its unending quantity of releases. It continues to be both impressive and perplexing how Compile Heart manages to pump out so many sequels and spinoffs in such a short amount of time, but there is clearly a healthy market that has yet to grow sick of Nep-Nep and friends. But after yet another game featuring most of the same assets and little-to-no gameplay revisions, Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 3: V Century may suffer the same problem as Assassin’s Creed when it comes to constant releases with little new content in-between.
Re;Birth 3 is a remake (which, contrary to Square Enix’s ambitious plans for FFVII, translates to mostly the same game with a few extra characters, conversations and content) of the third game in the series, previously available on the PS3. This Vita version features the same presentation of previous games that should be immediately familiar to anyone who has stuck with the series, but with an admittedly more unique premise; after taking some time off to let her younger sister have the lead role in the previous game, the titular meme-spouting Neptune is back on the protagonist’s seat while finding herself falling (literally) into an alternate dimension of her world. Taking place in the distant past (i.e. the 80’s) while featuring some familiar faces who don’t recognize her and some unfamiliar faces who serve as new allies and enemies alike, Neptune must uncover the truth behind this alternate version of Gamindustri as well as finding a way back to her world.
Somewhere along the line, Compile Heart and Idea Factory lost the ability to pander their characters with some modicum of moderation, as recent Neptunia games have doubled down on the pointless drivel spouted by Neptune and the others. Re;Birth 3 continues this annoying trend of characters who just don’t know when to shut up, much less reach the punch line to their jokes. Jaded players will come to appreciate the fast forward feature of the game’s cutscenes or the ability to suspend the Vita during these extended dialog sections.
For those who enjoyed the brisk, easy to learn combat of the previous games, rest assured that Re;Birth 3’s battle mode remains virtually unchanged…which is either good news for fans clamoring for more or bad news for those hoping for more meaningful additions. On the plus side, this game takes a page from Fairy Fencer F (which remains Compile Heart’s best RPG to date and shockingly has not gotten a million spinoffs) and features numerous bonuses to players who achieve certain in-game milestones, such as jumping a set number of times with one character, going through a certain number of battles without suffering damage with another, and so on. There is also an added Mario reference in the form of invisible blocks that can be hit from underneath, which is amusing but otherwise irrelevant.
The overall gameplay still gets points for featuring fast-paced battles where entire animations can be instantly skipped as well as an addictive quest mechanic that involves performing multiple tasks at once (such as collecting a certain number of items or defeating a certain number of enemies) within minutes. The game also retains the remake system from previous titles, which allow players to change up dungeons to feature tougher enemies which yield unique rewards, many which are necessary to complete additional quests. Unfortunately, the clunky framerate really hurts the flow of its fast-paced battles, which is especially noticeable for anyone who has experienced the silky-smooth PC ports that have also been seeing routine releases on Steam. Anyone who doesn’t mind sacrificing the portable nature of the Vita version may want to hold out for the inevitable PC port of Re;Birth 3.
Overall, Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 3 V Century is yet another Neptunia game, no more and no less. If you haven’t grown sick of the series yet, or feel like making this the first experience, the solid and speedy RPG mechanics may prove sufficient even if the dull characters fail to hold your interest. Otherwise, this may certainly be the title to introduce series fatigue for even the most hardcore Nep-Nep fans, which hopefully means the upcoming move to PS4 will introduce some much-needed additions to the series beyond another dozen moe blobs masquerading as characters.