Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's back to Gameindustri in MashButtons' latest review

Our friends over at NIS America provided us with the retail version of Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2, the sequel to last year's Hyperdimension Neptunia out now. In mk2, fans will be taken back once again to Gameindustri, but now the four CPU's have been captured by the Criminal of the Free World, Arfoire, and it is up to you to control the CPU's younger sisters to come to the rescue. Nepgear, the younger sister of Neptune is supported by If and Compa, now the lovely ladies will set out to regain prosperity in the amusingly named land of Gameindusti. Of course, you will run into new and old friends along the way in this hilarious and off the wall JRPG, so let’s see how this holds up to its predecessor. 

JRPG fans have a lot to rejoice about lately, with the surprising success of Final Fantasy XIII-2 and now another follow up with mk2, this is by far the definition of JRPG as it is something you want to play when no one is watching. Why do these games make me feel like a creep when playing and the bigger question is why do I keep coming back for more? One reason could be the scantily clad CPU’s, but good luck getting me to admit to it. I will say that the well written story is the biggest reason for me to play, mainly because it is based on real world issues with the game industry as a whole and being someone in the know, it does provide enjoyment seeing issues arise in satirical humor. The other reason I fell in love with this sequel would be for the gameplay and character progression, as NIS America seemed to have taken notes on issues from the first title and took them to heart and it is a lot more entertaining, being deeply story driven, with easier menu and combat interfaces, and a classic anime feel in HD graphics. Random battles are gone, okay calm yourselves,  you can now see where the familiar looking baddies are and preemptively attack or make your way to the save point before engaging, depending on your confidence of your lackies’ abilities.
My only issue with mk2 would easily be navigation through the maps and dungeons. When on the world map, you are able to see new places to traverse, but as more locations become available, it is hard to determine which destination to go to for accepted guild missions. The issue I had with the dungeon maps was the lack of destination indicators, mainly due to battle encounters. Once you complete a battle you are placed back in the dungeon trying to figure out which way you were headed before the skirmish, often times back tracking just to have to turn around and wander back to make sure the area is free of enemy threats. Lastly, and this may be a personal issue, but I found the “shares” aspect to the locations on the world map a bit confusing. Not sure if others share the same confusion but I was still able to play through, complete missions, and progress through the story without a firm grasp on the new feature.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised with how much better this played in comparison to last year’s title. It didn’t take me long to get into the story, which is great, filled with satire and real game world issues. While the story got me hooked, the battle system had me coming back for more and constantly changing my party’s equipment and abilities. I do recognize that this is a very niche genre here in the west, but also a gem to fans of series and the genre, as this is a “Not another JRPG” equivalent to JRPG’s we have grown up with played over the previous generations of both handheld and console gaming. Thanks NIS America for the sequel I didn’t know that I needed. 

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