Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed (PS Vita) Review

By André Eriksson 16.09.2015

Review for Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed on PS Vita

The Hyperdimension Neptunia girls have amassed a great fanbase filled with otakus who can't wait to see what comedic adventures the girls (who are blatantly based off video game consoles) will stumble into in the magical world of Gamindustry. It is very obvious that this game has become IF and Compile Heart's flagship franchise, and that whatever they try to do with it, it will sell. Sort of like their own Mario or Pokémon, though not quite on the same scale. However, one risk with a money cow like that is that eventually, spinoffs will be released to try to widen the brand. At times very great games come about, like Mario Kart, while other times it ends up being a regrettable move such as Mario is Missing. What kind of spin-off is Action Unleashed? Read on for the answer!

The Hyperdimension Neptunia girls are back in action, this time quite literally. The typical Hyperdimension Neptunia experience is guaranteed when it comes to story buildup, comedy, and fanservice. However, a fourth aspect is needed for a great Action title, namely great gameplay.

The comedy has everything one might expect from Compile Heart, and anyone who has played any of their recent titles knows exactly what is going to be delivered: fanservice, laughter, and a whimsical setting which provide a bright and lively personality. At the start, things have been too quiet in Gamindustry as of late, something that worries the journalists, which spurs them to force up a story about the CPU girls Neptune (an unreleased future SEGA console), Noire (PS3), Blanc (Wii), and Vert (Xbox 360), and also their little sisters, the CPU candidates Nepgear (unreleased SEGA handheld), Uni (PS Vita), and Rom & Ram (3DS). With that, the wacky adventure with everyone's favorite console squad is once again on.

Characterisation is another aspect Compile Heart deliver a great experience on. The personalities of the girls are on the surface bubbly and happy, but they all have an arsenal of deep personality traits and complexes that makes them whole as characters, that has helped them evolve throughout the series, and even more admirably, mirrors the consoles/companies in real life. The most obvious of these are Vert's lack of little sisters (handheld console) and her complexities over that fact, and Blanc's extremely loveful caring for her little sisters (Nintendo's "appeal" to children) and her lack of "womanly features" and her rage due to that (reflecting the lack of horsepower in Nintendo's consoles). The way Compile Heart has taken real life facets of the consoles and successfully recreated them into human issues is beautiful and shows of clever and loving satire.

It is obvious that practice has made perfect in Compile Hearts' satirical skills and in the RPG mechanics; they show true mastery of these crafts in this game, however, they're less successful entering new waters: action games. The action aspects of Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed are severely lacking. The core problem comes down to balancing rather than unskillful programming or inexperience. Enemy power and movements compared to the tricks the CPUs have in their arsenal makes the battles one-sided and boring.

Screenshot for Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed on PS Vita

The balancing issues seem to be due to the fact that the hack-and-slash portions of the game seem to be based upon Dynasty Warrior-esque combat, which is a highly problematic approach for a pure hack-and-slash action title, as the enemies in those games in themselves are not known to pose any real threat and the bosses are dependent on strategy. Action Unleashed lacks these lose conditions, and therefore the lacklustre and easy-to-kill enemies become a joke to fight against. Even with the Level One Belt power down on, the only difficulty during combat is not falling asleep.

Against this lineup of poor excuses for enemies, the girls have access to too many invincibility screens, infinite combos that are instant wins against most bosses, too-generous healing items, and later on even cheat codes that make them literally invincible. The only thing the aforementioned Level One Belt does is to make sure the game takes far longer than needed to beat, as most of the enemies rarely (if ever) attack, and if they do, the player is likely in one of the too-many invincibility screens during it. The balancing is broken to the player's advantage to that degree that it stops being fun. While Compile Heart is known to throw out mountains of enemies on the player, it's not fun if that mountain is doing nothing at all and poses no real threat. Nothing is dangerous, even when it can kill the CPUs in one hit, as it will never get any hits in.

It is sad to see this horrible balancing issue as Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is good in almost every other aspect, but this one is lacking to a degree that makes the game feel horrible and without any redeemable quality to anyone except pure Hyperdimension fans. This is unfrotunate as the game is ambitious, even having an all-star cast of great voice actresses, and overall has the shell of a great game. It's just not going to be fun long enough to please anyone except fans.

Screenshot for Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

For loyal fans of the franchise Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed offers a reunion with the girls once more, and that alone will be worth the price tag. However, the gameplay is lacking and broken to the point of being a straight-out unpleasant experience, and the way combat is drawn out later on makes this a game most non-fans will stop playing before even starting to grasp what's going on in Gamindustry. If looking to dip the toes into the Hyperdimension Neptunia universe this is a horrible starting point, worth revisiting only if the company of the CPU girls is pleasant and the typical Compile Heart satire enjoyable enough to justify playing through a broken game. Compile Heart and IF's deep love for the video game industry at large is present, but Action Unleashed is approachable only for the satirical style of Compile Heart's stories.

Developer

Tamsoft

Publisher

Idea Factory

Genre

Brawler

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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