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Psychotic Reviews: Hyperdimension Neptunia

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Hyperdimension Neptunia is a turn based RPG developed by Idea Factory, Compile Heart to be specific. It was published by all kinds of different companies depending on where you live, Compile Heart in Japan, NIS America in North America, and Tecmo Koei for the Europeans. It has spawned sequels and a plethora of extra media in Japan. It was remade for the Vita with the epithet Re;Birth 1. Once again the Japanese start messing around with our punctuation and grammar.

The idea behind the game sounds like heaven for long time fans of video games. Imagine the major manufacturers personified as goddesses, and you get to play as one! You play as Neptune, the personification of Sega, with the name pulled from the Sega Neptune prototype of the combined Genesis and 32X. Neptune love sleeping and food, almost too much. The major supporting characters include personifications of the developers and publishers involved in the game. Compa for Compile Heart, IF for Idea Factory, Nisa for Nippon Ichi, and Gust for GUST! The Goddesses can also transform, with Neptune growing well over a foot in height and a couple letters in cup size. She’s affectionately referred to as “Magical Boob Girl” by IF.

In this world the Console Wars are real battles between the Goddesses as they vie for domination of the world of Gamindustri and their own realm of Celestia. Some events transpire in Celestia that lead to the Goddesses descending to their respective planes, except Neptune who ends up lost. She lands face first and suffers from amnesia after that. There is a lot of hidden comparisons and criticisms of Sega and the other hardware manufacturers scattered throughout the story, this being the first major one. There are events scattered throughout the planes, with Planeptune including one where a game obsessed kid criticizes a game company’s history, including releasing a console the same day they announce it. That sounds familiar. The same kid also screams at an executive for the company, telling him the company sucks, then justifying it as a sort of encouragement for the company to improve. For such a light hearted game there are many quips and jokes that feel like they’re roughly scratching at sensitive scar tissue.

In the end, this is not Segagaga. There is no atmosphere of despair and failure surrounding a group of executives and creators. It is upbeat in no small part thanks to Neptune’s natural energy, eagerness, and brash personality. The main characters are unique in their own way, and the supporting characters are quite helpful, Gust’s discount ability saves a lot of credits! Compa is a rather airheaded nursing student who ends up being pulled along with Neptune into a grand, epic adventure after her school is closed due to monsters. Her grandfather is also hilarious! IF is the more rational and level headed group member, helping to balance out Neptune and Compa’s tendency to run head first into dangerous dungeons without preparing themselves.

While the story and characterization is quite strong the rest of the game is lackluster. The battle system is quite weak, devolving into monotonous combos that you’ll end up skipping to get S ranks in the dungeons. Repeatable dungeons are all about finishing them quickly to get higher ranks, then you get more reward money at the end. Skipping the attack animations makes this actually attainable. So you’ll spend most of combat mashing a few face buttons with L2 mashing in between them. This gets old quickly and wears the fingers down. There is usually a grinding dungeon thrown in somewhere, where some dungeons are harder, take longer, and offer worse rewards this grinding dungeon is relatively easy with some great rewards and fast experience. One of the last dungeons I found of this kind got me from level 48-65 in about an hour. I was entirely overpowered after that dungeon.

Items are also awkward. Instead of buying the items you want to use and navigating a menu the party gathers up four ingredients, then mixes them based on whatever item skills you equip them with. Its not a simple equip either, but how many percentage points you allot to that specific ability. I pretty much kept the cheap, low level healing abilities up at the maximum percentage since the healing skills are also percentage based. The one skill I found myself micromanaging was Neptune’s Protein skill. This lets Neptune start the battle with Lunatic, an attack power buff. Bosses die fast with that on, but its expensive to use for every battle.

I do not believe that Japanese developers have properly grasped the concept of DLC yet, moreso when this game’s DLC was releasing. Neptunia has some DLC, including free dungeons. Some of these dungeons are extemely high level, and you’ll have to buy multiple level cap increasing DLCs to make use of most of these free dungeons, which serve to grind out a hundred or so levels. As monotonous as the main game is I know I would never have the patience for that kind of post game grinding. Some extra characters are also unlocked in combat through purchasable DLC, like Nisa and Gust. There are also the obligatory costume and gear packs to buy as well. Given the price of a used copy of the game now you’ll spend over twice as much extra scratch for DLC that will likely never be touched, so I would not even bother supporting this awkward and contradictory style of content addition.

This first game in the series really should only be played to see the story, and as such you might as well play it on the easiest difficulty. You won’t be missing much for this, and will probably save a couple fingers some fatigue and soreness in the process. This game took me the longest to play out of anything I’ve reviewed so far. I started the game I just beat almost three years ago, but found myself bored and moving onto other things only to pick it up for a day or two months later. I finally powered through the rest of the game to see the rest of the story. The monotony may drive you insane and if you’re looking for an RPG with deeper and more engaging mechanics then it is best to look elsewhere in the PS3 and Vita’s library.

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Psychotic Reviews: Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed

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Every so often there comes a game with such an absurd premise that you just can’t help but try it out. Akiba’s Trip is one such game. It was developed by Acquire and published by XSEED in North America, releasing in August 2014 for PS3 and Vita, and November 25 for PS4. This game’s setting is the otaku and gaming Mecca of Akihabara. It also involves sun fearing vampires with combat that revolves around stripping said basement dwelling otaku vampires down to their skivvies. Otaku in general burn to a crisp from slight sun exposure after all! The main character is actually turned into one of these vampires in the introduction, and is saved by a pretty young girl with a kiss.

As the main character you are a hardcore otaku, and are apparently the leading authority on figurines in your circle of friends. The game has plenty of items to collect, and keeps any you’ve ever found in a database. There are also titles, character profiles, and fliers for the businesses of Akiba to collect. Later in the game you can start fusing items to make them stronger, and since you can restart the game with cleared data over and over again these items can get extremely powerful. Getting stripped clothes off of your enemies levels up your stripping abilities, which keeps the clothes from getting ripped so you can collect them and put them on your main character (or the lasses).


Read the fine print.

The combat system is in real time. Clothing is armor for all the characters in the game. As you beat up on each other the clothes take damage, once they’ve taken enough damage they can be ripped off or you can go through a button mashing event to weaken them enough to rip them off. Most of the time people will just be wearing a shirt and pants, maybe a skirt on the girls. An item like a hat or headdress can be equipped on the head to give some added durability. There’s nothing like establishing dominance by ripping another man’s jeans off and leaving him in his underwear, with nothing but an anime poster or CRT monitor to retaliate with.

That’s right, the weapons range from completely ridiculous to actual weapons. You can equip glowsticks that are wielded in the same way that Wolverine uses his adamantium claws, you can swing around laptops, keyboards, monitors, posters, bus stop signs, handbags, batons, night sticks, microwave ovens, almost any random object you can imagine can be used as a weapon. The weapon you have equipped changes your normal attack animations. You’ll be fighting many large groups of enemies, but they seem to have a hard time maneuvering quickly around obstacles. Use the terrain to your advantage to fix your clothes when its needed. Or use those obstacles to funnel in enemies one at a time until the rest can catch up, then move again.


Being wrong never felt oh so right.

As the player you can chain together your stripping if there are multiple items on opponents weak enough to rip off their bodies. This really streamlines battles overall, but the animations are always the same, so you’ll end up seeing these stripping animations dozens of times. There are some accessories that can change the animations, but you’ll end up seeing those for dozens of times as well. At least there is some variation. There are special attacks that can be used with the partner you are traveling with. Each girl has her own animation, but the accessories do not change this animation, so its always static. This attack does give the added bonus of stunning nearby enemies, so it is best used against groups and to get cheap damage on bosses.

Akiba’s Trip does have its share of problems though. The combat system can get jerky. Even outside of combat your character can jerk around while running in a straight line. Loading times are relatively quick, but they just load the area for you to explore at first. The people in the area load in after you’re able to run around. This is not the biggest problem normally, but when you’re looking for an NPC for a side mission, or group of enemies for said mission this style of loading can get annoying. They can be right next to where you spawn in, but you won’t be able to immediately see them and might run around the rest of the screen looking for them. I would not have minded an extra few seconds of loading if it meant that NPCs would be already loaded into the area.


Collect all the panties!

There are also issues with the combat system. Each attack button serves as a high, mid, and low attack. If you want to attack somebody’s shirt you hit O for a mid attack for example. The problem is that tapping it once can lead to about three different possibilities. When you need short, quick attacks you’ll get the long winded attack animation that almost never hits. Then you’ll get smacked upside the head by an enemy to the side of you before you’ll get a chance to set up your defense for a counter. When you need that long winded attack as a finisher you’ll get a flubbed quick attack. Holding the attack button down will lead to the stripping animation, or button mashing QTE depending on damage to the targeted cloth. If there is little damage then you’ll be denied the QTE! I feel like the shoulder buttons could have been used to better effect in combat, letting you get easier control over exactly what attack you perform. This opinion may be my recent experience with Tales of Xillia, which has amazingly smooth combat and tight controls in comparison.

Akiba’s Trip is a good game overall, even if it is rough around the edges. The setting is cool and filled with random, wandering vampires to take down, the trick is finding them. The characters are well written and there are branching story paths to travel down. The path you take depends on which girl you wish to romance. This game would be much better if it gave you the option of romancing the best girl in the game, Finnish exchange student cosplayer maid Kati Raikkonen! I actually did enjoy the English voice acting. None of the characters were overbearing or grating over the course of the game, and each voice felt like it fit the character well. English dubs are easier to follow when you’re hammered, so you can refrain from the superior Japanese dub comments. I have not played the PS4 release but it does have some extra features and content not in the first wave of releases.

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