A few years ago, NISA released Hyperdimension Neptunia for the PS3. As with many of NISA's games, it had a select niche of dedicated players but the story is what people stayed for. It was/is unique in the gaming world. This was long before the anime and other copycat animes were released. The combat was incredibly in depth and just as unique as the story. The game gained two sequels and a spin-off for the Vita. It has been roughly three years since HDN was released on the PS4 and the sequels have changed the combat and gameflow quite a bit. Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 is a PS Vita remake of the original game.
The world is known as Gamindustri (pronounced Game Industry) with four continents Planeptune, Lowee, Leanbox and Lastation. Each region represents a console or gaming company, as do their protective goddesses. Neptune (Sega and the SegaNeptune), Green Heart (Microsoft/Xbox 360), Black Heart (Sony/PS3) and White Heart (Nintendo/Wii) are the goddesses of the regions. In a battle Black Heart, Green Heart, and White Heart came to the conclusion that Neptune should be exiled. As she gets exiled she is rescued by Compa (represents one of the developers Compile Heart) and they discover that Neptune has gotten amnesia. Neptune then meets (sort of) Histoire and she gives Neptune the task of defeating the goddess Arfoire (represents the R4, a device used mainly for pirating Nintendo DS games). The story contains many gamer in-jokes and easter eggs, as with acknowledging the actions of other characters being typical tropes you find in gaming stories.
The story is rather good but be warned, there are several fan service moments so be prepared for awkward female on female interactions.
The combat from the original game has been altered to fit the current one detailed in HDN Victory. The character has a set area they can run in and three types of attacks to use in conjunction with each other. The more attacks you use, the more the EXE gauge rises. When you have a full gauge, the EXE abilities can be used. Some can be done with just one character, others can be used if you have certain partners equipped. I like this system, but I still think the original game had a better combat flow.
Items can be bought in shops but most of them require a “Plan”. This is a new addition to the game and it requires you to kill enemies to obtain items, then you use the items to make the plan, then you get to buy the plan in the shop. Everything from healing items, to weapons can be created if you have the sufficient materials. Finding the materials however, can be quite the task. The tougher enemies to fight do not drop the items you need and it can be frustrating at certain points in the game.
When you combine the need for items to complete quests for money and items for new equipment/plans it because a massive grind that I wish was slightly faster. It really halts the game when you destroy one boss with ease, but the next one kills your party in two turns. Expect to grind a lot in this game. There is a relationship system in place like in the last two HDN games and they enable you to use specific skills and gain certain buffs (like enhanced exp gain) so finding that perfect team can be quite entertaining.
The game certainly looks nice on the Vita but the controls can be a bit tough, mainly in the movement. By using the D-Pad you can tweak your X Axis but not your Z Axis and finding that certain sweet spot with characters like MAGES can be tough and annoying.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 is a nice remake but it made me miss the old combat system. The pacing is also sporadic because it can flow smoothly but come to a screeching halt requiring you to grind for 3 hours. That is the trial of playing JRPGs though and I know plenty of people will find enjoyment in that. It is well worth playing this version of the game because the story has changed a bit to accommodate new characters so the experience still feels very new.
I give Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 a 7.5/10. It has that replay value, but the pacing is really hard to ignore. You can get the game on PSN or at your local game store now.