I have covered a great many JRPG’s over the years, especially from NIS, and at first glance, Hyperdimension Neptuina Victory looks like the same old retread, and in many ways it is. The audience here is well established, but there are a great many attempts to court a more mainstream audience and prove that there are still surprises to be found in the plots of the genre. And while I give points for effort, there are just too many moments where it stumbles to make the parts that shine work.
In my (semi) professional opinion, we do not see enough self-aware and self-referential game in the industry. Usually that task is handled by indie games, so it was refreshing to see a large scale JRPG taking shots at the big three consoles and our decades long penchant for fighting over the superior system. That concept certainly leads to a few laughs, but many more eye rolling moments. Of course, how often are stories to focus of JRPG’s? It’s all about the questing and grinding, right? No. Not at all. And that is the biggest fumble there.
Questing in Victory made me feel like a dog in obedience school, constantly asking me to fetch and then giving me a poorly baked cookie as a reward. Dungeons are a stale affair, found through menus, yes menus, and offering simple geometric shapes to explore, which is unfair since I did everything possible to forget high school geometry. The aforementioned menus used for navigation are painfully outdated. There is simply no reason to have text menus as the world as opposed to actual exploration.
Combat is a bright spot, depending on what you look for in a combat system. It is predictably turn based, and at times a bit plodding, but if you love turn based systems like I do, then you will be satisfied. Characters also have the ability to transform into supped up versions of themselves, adding a bit of diversity to battles. While not redefining by any means, I found myself delving into combat with aplomb more often than not.
Victory seems to think that the story here is more important than the actual game portion. The fetch quests, dungeons that make Dragon Age II seems innovative and menus that would be outdated on the PSP all serve to move you to the next Lolita inspired character to deliver more faltering dialogue that, while exceptionally localized to include the double entendres, tends to lean more into insulting and sexist as opposed to actually clever. The effort is appreciated, but I still felt dirty more often than not listening to the characters talk.
What Victory is missing is balance. Previous games in the series have focused too much on the game play without giving anything but cursory notice to the story, and here there is too much attention to the lackluster story and not enough into the play portion. I was excited to see the shift in story focus, which is desperately needed, but not at the expense of what the series has done well before. Maybe next time around.
- Occasionally fun combat
- Great mockery of the console industry
- Insulting story, more often than not
- Fetish models are the stars
- Boring and archaic dungeons and menus
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