Hyperdimension Neptunia Playtest: Record Of A Spoony Console War

By Spencer . February 28, 2011 . 2:47am


Hyperdimension Neptunia begins with one of the most esoteric plots seen in an RPG. Perhaps, I should say RParody? Four buxom goddesses, symbolic representations of current video game consoles, are deadlocked in a console war in Celestia. Three of them agree to kick one goddess out. A moe version of video game company Compile Heart nurses Purple Heart back to health and she wakes up in our world as Neptune.


While the plot is, well, out of this world, Hyperdimension Neptunia plays like a typical role playing game. Neptune and Compa, who cheerfully agrees to join her, immediately hit the dungeons to level up (Neptune actually mentions this). IF or Iffy, a tsundere type who represents developer Idea Factory, rounds out the group for most of the game. By flipping through a text menus players can watch event scenes to move the story along or select an option to talk to people for side quests. Both paths lead to box-like dungeons with one of three goals: kill a boss, fetch a certain number of items (this usually involves hunting a certain monster type) or finding the exit.


Dungeons may be tiny, but more monsters are crammed inside Neptunia’s dungeons than a GameStop shelf with Petz games. Prepare for a ton of battles. Compile Heart developed a combat system quite similar to Trinity Universe – battles are turn based and each attack uses a bit of AP. As long as a character has AP their turn continues and attacks connect into four hit combos. Hyperdimension Neptunia lets players customize their characters by assigning moves in an extensive combo tree. Every single node can be set with attacks you learn by punching 8-bit characters in the beginning of the game and cybermonsters in later areas. While you can spend hours optimizing your combos, I found two sets of attacks that connect into each other are plenty.




Especially, because the main way of dealing elemental damage is by selecting a bullet (wind/fire/etc.) and mashing the X button. Hit an enemy with their weakness repeatedly to send them into guard break status, which gives you a limited time to deal extra damage. You’ll pick up on this strategy fast since you need to utilize it for most bosses. Guard break status occurs in realtime, so if you want to maximize its length you have to fast-forward attack animations. Hyperdimension Neptunia lets players hit a button to do this, but once you get in the habit of pressing it battles become choppy affairs where Neptune starts a flip kick but suddenly teleports to the ground and numbers fly all over the place. Compile Heart licensed a few retro Sega characters like Alex Kidd and Opa-opa (the ship from Fantasy Zone) to summon from rewritable discs. Players can even create their own summons – Mario, Cloud, your pet cat, Black Rock Shooter – and add them to Hyperdimension Neptunia by importing a photo saved on your PlayStation 3 into the game. Watching a picture of Ponyo bounce around on the screen eventually causing an earthquake… that does less damage than one of Iffy’s slaps is amusing, but so inefficient most players will skip the RW system all together.


Keeping tradition with other Idea Factory titles, Hyperdimension Neptunia has an obtuse healing system. You can’t directly heal characters during or after battles. When you win enemies explode into colorful vials, which you need to grab. These are used to restore HP, but you can’t tell Compa (or her friends) when to use them. Players set healing points, which give characters a certain chance they will use a healing ability when they are below 50% HP, for example. Early in Neptunia points are scarce so you only have a chance of keeping a character alive. This frustrating design makes Neptunia more difficult in the beginning than it probably should be. Later in the game you can set a healing skill’s trigger rate to 100% if you throw a ton of points into it. Points can be reassigned mid-battle, so if you’re low on life your best bet is to temporarily move all of your points into a single ability and keep your fingers crossed.




Most missions can be completed in minutes – if you skip searching for hidden chests with IF’s field ability and fast forward all attacks. Hyperdimension Neptunia has on the fly online leaderboards that track of the best times, perhaps adding some replay value for dungeon sprinters. However, the main draw of Hyperdimension Neptunia is not crawling through another cave/field/whatever. It’s the story.


Neptunia’s bizarre premise of an all-girls console war is realized with a hefty dose of boob jokes and video game gags. Most of video game puns are weaved into the dialogue so well you may not even realize them at first and many references will fly over people’s heads since they’re so specific. However, that’s also why the jokes hit a mark when you can catch them. Neptunia’s moments of brilliance are in NIS America’s clever localization which often plays with spelling to create words that sound the same, but are spelled differently. Take the game’s nemesis Arforie as an example. All of the jabs at Mario, Gears of War, and even NIS America’s titles are told with talking character portraits. Similar to Trinity Universe a breathing effect was applied so characters look more lively, but the dozens of hours of cutscenes are presented with (mostly) static characters. There’s actually a bit more content in our version of Hyperdimension Neptunia than the original Japanese release. 5pb’s radio shows, which were released as downloadable content months later, are on disc.




As I played through Hyperdimension Neptunia, I wondered if Compile Heart’s game design was, in a way, a mockery of RPGs. You have flashy summon attacks that drain AP, but do little damage. Dungeons are designed so players can beat them in minutes instead of hours by making Compa use her magic monster calling bell. A good amount of customization options were created, but players will utilize basic elemental bullets for most of the game. As a contrast to modern RPGs, Compile Heart made some interesting design choices. Perhaps, if the localization wasn’t as witty or used a generic fantasy setting players may have given up on Gamindustri.

Read more stories about & & & & on Siliconera.

  • I bought this game on a whim from Nisa website, and while the game is mediocre, its strangely addicting just watching your characters get strong and get upgrades for them and watching nep-nep and compa doing a 2 person comedy act while IF just sighs in disbelief.

    Was playing this earlier, and while I was getting caught up in the game, what felt like a 30 mins ended up being 2 and a half hours -_-

    • Testsubject909

      Wait till you start telling yourself “I’ll just play a little bit” and then say hello to the morning sun as you realize the night just passed you by.

      • Ugg for me it was the opposite with this game. I played for what felt like 2.5 hours of tedious monster killing and it turned out to only be 30 minutes

  • So…..is it worth 60 bucks?

  • Iffy is my favorite, thought upon reaching Lastation and getting owned by Black Heart (the second or third encounter), I put the game down and moved on to Resonance of Fate again (Zephyr is so amazing, with glasses too ^_^ and his VA, so awesomely stunning). I guess I will pick Hyperdimension Neptunia up again once someone has written a guide so I can see how to defeat her or know what level to grind too. I even switched from Normal to Easy and was still defeated by her, I even combo linked into combo link (though I didnt know the flashy special summons did less damage than the characters own specials?)

    Ive yet to figure out if they are referencing something with Avenir…

    • You know that she doesn’t like being called “Iffy.” It’s not her name.

    • Zero_Destiny

      So is this why you posted that question early? lol Bosses can be a pain sometimes though that’s for sure.

    • Velox0blivio

      was she really that hard? Did you leave like 8 AP for defense? because I beat her 3 times all in hard mode without much trouble. I mean sure, it took while with her massive HP, but the whole battle wasn’t very eventful other than my NepNep dying once… which got revive by Compa right after.

  • I’m liking the game, but I do have a couple big complaints.

    1) The main one is healing. I don’t understand why anyone would think it’s a good idea to take the ability to heal out of your hands. The weird auto-healing thing has doomed a couple of my characters at times, even when we had enough of those green items to heal. Very bad design choice.

    2) I feel like the personalities of White Heart and Green Heart are reversed, at least, in the States. White Heart sounds like half the people on X-box Live a lot of the time, so it’s odd to see that she’s supposed to be the representative of the Wii. I know it makes sense from the Japanese perspective of the characters, but from the North American perspective, it did kinda throw me off a little.

    3) The font size. Oh my god, at times, it’s like daggers in my eyes straining to read what is going on in the menus.

    I don’t want anyone to think I don’t love the game, but those three things really got me in a bad way.

    Still, I am grateful for NISA even bothering to bring the game here. When the game was first announced, I didn’t even bother to hope that we’d see it. I also have to say that I have actually laughed out loud many times from the photo summons. Knowing that I can summon a picture of Powers Boothe looking surly or a picture of my guitarist in a stupid Captain America hoodie never gets old. Plus, I have found myself playing the game early in the morning, before work, just to get another optional dungeon in.

    It’s a very good game that could’ve been great.

    • Yeah, these are the problems I have with the game too, especially the font. I have very bad eyes and it sometimes hurts while reading through the menus, hard. :/

      Other than that, I love the game, it’s surprisingly funny and I like some of the ideas they implemented in the game, like the photos, not to mention the references. xd

      • Zero_Destiny

        The font is an effect of not playing on an HD TV isn’t it? I’ve always had SUPER SMALL font for every game I played (Atelier Rororna, Final Fantasy XIII, Trinity Universe to name a few) whenever I play it on a tube tv. When I hock it up to my big screen HD TV everything is A-OK and I can atcually read it. My brother had the same prob with Mass Effect on a non-HD TV for XBOX 360.

        • Nah I always play on big HD TVs, though it’s still a bit small for me, well “sometimes”(I probably described it more serious than it really is, sorry xD)
          I never had this problem with other games.

    • I, 100% agree with you. Like I mention, I’m really enjoying Neptunia but…

      The Healing does annoys me sometimes but it’s meh to me, just when I one out of the either the Purple or Blue bottles. Then I’m like “T_T Crap… No party heals or revivals until I buy some more.”

      GOOD GOD THE FONT!! >A< Even with my glasses on I have hard time reading it the menu, ESPECIALLY in the Combo Skills Menu. What's worse is that my TV color is way too bright for my liking changing it doesn't help me much.

      Also I feel the same way for Green Heart and White Heart. Especially White Heart. And I thought my vocabulary was bad…

      I think the funniest picture I used was Rampaging Mudkip for Compa. XD
      And one of IF's combos has Yosuke and his Persona. One of my attacks is a direct reference to him from the P4 comic from hiimdaisy.

    • Ive not had issues with the font, well maybe the font style but in terms of readability, perhaps you need to sit closer, I guess I sit within 5ft of the 37inch tv and I can read all?

      • Guest

        It’s horrible on a projection TV

      • alundra311

        Of course you can read. You are “teh master of teh American language” after all. You can’t be “teh master” if you can’t read it.

    • Darkrise

      I agree, the healing part was a big issue for me in the beggining of the game, Compa kept getting killed and made her lv up slower than any other memebers. I don’t know whose idea it was but I hope they don’t plan to make it permanent in future games.

    • I reaaallllyyy dont get the complaints about the healing system. I immediately put all my points into the first healing skill and never had a single problem, even taking on the DLC missions way above my level early on.

      I guess it must just be a case of RNG hate or something heh

      • I’m feeling too lazy to look up what RNG means, so could you please explain that to me?

        • Random Number Generator, bad luck basicly :)

  • doubletaco

    “As I played through Hyperdimension Neptunia, I wondered if Compile Heart’s game design was, in a way, a mockery of RPGs.”

    Certainly not intentionally. Compile Heart just makes bad games.

    • I hate this whole weird thing people have about bashing them. I doubt you even own this with that attitude.

      • doubletaco

        Nope. That’s what Gamefly is for.

        • Doesn’t make the game any better, does it?

          • doubletaco

            No, but it makes me feel better that I didn’t spend $60 on it.

          • Hahaha… this is very true.

      • ToSeektheChosen

        I enjoyed this argument.

    • Darkrise

      Not really, they just tend to be ok and it’s mainly due to budget in play here.

    • I can accept if you didnt liked the game, but at least don’t talk about the company llike that in general, i doubt you even played half of their released games, so you dont have any base to say that.

      And even if you have played all the games, that doesn’t give you any right to say they just make bad games, for example, let’s say there is someone that doesn’t likes any Ice Cream flavor, but if that person is smart enough, he/she would not go around saying that all the ice cream in the world is bad, see how dumb it looks?

      • What do you mean? In this case, it would be true to say, if someone felt that all of the ice cream flavors that Häagen-Dazs’s makes are bad, that Häagen-Dazs’s just makes bad ice cream. Similarly, if Compile Heart makes games that doubletaco felt were bad, then it is valid to say that Compile Hearts just makes bad games.

        I do not see the isshu here.

        • Zero_Destiny

          lol What WildArms is saying is that the prob is that you shouldn’t judge a company as complete trash just because of one or two bad games. And likewise while you may not like a game and are perfectly welcome to criticize it and the company making blanket statements and just insulting the company with no real criticism to back you up isn’t really a cool thing to do. Plus while you may not like something someone else may totally love it. So it’s best to to be polite (you can criticize but just don’t be an @ss and have nothing to back you up).

          • I still do not see what is wrong with it. If Ive played say, two NIS games of the same type, Disgaea and Phantom Brave essentially, and assuming I felt that they were bad games, then that is proof enough for me to say that, based on my experiences that I think they make bad games, this further compounded by the fact that they make other games featuring essentially the same gameplay. I would think that playing the game provides enough of a reason to make the claim, and one is supporting it inherently by having played the games, and can extrapolate based on reading and watching videos of gameplay of the companies other games.

            I do not see why people have to defend a company when they see a person make a claim about them, unless people are receiving compensation for being shining knights of the order of the court squad pristine crystal round table of Compile Heart.

          • Zero_Destiny

            lol You inadvertently proved me right with that comment. You wrote all your criticisms from your point of view (no big blanket statements) and told me what you didn’t like (the gameplay). The person we were upset about just said the game was a mockery and never bothered to explain anything. Don’t worry Sawada you’re just thinking too much. Calm down and enjoy your new game :D

          • But doubletaco did say that, he stated that he didnt feel its worth 60$…

          • Zero_Destiny

            That’s not really a complaint. That’s half of one. Sounds more like whining to me, anyways. But if you truly feel it’s not worth $60 than explain and don’t call a company trash just because you feel they charged a budget title for too much. lol Don’t worry I’m not trying to dis anyone or anything and I’ve only seen doubletaco on a couple post so I don’t even know anything about him/her to even want to dis’em. Let’s just agree to disagree (and agree to not go around and insult companies) and call it a day. :D Criticisms fine but insults aren’t great. :)

          • cj_iwakura

            One or two? Idea Factory has never made a good game.

        • Ok, that was just an example, dont go detailing it, but well, i will put it more simple for you, and using your weird argument, another example, Let’s say…

          You dont like Haagen dazs cookie n’ cream ice cream flavor , would you then go around saying all the ice cream Haagen Dazs’s ice cream sucks? A person that loves Haagen Dazs ice cream would punch you in the face if you tell me all Hagen Dazs ice cream is bad only because you didnt liked 1 or 2 flavors of it.

          So yeah, i would had prefered that he stated that he didnt liked Neptunia because of this or that, or just that he didnt liked it, he doesn’t have to go and say all Compile Hearts games are bad, see?

          If you dont get it with this then… i have no more comments -.-‘

          Is more a matter of not being an @ss

          • WildArms, you’re just going to get a migraine trying to explain logic to him.

          • Lol, if he doesn’t get it with that last pharagraph i said, im really gonna have a strong headache for the rest of the day

          • Why does it matter when one says all of their ice cream, in their opinion is bad. There are so many other brands of ice cream, similarly, there are so many other games made by companies not named Compile heart.

          • …?

            wtf you talking about… You completely lost the point of everything -.-

          • @WildArms – told ya. lol

          • alundra311


            Actually, he completely lost the point of anything ever since… Well, ever since.

        • Hey, Master of English, you spelled “issue” wrong. Normally, I wouldn’t say anything, but you have had 19 years to evolve your skills and all.

      • badmoogle

        It’s just one person’s opinion and it doesn’t really matter since he’s not saying why he believes so.
        It’s the same as saying “CH just makes good games.”Without giving further explanation it doesn’t really matter whether he thinks good or bad about them.

  • I’m really enjoying HyperDimesion Neptunia. I actually caught a few Video Game references.
    Street Fighter ( a reference to Chun-Li and the sumo Wrestler, I forgets his name.)
    Resident Evil
    Final Fantasy 7 and 10 (by calling it GG7 and 10 and one of characters was Zach Unfair XD)
    Even of the quests I went on was a reference to Blue Dragon!
    Even one Neptune’s lines when beginning a battle is a reference to Sailor Moon.
    I lol’ed.
    I think a found others, probably, but it most likely went over my head.

    Also I realized that I don’t think you’re supposed to go to Lastation first. It could just me. Because like Sawada, I got owned by Black Heart by either the second or Third encounter, not sure. I DID beat her though. Took me three times at least from I remember.

    @Tsunayoshi Sawada
    What Levels is your party at? If you’re having trouble defeating Black Heart. Try a dungeon(s) or go a different Landmass. I suggest Lowee because most of dungeons, both for the story and optional ones were pretty low-level for me for my current level.. Or Leanbox. There’s no penalty for going to different Landmass when you’re in the middle of another.
    Also How far are you within the story of Lastation? Just wondering.

    • The sumo is E. Honda.

    • They are all at least 12-13.

    • During the beginning of the game, Neptune mentions about a huge slash in the ground and some epic battle of Light and dark.

      I think she was talking about Grandia II for that reference.

      • Close. Profound Darkness and the Great Light from Phantasy Star.

        • Man, somewhat off topic, that reminds me of how bummed out I was that the PS2 remake of Phantasy Star IV never got made, simply because I love the 16-bit version of the Profound Darkness’ battle theme and I so wanted to hear an arranged version. It would’ve made the remake entirely worth it just to hear that song.

          Okay, back to Neptunia.

  • So… I’m still on the fence over this game.. Crap I gotta learn to buy games for other than the boobs factor.. >_>

    • Well the game is not “THAT” good to rush out and buy immediately, to be honest. Fun and such if you have no games on your backlog, and need an RPG to tide you over until Dragon Age 2, Dungeon Siege, or Disgaea 4.

      There are some moments where its boring and has kind of carried me off to doze off, lol.

      • I have a huge backlog so I’ll probably get it when it gets cheaper.

      • neo_firenze

        “if you have no games on your backlog, and need an RPG to tide you over until Dragon Age 2, Dungeon Siege, or Disgaea 4.”

        I don’t necessarily disagree with the idea that Neptunia is less of a major priority and more of a game biding your time until other games that are a bigger deal, but those examples aren’t the best. DA2 and Dungeon Siege 3 are completely different style, real time western action RPGs versus a turn based traditional JRPG. Disgaea 4 has similar graphical style and goofy humor, but even that is still quite different in comparing a heavily gameplay/grinding focused SRPG to a turn based game that’s highly narrative-focused.

        I’m not disagreeing that the same players might like all of those games (I’m personally interested in all of them), but as far as the similarity between Dragon Age 2 and Neptunia, you might as well be comparing to Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

        I’d maybe say this is the appetizer for the more appealing Ar Tonelico 3 from NISA, and is something to play if you’re not already busy with Radiant Historia (which is frankly a better turn based RPG).

        • I know I have no urge whatsoever to play Dungeon Siege III. Everything I’m seeing about it just screams “generic WJRPG.”

    • There are seriously other reasons for buying a game besides awesome boobs?? Damn someone has to explain them to me! o_o

      • Graphics and the presentation through sound and drama…

        • Ren

          I like when your annyoing side has a point. Score fore you.

  • Darkrise

    Playing through the game now and I’d say that it’s pretty fun, I,ve enjoyed all the jokes and references so far and the gameplay isn’t bad, certainly better than Trinity Universe but I can’t help but feel a hint of laziness; there were a few monsters present from trinity universe ie: Gyukki and Fenrir… Not that I mind THAT much but still they could’ve been more original and I saw that they could’ve made this game into so much more. NPC’s in dark silhouettes kind of bothered me since I usually like to see npc’s in rpg games. Other than that, It’s a good game and I have no regrets spending my money for this.

    • I kind of like that they included previous monsters. That’s what this game is, sort of a meshing of the different game companies. There were the puni’s (though named something different), they had some enemies from Record of Agarest War, and yes Trinity Universe. Overall I’m very happy with this game.

  • Hopefully this will reach my house this week

  • I think Pixelvader is my favorite enemy design and name thus far, lol.

  • maxchain

    Thanks for the heads up, I didn’t think I’d actually want to use Compa’s ability in dungeons.

  • HarryHodd

    I need to finish Trinity Souls of Zill so I can start this one. I love the concept.

  • IDK about other players but this game was easy! But i also have some complaint about the game, like skipping all the battle animation so you can do more dmg to a monster that has his guard broken or just skipping so you can get an S rank. Skipping every single attack animation made the game felt boring. But that didnt stop me from enjoying the story although ima wait and watch a game carefully from idea factory from now on! Still hoping to finish CrossEdge and Record of Agarest one of these days.

  • Happy Gamer

    I was super interested in this game and it’s discouraging me from all the stuff i read about it. Normally I would get this and play it no matter what but I have been on a strict budget on gaming and anything leisurely period as of late for personal reasons so i don’t buy games unless I know for sure I will “enjoy” it. A flaw in game mechanics is one thing as long as I enjoy the game so I am still curious about this game. Heck I enjoyed the BOUNCER on ps2 played that game over and over (u could say since there were no games in beg of ps2 release but still).

    It’s a matter of perspective but how about enjoyment? anyone just had fun with this game despite it’s short comings?

    • There are a bunch of people that enjoy this game while it has it’s shortcomings including me. let me put it in perspective a little bit.

      I bought Kz3 beat the game on hard and played online multiplayer, and ranked up to about the halfway point like lvl 23ish in 3 days. Haven’t touched since.

      I’m currently playing this one and I’m enjoying it about the same as Kz3 but, since it is an rpg, I’m still playing this as they take much longer to complete and do sidequests and whatnot.

      All in all it’s just down to your preference and what you can enjoy like you said. I’m even tempted to get the dlc for the extra characters when they release on the psnetwork, and I never buy dlc’s for any of my games.

    • If you could deal with the Bouncer, you can deal with this. It’s a very fun game. It’s just got a few flaws.

  • Guest

    I guess by the three of them “kicking Neptune out” = the dead of Sega consoles.

  • PrinceHeir

    i haven’t bought it yet since i have tons of backlog games.

    will buy this along with the Alteir games and Ar Tonelico in the future :P

  • I found the game to be extremely boring. The battle system is slow paced, the dunguens are bland and repetitive, and healing mechanic is poorly done.

    Honetly, the sometimes funny dialouge is all this game has going. And even that wears thin after about 3 hours. I’m glad i rented it from gamefly.

    I don’t know whether i’m more shocked that they released this unpolished game at full price or the fact that people actually bought it at full price. >_<

Video game stories from other sites on the web. These links leave Siliconera.

Siliconera Tests
Siliconera Videos