By Jenni . May 16, 2014 . 2:01pm
I’m a strong supporter of the Idolm@ster series. I’ve longed for the day when I can play a title like this, in English, and without the hassle of importing. So naturally, Hyperdimension Neptunia PP seemed like a dream come true. A comedic, Idolmaster-style life sim—on my Vita so it could go anywhere—and possibly a harbinger of things to come. Unfortunately, there’s a problem.
No, it isn’t the problem that most people have been discussing when it comes to Hyperdimension Neptunia PP. This isn’t about the game only having 5 songs. This is about the game not letting me lose. As far as I can see, I’m doomed to succeed.
In Hyperdimension Neptunia PP, you’re… you. You live in the real world, and are getting ready for a break filled with games. Except, that doesn’t happen. Gamindustri is threatened by a new menace—idols. I know, it’s terrifying. A group called MOB48, filled with 48 monsters who have banded together, have taken everyone’s attention and each region’s shares. Which means Neptune, Noire, Blanc, and Vert, the goddesses of Planeptune, Lastation, Lowee, and Leanbox are in a bind. They need a legendary producer.
With what was left of their power, the quartet summoned… you. And you are a legendary producer… sort of. You’re really amazing when it comes to Idolm@ster style games! Besides, it’s not like you get a choice. You’re here, and you already chose which goddess you’ll manage when the game began, so it isn’t as though going back is an option.
All you can do is power through. You have 180 days to help your chosen goddess become a famous idol. That means overpowering MOB48 in her region to take back her shares and power, then gaining fame in at least one other region so she’s the #1 ranked idol in all of Gamindustri.
Now, my problem is, you don’t need 180 days. I don’t know if I somehow secretly am a genius producer due to my years of Idolm@ster, but my first playthrough with Neptune ended before 100 days were up. The second playthrough with Neptune, where I went to see what a group atmosphere would be like, ended before I hit 70. Unless you’re purposely messing up in an attempt to get a “bad” ending, skilling every concert and promotional event, it’s impossible to fail. The only way you’ll ever need more than 100 days is if you go for the “true” ending, because those involve a lot of Refresh, Vacation and Romantic events.
The problem is, it’s too easy to ensure the idols succeed. Yes, each one does have her own starting stats that “should” change their approach, but its too easy to make up for them. Neptune’s stupid. (Her knowledge stat is lowest.) However, after making her Practice twice, it was the same as her other stats. When I then had her learn via future Studying or Practicing, it increased at a rate on par with Vocals, Rhythm, Expression, and Knowledge. Which is disappointing, because it doesn’t mean you have to adjust your strategy for each character.
In terms of gameplay, Hyperdimension Neptunia PP is quite similar to Idolm@ster. You decide what your goddess does each day. Most often, this means determining if she Works to build a fanbase or takes Lessons to build stats. Every once in a while, Relax has to be picked to reduce stress, build affection with her, or make friends with the other goddess so you could form a duet or trio. It’s also possible to put on a Concert if the goddess’ Guts are high enough. Not to mention, you may need to Move once or twice to expand her sphere of influence.
Often, during the day or after events, a prompt may come up where you get to provide one of two or three answers to a question. While your responses to some questions will help determine whether or not you end up on the road to Neptune, Noire, Blanc, or Vert’s true end, there really isn’t any penalty for bad answers. You’ll always get some kind of stat reward. Which again, emphasizes just how easy Hyperdimension Neptunia PP is.
Your hand is even held during concerts. As producer, you control the camera angles and stage effects. The goal is to hit certain cues to boost the “score” and get the audience hyped up. You’re getting audio cues as to when effects or perhaps a camera swap should be triggered. It really isn’t too difficult to get a “Great” score on a song, making it easy to earn more fans from every performance.
And yes, there are only five songs. Your goddess can only transform into her CPU form if she’s performing her image song solo, which boosts her score and makes the fans go wild. However, it isn’t essential to do really well in a song. As for the music itself, it’s rather catchy. I enjoyed the tunes, which are in Japanese, and they’re appropriately poppy. I also didn’t mind the lack of selection. The time you’re managing the characters can be quite short, so even if you do a different song for each concert, you probably will only go through each one only once.
There’s one final thing that cements my point that Hyperdimension Neptunia PP is just too easy. After winning, a Clear save can be made. If you start a new game from that file, almost everything carries over. The only things that don’t are events and songs. Any goddesses you’ve coached will maintain their stats and affection ratings. You’ll have all the stage effects you’ve earned thus far, as well as all costumes and accessories. Even affection from the CPU candidates will remain unchanged. By the end of my second Neptune playthrough, I had all of her stats and trust level S-ranked, affection maxed for her and Noire, and was in a prime position to shoot for her “True” ending the next time I produce her.
Then, there are Hyperdimension Neptunia PP‘s other features. There’s an unlimited concert mode, where you can stage a concert. It’s just like the concerts in the Producer Mode, only everything is available and there are even some times that can only be used there. There’s also a Viewer, where you can look and touch unlocked characters.
I’m glad Hyperdimension Neptunia PP is here. I think the idol producing game genre could really do well outside of Japan, especially with people who grew up with Princess Maker. It’s just a shame that this particular title is just so easy. There’s no challenge whatsoever, you’ll only fail if you really work at it, and while it is funny and full of in-references like all the Hyperdimension Neptunia games, it just goes so quickly. I easily blew through two playthroughs in the span of two days, without even really trying. If you pick it up, you’ll likely master it without even trying.
Food for Thought
1. If you are having trouble, make friends with another goddess and form a group. Your shares combine and can skyrocket you to the #1 spot.
2. It’s worth earning the love and affection of the CPU Candidates. More events is always helpful.
3. You can always see how many events you have unlocked from the Status screen, but it doesn’t offer any hints as to how to earn them.
4. You have to unlock each in-game outfit separately for each goddess.
5. You’ll feel super dirty if you play with the Viewer.