We asked Siliconera readers to send us their questions about Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 and NISA (the company, not the character) came back with answers. Script editor Nick Doerr and Marketing Manager Nao Zook are here to field your questions about Gamindustri.
For people that didn’t pick up the first game, will they miss out on any of the story since this is a sequel and what is your favorite feature in mk2?
Nick Doerr, Script Editor: People new to the Neptunia universe won’t miss anything if they choose to jump in with mk2. The story takes place in an alternate history for Gamindustri, so events from the first game don’t really have an impact here. There are a few jokes about it, and of course all the terms introduced in the first game don’t get as detailed an introduction (Basilicoms make a return but are not explained in detail, for instance), but mk2 has a pretty robust encyclopedia—called the Nepedia—for new players to read and immerse themselves in the world.
My favorite feature of this game? Honestly, I’m a huge fan of their reworked battle system. It reminds me of some of my favorite games. It feels like a mix between Sakura Wars and Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter to me. It’s like a delicious stew of semi-real-time JRPG goodness.
So about the lily system…
Don’t be misled; the Lily System is really just another name for creating Front and Back rows of fighters, and their level of friendship with Nepgear. A higher bond of friendship equates to a higher Lily Rank, which can open new development opportunities with Item Synthesis, or activate new events via the Chirper, or even have characters learn sweet Combo moves. It’s also an important ingredient when deciding on which ending path you will travel…
Neptunia was rife with video game references and humor. Can you give us a taste of some of the jokes in Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2?
A lot of the jokes in Neptunia were references via the text. In Neptunia mk2, however, a lot of the little references are tossed directly into the game or enemy design. For example, one enemy is called the “Horsebird” and looks like a horse with two legs and wings. Replace that with a yellow bird that has the same function as a horse in another JRPG franchise, and…
Basically, Neptunia mk2 eschews text references for visual gags in terms of industry meta-humor, and has the text focus on jokes relating to the characters and their situations. The result is great, since the first game was lauded for its character interactions. Now the dialogue focuses more on developing the characters and creating depth to everyone’s friendships through more relevant, pointed humor instead of a random, obscure (awesome) game reference. That said, expect a few more golden bits of wisdom from Compa’s grandpa, as well as IF keeping everyone aware of how insane they are. Especially Neptune.
Were there any major changes made while you were localizing the game?
No, nothing really changed. We can’t bring a few DLC items over because of some collaborative red tape in Japan, but we kept everything that made the game what it is. Initially, Idea Factory asked us if we wanted to keep the introduction by Meijin Takahashi (AKA Mr. Higgins from the Adventure Island games), to which we replied “of course we want to keep that!” Our mission at NIS America is to bring over the culture of Japan and that was just such a brilliantly goofy cameo—there’s no way we could get rid of it! It’s the same story with the Keiji Inafune weaponry. The game just wouldn’t have been the same without those!
How complex and costly can the translation process be for a game like Neptunia?
There’s nothing to make it any more complex/costly than other games we localize and publish. I think the main point of concern with this particular game is securing voice actresses for all of the female roles, which we can get to in a moment.
I guess I can outline the basic process we use for all our projects. We play the Japanese version as much as we can (I think I did two playthroughs of mk2 before starting on it), then we discuss the direction we want to take; e.g. character personalities, themes, degree of literalism/liberalism in the localization, etc. After that, we just get to work on the text, and once it’s time for voice-over budgeting, we choose as many of the scenes we want to voice as our budget will allow
. I’m going to segue into the next question with that.
How do you normally choose localization staff and voice actors for each project and did the voice actors and actresses from Neptunia return to voice characters in Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2?
After we choose the scenes we can voice, we create a recording script and character list for the voice-over studio. They send us reels of actors and actresses to pick from, based on our character descriptions and Japanese voice reference files.
That said, we got all of the actresses from the first Neptunia to reprise their roles for mk2, and we even got a whole new cast for the new characters. None of the main roles are double-cast, meaning you don’t have Compa voicing Nepgear. In fact, the girls who voiced Nepgear and Uni are almost completely new to the voice-acting scene. Nepgear’s VA has never had a starring role in a game before, and I believe Uni’s VA is just getting her feet wet in the industry. That said, all the actresses involved did an excellent job and we are very happy with the results. There may have even been tears when we wrapped Nepgear’s final session…
As for localization staff, it’s mostly a schedule thing, but preference can always be placed on translators/editors who have prior knowledge of a game series. Like, one editor is favored for his style used in the Disgaea games, and I seem to generally be placed on Idea Factory titles (though I admit, my love for the Neptunia franchise may have something to do with that).
Will all of the all of the event scenes (including DLC scenarios) have full English voice acting, as well Japanese voiceovers?
The Japanese voices will be fully intact, but due to budget restraints and the massive cast of the game, we chose the most interesting and story-relevant scenes to voice in English. A lot of this is due to the battle line count—when we have a budget for, say, 6,000 lines and battle lines turn out to be around 3,000 for all of the characters, we have to pick and choose. We were able to get a near-full US audio track in the first game because there weren’t many characters. There were about nine main roles in Neptunia (since we only did battle lines for Red and 5pb., I am not counting them), but Neptunia mk2 has over twenty! It’s a huge cast and a huge game, so we’ve opted to voice as much as possible to give each character a roughly equivalent representation.
Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 will be the second NISA game to get a "M" rating. Since Neptunia was rated T, what changed in this game?
Basically, the themes of this game tipped it from a T to an M. There is one sequence of events involving a villain who likes to lick girls, and there is an entire ending route with themes that are extremely emotional and traumatic. During the rating process, there was a lot of back and forth between us and the review team at the ESRB. In the end, they settled on a Mature rating because some events were considered too edgy or traumatic for a Teen rating. Those who have played the Japanese version and have achieved a certain ending know exactly what I am referring to (no spoilers, please!).
Has anything been censored or changed for Western territories in Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2?
Nope. As mentioned above, some red tape prevented three DLC items, but everything else is intact. We did localize a few terms to jive with the mythos introduced in Neptunia 1. For example, the villains, called [Name] The Hard in Japanese, were changed to CFW [Name] for the US. This is because the term “Hard” was used in the first game to describe the main characters, the Console Patron Units. We wanted to give these villains a similar acronym that meant the opposite (evil instead of divine, but retaining a technological sound), and we decided on CFW, meaning Criminal of the Free World. CFW also has its own meaning in the homebrew and piracy circles, so it felt appropriate to give to Arfoire’s henchmen.
Can you tell us about the print order? Hyperdimension Neptunia was pretty hard to find just a week or two after it came out. Are you planning to print more copies of Neptunia mk2?
Nao Zook, Marketing Manager: We’d like our fans to be able to find our titles easily at any videogame store, but realistically, we can’t print millions of copies…or we would go out of business in a heartbeat. Our print number is always based on the preorder numbers from multiple game stores. So, we encourage our fans to preorder as soon as possible to secure your copy!
Neptunia mk2 already has a lot of DLC available in Japan. Will NIS America release these extras overseas and can you comment on item pricing?
NZ: As Nick already mentioned, we will release all of the DLC, with just a few exceptions, to the North American and European market. Pricing wise, we always try to follow the pricing on Japanese DLC. We want to keep things fair and affordable for our fans so they can keep enjoying the game for a long time.