With each new Neptunia game, Compile Heart and Idea Factory go out of their way to introduce new console goddesses and characters based on systems, developers and publishers. Every new game is a new opportunity to parody something we love. Megadimension Neptunia VII uses this opportunity to salute another Sega console, the Dreamcast, with Uzume Tennouboushi.
Here’s the thing. Uzume is probably one of the most clever CPUs introduced in the series. Her appearance and personality all do a wonderful job of calling back to a simpler time. The care that went into crafting this new character helps her fit better into the Neptunia series.
Uzume’s console goddess form in Megadimension Neptunia VII is the best. Yes, Purple Heart, Green Heart, Black Heart, and White Heart all vaguely resemble their consoles. But with each, it isn’t super obvious. Their outfits are each mostly black or mostly white, with a second or third color offering an accent. With Orange Heart, you’re constantly reminded of the console. She has a circular shield on her left wrist, which looks like the top of the system. It even has the orange triangle. This theme is repeated on her headdress and one piece. It really plays up the orange highlights on the white system, as well as the blue from the VMU.
Though the absolute best shout out comes when Orange Heart is near death in a battle. If you complete it with her doing the last hit, so you’ll see her victory pose when the battle is done, both her her eyes will be spirals. Where have we seen those spirals before? Oh, right, on the top of the Dreamcast.
The references to Dreamcast peripherals are certainly welcome as well. While Megadimension Neptunia VII shies away from exactly referencing the VMU visual memory unit, it does allude to it as a visual radio for communication and the playing of games. Her ability to access the internet is mentioned as well, bringing up her love for old fashioned BBSes, though she mentions she wasn’t the best at handling them. Her megaphone, which is her primary weapon and used for many special skills, could be considered a reference to the Dreamcast Microphone.
Of course, the megaphone and Uzume’s various shouting attacks also remind us that the Dreamcast wasn’t exactly the quietest system. At the time, CD drives were rather loud, so you’d hear quite a bit of whirring as you played the system. I know my console’s got that distinctive noise. To be true to form, Uzume and Orange Heart would also have to have a big mouth.
More importantly, I really like what Compile Heart and Idea Factory did with Uzume’s personality in relation to the Dreamcast’s library and reputation. Her shift in attitude mirrors the actual transition of the console itself. When you look at some of the games that were released earlier in the system’s life cycle, they come across as very bright, colorful, and sometimes even silly. We had Pen Pen TriIcelon. Power Stone, Pop’n Music, Seaman, ChuChu Rocket, and Space Channel 5. Some cooler and more serious fare was mixed in, but these unorthodox entries stood out.
When the Dreamcast was discontinued in 2001, the sorts of games still released for the system became the kind that people would be more inclined to call “cool,” rather than “cute.” That’s when the console became a haven for shoot’em ups and visual novels. These were games that weren’t trying to do anything really different, other than perhaps help the system survive.
Uzume’s personality in Megadimension Neptunia VII references this progression. Orange Heart is a very lively, openhearted girl who gets excited easily about things and is very feminine. Uzume is more brusque and cool, but occasionally slips and displays the same traits as Orange Heart. Umio explains that Uzume always used to be that bright, open, lighthearted and friendly girl, but changed once the Zero Dimension started crashing down around them. She felt she needed to be this cool and capable person for her people to rely upon. It’s a very deliberate allusion to the console itself in quite a clever fashion.
I guess what I’m saying is, Uzume really fits well within the established lore of Megadimension Neptunia VII. Her character design checks a lot of boxes when it comes to making sure you immediately think of the Dreamcast when you look at Orange Heart, something that doesn’t always happen when you look at Green Heart or White Heart. Her personality is really well thought out, in a way people might not expect. She’s really cool, and I think fans of the series are going to appreciate what Compile Heart and Idea Factory did with her.
Megadimension Neptunia VII will come to North American PlayStation 4s on February 2, 2016, and will be in Europe 10 days later on February 12, 2016.