Turning inanimate objects into human representatives isn’t anything new. Companies do this so that potential customers can (hopefully) relate to the character and buy the product they are selling. But what about companies? Can you turn faceless a organization into something that customers can relate to? NIS found out that you can in last year’s Hyperdimension Neptunia by turning various game companies into cute anime moe girls. The game was a cult hit that NIS decided to do it again with Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2. Is turning video game companies in the form of anime girls a good idea for a game or is NIS just taking advantage of otaku by just filling the game with cute moe girls?
Parody of Game Industry - As soon as the game boots up, it lets you know right up front that it’s a parody of the game industry and other games that are in the same genre. Enemies are parodies of creatures and monsters found in various other games. Monsters such as horsebird, R-4, dagons, pixelvader, and several others will bring a smile and a chuckle as you recognize where NIS got their inspiration from. Even the main communication system, Chirper, is a parody of its real life counterpart. It even has its own trolls and spammers logging in and saying nonsense. Even the story is a parody. The CPU candidates have to combat the evil ASIC, a group who promotes the use of illegal games and CFW. It’s safe to say that this game doesn’t take itself seriously which I think is good.
Party Members - As mentioned above everything in Mk.2 is a parody of the game industry, even the heroines and villians. The main character of Mk.2 is known as Nepgear and is supposed to allude to the Game Gear handheld. The CPU candidates ROM and RAM from Lowee together represent the DS, and Uni form Lastion is the PSP. Even the support characters are representing different companies such as Compa, (Complie Heart) If, (Idea Factory) Nisa, (NIS). What I found amusing is that the type of games each company makes is reflected in each of the characters’ personalities. Take Nisa for example. Most of the games that NIS makes have their main characters have a sense of justice, no matter how twisted they claim to be. In Nisa’s case she is the personification of the company’s loveable but highly explosive mascot, Hero Prinny. The NIS developers seemed to have fun designing the characters and it really shows.
Partner/Lilly System - One of the most interesting aspects in mk.2 is the Partner/Lilly System. This game mechanic is in two fold. The first part is the actual partner. Players will be able to have one of the active party members equip an inactive party member, almost like an item. The inactive partner will then give the active party member that she’s paired with status buffs such as resistance to poisons, elemental resistance, and other helpful abilities. As for the Lilly system, this ties in with the partner mechanic. The Lilly system measures each of the character’s affection level for Nepgear. Higher affection means she will get become stronger, certain items can get synthesized, and high level dual attacks can be used. Also, a higher affection can also mean a better ending for that character. On the other hand, a low affection level can also cause a bad end for the character.
Guest Characters - The colorful cast of moeified real companies are not the only ones that players will find themselves interacting with. There are also a slew of NPC guest characters that players will see on their journey. From the encouraging to the rude, other companies and developers make parodied appearances in the game. One of the best ones in my opinion has to be Keiji Inafune. You heard right, the father of Mega Man is in this game and not just as an NPC. Just know that the power of Inafuine is so great that it can be wielded like a sword or you can summon him from the heavens to fire upon your foes.
Limited Exploration - One of my main disappointments with the game was the limited exploration of Gamindustri. What I mean by this is that we are given a unique and strange world that has various nods and parodies of the game industry and we are only limited to the dungeons that the game generates. For example, the nation of Lastion is described as a steam-punk looking, with all of its buildings colored black. Its scientists are always researching the latest innovations and technology to further their influence in Gamindustri. With a description like that, who wouldn’t want to see a city like that? Sadly players are restricted to only exploring the dungeons.
Awkward Camera Control - Controlling the camera feels a bit on the awkward side because it doesn’t move as smoothly. When running around in a dungeon, if the lead character rounds a corner the camera tends to get stuck and moves itself to a position that can block your view. The actual camera controls are also inverted, meaning that up is down and down is up. While this is suitable for other games, it somehow doesn’t feel right here, and there’s no way to switch it to standard control. This may not be a problem for those who are fans of striped pansu though. Just be sure to play when no one is around.
Repetitive Guild Quest - The guild quest, while just glorified monster hunts and fetch quests, tend to be a bit repetitive after a while. The guild quests are divided by different ranks with F being the easiest and S being the hardest. Once a rank has been cleared and the party leveled up, the next rank opens up. Pick the next quest and you will notice that it was similar to the last quest, just harder and with different targets.
There’s a saying that goes “We all need to laugh at ourselves.” I believe that NIS took this to heart and created something that everyone can laugh to. Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 is full of memes, tropes and nods to almost every game that you can think of. The moe-ification of different companies is a really funny twist and having their personalities match those of the companies make for really great banter. Having inactive party members act as equipment is a unique system that I hope gets used more often. The camera did annoy me at times, giving me peaks at the girl’s pantsu when I was trying to focus on trying to avoid monsters. The guild missions can be repetitive when climbing up the ranks and limiting exploration to just the dungeons bring the game down a bit. Overall, the game is a fun parody of the industry that its developers work in. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and I think we need that form time to time in an industry that tends to take itself way too seriously. If playing a game where companies are represented as cute moe anime girls in a parody version of the game industry sounds like fun, give the game a shot.
*This review was based on the PS3 version of the game with a review copy provided by the publisher.*