As the long summer break comes to an end, I want to focus on giving a review and first impressions of the two games I played. Today, I’m focusing on Hyperdimension Idol Neptunia PP (神次元 アイドルネプテューヌPP), which is basically an idol raising simulator spin-off for the Playstation Vita.
Apparently, Compile Heart knows that idols are very popular in Japan and since they have some capable singers, then why not? But then again, will it live up to the other popular idol simulator, The Idolmaster? Not really. (Image Source)
Based on an alternate universe in Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, the overall premise of Hyperdimension Idol Neptunia PP can be summed up like this: An idol group named MOB48 (parody of AKB48) takes the Gameindustri by storm by stealing all the shares from all four regions. Now, all four goddesses have to regain all their shares by becoming idols. They summon you as the producer to guide them along the way to become the top idol of the Gameindustri.
As you would expect, this plays mostly like a visual novel and your choices will influence how well your idol will do. When you start the game, you get to pick from the four main goddesses, Neptune, Noire, Blanc and Vert. From there, you have 180 days to raise your idol to top status. You need to properly manage your time so your idol can become successful. After 180 days are up, you will get the bad ending.
When I was playing this game for the first time during vacation, I enjoyed the character designs since I got to know each goddess a bit more, namely Noire a bit more before watching the anime adaptation. To me, I find that the gameplay is just a glorified visual novel. As you see with the training results, there is really no mini game to gain each stat. Instead, it randomly raises different stats raises depending on the type of training you do and the degree of success. The stats consist of trust (信頼), vocal sense, dance sense, expression power (表現力) and knowledge (知識). However, doing lessons, performing lives or having a bad result in an event can cause stress levels to rise and guts level to drop, which can make things difficult. If stress reaches to 100%, it’s game over. Therefore, it’s crucial to plan out breaks to keep the stress levels low.
Aside from the guts and stress levels, all the stats you earn will carry over in a New Game Plus along with relationship levels for each character, costumes, accessories and songs for that goddess. In addition to training, you can also raise your relationship with the little sisters (Nepgear, Uni, Rom and Ram), which eventually allow you to use them as a unit in live performances if they are high enough.
As for the main part of the game, the live performance is surprisingly very versatile. Unlike Idolmaster where you push buttons in rhythm, Idol Neptunia is more about customizing the live performance. You can place props you earned anywhere around the stage, customize the goddesses’ outfits along with their HDD form and change the idol’s position on stage. During the performance, you have a gauge on the bottom right hand corner showing your score. It will rise depending on the singer stats along with what kind of effects you use. In addition, you can have your idol transform during the song to gain more points. Sadly, it’s only restricted to the goddess’s personal song and it doesn’t work in duo and trio units. It’s a shame really since it would have been cool to see all three in their alternate forms while performing.
As a whole, I felt that Hyperdimension Idol Neptunia PP is a so-so game that didn’t live up to its hype even though I enjoyed it. While the graphics are good along with the songs, I felt that they could have done more with it since the song selection was lacking and for the fact that you can beat your first play through after 5 hours or so (It took me 10 hours because of translation). While fans of the Neptunia series will probably enjoy this as they can finally produce their favorite goddess, for others, you may as well skip and wait for the Neptune remake, Noire spinoff or pick up Mk2 or Victory.
The Bottom Line
Strengths: You can finally raise and produce your favorite goddess as an idol and watch them perform on stage. The songs and graphics are good. At least the dialog doesn’t automatically advance, making it a decent supplement material for people who are learning Japanese.
Weaknesses: Lack of songs and training mini games. The game is fairly easy to beat, although you need to play multiple times to experience all the endings.