Developer: Compile Heart
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PS Vita
Release Date: June 3, 2014
ESRB: T for Teen
The last few years have been amazing for niche game fans. Visual novels have finally made their way out of the woodwork and many other unique titles have arrived as well. However, it still took until 2014 for the first real â€œidolâ€ game to hit North America. Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection (Neptunia PP for short) is a Vita game where you must help a young woman reach super-stardom via singing and dancing. How does that work in a Western market?
Well, first off, this game is catering to a specific audience. It is meant to be played by those who have enjoyed at least one Hyperdimension Neptunia game in the past. Knowledge of all the games isn“t mandatory, but it helps to know which characters you like versus which you don“t before selecting your starlet. The whole experience is best served toward existing fans who would like to see their favorite anime heroine dancing around in customizable costumes.
The gameplay of Neptunia PP is very simple. Once there is a girl on your team, it“s your role to tell her what to do each day. Should she practice dance moves or should she host an event to gain more fans? Should she take a break to de-stress or hang out with competing idols? As the producer, you make all these choices day in and day out. And, mostly, that“s all you do. Characters can only take one action per day and some actions require a few days to recharge.
Days are important because you have under 200 of them to raise your idol to the top of the charts. As the story dictates, this is to topple the stranglehold 48-girl pop group MOB48 has on the world. You can beat the game in a third that time if you make smart idol-focused choices. Players can stretch out playtime by simply getting to know the other idols better or even getting them to join up into duos or trios. You can also attempt to raise affection with the idol you“re tasked with teaching, but that isn“t a requirement.
After increasing stats and fanbase, your next role as producer is to produce concerts. Here players can choose what outfits their idol will wear, stage venue and special effects, and the song of choice. As there are only five songs in all (four unlockable), it“s not as if there is much tough decision-making going on. All of the customization aside from outfits seems similarly restrictive. Also, it doesn“t really seem to matter which stuff you choose as the crowd is ready to go gaga no matter what.
Once a concert is underway, the player is required to keep the crowd excited. They do this via manipulating the camera to get dynamic views of the performance. Beyond that, you can set off stage effects such as lasers and spotlights. That“sâ€¦ all you do. It would be awesome to see a musical minigame or anything, but instead you just have to fuss the camera about and shoot off effects when the crowd cheers. It“s so incredibly simple that it feels odd to be scored on the performance afterward.
Raise stats, reduce stress, and run some concerts. That“s all you have to do in Neptunia PP. It quickly becomes stale unless you“re in love with stat-raising in and of itself. Thankfully, there is a surprising amount of story events to keep days from being completely mundane. Usually these are humorous interludes but sometimes affect your stats as well. In any case, these moments are usually fun (but sometimes creepy) and should serve as a plus for Hyperdimension Neptunia lovers.
Still, even for fans of the JRPG series, it is hard to recommend Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection. There“s just so little there to warrant a playthrough. You do have the option of choosing Neptune, Noire, Blanc, or Vert, but one droll experience was enough for me. Hopefully we do see more idol games come West, though, as there are games like Idolm@ster that are actually entertaining. For now, however, only die-hard Hyperdimension Neptunia/idol fans should pick this up.
+ Players have a choice of four characters to turn into idols
+ Amusing story segments crop up on occasion
- Gameplay mainly consists of raising stats via menus
- Little entertainment value in actually producing concerts
- Somehow this game about musical idols has only five songs in all
Overall Score: 4 (out of 10)
With minimal gameplay and story flourishes that cater most to existing fans, there's little reason for anyone outside the Neptunia fandom to give this game a go.
Disclosure: This game was reviewed using PS Vita downloadable code provided by the publisher