As I booted up Neptunia ReVerse and the 10th Anniversary logo faded onto the screen, my wife was shocked. She asked me, “Have we really been doing this for ten years?” I laughed at her realization, that yes, ever since I started my writing journey, Neptunia was around in some form or another. The weird thing is how many times the first game popped back up.
Neptunia ReVerse is a remake of a remake, the fifth overall release of Hyperdimension Neptunia, a comedy/JRPG from Compile Heart and Idea Factory from 2010. In some form or another, this game has appeared on PS3, PC, PS Vita, PS4 and now the PS5. What makes a game stick around like this? Well, it seems complicated.
Neptunia ReVerse Review
Neptunia has kind of always been a dopey series poking fun at itself and things like gamers and otaku culture. The first game’s premise is four goddesses fighting over control of a land called “Gamindustri.” Each goddess is a personification of all the major consoles at the time, along with… the Sega Neptune for some reason (Sega was part of the game’s distribution in Japan)?
Neptune is defeated thanks to the evil personification of game piracy (brilliantly localized as Arfoire), loses her memory and goes on wacky adventures with her new Friends Compa and IF. What follows is a string of fairly dated videogame jokes strung together with some turn-based JRPG dungeon-crawling. At the time this was a pretty funny premise, and that helped Neptunia catch on and become a series.
The original videogame parody angle ran its course, but the folks at Compile Heart still managed to find new ways to personify and lampoon various aspects of Otaku culture. For example, the previous release Neptunia Virtual Stars included fictional and real-life Vtubers. The creators have also explored several different genres, from idol simulation to Musou-like crowd brawling. It’s become harder to tell where the irony begins and ends over time, but enough charm has helped the series endure over a decade now.
While there are plenty of fans here despite this niche territory, that still doesn’t answer the question. Why re-release the first game so many times? I have a guess, although it’s purely conjecture on my part. Over the years Compile Heart has expanded its portfolio and creativity in gameplay. Even the Neptunia games have evolved over time, and grown more complex and interesting.
It feels like Neptunia ReVerse is sort of a final, definitive revision of the game that really put Compile Heart on the map. It’s a port of the PS Vita remake, but with enough going on under the hood to give it a new branding. If you go to the game’s website and take a look, you can see just how different the game is. Tons of changes have been made to balance, mechanics, properties, the UI and much more. It’s like a massive list of patch notes, but released as a final punctuation mark for Hyperdimension Neptunia.
It’s also a console Neptunia game with a solid 60 frames per second rate, which is a miracle in and of itself. There are a few points that do remind you all this new is bolted on top of a Vita game, though. Some of the cutscenes are low-res, blurry disasters. And the character portraits and dialogue scenes also look relatively untouched. Meanwhile out in dungeons the colors have been dialed up, and a bunch of bloom has been applied to everything to help round out all the models’ edges. It looks kind of weird, but it also runs exceptionally well. So I’ll take it.
On top of all the changes, there’s also an “Arrange” mode. This adds even more changes under the hood, but perhaps most importantly it gives you immediate access to all the game’s extra party members. Some of these are characters from sequels, but many of them are “Maker” characters which are arguably the best part. These characters are personifications of other bodies in videogames besides consoles.
My favorite examples are Falcom (a girl version of Ys’ Adol with various Legend of Heroes accessories), MAGES., a powerful, well, mage who can equip Steins;Gate items and a character literally named TEKKEN. She vaguely looks like and fights like a Kazama and can get sunglasses with “HARADA” written on the lenses in Kanji. A character based on Nippon Ichi software was another favorite, but sadly didn’t survive past the first two PS3 games. She shows up in various Disgaea games though.
Basically, Arrange mode assumes this isn’t your first rodeo, and it just hands over a bunch of stuff without making you work for it. That said, you can still opt for Original mode for a more pure (some changes are static) experience. But regardless of which version you choose, you’ll be able to engage with a new fishing minigame. Like many fishing games in JRPGs, the Neptunia version is a lot of fun. It even utilizes some DualSense features! It’s another way to goof around in a game that’s largely about goofing around.
Neptunia ReVerse wears that 10th anniversary badge as a part of its feature list, rather than a decoration. You’ll get the most out of this game as a returning player who can remember what it was like to move from the PS3 original to the Vita/PC update. As a newcomer you might feel a bit overwhelmed, although as the definitive edition there’s plenty of reason to start here anyway.
This is obviously a game that appeals to the anime crowd, and won’t have a lot of mileage outside of that. But if you live and breathe videogames and gaming history, it’s worth checking out even if the aesthetic ain’t your glass of Sapporo, know what I’m saying? The localization is really good, especially when it comes to adapting jokes to their western equivalent (the R4 bit for example). Either way if you have the tolerance for pseudo ironic anime cheese, there’s a lot to dig into here.
Neptunia with a perfect frame rate. The power of the PS5, baby!
Combat is still great, and is even better with the new updates
Many of the outdated jokes are still funny
The times you can tell this is a Vita game underneath the shiny parts
Even if it’s a piss take, there’s still tropes like underage-looking characters vaguely sexualized and that always sucks regardless of the context
If you’re younger and haven’t read up on your console war history circa 2010 some of the best jokes won’t land
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review