Despite how popular idol simulation games have been in Japan, not a single one of them have been released in the West. Even anime series revolving around idols generally go unlicensed and even with Hyperdimension Neptunia being an established name in the West, the idea of Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection getting localized was slim to none. However NIS America jumped on the game and have given it a full English release. The question is, should you pick up this title or does its performance fall flat?
The world of Gamindustri is broken into four nations where each nation is governed by a CPU goddess who gains power, also known as ‘Shares,’ by having the faith of their people and those around the world. Unfortunately for the goddesses Neptune, Noire, Vert, and Blanc, despite saving the land and taking care of the people just like a good leader should, each nation’s Shares have plummeted to record lows.
The reason for this is that a group of idols, called the MOB48, which is a reference to the popular AKB48 as well as the fact that the group consists of monsters, have ensnared the hearts of the population with their singing and dancing. This means that rather than pay attention to their goddesses, the population would rather spend all their time worshiping these idols instead. To try and right this wrong all four CPUs join together to summon the best producer from another dimension in order to help them become the best idols around.
So rather than summon the best producer, they end up summoning you, an average sounding person who must now do his best to try and turn one of these girls into the best idol within 180 days. This must be done by helping raise your chosen girl’s stats as well as manage her mood and stress levels. To be honest, although the story of Neptunia PP sets itself up around the whole idol business, a lot of the enjoyment one derives from this game will come from how much they like the Neptunia series and the cast as a whole.
While it is perfectly fine for someone unacquainted with the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise to jump into Neptunia PP blind, those who have spent time getting to learn about these characters and their various personalities over the course of past games will probably get the most out of it since whoever the player chooses to manage will be the CPU they spend a lot of time with.
Each girl has her own story events that take place, some of which are plot oriented while others simply take place over the course of the 180 days or during resting periods. In these moments players are able to learn a bit more about their chosen CPU, or even that CPU’s sister as is the case with everyone except Vert since she doesn’t have a sister, though she regularly goes after Nepgear because of this.
There are many different events to see which are almost always hilarious and worthwhile thanks to some smart writing by the localization team and some of these events even have you getting a bit closer to your CPU or her sister. By picking proper answers during story related events, players can either find themselves heading for a True End or a simple Good End. There is also a bad end but you have to literally try to fail to obtain that ending. This creates quite a bit of replay value as there are four girls to choose from, each with unique personalities, stories, and endings to see which makes for a meaty offering that fleshes out the game’s simplistic gameplay.
The main part of Neptunia PP is Producer Mode, which is story mode. After you have chosen which CPU you want to work with, be it Neptune, Vert, Blanc, or Noire, you will then be stuck into that girl’s storyline where you will need to manage her career by placing her in various training events to raise stats, manage her stress level, earn fans, and put on performances to gain Shares to not only topple MOB48 but become the best idol in the land.
The management part of the game is very simple, there are various training events that raise stats such as vocals, rhythm, knowledge, etc that have varying success rates that boost a stat and also raise stress level. You can fail if your idol’s stress hits 100%, but generally each time you rest you will eliminate all stress from that character. You can also participate in various fan events that will try to grow the idol’s fanbase which will make it easier to earn Shares.
Every so often, and if your idol has enough Guts to perform, you will be able to hold a concert. In these concerts players can pick where their idol will stand on the stage, what type of stage effects to use, her outfit, what type of stage to perform on, and what song to sing. Each CPU has a song of their own which, if sung solo, will allow them to enter their HDD form to raise your excitement level faster, but any CPU can sing any other girls’ song once it is unlocked and if you happen to form a duo or trio then all three girls will perform.
While the girl is singing, players are in charge of the camera angles and stage effects and it is your job to try and fill a circular meter in the bottom right corner all the way up to get a ranking of “excellent” though you can even get away with simply a “good” rating at well. Raising this meter, as well as fan excitement percentage, depends on the camera angles and stage effects. Stage effect usage is best reserved for when the crowd begins chanting as it raises the meter the most while aiming the camera at various angles also gives boosts. As mentioned before, the more that meter fill sup the more fans and Shares you gain per performance.
All that said that is pretty much all there is for Neptunia PP’s gameplay. The game can feel rather barren at times thanks to this since outside of Producer Mode, the only other options are an unlimited performance where you can place objects around a stage and have any songs you like performed. This can be a bit problematic at times, since the game is meant to be played numerous times, but thankfully not only is there a button to press to skip all previously read text, say for example if you are trying for a better ending in a CPUs route, to accelerate the process and all stats and affection levels for idols are carried over into the player’s next session.
Visuals & Audio
The character portraits in Neptunia PP are very impressive looking as they appear to have been taken right from the game series itself as the models are not only have various expressions but have numerous reactions and move their heads when reacting to various bits of dialogue. As for the performances, the 3D models are actually rather impressive looking, though a bit rough around the edges sometimes, considering how the player can dress each idol up in numerous unlockable costumes and even change up how their HDD modules look. Of course since you can aim the camera from numerous angles as well as zoom, there are plenty of options for some fan-service here but nothing that wouldn’t be intentional by the player.
As far as the localization goes, almost every piece of text in the game has been given English voice work to accompany said text which is a nice bonus since the voice actors for all of these characters remain the exact same as past titles, even the CPU candidates. Of course for those picky about their voice acting, the original Japanese voice track is also available. As for the songs, they are all presented in Japanese, which is for the best, but it is disappointing that there are only five in total. That being said, each song can be sung by any girl, meaning that there are four variations of the same song, meaning Noire’s Japanese voice actress will sing Neptune’s song just fine, or if they are in a pair or trio each girl will sing with one another, and even the character’s singing voice will change slightly when the character enters HDD form.
Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection is a game that is difficult to judge. As someone who is very familiar with the franchise I found it to be an extremely enjoyable game elevated by its characters, numerous story routes for multiple playthroughs, and fun performances, but limited by few actual idol management options and repetition. That being said, someone who might not enjoy these characters as much as myself might not get as much of a kick out of the game, though I can see a game like this drawing more people to actually try out the Hyperdimension Neptunia series in the end as it also serves as a great introduction to all of the characters and their fun personalities.
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