For ten years, the Neptunia series has been delivering niche JRPG adventures to fans globally. First released in 2010 as Hyperdimension Neptunia, we’ve received re-releases and side-stories across different genres and universes, each staring the game’s protagonist Neptune.
With PlayStation 5, developer Compile Heart has shown the newest Neptunia adventure titled, Go! Go! 5D Game: Neptunia reVerse, a rerelease of Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1. While this release is ported from the PS4 version, it still resembles the Vita version that the PS4 release was ported from. The environments have been subtly touched up, but the character models use a low texture polygon design that the series has used since it launched.
Don’t get me wrong, the series has improved over the years, which we saw in the 2015 release Megadimension Neptunia VII. Still, Compile Heart can’t continue down this path of relying on tedious niche dungeon design and super-anime characters if they want to garner any new fans. Further, they can’t spend another console generation rereleasing old games.
For me, Hyperdimension Neptunia acted as a bridge into the obscure JRPG world, which eventually opened the door to new gaming experiences that I had not paid attention to. The game was clunky, riddled with long loading screens, and bad systems, but I still platinumed it. Over the years, I’m finding it harder and harder to defend the series’ lack of evolution, but in all honesty, I’m not sure what they could do otherwise.
The series has its fans, but one look at the battle system from Go! Go! 5D Game: Neptunia reVerse, and I get bored because it’s the same system we’ve seen for years. I’m not completely sure where the lack of creativity comes from with a studio that once figured out how to turn Neptune into a motorcycle, but nothing about what I’ve seen in this new title makes me excited to play it. If they were going to return to the game for a rerelease, a revamped battle system would have been a nice inclusion.
This “updated” version has seen balances and increased party size, but that doesn’t really make me want to play through it again. It’s counterintuitive in a way to fans who have supported the series to continually force them to play through the same adventure again and again. I can only hope that they don’t release Re;Birth 2 and Re;Birth 3 in this way as I want to see them move on.
Putting this new Neptunia release up against a game such as Atelier Ryza 2, another niche JRPG, you can easily see a difference in quality. At one point during the PS3 era, the two series shared a similar character design style. However, one series evolved with the times, while the other seemed to hit a creative wall. It’s important to point this out, not be mean or condescending, but because I wish the best for the Neptunia series.
I’ve come to terms with having to defend Neptunia’s low-res design for years. However, I don’t think I can justify it any longer. Compile Heart really needs to figure out what to do with the series, and I don’t mean simply making another beat ’em up entry. Some might not think it’s that important, but I still feel like there’s room for these niche JRPGs in this new console generation if done correctly. Here’s to more Neptunia adventures, but whether they’ll be successful or not is yet to be seen.
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