Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;birth 1: Change We Can Believe In

Hyperdimension Neptunia: Re;birth 1 is an interesting endeavor simply because it’s a handheld remake of a console RPG that came out not all that long ago. Sure, in the minds of some, four years is enough time to have lapsed in order to justify a remake, but for others it seems like just yesterday we were getting the first Neptunia. Nevertheless, whether we agree or disagree on the timeliness of Re;birth, one can’t adequately deny that it’s a substantive enhancement from the original game. So let’s look at just what all has changed.

First and foremost, the combat engine has been tweaked here, presenting players with a set of systems that are identical to Neptunia Victory’s trappings. In fact, Victory’s setup has been directly lifted and used as the crux of the battle with Re;birth. This should be seen as a much-needed change to the original’s formula, seeing as its engine was bland and dated even at the time of its initial release. By 2014’s standards, it surely can’t hang with where the genre has gone. This borrowing of systems allows for free movement in encounters, providing an extra layer of freedom and decision-making for combatants, exponentially increasing the level of strategy required to topple the game’s more ferocious bosses. It also implements Victory’s EXE gauge, granting the opportunity to deliver big attacks that are all about spectacle as they are battlefield efficacy. All of this comes together to make the battles – a significant portion of the game – anywhere between tolerable to just downright fun. This is a sizeable upgrade from the original’s, which sat anywhere between awful and marginally bearable.

The traveling system is also different this time around, again copying the same one found in Victory and mk2. The previous method of traveling between continents of using scheduled transports has gone to the wayside, providing room for a more streamlined approach that simply lets folks click on their destination from the worldmap and travel there immediately. And once players have gotten to their destinations (faster, mind you), if it’s a dungeon, things will look a bit different in that regard, too. In-dungeon abilities are now indistinguishable from Victory, with players having the option to jump and utilizing the search sphere. This is a small alteration, but one that feels more in-line with expectations from the genre products of today. Who would’ve known that just being able to jump can make traveling all the more enjoyable? Dungeon layouts have also been either modified or changed outright; while they still like character and complexity at times, frequently feeling a bit too linear for our tastes, it’s a marked upgrade over the first title.

The Scout System has also been axed entirely. A new mechanic, entitled the Remake System, now reigns supreme, working the same as the Item Synthesis ability, minus the limitations. Folks are now able to find and influence dungeons and other facets of the game, too, such as increasing the difficulty of enemies, disabling the aforesaid jumping option altogether or making the EXE drive fill faster. It’s a neat feature that makes the experience feel a bit more tailored to the player’s preferences, and even a bit empowering.

Lastly, new music and voice acting has been added, some of which borrows from mk2 and Victory as well. The VO work in Re;birth really is in a class of its own when compared to the original’s, with more believable and solid performances overall.

At the end of the day, all the changes work in tandem to warrant revising Gamindustri. Read our review of Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;birth 1 here.