Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is a hack-and-slash action game developed by Compile Heart and Tamsoft and published by Idea Factory International. It is a spin-off of the main Hyperdimensional Neptunia series. The games also works with the PlayStation TV micro-console.
(Note: This review is my opinion only. All pictures are captured in-game with the PS Vita’s screen shot feature.)
The game features all four or the Console Patron Units (CPU), Neptune, Noire, Vert and Blanc, working together to keep the land of Gamindustri safe from monsters. Along with the CPU candidate sisters (Nepgear, Uni, Rom and Ram), the ladies are approached by two Gamindustri journalists, Dengekiko and Famitsu. They are based on real gaming magazines from Japan and, of course, are incarnated as cute anime girls. Together, the Goddesses and their sisters take on missions throughout Gamindustri and the reporters cover them, and sometimes participate themselves.
Like all the PS Vita Neptunia games, the game is fully voiced in English, with the same voice cast as previous games (and the anime, if I am not mistaken) Some missions have cut scenes that explain the storyline and the characters talk in-game. The voices suit the characters, but if you are a purist, a Japanese voice option is available.
The gameplay is similar to both the Senran Kagura (also developed by Tamsoft), and Tecmo Koei’s Warriors series with you slashing your way through many on-screen enemies. The levels usually consists of a few small areas with your objective being anything from number of enemies killed, defeat a boss or collect a certain object. Your enemies consist of such foes as dogoos, 8 bit aliens, clyde ghosts, and mecha robots, the usual enemies in the Neptunia series.
At the start of the mission you choose up to two characters to play (some levels decide for you or limit you to one). In battle you can switch characters at will (press down on the D Pad), building up their HDD meter. There is also a three-part meter the is used for energy for skill attacks using the L button and the face buttons. As you take damage, your outfit takes damage and can eventually be ruined, leaving your character underdressed for the remainder of the level (more on that later!)
As in the other Neptunia games, the CPUs and their candidates can access their HDD mode, becoming powerful “Goddess” versions of themselves. Even Dengekku and Famitsu have HDD forms (just tougher versions of their normal forms) Their stats and hit points go up and they can access a special EXE Drive attack that drains the HDD meter, but causes a lot of damage. Once the meter is drained, they revert to their normal forms. Like the regular forms, if they take too much damaged, their clothes could become torn.
Now let’s get into that. Like in Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus (which I reviewed in Dec 2014), the girls’ outfits can be damaged and “Torn”, leaving them in just their underwear. Unlike Senran Kagura, the undergarments are indestructible, letting these girls keep some of their dignity. Unfortunately, with there not being any human female enemies, the only way to get this fan service is by letting your characters outfits get destroyed. It does have the advantage of increasing your attack and speed, but at the cost of your defence. The game acknowledges this though, rewarding you with easier-to-tear outfits or “Torn Duds”, pre-torn versions of your outfits. You can also get “Duds of Steel”, indestructible versions of their outfits
Now, much like Senran Kagura and the Warriors series, you wade through tons of enemies. Mostly, though, they don’t seem that exciting. Slicing though a horde of dog-faced slimes, Pac-Man ghosts, flowers and Space-Invader enemies gets old quick, especially if they just pretty much run into you to do damage. Sometimes they through out tougher version or giant versions of the enemies. The robot enemies are a bit for formidable but mostly rely on sheer numbers to overwhelm you.
Their isn’t much customization for the girl’s outfits. Mostly they have three versions of the same outfit, just in different colours. You can unlock more outfits, but they are just the same ones, either easier to destroy, already destroyed or indestructible. There was some DLC or bathing suits as well, with them, acting like an indestructible outfit. You can also alter the girls’ hair colour (again limited to three choices and equip weapons earned by completing challenges or items they can increase or decrease stats.
Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is a good game, but it might be the weakest in the series. All the Neptunia games have a funny story, great game play and fan service. Action Unleashed can get a little repetitive ,with only the victory conditions adding some variety. If there was some sort of end boss, a goal the girls were to reach, besides clearing monsters completing missions, I think it would be more exiting. As a hack and slash, it is serviceable, but without a clear goal you wonder, “What’s the point?”