Compile Heart and Idea Factory have found a fair amount of success with their ‘Neptunia’ series. Though the first title in the series, Hyperdimension Neptunia on the PlayStation 3, was quite ropey around the edges, it nonetheless won fans and launched the series, which has now worked its way to virtual reality (VR).
Megadimension Neptunia VIIR is a VR adaptation of the previously released Megadimension Neptunia title. After the music video intro, the title starts with you, the player, being addressed by our main exposition source, the fairy-like Histoire.
Here some issues become apparent. You are in a room where most of the VR-specific events and interactions take place, but there is a bizarre low-rez feeling, every object has blurry, jagged edges like the anti-aliasing isn’t working properly. Histoire herself looks very blurry as well, though Neptune when she arrives looks fine. Its very off-putting, especially when other VR titles don’t have this issue.
You can interact with the characters from the Neptunia series throughout gameplay, with new interactions becoming unlocked as you progress, along with objects to decorate the room, but the off-putting graphics don’t entice you to spend much time there. You can respond with nods and headshakes to the characters, but otherwise they are mostly monologuing to you. This often feels awkward, especially with how the characters appear to assume you are young and male.
For those unfamiliar with the main series, The Neptunia series takes place in a world called Gameindustri, which is ruled over by ‘CPUs’ who have power akin to goddesses and who are anthropomorphic personifications of the companies involved in the console wars; Blanc for Nintendo, Vert for Microsoft, Noire for Sony and protagonist Neptune for SEGA.
The Neptunia series has always aimed to strike a balance between RPG gameplay, broad slapstick comedy and fanservice. The fanservice comes in several flavours, from the copious amount of references to videogame trivia to the extremely scanty outfits favoured by the main characters, particularly in their transformed state. The VR-exclusive sections feel like they lean a bit too much towards the latter without enough of the former, which is something of a shame.
The main game mode is a VR-compatible remake of Megadimension Neptunia, which players very similarly to the original release, though the menus and battle system have been revamped to work better from within VR. The story in Megadimension Neptunia is one of the better ones of the series, divided up into three sections that explore different events within the world of Gameindustri.
The first section explores the plight of the Zero dimension and its CPU, Uzume who personifies SEGA’s Dreamcast console. Visually, this is one of the most compelling, with the ruined citiscapes looking pretty impressive in VR. Oddly, the main game mode didn’t seem to suffer from the anti-aliasing issues of the VR-specific parts.The environments suffer from the some of the typical ‘copy&paste’ repetition fans of the series will be familiar with, but looking at it in VR at least feels different.
The music is sometimes a little bland and repetitive, though there are some stand-out tracks, especially for the later climactic battles and the tragic bad ending. The English voice acting is decent for the most part, with the voice of Uzume being of particular note.
Playing the main Megadimension Neptunia story in VR is mostly worth it, but the poorly-rendered VR-only sections do little or nothing to really add to proceedings other than hurt your eyes and make you feel awkward. Its fun, but unless you don’t already have a copy of the original title, its one for fans only.