Reviews: Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk 2

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A step in the right direction, but not enough of one.
In an industry where stagnation in a series is a common complaint, itís rare to see improvement between installments in any immediately apparent way. However, Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 is exactly that kind of rarity. Given how terrible its predecessor was, however, this is not enough to guarantee any sort of quality standard.

Indeed, many of the same complaints that applied to the first game apply here, as well. Most prominent among them is the nonexistent story, tossed upon you by cardboard cutouts of characters with only the least amount of thought possible. Said cutouts can be amusing at times, but thatís a huge part of the problem: theyíre not characters, theyíre punchlines. Only a very small handful of scenes try to make players care about them, and they feel forced specifically because theyíre so few and far between. Instead, such scenes are largely forgone in favor of humor thatís little more than references to other, better works. A certain, infamous ending falls flat specifically because it requires you to care about the characters, when the game has exerted very little effort beforehand to make the players care about them.

The first gameís largely forgettable aesthetics and sounds also return here. Granted, the color palette is easier on the eyes, and the dungeon environs see a larger variety, but neither improves the game significantly. Voice acting is competent, if nothing else; I would argue that itís worse than the first game, largely due to Melissa Fahn as Neptune bringing her voice up a few octaves in contrast to the previous game. Neptuneís voice was one of few bearable things about the first game, and the squeakier voice just makes her more annoying.

The most significant improvement that Mk2 has made is its battle system, for itís gotten rid of the old battle system entirely for one thatís much more dynamic and intuitive. The core of stringing combos together, guard breaking the enemy, and amassing SP for the most powerful skills remains, but the new system adds some desperately-needed features (specifically, the ability to heal), and streamlined the combo system significantly. Battles now feel much less tedious and more, dare I say it, fun. This single aspect, however, does not make it a worthy purchase. A game only for those engrossed by the premise or that love series about cute girls doing cute things.
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