Publisher: Idea Factory International
Developer: Idea Factory / Compile Heart / Felistella
Medium: Digital/Vita Card
By this point, roughly six games into the series' life on the Vita, Hyperdimension Neptunia handheld formula has been pretty well established. If you want a relatively standard JRPG, you look to the mainline games. If you want a little innovation — like, say, a pop idol management sim, or a Dynasty Warriors-style hack & slash adventure — you look to the spin-offs.
Hyperdimension Neptunia ReBirth3: V Generation is a mainline game, which means — you guessed it — you're in for all the usual JRPG tropes, as filtered through the Hyperdimension Neptunia series' somewhat skewed lens. Battle parties with up to four members, all of them representing one video game company or magazine or character. Turn-based battles against enemies that fall just on the safe side of copyright infringement. Lots of dialogue screens full of endless exposition and innuendos that are one meaning short of a double entendre. Basically, if you've played any of the games in the series — but especially any of the mainline games — it's exactly what you'd expect.
To be sure, that's not inherently a bad thing. Like the other games in the series, Hyperdimension Neptunia ReBirth3 is crammed so full of jokes that it should come as no surprise that more than a few of them hit. You'd have to be made of stone to not crack a bit of a smile when you chat with NPCs like Snake Hayter (a person hiding under a box who talks about the need to be stealthy), Maryo (a mustachioed plumber with a red cap who complains about being forced to play the same game over and over again), or Player 2 (a tall guy in a green cap who complains about being in his brother's shadow). Likewise, cracks about games shipping in broken or unfinished states are as timely and relevant as ever. Obviously, the sheer volume of jokes, witticisms and fourth wall-breaking dialogue means that it would be almost impossible for the game not to have a couple land on target, but that doesn't make them any less memorable.
What's also welcome — surprisingly — is that this time around, the game uses its endless exposition for sorta-good, rather than to just drown players in information. There are a few moments in the game in which the characters step outside the scenes to explain who everyone is; as someone who found the series' last mainline game a little overwhelming, this bit of explanation goes a long way towards not making you (or, at least me) feel completely lost.
Does that mean that Hyperdimension Neptunia ReBirth3 is the ideal entry for newcomers to start with? Probably not: even with the extra exposition, it's still pretty dense, and not the kind of game you could just randomly pick up — and, more importantly, it's still not as enjoyable as the spin-off games (which, as far as I'm concerned, are the real essential ones in the series). For longtime fans of the series, however, everything that made the first two games fun is present in this one, too, which makes it a pretty safe bet to buy.