Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2: Sisters Generation is a Vita port of the original game - Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 - that came out on the PS3 in 2012.
Taking place after the events of the first game, Gamindustri is once again facing a major crisis - one that may be even more disastrous than the first. An evil group known as ASIC - Arfoire Syndicate of International Crime - has swept through the whole world, corrupting the people and their support of the CPUs as they went. This severely handicaps the CPUs in their fight against Arfoire which eventually leads to their defeat. Left inactive in the CPU graveyard, the CPU candidate Nepgear is the only one to awaken after the battle and escape. Now she must join up with friends and lead the charge in defeating ASIC and rescuing the CPUs.
For players that are unfamiliar with the Neptunia series, the plot description may leave you a little mystified. While Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2: Sisters Generation does a good job filling players in on the simple story and making it possible to enjoy the game as a newbie, it's still recommended that you play the first one in order to get to know the world and characters better.
As for the port, there has been some changes made to enhance the game which make it a worthwhile try for those who have already played Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2. One of the biggest changes made was the removal of the characters Nisa and Gust. This change coming about because NIS was no longer the publisher of the game. Because this change leaves behind a large gap, the character Red (as in Red Company) was created. Idea Factory also added the ability to play as all of the oracles in the game, albeit they will take some serious work to unlock. Smaller changes include adding the ability to jump in dungeons, a new ending and the removal of some encounter videos.
The battle system remains turn-based with the ability to move your characters around freely within a certain range that can be extended with certain items. The ability to move around at will certainly adds a bit to the experience but is often too limited to give much of a tactical advantage. You might find yourself just standing in one particular spot without moving more often than not.
Combat options include physical attacks, SP attacks and very limited EXE mode attacks. Physical attacks are the most common and are done via a combo system. Pushing combinations of buttons will yield different sequences of attacks and may do more damage depending on an enemy's weakness. All of these combos can be customized in the main menu but beware that each attack costs points and there's a limit - getting some of the best moves will require you to gain levels and equip better items. SP attacks are sorted into ones that can be used at any time and ones that require a character to be in their CPU form. All of these attacks cost SP and are thus limited; however, some of your most useful moves are here, so it's crucial to keep your SP up. EXE mode attacks are very limited "limit break-esque" attacks and are often only unlocked with special plans. These can be tricky to unlock and cost lots of SP but their sheer power makes them worth using.
The CPU candidates -sorry everyone else!- are able to transform into their more powerful forms as long as they have MP. These forms increase a character's stats and gives them access to their SP attacks and special combo attacks to be used with other candidates. The fact that it's rather rare to not have enough SP to transform - except on harder difficulties - makes their normal forms feel a little redundant. Why not just have them always automatically transform in battle?
All of your characters can be powered up in battles by using the "lily system." This is a pairing system that allows you to add a character to another as a support, enahncing the main characters stats and also giving extra special dual-attacks. Every character has a different lily rank with each other and this level can be increased by keeping them together and by viewing special events that appear in cities. Higher ranks will make a pairing even more powerful. This system is a great way to use all of those extra characters that you will end up with.
Exploring the world in the game is done via the world map and every unlocked area can be traveled to immediately. Entering cities will bring up what you can do in them, while choosing dungeons will change the game into a third-person perspective to allow you to explore the dungeon. Dungeons are generally not that large and all of the enemies are visible; there are no random encounters here which is nice. You also have the ability to use a command that searches your immediate area for hidden treasure. Using this will often yield rare treasure so it's worth using at least from time to time. Sadly dungeons tend to be fairly repetitive. The impact of this is lessened when altering them using plans, but you will find yourself rushing through dungeons and fighting similar enemies again and again.
While in cities, you are able to shop, talk to characters, create discs and view events. The shop is pretty straightforward but there are numerous costume pieces you can buy for each character to change their appearance such as hats, different clothing, and other accessories. While a number of these items need to be unlocked, many are available outright albeit they are very expensive. This isn't a particularly important feature game-play wise - costumes don't effect stats - but it's a fun added bonus.
Talking to characters will give you hints and also trigger events, many of which will increase your lily rank, get you new items or just fill you in on the story. As in the first, many of the NPCs you can talk to are parodies of actual people and other characters. One of these extra bonus characters is named "Snake Hayter" and is a box with eye holes cut out of it, a clear reference to Metal Gear Solid.
Game dev is used in cities to create discs that characters can equip for bonus stats. As you travel through the game, you will pick up chips and base discs which can be combined into better discs for your characters. Finding the best items to use for this process will take extra work but are usually well worth the effort, particularly on the harder difficulties. Plans are another major part of the game and can be accessed at any time in the menu. Plans are generally found by talking to NPCs but sometimes they are found in dungeons as well. Plans are used to unlock extras such as ** and to alter the enemies and items found in dungeons. There are also numerous plans to unlock special costumes for the characters and the items needed are generally found via changing dungeons. The ability to change these elements adds a lot of variety to the game and also motivates one to try to unlock everything.
The visuals in the game remain in the anime-esque style from the original game and are nicely bright and colorful. All of the character designs are unique and charming in their own way. They also embody the company they are representing quite well with characters like 5pb. and Cave evoking their companies' games easily. The music is well done and matches the cheerful style of the game well. Most of the tracks are fun and lighthearted but the soundtrack isn't afraid to get serious when it matters. Its only problem is that it's not the most memorable soundtrack out there. You probably won't be humming many of the tracks for years to come but at least it's pleasant while playing.
Overall Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;birth 2: Sisters Generation is a great port and a worthy game in it's own right. The battles are fun, changing dungeons is a unique feature and all of the characters are likeable. While the story isn't anything to write home about, it's still a J-RPG worth playing.
(Note: This game was purchased by the author at a retail store. The game can be purchased on Amazon over here.)