I opened my email this morning and a scarab fell out. I’ll admit that I screamed like a little girl. Shortly thereafter, sand began to fill my condo yet again. I knew what was coming. The mummy’s curse had struck again. No anime fanservice game would come out without my having played it, lest the horrors of ancient Egypt come for my flesh. Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is here. Let’s take a look.
The CPUs and CPU Candidates are back doing the same stuff they usually do, but doing it in a different way. Or something. Despite looking and sounding like a Neptunia game at first, Hyperdimension Neptunia U plays more like an entry in the Senran Kagura series. Yeah, that series. You know the one I’m talking about. Read my reviews of all those games if you want to know what you’re getting into, because this is a bit of a swerve from the usual tone of the Neptunia games. “I can still be a strong female lead!” cries Neptune in an early cutscene discussing the costume destruction mechanics. Sure.
As for the gameplay, Hyperdimension Neptunia U is reminiscent of recent Warriors games, which is also a new direction for this series. You’ve got hordes of monsters with the odd more difficult boss enemy; you’re going to slaughter them by the dozens with huge, bombastic attacks. You bring in two characters of your choice at a time, each of whom has her own attacks as well as the usual HDD transformation ability. The selection of characters includes all the usual Neptunia heroines, as well as new characters Famitsu and Dengekiko, who represent the Japanese gaming magazines that are their namesakes. You can load up on gear and such to modify characters’ stats, same as you always do, which is a nice touch for this sort of game.
There are a few quirks to the proceedings, of course. The most noticeable is the aforementioned costume destruction mechanic. If you take too much damage or overuse your heavy attacks, well…that mechanic does exactly what it sounds like. HDD transformations are unusual for this sort of game as well, and function pretty much as you’d expect – build a gauge, transform, kick ass until you run out of gauge. Simple, but Warriors-style games don’t focus on complexity. The other interesting quirk is the ability to choose if you’d rather follow the story of the CPUs (Neptune and co.) or the CPU candidates (Nepgear and co.), much how Persona Q works, though not only is the story kind of irrelevant either way but the game gleefully announces that it’s non-canon before you even get started, so who cares?
As always, Neptunia fans know they want this and non-fans would be better served starting with the Re;Birth 1. Senran Kagura fans should probably go wipe their hands on something before picking this one up. Warriors fans who don’t mind the dripping pools of anime oozing from every part of this game will probably have a good time here as well. Everyone else? Hard to say. Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is certainly a different direction for the Neptunia series, but as always it’s well done if the content is something you’re into.