One of the most appealing elements of the Neptunia series for fans is its consistent and instantly recognisable aesthetic.
This is largely the work of artist Tsunako. In fact, the Neptunia series at least partly came about as a result of developers Idea Factory and Compile Heart wanting to give her artwork a more prominent role after her previous contributions to games such as Cross Edge and Trinity Universe.
We shouldn’t understate the other aspects of Neptunia’s aesthetic, though; it’s not just about visuals. It’s also about how the games sound, and between the soundtrack, voice acting and even sound effects, it’s clear that the team behind the series has thought about this just as much as the art style.
Continue reading Megadimension Neptunia V-II: Sights and Sounds
While dismissed by many mainstream critics as lightweight, disposable moe fluff, the Neptunia series actually has some of the sharpest, most on-point writing in the business.
Both strongly allegorical and satirical, the series as a whole has evolved its treatment of its narrative themes and characters from installment to installment, roughly in keeping with trends in the gaming business and longstanding concerns in the industry as a whole. Not only that, but it acknowledges and satirises trends in other aspects of popular media, too, particularly anime.
Part of this is down to the snappiness of the original Japanese writing and the characterisation therein — much of which you can pick up through the Japanese voice acting, even if you don’t speak much (or indeed any) Japanese — but a lot of credit must also be laid at the feet of the various localisation teams who have tackled the series over the years.
Continue reading Megadimension Neptunia V-II: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation
The Neptunia series may only have been with us since 2010, but it’s already a mainstay of the modern Japanese gaming landscape.
It wasn’t an entirely smooth ride for the series in the early days, though; in many ways, given the extremely poor critical reception the first game, it’s surprising that we’ve seen as many Neptunia games over the years as we have done.
It’s clearly a series that creator Naoko Mizuno and developer-publishers Idea Factory and Compile Heart believe in, though — and one that fans have resolutely (and sensibly) ignored the mainstream critical opinion of in favour of making their own mind up.
And those who choose to engage with the series over the long term will discover both a franchise and a developer willing to learn from its mistakes, evolve over time and reboot things when necessary.
Continue reading Megadimension Neptunia V-II: Historical Context and Mechanics
Since its original appearance in 2010, the Neptunia series has grown from a niche-interest RPG into one of developer Compile Heart’s biggest success stories.
This is a particularly remarkable achievement, given that the first installment in the series didn’t have a strong critical reception at all — while review score aggregation isn’t an exact science by any means, the fact that the first Hyperdimension Neptunia game sits at a not-so-proud score of 45 on Metacritic should make it fairly clear that this is not a game that the mainstream press liked. At all.
And yet here we are, six years later at the time of writing, celebrating the release of the seventh (or fourth, depending on how you want to look at it) installment in the mainline, canonical Neptunia series, and the tenth overall release to carry the Neptunia name in the West.
How did this happen? How did a series that started with a game almost universally panned by professional critics become one of the most recognisable Japanese franchises on the worldwide market?
Continue reading Megadimension Neptunia V-II: Introduction