Off the bat, I just want to say that this game is honestly named incorrectly; whilst yes, this is a bit of a pet-peeve of mine, the game should’ve been called “Superdimension IF VS Sega Hard Girls”, since Neptune herself only has a small part to play in the larger story of this game! Now that my pet peeve’s been calmed…On with the review!
Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls is a crossover project between SEGA and Idea Factory, utilising various pieces of SEGA IP’s, consoles and company history to blend into an intriguing tactical JRPG – Superdimension starts off on a bleak note; the world has been ravaged and torn, pillaged and burnt, until all that stands left is a structure known as “The Great Library”, an archive of the world’s history and lore, which has been in the process of restoring the “True History”, avoiding the end of the world…
You play as IF, innocent, yet bitchy, but with a caring and soft demeanour on the inside, who seeks her ‘next big adventure’, when she encounters a small individual known as Historie, the Library’s librarian; together, with another mysterious ally, Segami, the three work together to repair time, and to save their world from annihilation. Admittedly, this plot sounds an awful lot similar to that of Dragonball Xenoverse’s, what with various characters from all over the Neptune franchise being pulled in to different times to repair the “True History”…But regardless, what do I think of the game?
Well…Sega Hard Girls is a fun, addicting tactical JRPG, that is unfortunately held back by padded out writing, technical issues, and bland environments. Let me explain – The core gameplay of Sega Hard Girls revolves around exploring dungeons similar to a non-procedural Persona 4, with surprise attacks and being able to be ‘Caught off Guard’ being a thing, except with the core gameplay, you move your characters around to attack and perform actions according to their clock meter, a meter that increases with each activity – Say you’re stationary, but have to move to attack an enemy – That would increase the clock meter. Once the clock meter reaches “Over”, your turn is over. Simple, right?
This is where the addicting nature of the game sets in, as it becomes a lot more engaging than traditional JRPGs, and acts in the same way as how Persona 3 and 4 sunk their hook into me many moons prior…However, it isn’t without it’s flaws – For instance, the registering of Surprise Attacks and being ‘Caught off Guard’ seems buggy at best, as I’ve had many times where I’ve clearly attacked an enemy, whilst stationary and from behind, yet it says that ‘I’ got caught off guard..?! To me, this was more annoying than a hinderance, since it let enemies just absolutely wail on me over, and over again with no chance of me easily recovering.
Another thing to note is that the game isn’t very well optimised for PS Vita systems – The game, natively, runs at around 20fps, with it dipping to around 10 or even 5fps when running past multiple enemies in dense environments (Note these figures aren’t 100% accurate, as I had no way of measuring, but there is some extremely noticeable lag during any part of gameplay)…This, combined with the overly sensitive movement and slow camera controls made me have to repeat sections where it required timed jumping, navigating and even just in general whenever I moved around.
My fear of simultaneously breathing sprites is…Thankfully…Quelled in this Neptune installment, as now characters don’t breathe in unison when on-screen with one another like they did in Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies, but are instead paced differently to other characters. Sega Hard Girls is interesting to me, to say the least, with it’s nostalgia digging deep into my heart with characters based off of the Sega Mega Drive, Saturn, Genesis, Game Gear, and Dreamcast, to name a few; each time period as well were named off of popular ‘mainline’ Sega Consoles, being the above Mega Drive, Saturn, Game Gear and Dreamcast generations being the main four you can visit.
Unfortunately, my gripes with the game don’t stop at just the bad optimisation and fluffed-out writing; the game also has some very, VERY odd design choices from a game design standpoint – Every single time you want to progress, you HAVE to go back to the Library, sit through a pseudo-loading screen, navigate to Historie, and report back; note as well, that you can only take on one mission at a time! To be honest, I just went through quests one by one, but when you have quests like “Kill 4 of this monster”, or “Gather this item”, it really does make you question why you’re playing the game – These quests should be passive at all times, but no, you have to treat them the same as story quests, which I think is ridiculous.
But despite this…I…I can’t help but to keep playing; once you get used to the way the game wants you to play, get used to the framerate, and the camera, and start to understand more and more of the game, the more you grow to enjoy it – I loved getting new skills to see the flashy new costumes and animations, and love the feeling of slaughtering my foes, and, whilst I didn’t find any sort of boss battle in the few hours I had with the game, I’d love to see where the game goes nearing it’s middle, and ending chapters.
With loveable characters, comical writing, enthusiastic voice acting, addicting gameplay and easy-to-pick-up nature of the game, Megadimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls is a different type of game than what you may be accustomed to, and might help you to shake up the mix, to try and get you to play something new.
With that in mind, I would rate Megadimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls a final score of 7 / 10; personally, I wouldn’t buy the game unless it was on sale, or if I was a fan, but either way, I still had a lot of fun with IF and the gang.