I gave Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection a fair chance, I really did. What I was getting into was a simulation game where you are tasked with becoming the producer for upcoming idols. For those who don’t know, idols are a part of Japanese culture where media personalities in their teens and early twenties, who are considered particularly cute or attractive, will regularly appear in mass media for a period of several months to a few years. In the case of Hyperdimension, it is mainly singers for pop groups lasting for a seemingly endless time frame of 180 days. I did my best to let the game immerse me into it’s world and show me what I have been missing. Was I ever wrong to do so.
Let’s take a step back and go over the story for this anime-inspired game. TheHyperdimension series is a parody of the ongoing “console war” in the real world. The world of Gamindustr is broken up into four different regions: Lastation, referencing Sony’s Playstation 3 console, Lewee, referencing Nintendo’s Wii console, Leanbox, representing Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console and, in an interesting twist, the fourth region, called Planeptune, represents a fictional current generation console from Sega. Each region has a goddess who acts as the guardian of their respective land. They are in charge of ensuring their regions prosper by any means necessary. This is why the four goddesses decide to become idols after an idol group called MOB48, a parody of the real-life J-pop group AKB48, taking all of the regions shares; a measurement of fan loyalty. I was driven mad by how often these plot points were explained to me. None of the characters have anything interesting to say, always talking about how they need to become the greatest idol in all existence to win back their shares.
Except for the goddess of Planeptune, the aptly named Neptune, each character is named after the color their console is most commonly associated with. In French. I kid you not, the names of the goddesses are as follows: Vert for Leanbox, Noire for Lastation and Blanc for Lewee. Once I was sure the game had given up trying to create decent characters I was introduced to the goddesses HDD forms, which are more powerful transformations. After transforming the character names change to, Purple Heart, Green Heart, Black Heart and White Heart respectively. They won’t let you forget it either, as they shout their names constantly and talk about how powerful they are. Without a clear limit on how long the transformation can last, there doesn’t seem like a reason to ever revert back to the previous forms. These characters are far from relatable, as every character feels stereotypical in nature. I never thought of Xbox as the wiser older sister or Nintendo as the loud and angry type, it comes across lazy.
The overly sexualized cast of characters are uncomfortable to look at and are even more so in their actions. Your character, the producer, is on his summer break and is transported to Gamindustr to help out the goddesses in becoming idols. Nothing about this character is likable; he is awkward, uninteresting and very perverted. The goddesses even act like they are all too comfortable being sex objects. They often make remarks to this point, stating “My soft chest acted as your landing pillow, I see,” when the player falls from the sky. It is off-putting and really makes the characters feel one-dimensional.
Hyperdimension’s gameplay, if it can even be called that, has you interacting with one of the four goddesses of your choice in five different ways. This would be all well and good if it meant that you were actually doing anything. “Move” simply takes you to another one of the Gamindustr nations. “Lesson” allows you to increase the goddess’ stats to help them put on more successful shows, while “Work” helps you increase the goddess’ fan base. If they get too stressed out, you can “Relax” to lower their stress meter. I was honestly baffled at how little the game asked out of me, as the experience got boring very quickly. A couple of small events happen over the course of the 180 days, but it isn’t anything to write home about.
The meatiest task, and I say that lightly, is “Concert”. Here you must put on a show for your idol to dance and sing in. You pick the song, stage and set effects, and then let her do her thing. As she performs you must angle the camera so that fans are entertained while setting off set effects at key moments in the performance. I was trying my best for my first couple of performances, but after a while I found there was no need to try very hard as my input was minimal at best. There is also an Unlimited Concert Mode where you, as the title says, perform concerts till your heart’s content, but it isn’t very enticing when concerts weren’t very fun to begin with.
If you like boobs and cute Japanese girls, you may like the Viewer mode where you are able to ogle and dress up any of the game’s characters to your hearts content. The problem here is that the creep level is turned up to the max when you are given one of the game’s characters to dress up and purely ogle. Objectifying women is one thing, but when they are literally put on display, it really puts into retrospect how uncomfortable of a situation Hyperdimension puts you in just by playing. The game has you touch different locations on the touch screen and the rear touch pad to provoke a response from the girl. The characters are often very offended as they should be. The whole mode just felt very unnecessary and repulsive.
As it stands, Hyperdimension lacks the basic fundamentals to feel like a full fledged game and ends up being a chore to play. If you really like idols you might be able to get some fun out of this, but not a lot. I still feel like everything wasn’t explained to me and that the actual on stage performances weren’t nearly as impressive as they should have been. There are better simulation games on the market with more player interaction and higher production value.
Note: The Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection was written based on a digital PlayStation Vita version of the game.