Throughout my experience as a gamer and especially a game writer I have never had to deal with something like Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection. It’s essentially a game of stats, where you must make the right decisions in order to get the optimum stat increases with each given opportunity. Done the right way, this could be a really zany and funny type of game along the lines of the Nintendo DS’s Elite Beat Agents. Unfortunately, this game was not done the right way.
The concept of Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection is simple (and strange): you are a student who is just about to embark on a summer vacation that will be filled with nothing but gaming when you are suddenly summoned to a world called Gameindustri (clever) by 4 goddess-like Console Patron Units (CPUs). These 4 CPUs rule the realm of Gameindustri and each represent one of today’s major consoles, though they are in a bit of deep water. An idol group called MOB48 has passed the CPUs and taken the most shares of Gameindustri, as a result. So, the goddesses want to become idols with your help to win back the shares and return everything back to normal. Got that?
The 4 ladies you have to deal with all feature firm-yet-super-naive personalities as there is no question in their minds that they are going to be pop idols with your help. I ended up with Vert as my “idol” and her character ended up being someone who was a confident and hard worker that had a hardcore gaming attitude. As a result, I had to make sure that she stayed focused on her work and still had the amount of time she wanted to go on gaming marathons. This is the part of the game that I liked the most, because the characters (for the most part) are pretty likable and it’s entertaining to see what they have to say.
Unfortunately, the majority of the game has you performing the same actions over and over again which makes everything very tedious. As the producer you have the the following options to perform with your idol: work, lesson, relax, move and concert. Work increases your fanbase while lesson increases personal stats like vocals and rhythm. When you have done too much working and stress has built up you need to make sure that you choose the relax option to bring those stress levels down, as high stress levels result in diminished returns in both work and lessons. Move allows you to relocate to one of the other Gameindustri nations in order to reach new audiences, which brings up new scenarios for the characters to go through. All of these scenarios are implied, however, as you don’t get much more than a quick bit of dialogue showing that the event took place.
The most hands-on option is concert, in which you actually witness your idol performing a song. You get to chose the stage, what your idol wears and stage effects that all effect the audiences engagement in the show. However, your main job is to control the camera and come up with dynamic camera angles for the audience, but the game’s registration capabilities seem really limited in this area. Most of the time I just kind of moved the camera angle around wildly like a nut job and it resulted in me doing better than I did when I was actually trying to get good angles. Thus, the one aspect of the game that has true gameplay is broken.
And you must repeat this process day in and day out to increase your idol’s stats and rise her to the top of the charts before 180 in-game days pass. A day passes after one action has taken place, so the days pass rather quickly. I had no problems getting my idol to the top of the charts way before the 180 days passed, though it still felt like a complete grind because of the lack of depth in these events. You’re basically just selecting one of the 5 options, checking out which stats go up and repeating that process… over and over and over again.
Apart from the main mode you also have a Viewer Mode, which is perhaps the most weird part of the game. You are just given a screen of an idol of your choosing that you can touch and watch them react in a bunch of random and disturbing ways. It’s one of those things where you really just kind of scratch your head wondering why it’s in the game at all. I guess in a game that has literally no gameplay engagement something like this can pass as an actual “mode”, but on planet Earth this is completely lame.
Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection can offer slight entertainment in very short bursts, but playing the game any longer than that results in extreme frustration and boredom. There is no true interactive gameplay to speak of and the little that you actually do control must be done far too many times. The game’s likable characters make some of this tedium easier to swallow, but for the most part this is a game that should be avoided by just about everyone.