Superdimension Neptune vs. Sega Hard Girls(SNvSHG) is is a RPG for the Vita where you play as the anthropomorphized representations of console systems & hardware. Combined from two different series (Hyperdimension Neptunia & Sega Hard Girls) that follow the same basic premise of hardware themed characters, we finally see a cross-over game as the two series go head to head, vying the girls representing modern consoles against classic Sega machines.
What could go wrong? Unfortunately everything. SNvSHG suffers from a bewildering series of problems in its design, but let’s get one of the worst offenders out of the way; the frame-rate. Well the game plays at a fairly normal 30FPS, during many portions of the game the frame-rate absolutely chugs, with it virtually never hitting its target of 30 in any of the world-areas I encountered. The battles also frequently chug, and anytime you run into large groups of enemies prepare for the frame-rate to plummet. While I didn’t capture and analyze it, from experience we frequently saw long dips below 20FPS at certain portions. This is always unacceptable for multi-platform releases, but for a vita exclusive title doubly so.
Beyond technical issues, the game suffers from a deluge of pacing problems ranging from the dialogue, the battle system, the leveling system, and the pace of boss battles. Let’s start with the dialogue; I’ve played past titles in the Neptuina series and had an idea of what to expect, rather inane banter that got the occasional laugh. SNvSHG focused exclusively on the banter and dropped all the humor. Characters frequently ramble on for several minutes at a time with random banter that falls flat, furthering none of the plot, failing to establish the setting, and doing nothing for their character but fill you with a desire to figure out the skip mechanism ASAP. A couple of inane moments could be forgiven in a long game, but this “style” is the vast majority of dialogue, comprising much of your playtime, with the game requiring you to casually go from place to place triggering these scenes several times before each action sequence.
Speaking of the action, the battle system in and of itself is adequate, a fairly decent system we’ve seen many variations of but nothing new; respectably solid. What isn’t good is the pacing of leveling and boss encounters. The game starts out for the longest time being ridiculously easy, encouraging you to grind frequently during what few chances you get between long inane cutscenes. The character progression however is awful, you gain new abilities in your class, at an incredibly slow rate. I only saw one new ability for each character in the first few hours of the game, leaving me to spam nothing but basic attacks and making combat a chore out the gate; with almost no harder challenges to break up the pace.
Challenges though? The first boss encounter was insanely difficult. After encountering the first boss battle over 6 hours into the game (insanity!), the encounter itself was monumentally challenging. I felt like I spent a lot of time grinding the early game because I wanted to avoid the cutscenes, but even being ahead of the curve, this encounter immediately started with AoE attacks doing damage greater than characters max health, requiring tons of item usage, extreme resource management, and the entire battle being one long resurrection chain as characters would be one-shot every turn.
This left an absolutely rancid taste in my mouth; slogging through such a bad beginning of a game until finally (finally!) encounter a challenging fight, only for it to be so unbalanced that I initially speculated I wasn’t even intended to beat the encounter and had run across a fake boss fight. Alas I was mistaken.
These issues with dialogue & pacing highlight the biggest failings of this game. This is a genre where the bar is set low, real low, so low you can trip over it and succeed; but SNvSHG manages to push the limits of how awful a fanservice game truly can be, and I unequivocally cannot recommend it.
Superdimension Neptune vs Sega Hard Girls? Hard Pass.