So, they unleashed the action, did they?
Hyperdimension Neptunia, the game series which is entirely set within a parody of the console wars, now has quite a few games in its series. Alongside the highly entertaining JRPG staples, there are even a few spin off titles that have made their way to the UK, all of which are worth playing. HNU: Action Unleashed is yet another of the spin off titles, one which was handed off to developers Tamsoft to take in an interesting new direction. The direction is hack ‘n’ slash, and HNU is not too dissimilar to Dynasty Warriors in that effect, just smaller, and with cuter enemies, and less clothing…
Once again we visit the gloriously colourful world of Gamindustri and get to spend some time with CPUs and CPU candidates in this Vita title. I would love to tell you that there is a deep and involving storyline to tempt the player along in the game, but there really isn’t. Rather, we have journalists Famitsu and Dengekiko writing a story about the girls, and the girls going on quest after quest in an attempt to give them something to write about. It’s actually quite a nice idea and works well within this style of game, and that’s not to say that there may be some surprises along the way. The series’ sense of humour and parodying of everything gaming is also packed into the game, ensuring plenty of little chuckle moments along with references that fans of the series will enjoy.
But hey, this is Action Unleashed so set the minimal story to one side. The player will pick two of the playable characters and then set off to complete quests from a list. Only one of the chosen characters is in play at any time, and the player can switch between them whenever they choose, which is especially handy when one of the characters has lost some health and needs to rest. Of the missions themselves, most are fairly straight forward eliminating a certain enemy or number of enemies, although the occasional character specific mission or fetch quest pops up to at least offer some variety.
The game is primarily about dispatching many, many enemies, and the body count will quickly move into the hundreds and thousands. The fact that the enemies that you face so often ooze cuteness will make no difference as you ruthlessly dispatch them in alarmingly large numbers.
The combat itself is easy to enjoy, with two buttons offering light and heavy attacks doing most of the work. There are a selection of special attacks and, of course, the ability to take on a more powerful form when filling a gauge for a nice burst of additional combat prowess. The lack of a block button means that the player will have to make heavy use of the dash button to avoid being overwhelmed at times.
Each of the available characters have different abilities and carry different weapons, meaning there is plenty of choice when it comes to play style. There is also the chance to customise the appearance of both forms of each character, and to kit them out with different items which can boost the character or offer different advantages.
All in all, the gameplay is a satisfyingly enjoyable mini version of the Dynasty Warriors games, and knowing that should give you a simple idea of what to expect. If you also add in the fact that, at certain times, the characters will suffer damage to their clothing and things will become decidedly “skimpy”, this should also give some insight to the game. Many gamers will not be bothered about this minor titillation, but there are some that will. For those concerned gamers, worried about scantily clad anime ladies on their Vita while sitting on the bus, indestructible costumes do become available later in the game.
Finishing the main game opens up a new tournament mode which offers pretty much more of the same, but this in turn opens a tower mode which will prove challenging to most players and is something to sink multiple hours into. Each of these additional modes by themselves may not be anything to shout about, but as part of the HNU package, they are a welcome addition.
Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is quite a departure from the core games in the series, but it is also very successful. The gameplay may suffer from slight repetition, but it is incredibly enjoyable and perfectly suited to “on the go” gaming. The game looks great on the Vita screen, and is compelling enough to keep players coming back for more. Fans of the series can enjoy the references, whilst newcomers can easily slip into this strange parody world for some satisfying brawling. Well worth checking out!