To be honest, this game, I had serious doubts about it from the very start. The PVs weren’t that convincing and I somewhat expected your average fan-service game. Why did I buy? Because a fan I am. And as a hardcore Hyperdimension Neptune fan, there’s no way I can miss anything related to it.
In-between dating sim and Idol game, Idol Neptune PP has actually a lot of exciting but poorly executed ideas. A mysterious group of idols called MOB48 suddenly became so popular that they’re drawing the “shares” that are necessary to Neptune and the other goddesses to rule their respective country. But being popular is no crime and the 4 goddesses decide to strike back by becoming idols themselves.
Up to you to manage their carrier during the 180 days of the story, with the ultimate goal to reach the top position in shares and in the top 50. It’s not difficult at all : in my second run with Vert, I cleared the game in approximately 90 days. You have a variety of commands shared between “management”, “learning”, “rest”, “move” and “live”. Management is mainly used to increase the number of fans and thus gain shares. Learning will make your heroine progress in singing, dancing, expression, self-confidence, etc. which impact directly the success of your performances. Resting reduces stress and allows you get closer to your girl through dating. Moving will transport you to another country if you aim to perform lives there.
The trouble is that very quickly you learn to foresee the outcome of every type of event, there are very few surprises and some of them periodically reappear in identical form. You don’t have many negative events and nothing ever stops you in your way to the top. It ends up being boring because you feel no risk of game over. Once you team with another goddess to form a duo, shares are automatically recalculated to your advantage and you you have even less effort to do at this stage (same applies to trio).
The actual show part exceeded my expectations. Graphically it’s strikingly nicer than the PS3 games, choreography felt good and the little something of fan service makes it a real pleasure for hardcore fans of the series. You can toggle various camera angles, effects, choose between an array of costumes and accessories, which ultimately determine your final score. Despite the limited number of music tracks (only 5!), I never get bored during lives. On the minus side, it’s very difficult to understand the actual levers for success during lives, making them a bit random. Also, the fact that you can only change to goddess from when alone on the stage is quite a letdown. You will only be able to do it in the first stages of a walkthrough. Speaking of fan service, Neptunia PP has a viewer mode similar to Senran Kagura’s dressing room, though far less elaborated or fun.
On the dating side, Idol Neptune PP is a trainwreck. It’s all the more disappointing that the idea of seducing Noire and the others was seducing in itself. Though dating is normally done by resting, you can trigger events in pretty much every situation. Those ones are far too short and hardly fun at all! I was astonished by how flat the humor felt given that it’s been a great strength in the series so far. Worst of all, there are virtually no original illustration. Even the MOB48 who are at the center of the story aren’t shown, you never come to know what they look like! This is unthinkable in Hyperdimension Neptune. What was Tsunako fu** doing when this game was in development? All this is totally underwhelming and it’s quote surprising coming from Tamsoft who had done an excellent job in the field with Love Application.
To conclude, Neptune PP seems like a lamentable accident in the trajectory of the series. Management is could be richer, good ideas are misused, it’s visually entertaining but feels incomplete. In fact, I’m under the impression that Neptune PP wanted to be too many things at the same time, without succeeding in any. And like they say “Jack-of-all-trades, Idolmaster of none”.