Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection Review
Posted by Katy Ellis
Let's nep nep
The colourful lands of Gamindustri are once again under threat – not from an evil organisation or an enraged Histy, but rather by an influx of idols in the charts. One idol group in particular, MOB48 – a take on the insanely popular Japanese girl group AKB48 – have been causing a bit of a kerfuffle, having stolen all of the CPU's hard-earned shares. For our four protagonists, there's only one thing to do: become idols themselves and take back those shares.
Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection assumes you, as the player, to be a young man, transporting you from your summer break in the real world into Gamindustri to act as one of the CPU's producers. But there's a catch: you only have 180 days to whip your idol into action, claim the top spot, and take back those shares. Despite this ominous deadline looming above your head, failing is practically impossible here, with it taking only a few hours for you to complete the story mode and watch the credits roll for the first time – and that's without even thinking too much about how you're managing your idol's time.
While the idea of transforming one of your favourite Hyperdimension characters into a chart-topping idol and bossing them about for hours on end may sound like a promising venture, managing the girls' daily routines sadly does not live up to expectations. In Producer Mode, you select one CPU to focus your attention on, and then plan their movements for the day – be it work, lessons, relaxing, or putting on a concert. Work usually entails organising publicity stunts, holding PR events, or recording a new track – all of which help to increase your fanbase – while lessons focus on improving your vocals and dance skills, as well as your overall knowledge.
When your idol's stress levels get too high, you can opt to relax for the day, hanging out with Blanc in Lowee or one of the other members of the game's rambunctious cast – or perhaps just spending some one-to-one time with your idol in order to strengthen your relationship. While most of this sounds intriguing enough – especially if you're easily sucked into increasing stats and moving up leaderboards like this writer – you'll still simply be flicking through menus, and repeatedly watching the same mini cutscenes and hearing the same dialogue over and over.
Once you've mustered up enough guts, you can put on a performance for your doting fans. Being perceived as arguably the most exciting element of the game, putting on concerts will come as a bit of a disappointment for those looking for some meaty gameplay to get stuck into. As a producer, you take very much a backseat in proceedings, your tasks solely restricted to selecting a song out of the five on offer to perform, choosing a few lighting effects to toggle every so often, selecting costumes, accessories, and hairstyles, and controlling the camera to raise fans’ excitement levels.
Granted, you can try to be artsy and time the confetti to drop in time to that perfect crescendo in the song, but sadly triggering lighting and effect options at random and wildly flinging the camera around the stage will earn you a higher score than a perfectly choreographed performance. It’s a great shame, as we truly longed for a more interactive concert mode in the style of a Hatsune Miku-esque rhythm action minigame to give us a bit of a challenge – and a few more of those catchy, bubbly songs wouldn’t have gone amiss either.
Aside from your chores as a producer, the game provides you with a few side offerings, such as the Viewer Mode and Unlimited Concert Mode – the latter being just what it says on the label. To be honest, unless you really enjoyed spinning around the camera like a loony, continuously activating stage beam lighting, and listening to the same songs over and over, we can't see a reason why you'd ever want to click on this option.
Viewer Mode, on the other hand, is solely a fan service element, allowing you to view your chosen goddess at full-length, and prod and poke them to provoke a reaction. It’s an odd addition, and one that won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but at least it includes the remotely useful feature of setting Vert and crew as your alarm clock – because, why ever not?
As far as looks go, this entry remains true to the franchise's bold, bright, and cutesy visuals, with detailed backdrops and expressive 2D portrait character models. Each character is brought to life with their own well formed personalities and interesting quirks, and the script remains as lively and banterous as ever. For the Trophy hunters among you, the title's trinket map will take some time to complete, but requires little skill, mostly revolving around replaying each CPU's 'story' in Producer Mode in order to witness every event, boost every stat, and reach every possible ending.
Producing Perfection will appeal to its core audience of loyal Hyperdimension Neptunia fans, who will be eager to view every cutscene and engage in every bit of dialogue. However, there is nothing here for newcomers and casual players to get excited about. For an idol management game with promise and potential, it's a shame to see Neptune and her friends hit such a bum note – and a really repetitive bum note at that.