If Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 showed promise for a franchise that could grow past mediocrity and become something special, then Re;Birth 2 squanders that potential full force. It makes some interesting minor additions, but comes up short of its predecessor.
The first addition comes in the form of four player party battles as opposed to the original’s three player battles. It’s a relatively minor alteration that does just enough to speed up the flow of combat and allow for strategy to be a bit more viable in heated situations. The core combat has remained untouched with the same system of rush, break, power attacks and an EXE gauge.
The only other addition to Re;Birth 2 is an optional rogue-like style mini game. Players can assign equipment to an avatar and send her into a dungeon to gather items and special materials. Players do not actively control this avatar. Instead, she is sent out for an allotted amount of time depending on what floor of the dungeon she is assigned to, letting players make progress in the story until she returns. If she dies while out and about, her currently selected equipment is lost.
First impressions of Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2 Sisters Generation were strong. These two additions seemed like the start of a greater overall experience with more polish. Unfortunately, it sets into the same rhythm as the original within a handful of hours and never grows past that. The amount of reused assets is staggering.
Combos and abilities of returning characters are identical, but the re-used dungeons are the most egregious example of asset flipping. The first game had a habit of re-using the same dungeons multiple times as story dungeons and side dungeons. Different locations on the world map would be given different names and yet they’d be the same dungeon you’ve already seen three times before in the story under three different names. Re;Birth 2 is no different. In fact, the developers go so far as to take a dungeon that was copy/pasted four times in the first game and copy/paste it another four times here. Never in my life have I seen such laziness from even a low-budget Japanese game.
It’s not all a disaster, though. For as many missteps as it makes, fans can still expect that same brand of quirky humor with endearing archetypal characters and references to anime/gaming up the ass. The game introduces Red and Cave, two of the most interesting characters in the Re;Birth series thus far.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2 Sisters Generation is frustrating. It’s frustrating because it tried making incremental improvements to the formula, pacing, and writing to offer a refined experience, but fails on the merit of its repetition and laziness. It’s essentially the yearly franchise model: JRPG edition. Luckily, it clocks in at roughly half the length of the first game, a blessing in disguise.