Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls, which originally launched on Sony’s PlayStation Vita in 2016, has now landed on the PC, via Steam. This new release brings with it some substantial upgrades from its portable predecessor. The title can be looked at as a spinoff or an almost soft-reboot of the Superdimension Neptunia series of games. Like other entries in the series, Sega Hard Girls delivers a narrative set in a world based on famous gaming corporations which have been personified into cute and bubbly (and occasionally grating) anime girls.
In Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls, the game introduces the titular ‘Sega hard Girls’; girls that are literally based off of pretty much every single Sega console, all the way from the Sega SG-1000 to their last console, the Sega Dreamcast. The strange name is likely a result of Japan’s obsession with amalgamating English words together, with the hard, in ‘Hard Girls’ being a shorthand for hardware.
Players fill the shoes of IF, or as some of the other characters in the game call her, Iffy. IF—who has previously been featured as a side character within the franchise—gets her time to shine as the main protagonist in Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls. IF, being the game’s protagonist is not lost within the narrative either, there is a scene early on that features Neptune, the protagonist of the original game boasting the fact that she has the title of the protagonist and therefore cannot be defeated.
The story in Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls, opens with IF exploring a post-apocalyptic Games Industri, the main setting for all of the Superdimension games. IF soon discovers a massive library that appears to be in pristine condition amongst the ruin. Before entering said library, IF notices a girl falling from the sky that she decides to rescue and bring with her into the library. Players soon learn that the world of Game Industri is in such disarray due to history itself being rewritten. The librarian, known as Histoire, takes it upon herself and modifies IF’s motorcycle, giving it the ability to time travel, and this sets up the main narrative crux of the game.
The mysterious girl who had fallen from the sky introduces herself to IF and Histoire as Segami, a character who seems to be a personification of Sega itself. Both IF and Segami embark on an adventure to restore the lost history of Game Industri.
Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls plays similarly to previous entries in the series, while also streamlining and adding a small timed element into the way the game handles quests and objectives. Every mission in the game has a set time limit, if players don’t complete it within a certain given amount of time, they will become incomplete, and depending on how many quests are completed by the end of the game, it will ultimately determine the strength of the final boss. Those who may be worried about the new timed mechanic can rest assured that most of the important key missions have multiple opportunities to complete them, which should give players more than enough chances to weaken the end boss.
Battles begin by engaging enemies on the field or dungeon. Like many other RPGs, players can sneak up on the enemy in order to attack first, or vice versa. Once in battle, the game shifts to a smaller closed arena, in which IF and anyone else who happens to be in the party, are placed in a medium to large ring or circle on the ground. Each character has free reign to move and jump within the boundaries of the ring, however, they only have a set amount of moves per turn, with special attacks using up more energy. Furthermore, if an enemy is outside the radius of the ring, the player will have to wait for the enemy to make their move and approach the player before being able to actually attack said enemy.
Healing and magic restorative items also appear during battles which can be picked up during a character’s turns. As battles progress, a large star-shaped gem will appear on the field. Once a character grabs it, they will enter Fever mode. Fever mode allows characters to attack indefinitely without worrying about energy consumption for as long as it remains active.
Turn order is based on the formation of the party, formations can be altered and modified, and new formations can be unlocked and equipped as the game progresses. In addition to formations, players can also change up each character class in the game, for example, IF begins the game as Nomad, but as players progress through the story, they can soon change her class affinity to better suit their playstyle. Each character gets three classes to choose from, with better classes unlocking as they level up and progress further into the game. The addition of classes is a nice touch and does an adequate job of taking an otherwise bland fighting system and giving it a bit more depth.
The game also reintroduces something known as Lily Ranks, a social stat, or affinity that characters can have for each other. Higher ranks equate to bonuses in battle, and players can build up the Lily Rank by fighting in battles together in different formations with the corresponding character they wish to get closer to. Lily Ranks start at level one and cap out at five. Finally, certain party members such as Neptune have the ability to transform during battles, which the game refers to as Hard Drive Divinity or HDD. By giving up 20 per cent of your stamina, characters can transform through the HDD system, and when transformed characters’ deal significantly more damage and have access to their own unique skills and abilities during battles.
Outside of battles, players control IF through various dungeons and outdoor maps, and will be able to engage in very light parkour to better traverse the maps, with IF being able to jump, climb, crawl and run her way to the exit of each area. Each map also contains collectables, such as baseballs and coins, and collecting everything in a single zone grants bonuses such as concept art and other unlockable goodies, all of which can be accessed from the library, the main hub for the game. Each new world in the game is represented by a Sega console, starting with the Sega Saturn. The game does a great job of peppering in little references and Easter eggs throughout the game, such as naming various zones after classic Sega games.
In terms of the Steam release of the game, Sega has done somewhat of a bare bones job in porting over the Vita original, with the biggest advantage being the performance gains from running on better hardware. The PlayStation Vita release of the game suffered from slowdowns and frame pacing issues which left players with a somewhat inconsistent experience. Thankfully with the PC version, the game seems to run at a rock solid and more importantly, a consistent 60FPS, even at 4k (a nice upgrade from the Vita’s sub 30fps) using a GTX 980M.
Aside from a massive resolution bump, the game doesn’t seem to offer any options to further tweak the graphical settings for the title, such as anti-aliasing or even any options for v-sync. While playing the game I had encountered some torn frames, especially when panning the camera around the field or in battles, which thankfully didn’t detract my overall enjoyment of the game too much but was something noticeable and may be an issue for some.
At the end of the day, Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls is a serviceable port of an already somewhat dated and niche title. The game is sure to please fans of the franchise, especially those who prefer gaming on their PCs, but for those who may have never played a Superdimension game, the title may not live up to the standards of other modern JRPGs. Those who consider themselves die-hard Sega fans and those who are either into the Superdimension franchise or appreciate quirky and fun anime should consider checking the game out. If nothing else, Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girl’s Steam release is the definitive way to enjoy the game.