With the popularity of The Idolmaster, it was just a question of time before other companies tried to make a similar title. The spin-off Hyperdimension Neptunia Producing Perfection tries exactly that, mixing the gameplay of The Idolmaster titles with the characters from the Neptunia series.
The game opens with you prepared for a summer gaming marathon. Naturally something gets in your way and you are whisked to the land of Gamindustri. Ruled by CPU (Console Patron Units) goddesses, the land is now in a dire situation. The MOB48 idol group, named by the real group AKB48, has stolen the hearts of everyone in the land and the only way for the goddesses to rectify this is to become idols themselves.
This is where you come into play. The game gives you four idols to pick from: the energetic Neptune, the tsundere Noire, the emotionless Blanc and the voluptuous Vert. Your goal is to make your idol the most popular in the land, while trying to romance them in the process. It’s obvious that this game is made for Hyperdimension Neptunia fans, as it doesn’t even introduce them before you must select one.
Like all Neptunia titles the focus is on the wacky humor, with an abundance of 4th wall jokes here. It is suffice to say that the fans of the series will get the most enjoyment out of the characters and story here. But even then, the game stresses on multiple occasions that you shouldn’t think too much about the story and in one case Neptune threatens you not to ask more about the plot.
The majority of your time will be spent in Producer mode. Here you have 180 days for your idol to make it to number one in the top charts and at the same time have the biggest number of shares. The game plays out like a visual novel except here you are given options what to do everyday. You are limited to one action per day, with some actions taking up multiple days.
Working will increase your fanbase and depending on your stats it might increase a few of your stats in the process. You should remember to train your idol by sending her to lessons. Doing these might increase your guts which results in more efficient work, but at the same time it increases stress. If your idol’s stress reaches 100% it’s game over. Relaxing allows your idol to vent some steam, reducing her stress level. This is also when you will get to see many of the side events, where you can deepen your relationship with idols and other characters. In addition Producing Perfection gives you the option to move to another CPU’s nation in order to steal the shares from one of the idol goddesses, but spending your time there will also result in you getting not only fans but haters as well.
The final option, which is only available from time to time, is to go to a concert. Here you select the song, background and look of the idol. The concerts are the most interactive part of the whole game. You move your camera around and activate special effects in order to wow the crowed. Effects take a while to recharge so you should time them whenever you hear the crowd roar. It’s a shame that this section is way too easy. It’s virtually impossible to get less than 200%, regardless of if you do something or not. The camera and effects do influence your rating, but even if you purposely don’t touch a thing you still have more than enough time to complete the game in 180 days. On my first playthrough I needed half of that time. The game provides no challenge whatsoever. You literally have to squeeze every ounce of gameplay out of the Producing Perfection, since the title barely lasts three hours on the first playthrough.
You are encouraged to play through the game multiple times. Completing the game once allows you start again keeping all your stats, costumes and accessories. Still there is little incentive to do so, as the game lacks any kind of content. There are 8 backgrounds in total, 5 songs, 4 worlds and 4 idols. There are also duets and trios which you can organize by befriending another one of the idol goddesses, but these don’t really spruce up the gameplay. The majority of things you will already see on your first playthough. Even if you do decide to play again you will need just another two hours to beat it. The game misses a huge opportunity by not adding various mini-games like seen in The Idolmaster, as this could have made the title a lot more engaging.
Aside from the Producer mode, you have a very limited set of other modes. You can play Unlimited Concert, which is only a concert where you can select any background, character, song and aren’t scored in the process. The only difference is that you can place monsters in the background which dance along. It’s baffling why this feature was left out from the Producer Mode as it could have been a great way to deepen the title’s gameplay by influencing the concerts.
The final mode allows you to view the characters you unlocked, using your Vita vertically. You can inspect the character models, change their clothes and even touch them to get reactions. It is a nice addition but doesn’t provide more than a few minutes of enjoyment.
Hyperdimension Neptunia PP looks really impressive on the Vita. The character models during the concerts are on par with PlayStation 3 titles. However that’s about all there is to it. There is nothing aside from a few characters on screen at a time. The backgrounds are mostly static, while the audience can range from a few monsters just outside of your field of view, to glow sticks in the distance. During everything else the characters are in 2D, with their typical great Compile Heart animations. However, it does feel a tad bit disappointing that the visual novel sections don’t incorporate the 3D models, since even the PSP versions of The Idolmaster games had them in 3D and they looked amazing.
The game is an extreme disappointment in the audio department, not because of the music quality but because of the amount of songs there are. Hyperdimension Neptunia Producing Perfection has a total of 5 songs your idol can sing, with only one of them allowing her to turn into her HDD form. Add to the fact that the HDD form is also only available when singing solo and you have a function that will rarely be used.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Producing Perfection tries to cash in on the popularity of the The Idolmaster, but unfortunately lacks a lot of elements which made those games genuinely enjoyable. As it stands this title is only for the most die hard fans of the series or people who want to see what The Idolmaster is all about without having to import it, for the rest it may be hard to justify this short game at full price.