The Hyperdimension Neptunia series has always been a tongue-in-cheek poke at the modern console wars between Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, accompanied by the personification of the long-dreamed Sega Neptune as Neptunia herself. With Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection, a comical non-canon entry exclusively for the PlayStation Vita, we see our lovable CPU Goddesses of Lastation, Lowee, Leanbox, and Planeptune attempt to put a stop to MOB48 (a play on popular idol group AKB48) from taking all the shares of Gamindustri by becoming idols themselves and winning back the hearts and dollars of their people.
Producing Perfection strips away all the RPG elements the series has brought with the original, Mk2, and Victory and replaces them with a visual-novel-slash-dating-slash-performance simulator that will see you guiding one of the CPU Goddesses to idol-dom as you, an unwitting and unwilling “producer” pulled into the magical world of Gamindustri through forces unknown, guide her to the top of the charts.
You have 180 in-game days to gather the largest part of the shares in Gamindustri or else it’s game over for you and your CPU Goddess. If you don’t make it, MOB48 continues to rule over the land. Another game-ending factor will be if your Goddess hits a stress level of 100% at any given time; no matter how much time you have left, a full-on anxiety attack will spell “Game Over” for you. The last, and obviously best way, to win is to gain back the majority of shares in Gamindustri with your idol, which means dominating the other CPU Goddesses and MOB48.
Guiding one of the CPU Goddesses to stardom is no easy task, as you must gauge their personalities to answer questions and perform tasks that best suit their needs. This is where the game fails, however, as there’s no discernible way to tell what will please or stress out your growing idol, a “surefire” method of success does not exist. You will send your idol to guest on a radio show and sometimes they will have a great show with witty commentary and other times they will be so tired they will fall asleep during the process. Some cases will have your idol studying really hard and learning to increase all their stats, other instances will make them skip lunch and stress them out even further.
None of this really makes any sense and can only be attributed to one of two things—the first, our lovely friends at Idea Factory needed a reason to spur you onwards in your quest for shares, or the second being the fickle nature of idols in general demanding this and that from their managers and producers. Both are relevant in this case, as they keep you on your toes, but eliminate nearly every element of strategy available to would-be savvy players. As such, you’re mostly left to choose an option to promote your idol, train them, or rest them to reduce stress all while crossing your fingers and hoping nothing goes south.
The most integral part to regaining your shares is putting on concerts for your adoring fans. Putting your idol on the stage and dressing her up in adorable costumes will not only keep your current fanbase, but grow it exponentially depending on how well you perform. You will be given stage effects to provide further eye candy aside from your oft-bosom stage beauties. These stage effects will increase your cheer percentage among the fans and will come in the form of spotlights, stage-specific gimmicks, light butterflies and hearts, and more. The last item in your arsenal is your Hard Drive Divinity (HDD) form, which will give the crowd a huge burst in energy, but is only usable on your idol’s specific song and lasts a limited amount of time.
Forming idol groups isn’t out of the question either! One idol may not be enough to take down MOB48, so teaming up with another one or two CPU Goddesses in a collaborative effort will allow you to gain shares more quickly. Breaking up the gang will split the shares in an even manner, so it’s not always wise to group with other growing idols that have fewer shares than you. “Ride the coattails,” as it were, but make sure you have a strong relationship with your would-be group member lest they flat-out reject you.
Rife with memetic, cultural, topical, and not-so-subtle sexual humor, the localization team is on point in all areas as Producing Perfection carries with it one of the strongest scripts the series has seen. Whimsical and entertaining, the script shines most capably in this entry as there are no “distractions” in grinding, the game focusing nearly entirely on the interactions between characters, quip after quip flooding your handheld’s screen offering material for grins, smirks, chuckles, and full belly laughs. Easily HDN’s most playful take on their beloved CPUs.
Despite what shortcomings it may have in terms of “random” gameplay elements, Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection still manages to be an enjoyable romp in the world of Gamindustri with characters you may or may not already be familiar with. Neptune, Noire, Blanc, and Vert are here in all their glory, alongside their incredibly moe little sisters, the CPU Candidates, and even guest appearances by IF and Compa bring the whole gang into the idol fold. It would’ve been nice to see Falcom and Cave show up as well, but you can’t have it all in a spin-off title.