Back when Neptunia originally released, it was something of gaming’s equivalent of a B movie. There were a lot of interesting ideas, such as making an RPG devoted to the game industry, but the final product was a mess. Between the terrible game design, poor graphics, weak story and more, it’s hard to believe it lead to a franchise. Naturally when Neptunia Re;Birth 1 was first announced, it sounded like a horrible idea, until it was revealed to be more of a remake. Instead of simply porting the game and fixing some minor things, the developer addressed some of the major concerns and tried to make the original on par with the later releases. The only question is, will these changes be enough to fix the problems of the original or are they more like a new coat of paint on a beat up old car?
To put it simply, Neptunia Re;Birth 1 is practically a different game when compared to the original. Not only were huge problems resolved, including the terribly dated combat system and the horrible item synthesis system, but also minor annoyances like side characters no longer use a silhouette. You could tell the developer not only took the concerns to heart, but really wanted to make Neptunia Re;Birth 1 up to par with the sequels.
Arguably the biggest change in Neptunia Re;Birth 1 is the game’s story. While the story is about as cliché as an RPG can be and is still about venturing to the different landmasses, talking to their goddess, finding the various key fragments and then saving the world from evil, its not quite the same story as before. Since various characters were removed, like NISA/Gust and others were added (Tekken, Falcom, CyberConnect2, etc), the story had to be changed resulting in almost everything besides the basic plot points being different. This offers fans and newcomers alike something new to enjoy and should appeal to anyone who enjoys the series.
Another welcome update comes in the form of improved graphics. Unlike the original, Re;Birth looks significantly better, giving it the appearance you would expect from a Vita title. The framerate is also far more stable than the original, so if these things are important to you, they aren’t much of a concern here.
Despite all these improvements, Neptunia Re;Birth 1 is still far from being perfect. Much like the original, Re;Birth 1 is a monotonous experience that will quickly feel like you’re going through the motions. More often than not your progression will be something like go to the new location, defeat the boss, unlock new items/recipes, use your ample cash to buy the new gear and repeat. To make matters worse, the combat system is as rudimentary as ever.