I wasn’t going to buy any games before Tales of Graces because I known I’ll be hooked on that and any game I buy before then will just get chucked to the backlog, yet here I am, with a game for the same console as Graces, bought a week before it releases. I enjoyed Neptunia for them cute girls and game references despite its glaring gameplay flaws, but its sequel certainly wasn’t on my buy-within-first-week-of-release list. I was supposed to be attempting to clear some of my backlog before Graces, but those cute girls were just sitting on the shelf at GameStop, tempting me with their big eyes! And so I laid down the $50 bucks for the moe (there are plenty of humans who claim that moe character designs have no influence on their game-buying decisions because they’re not into little girls, but I am not one of them).
I’m 10 hours in, at Chapter 3, and my god this is such an improvement over the first Neptunia that I actually love getting into battles and fighting bosses! Importers weren’t kidding when they said MK2 was heaps better than the first game, in multiple departments.
1) You can use items and skills. No more stupid automatic healing, and you can even use items on the field so you don’t have to lug around a party member with 1 hp because they fainted in the previous battle.
2) No annoying random encounters. You see the enemies on the screen and make contact with them to get into battle. They are easily avoidable and you can run past them straight to the boss.
3) No more timed quest dungeons. Quests are now like your generic fetch quests/defeat X monster quests where you just have to complete the objective and that’s it.
4) They actually tell you about the share system at the beginning of the game. The share system is a pretty important game mechanic that allows you to get certain characters, but the first game NEVER SAID ANYTHING ABOUT IT. Not even in the manual. MK2 tells you about shares outright.
5) The battle system. You get to move your character each turn like Trails in the Sky/Kiseki series, and each character gets an attack range and skills that use up SP. You can attack multiple enemies at once provided they are all within your range and the enemy can do the same. It’s not just mashing your set combo every battle.
6) You actually get more party members in the story. I’m in chapter 3 and already have 8 party members. That’s infinitely better than the first game, where you had to stick with the default 3 until the final dungeon unless you pay real money for DLC characters. Nisa, Gust, and 5pb join you as a part of the storyline and are permanent usable characters.
7) The story. Okay, it’s still a ridiculously bad plot that is not supposed to be taken seriously at all, but this time there’s more characters that travel with you so it’s more lively, which is a good thing for a light chara-ge.
8) No missable plot dungeons (yet). All dungeons can be revisited, so no need to rage when you complete the game with 98% bestiary or something.
There’s some cons too though. For one, there aren’t as many side events so far. Also now there’s the Chirper, which is a messy mock message board instead of just choosing viewable events from a simple organized list. The hidden treasure search system also got worse. In the first game when you used treasure search there would be a light pointing in the direction of the hidden treasure, but now there’s no clues and you pretty much have to search every corner. Do not want.
Also HDD mode got nerfed hard. In Neptunia 1 it was so broken you could transform any time with no penalties or costs and there was no reason to not transform during boss fights. Now HDD mode costs 100 SP to activate, and drains your SP each turn. The SP draining means even though you have boosted stats, they are useless because you won’t have enough SP to spam your skills. Better off not transforming and just spam your good skills when you have the SP for it.
The nice 2D character portraits used in events got replaced by 3D models that don’t look as pretty, but are more expressive in actions. I wish they used animated 2D portraits, but 3D models are probably cheaper (mediocre-looking ones at least). Damn Idea Factory and their budget.
I’ll probably play MK2 and Tales of Graces simultaneously now that March Break is starting and I have plenty of time to play console games. There are no announced console games after Graces that I want so far, so I might actually be able to go beat some of my backlog after that.