By: Ren Westerman
Warning: This post contains high doses of Nep-Nep. You have been warned.
In my quest to discuss video games as literary texts I have decided to select a game up there on my list of favorites along with "Life is Strange." This game has made me cry. It has made me laugh. It has also more than likely consumed a portion of my soul which I am perfectly okay with.
The game I've selected this time around is "Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1." The game sets the player into the land of Gameindustri which contains four separate countries each ruled by one of four goddesses. Lastation is ruled by Noire (Lady Black Heart), Leanbox is ruled by Vert (Lady Green Heart), Lowee is ruled by Blanc (Lady White Heart), and Planeptune is ruled by the game's main character Neptune (Lady Purple Heart). The names of each country bear some significance, but it is important to understand some of the logic and nuance behind this virtual world first.
Now we can get into the fun part. This game is loaded with references, and I do mean loaded. There are so many layers to this game that there's no feasible way I could even begin to cover all of them. If you're familiar with some of the older arcade games, there are Pac-Man ghosts as enemies as well as little Pixelinvaders reminiscent of the arcade game Space Invaders. There are references to famous fantasy RPG (Role Playing Game) series such as Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest as well. And those are just a handful of the enemies.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1
One batch of references that I'm particularly fond of is in regards to the 'Console War.' As I mentioned, the four countries in Gameindustri are Lastation, Leanbox, Lowee, and Planeptune. Look at today's 'Game Industry.' We have Sony's PlayStation, Microsoft's Xbox, Nintendo's Wii, and way back in the day there was the canceled SEGA Neptune. There have of course been other consoles as well as other companies, but at the moment Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony are acting as the juggernauts of console gaming. There's one problem though. SEGA stopped releasing consoles a fair while back with the Dreamcast being the last memorable release. The game seems to have a reflection on this in that the introduction shows Neptune being defeated by the other CPUs and losing her memory. It is actually interesting to think about this connection to the actual competition between consoles as a reflection of the characters themselves.
On that note there's another layer of reference in that within the game, the four CPUs are constantly battling each other for 'Shares.' Now I'm afraid I'm going to have to irk the social media folks this time to say that it is not a part of the process of 'like, comment, and share.' If you're a business oriented individual, it's more along your idea of shareholding. Shares serve as the CPUs' source of power. The more faith that the citizens of each country place in their respected CPU, the stronger the CPU will become. Think about it as purchasing an Xbox over a PlayStation. Microsoft makes money off of your purchase whereas Sony does not.
Taking this competition into consideration, there theoretically wouldn't, or at least shouldn't be a character named Neptune representing both SEGA and the SEGA Neptune, but there is. SEGA didn't fall off the face of the map as a company. They are still active in the gaming industry to this day. The only difference is that they have decided to focus more on the games themselves rather than developing consoles. You can find games with SEGA as one of the developers on Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo consoles.
As a closing layer, it must be said that "Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1" has not only gone above and beyond to reference everything around it. Oh it took it further. It referenced itself and the very people responsible for its creation. Meet IF and Compa.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1
Normally I would include the developers as part of the introduction, but I thought I'd save it for the end this time around. The companies responsible for the Neptunia games are Compile Heart and Idea Factory. In a video game that goes above and beyond to make references to anything and everything gaming, it would only be the next logical step to insert representations of themselves into their own game. I have but one thing to say to this, and that is "well played."
In the context of literature, these various layers and references are fairly common. Whether it is by design or otherwise, various texts can always be connected to one another. Not everyone will make the same connections considering how we all think differently and have different variations of ideologies and beliefs, but what someone might miss could be picked up by someone else. It simply falls down the individual reader, or player, to make these connections. It's all part of the experience.
Compile Heart. http://www.compileheart.com/
Idea Factory. http://www.ideafintl.com/
PlayStation. Sony. https://www.playstation.com/en-us/
Xbox. Microsoft. http://www.xbox.com/en-US/
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