Guide to Understanding the Hyperdimension Neptunia Timeline

The Hyperdimension Neptunia logo

Hyperdimension Neptunia can be a confusing series to try to keep up with for new players; it’s actually pretty simple, but the titles are definitely weird for sure. So here’s two explanations, one short that tells you all you need to know, and one long that tells you probably way more than you need to know.

Guide Index

Return to the Neptunia Mega Guide, which links guides and info for all games.

The Short Version

Easier to show than tell, really:

A diagram of the Hyperdimension Neptunia timeline. See "Text Version" below for a text representation.
Click for a higher res version

Basically we have three mainline games which have a PS3 release and a Vita/PC Remake, a fourth mainline game with a single PS4/PC release, and a bunch of Vita/PC side games with no bearing in canon. The remakes are functionally equivalent to the main games in terms of the canon story, so don’t worry about “which” canon.

VIIR is a new addition, but is largely the same as VII as far as story is concerned.

As for what order to play in, the simplest and mostly best order is rebirth 1-3, then Victory 2. I could write an article on the merits of various orders, but that will be fine for most players. The side games can be enjoyed at any time after playing at least one main game in the series to understand the characters/theme of the series. The side games are not good introductions as they assume you know the characters already.

That’s really all you need to know. The longer version is much more detailed, too detailed, but will honestly probably leave you more confused and contains some spoilers here and there.

Text Version

Making Alt Text for a table is hard, so here’s the breakdown in text for accessibility’s sake, or if you can’t read the covers:

Canon Series
  • Game 1: Hyperdimension Neptunia 1 for PS3 and Rebirth 1 for PC/PS Vita
    • Game 1 is retconned out of existence by Game 2
  • Game 2: HDN Mk2/Rebirth 2 Sisters Generation
  • Game 3: HDN Victory/Rebirth 3 V Century
  • Game 4: Megadimension Neptunia Victory II/VII@
Side Games
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia PP: Producing Perfection
  • Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed
  • Hypertagmension Blanc + Neptune vs Zombies
  • Superdimension Neptune vs Sega Hard Girls

The Long Version

Which Game?

The remakes cause a lot of confusion but really they have no major bearing on the series’ canon. Here I’ll go over the changes and why they basically don’t matter. Game 1’s remake made the most drastic changes by far and the story is actually different in that one, but that doesn’t matter much anyway because…

Game 1 is retconned

Probably the single biggest source of confusion. If you pay attention to the start of Game 2, Game 1 is clearly retconned as

Game 1 ending spoilers/Game 2 start spoilers

There’s several other bits of HDN1 that don’t seem to make it into the later games:

The CPUs are unreasonably hostile towards Neptune/each other, something that’s been increasingly erased as the series went on. It’s clearly a result of the “console wars” plot, and Game 3 does this a lot with the Ultradimension CPUs (but everyone makes up by the end of the game). Rebirth 1 removes this element for the most part (it was pretty poorly handled anyway).

Histoire seems a lot more powerful and more actively involved in things in HDN1 and to a lesser extent Rebirth 1. In Victory it’s implied Tomes are meant to have a fairly passive role (something Croire likes to ignore). In HDN1 writing in Histoire will alter reality (but maybe that’s still the case but it’s too taboo to do), she takes a strictly supporting role in later titles, opening portals to other dimensions is about the extent of her demonstrated power.

“Celestia” seems to no longer exist in later games, though it’s referenced by an item, and Anonydeath refers to “celestia” as a generic afterlife substitute. Celestia is also changed significantly in Rebirth 1, in the first game the goddesses spend most of their time in Celestia, while Celestia is a sealed away holy land in Rebirth 1.

Other unique aspects of Game 1 are also culled, such as the CPUs “hiding their identities” (wearing glasses) and not being recognized in their human forms. In all other games they’re commonly seen and recognized by their people in their “human” forms. This is for the best as it’s rather nonsensical that after actual centuries no one has noticed that Neptune is obviously Purple Heart, and also that she has lived for several centuries which most people don’t tend to do.

Long story short, Game 1 is entirely excluded from the canon timeline but, especially as Rebirth 1, it does a good job of introducing us to the four main goddesses, Compa, IF, Histoire, and a few other standard aspects of Gamindustri. You should still play it, but don’t get hung up on it’s story.

Game 2 is basically the same

The script for Game 2 is different in the remake, but this has more to do with NISA technically owning the original English script and Idea Factory International taking over publishing rights. Almost all the content is the exact same.

The only major change outside of gameplay is that NISA and Gust were replaced with RED and Broccoli due to Idea Factory no longer being able to license those characters. Yes, Idea Factory creates Maker characters, gives them to the parent company, then licenses their own characters back to themselves so they can use them. Licenses are fun! Now you know why the Gold Third are not directly named after the companies they represent—it would be a licensing nightmare. But that’s getting off topic.

This change is somewhat unfortunate as NISA was a sort of a fan favorite and RED is sort of…the opposite of that, in the end the change matters extremely little as Gust is a simple McGuffin provider and NISA is largely a random tag-along. Change all instances of “JUSTICE” or “Heroine!” in NISA’s dialog and you’ve functionally already got RED. In the end the plot is entirely the same regardless of which supporting characters happen to be here. This did require changing a couple of CGs of course.

Yes there’s also  a “new” ending in Rebirth 2, it’s garbage and is basically the first 15 minutes of the Conquest ending taped onto the last 15 minutes of the True Ending with a boss rush in between. Sadly it doesn’t even function well as an “escape hatch” for the (direly depressing and honestly traumatizing) Conquest Ending, since it requires max lily ranks with ALL partners, a feat basically only possible with Lily Rank+ disks and the Symbol Gain plan which need the True Ending to get (or an insane grind). So in the end it’s more of an NG++ deal.

You might also notice Mk2 is rated M but Rebirth 2 is rated T. No, it wasn’t censored–in fact they even ADDED a fairly gross perv-CG with CFW Trick if I recall correctly. The ESRB either screwed up or had lower standards for what an M was when Mk2 was released. The infamous dogoo scene is still in, CFW Trick is still a pedophile and the Conquest Ending is still traumatizing as hell.

So yeah, Game 2 is basically the same with all changes being purely gameplay or licensing related. Canon is entirely unaffected outside of which support characters (who are never seen again) gave a helping hand.

Game 3 is confusing but still the same

Neptunia Victory completely removed “Makers”, human playable characters that aren’t goddesses, from the gameplay. This was for good reason, as the game takes place over like 30 years in Ultradimension, and Makers would age over that period.

Eventually for the love of DLC, Victory went back on this and added Makers who make no sense plot-wise. Including…TWO IFs and Compas. That you can use in the same party at the same time. Then Rebirth 3 kinda makes it worse by tossing the Oracles in there too and including DLC in the base game making it rather unclear which characters were actually supposed to be in the game and which were (often overpowered) DLC characters.

Add this to the fact that the start of Victory is balanced around you having only 2 or so characters most of the time, this decision pretty much completely destroys any difficulty in most of Rebirth 3. But that’s a topic for another article…

You basically have to consider all the DLC characters, including the oracles, as non-canon in Game 3. And with that considered…the plot is once again almost exactly the same, with the only differences being due to the aforementioned rewrites of NISA’s English script.

Which is a shame, Victory’s writing of the main CPUs is so poor they’re basically out of character (Vert is a crybaby, Neptune is an asshole and Noire waffles between being a total pushover and a jerk) and Plutia’s Mary Sue-ness and implicit (and occasionally explicit) sexual assault of several characters could have really used a heavy handed edit or twenty. On the plus side, the lack of relevant editing means story-wise you get pretty much the same thing and yet again, remake or original doesn’t matter.

There is one difference though, Rebirth 3 has a brief one-dungeon prologue and a couple minor Social/Mobile gaming villains in it complete with a VR reference to keep things timely and topical.

VIIR is an enhanced remake

As far as we know the story is largely the same, but more scenes were added to make things feel more personal and more VR-friendly, and the battle system was completely overhauled to help the game feel “new”.

So there we have it. Whether you play remakes or the originals, your story experience is going to be largely identical, with the major exception of a game that is entirely retconned anyway.

The Dimensions

Another cause for confusion is Neptunia is actually a Multiverse series, though this isn’t made explicit until Game 3. As such there are multiple worlds and multiple versions of several main characters.

Hyperdimension

Fitting to the series’ English name, every game in the main series actually starts in Hyperdimension. When our CPUs are wearing these clothes, they’re from Hyperdimension:

The main cast of Hyperdimension, Noire, Vert, Blanc, Neptune (and nepgear in the background)

For some strange reason, Uni, Rom, Ram, and Nepgear are exclusive to this dimension thus far. When in doubt, assume something is from Hyperdimension.

Game 1 also seemingly took place in this dimension despite being retconned. But multiverse and all, it’s possible Game 1 simply took place in a different dimension that wasn’t yet disambiguated from Hyperdimension.

Ultradimension

A great deal of confusion was caused by the introduction of “Ultradimension” which was, honestly, handled really badly by marketing, especially by NISA. Game 3 was marketed as “a blast from the past” and starts over from the 80s to follow the console wars as they evolved (an annoying partial retread of the first game’s plot).

However, Ultradimension isn’t really the past. It’s a separate space created entirely for a “through the ages” plotline where time goes faster and we see Playstation and Xbox rise from nothing to become console giants while Sega derps around and does basically nothing, just like real life.

The characters you meet in Ultradimension are entirely different, sometimes even with different personalities from their Hyperdimension selves. The Neptune in Victory is the same Neptune from Hyperdimension though. We eventually meet Ultradimension’s Neptune in Megadimension Neptunia V2 just to keep things confusing.

When you see these outfits, our CPUs are in/from Ultradimension.The Ultradimension crew, Vert, Peashy, Blanc, Noire, Plutia and Neptune.

Ultradimension has it’s own rules, like CPUs being created by CPU memories instead of being born into godhood, it’s time goes by much faster than Hyperdimension’s time, it’s nations look visually different, and it’s Histoire has considerably worse hardware capabilities. This opens the door for every dimension to technically function differently.

Ultradimension is part of the canon timeline, but it’s also nearly irrelevant as of Game 4.

Game 3 ending/Game 4 beginning spoilers

Megadimension

There’s some confusion over the title of Neptunia Victory II as well. It’s abundantly clear that the core of the game and main characters come from Hyperdimension, the same dimension every game starts in.

However, “Megadimension” was used probably because

Major Megadimension Victory II lategame/ending spoilers

Best I can tell Megadimension may simply refer to the multiverse in which Neptunia takes place rather than a single dimension. Which would mean arguably all games take place in Megadimension so…no, don’t try too hard to find meaning in it.

Side Games

Side games each have their own special dimensions, which aren’t always named. Hyperdevotion Noire is “Gamarket” for instance, which looks like Ultradimension but doesn’t follow the story or any of the other “rules” of Ultradimension.

Basically the side games tend to follow whatever trend is going on with the main series (Ultradimension outfits? Sisters in? Sisters out?) and you shouldn’t even think about it too hard. Neptunia U even blatantly states the game is non-canon in a little fourth wall break.

None of the side games even lead into each other at the time of writing this, they’re merely one-offs done largely without the main team’s involvement.

The Title Issue

Even if we understand the dimensions, the titles in the series are a bit confusing.

So, in Japanese, Victory is actually called something more like “Ultradimension Neptune Victory”—because it takes place 95% in Ultradimension, not Hyperdimension. And it’s just “Neptune” instead of Neptunia in Japanese, hence Neptune’s truly insufferable “I’m the main character guys!” attitude in Victory 2. The series is actually directly named after her originally.

NISA changed things, likely for branding reasons so all three PS3 games were called Hyperdimension Neptunia in the west. (NISA is also somewhat infamous for changing or mixing up details in the series—like introducing Peashy as the “PC” CPU—that’s PC ENGINE to you! But that’s for another article, NISA changed a lot more than titles).

So for a while the series was only Hyperdimension Neptunia in America and that was pretty okay honestly. It slightly confused the issue of Ultradimension for some people but resulted in a more consistent branding for the titles.

The Japanese series never cared about said consistency, and after releasing Ultradimension Victory/Rebirth 3 they came up with “Megadimension” Neptune Victory 2, “Extremedimension” Blanc + Neptune vs Zombie Army, and “Superdimension War” Neptune vs Sega Hard Girls Dream of Coalescence.

Idea Factory International mostly stayed faithful to the latest round of brand-butchering, so now we have “Megadimension Neptunia Victory V2”, “MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune vs Zombies” and “Superdimension Neptune vs Sega Hard Girls”.

We’re spared a bit of the awkwardly long titles here and there, but now the brand is once again a mess and now we even have English titles using “Neptune” instead of “Neptunia”. Whether this convention will persist to the next mainline game is yet to be seen, but for better or worse Idea Factory International seems to go pretty far to the side of a 1:1 translation…to the point they let their English actresses read some Japanese lines in Blanc Game for some reason.

Basically the series’ titles are a complete mess and it seems deliberate at this point, with both Japanese and English titles being actively hostile to the concept of a consistent name for the series. Think of it like how many Japanese fighting games constantly try to one-up each other with long, usually English subtitles that make no sense.

Well, maybe you regret reading the Long Version now because that’s actually probably much more confusing than just pretending none of that happened, isn’t it? Just call it “Neptunia”, play the games roughly in order, and have fun.

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  • Ralph Kraiem

    this only made me more confused… like i understood it before now and now im confused. Interesting read tho

    • What’s not clear? There’s four sequential games, the first three have remakes, the first one is non-canon either way. I enumerate most of the changes but really, the remakes have no significant impact story-wise.

  • Damiel917

    Two points: One, the Nep wiki calls the dimension that HDN1 and Re;birth1 take place in the “Superdimension”. However, unlike “Hyperdimension” and “Ultradimension”, I couldn’t find any official source that backs up this title, so for all I know it’s just fanon. Plus, now that IF’s game is going to be called “Superdimension Neptune etc.”, who even knows at this point. Two, according to the equipment screen in MegaTagmension, that game takes place in the “Megadimension”. Maybe Idea Factory International’s translators liked the word so much they decided to reuse it, I don’t know.

    • Superdimension is an alternate way of reading the words used for “hyperdimension” in the first game, it hasn’t been officially used until Blanc vs Zombies where it’s one of the 5 “dimension” servers, then it reappeared again (but as a separate thing) in the Sega Hard Girls game. But it’s just used as a nice clear cutoff point, the “dimensions” the sidegames are in are self contained and aside from the pseudo-ultradimension ones, they don’t really reflect much of the games’ canon beyond character personality.

      And huh, didn’t notice that in Blanc Game. But it might be an IF add, because the original name for that was “extreme dimension”. But like I said, side games are their own dimension and I didn’t even want to bother explaining any of those. Aside from PP and HDNoire they’re all easily explained as just “alternate hyperdimension”. It did briefly seem like Ultradimension might stick after victory but it was probably more a marketing thing/getting the most of the UD sprites than anything. And who can blame them, the outfits are the only good part of how Victory treats the CPUs.

  • Jonah Rosen

    Very interesting read. I personally always thought of HDN1/Rebirth1 as simply being it’s own individual dimension rather than being simply retconned, especially in a series full of various dimensions.

    As for the wiki saying that HDN1 being in a “Super Dimension”, as Ralph put it, I think the idea behind that might be because the Japanese title of the game basically translates to “Super Dimensional Game Neptune”

    Also, do you really think there will be a 5th main game? I don’t remember where, but I recall an article where the creators basically said that Megadimension was the last main title in the series.

    • It’s possible the first game is a separate dimension altogether as well, though it being a retcon is essentially identical until the two dimensions happen to meet (and unlike Ultra there’s not much reason to do that).

      Pretty sure Superdimension is just an alternate reading of the kanji. Apparently Megadimension is also just an alternate reading of Heart Dimension…so Megadimension could just be referring to heart dimension after all.

      The interviews tend to be in Japanese and I don’t really have time to hunt them down so I wasn’t familiar with that “last main title” quote…but I don’t know, I’d be pretty surprised. CH seems to have been trying to come up with the “next neptunia” for a few years now and it clearly hasn’t work (most of their non-Neptunia titles are quite lacking, and frankly I can’t recommend a non-funny CH game at all). I’m sure Neptunia will continue and most series that say “no more mainline titles” pop back and do them anyway, but it’s possible Cyber is a side-game. But usually IF does side games and CH does main ones and this is a CH game, that’s why I was suspecting it as a main game.

      • Jonah Rosen

        Oh I didn’t know that about IF doing the side games and CH doing the main ones, though that would be great if Cyber was a main game as I can do with another main entry as I’m running out of games in the series to play.

        I’m replaying the Re;Birth Trilogy on the Vita and am currently on the second one and then I still have to get Megadimension.

        Then there’s the spin-off. The only ones I’ve touched are Action U & Noire. I heard PP was bad and don’t know about Blanc’s game.

        • Even if Cyber isn’t a main game, I imagine it’ll be a notable step up in quality from the side games if CH is producing (IF is given license to do side games with other studios and usually a barebones budget.). The series is never “high” budget, but the side games most definitely suffer for lower budgets, as do the remakes (less noticable in remakes, but I have my gripes, like the Black Heart difficulty spike that scares away so many people).

          As for side games, while flawed, if you’re a big fan they’re all worth a play IMO, PP is basically a good VN but a bad Raising Sim, a quick run through for your fav characters is decent enough, though the self insert, absurd true/etc ending requirements and raising aspects definitely bog it down. It’s alright if you just want the dialog but know what you’re getting into. It would be a markedly better game if it were pure VN + the idol concerts.

          Blanc Game is half Neptunia U with more (poorly written TBH) story, half sorta-monster hunter online (with no writing). I’m a bit scared after Blanc Game though, it’s the worst localization in the Neptunia series, I’d be more concerned but Megadimension was mostly great.

          Sega Hard Girls is probably the best side game, I just want to read the english script before I call it so. I really enjoyed my Japanese playthrough, though language barrier was real and I’m missing one stupid achievement from platinum. Per above, I really hope this one’s localization is great and blanc game was a fluke. I think the budget just wasn’t there or maybe the original script was just so bad they couldn’t do anything to salvage it, but there’s still some really awkward stuff, like the English voice actresses mimicking the Japanese grunts (So neh! and Zeh Toh! etc). If they ever have English compa say Desu I quit.

          • Jonah Rosen

            I hope it’s a great game, but from what I’ve read, Cyber sounds like it’ll be a side-game as it’s basically based on the MMO Vert usually loves to play and it sounds like the game is going to play something like a simulated MMO like the PS2 .hack games or the Sword Art Online games. But also even if this ends up being a side-game, it’s sounding like it’s not Vert’s side game, but it’s sounding like Neptune is the main character for the game (which is a shame because the premise sounds like it should be Vert’s game)

            I’m also glad I’m not the only one who thought there was an unfair difficulty spike with Black Heart in rebirth 1.

            And alright, I think I might give PP a try if I have the money to spare. And here’s hoping that Sega Hard Girls is handled better than Blanc then.

            As for the voices, I have a tendency to play with the Japanese voices on anyways as I usually find VA’s in these more Niche games to be…..meh? I don’t find them enjoyable to listen to, but then again, I’ve been doing that since the PS3 trilogy and for all I know, the voice work could have improved since then.

          • It’s set inside a game yeah, but considering it’s Gamindustry and so on that probably doesn’t mean it won’t be significant. I’m sure there’ll be some form of .Hack glitch/AI/infection sort of thing going on and the world will be at stake etc. And they’ve said Vert should at least have a larger role, and I hope they’re not bluffing. Vert is drastically underused, which is annoying as IMO she has the most going on of all the goddesses. Blanc is just like…books and one line about tangerines 9 games ago but she gets so much air time.

            EVERYONE thought Black Heart was an unfair difficulty spike, lol. I’m amazed they haven’t gone back and done the absolute most basic nerf like cut her HP in half or something, I’ve heard multiple people scared off not just the game but the whole series because of it, or approaching all the later games as extreme difficult grind fests even though they’re too easy if anything.

            The voice work is pretty good IMO, I can’t stand Japanese Neptune or Compa anyway (Japanese Neptune screeching the final fantasy theme like a dying bat is traumatizing). You miss a lot of good references in combat dialog so personally I always recommend the english voices if only for that.

          • Jonah Rosen

            I guess we can only wait and see if it’s a main game or not at this point. And I really hope Vert gets a better role IMO because she’s my favourite character out of the four.

            And I must be hanging out with the wrong crowd or something lol because my friend who got me into the Neptune series scoffed at me when I mentioned that Black Heart was way too hard. (I don’t even remember her being that hard in the original HDN.)

            And yeah, I’m not fond of JP Neptune either (That butchered FF theme is horrendous, I agree), JP Compa is meh as far a I’m concerned. But if you say they’re good, I’ll give the English voices another shot.

          • Vert’s my favorite now too actually, along with Noire, but with Noire I really dislike how they handle her and Neptune. It’s basically Neptune being a complete asshole and Noire somehow acting like she likes it in the lamest way with no justification. But Noire was great in G chapter of V2, with no neptune.

            Well, I didn’t find BH TOO hard myself, but I did lose once or twice, and it’s definitely a difficulty spike. I Think long time players will have much less of an issue because the battle system is a lot more complex than it seems (not everyone notices it has an FFX style delay system) and the battle system doesn’t do the best job at teaching players it’s ins and outs.

            Also lots of new players seem to use Compa/healing skills instead of items, which is just a disaster early-on. Compa’s as good as or worse than a dirt cheap healing item, adds MORE delay than using an item, and effectively sacrifices 1/3rd or 1/4th of the damage you deal in games prior to V2 where she’s better (but still probably my least favorite character in battle).

            I mostly can’t stand the Desus with compa, other than that the Japanese voices are fine, I just prefer to read less if I can (I tend to multitask while playing) and I don’t like missing out on the battle/etc lines. Would be nice if they added battle subtitles like Senran Kagura does.

  • Manuel Serrano

    There is an unknown game of neptunia???……..

    • I guess there’s kinda two, Cyberdimension which we don’t know much about but seems to be a pretty major game in the series from how they’ve been talking about it, and technically nepu nepu connect, which is just a crossover f2p card game

      • Manuel Serrano

        (I know my grammar and spelling are horrible…)
        Cyber dimension Online (action RPG) oh my god……no……the two last Action RPG games from the series were kind of shifty in content and gameplay (for me at least…), but I hope the companies involve in the development of this game will apply the concept of the genre decently, a good duration (hours of gameplay), good story and BETTER gameplay mechanics.. (I ‘mean asking to much from compile heart and if idea factory…)
        Nepu-Nepu Connect: Chaos Chanpuru (card game/crossover) card game about characters from all compile heart’s series. For pita and free to play ………..well, I have a feeling these game will cost money if they ever localize it here in the west…
        Looks like both of them are spin-off ;-;

        • I wouldn’t judge Cyberdimension by U/Blanc, it seems to be from CH not IF, which means it should have the budget of a main game, and it’s also listed as an Action RPG, which the Tamsoft games are not (IIRC it’s something like “hyper battle” which tamsoft calls their musou games).

          The biggest problem with the side games has consistently been the budget/polish, and this game appears to have a higher one, so I’m quite interested in it. This seems to be the next “main” game with all the fixin’s.

          I do wish they’d add more budget to the side games, but so far the only major cause for alarm in the series to me is Blanc Game’s surprisingly lame localization. Hoping Sega Hard Girls proves that was just a fluke, review copies for it should be out this month so I’ll hopefully see what’s up with it.

          As for the card game, eh. Every Japanese company has a mobile free to play card game. At least they’re reusing the Monster Monpiece style of combat which was alright, but otherwise I expect nothing too interesting.

          • Manuel Serrano

            Thanks for your opinion. I hope If Idea Factory put more effort and budget to release something good to the audience……..

          • Manuel Serrano

            Well every game is good but they always lack something…..that what I mean in effort and budget….

  • HashiriyaR32

    I think the primary reason why IFI went with “Megadimension” as their translation of “Shinjigen” or “New Dimension”, is because “Megadimension” is in the lyrics for the game’s main opening theme.

    As in, it was always meant to be “Megadimension”.