A little over a month ago, I sat watching the Nintendo Switch presentation on live stream. While many were cheering and others were cursing, I just sat there chuckling. The reason why was the realization that a game and anime series I have been a hardcore fan of had predicted the future of the game industry. Hyperdimention Neptunia tells the story of the adventures of the four CPU goddesses of the world of Gameindustri, Blanc of Lowee (Nintendo), Noire of Lastation (PlayStation), Vert of Leanbox (XBOX), and our favorite, fourth wall-breaking protagonist Neptune of Planetune (a fictional Sega console). Through their many sagas, from stopping various CPU-powered female villains to saving the personification of the Dreamcast, they battle evil while trying to keep up the trust and spirit of the people of their respective nations. In mk2 (or it’s improved remake, Re:Birth 2) of the series, we are introduced to their little sisters, Nepgear, Uni, Rom and Ram. These sisters are also the future CPU goddesses of Gameindustri. It is on that point that I realized that this over half a decade long series had predicted the future of gaming.
One might ask how did they do that? Well, there is one major fact that blatantly stands out. The sisters are considered the future and they are all handhelds. It seems, if the Switch as well as Phil Spencer’s comments about it and the statements on the future of XBOX are any clue, this is the way console gaming is going. Though the Scorpio and the Pro versions of the XBO and PS4 are delivering exceptional advances, home console gaming is just not what it used to be. They aren’t selling currently as good as the last generation and the competition from mobile and PC isn’t helping. It seems that Nintendo has made peace with this fact with the Switch but they are not alone. Sony tried to do the same with Vita/Playstation TV but were unsuccessful due to the technology being only now just able to make the concept work suitably enough for widespread acceptance thereof. Considering Nintendo is trying to make this advance, Playstation is sure to try again with the improved technologies. Microsoft also spoke favorably of the Switch concept, which seems to imply that they themselves are considering something like that as well. They already have an established presence in mobile technology and their desire to create a whole Windows ecosystem with said products seems to imply they will go this route competing with the other two.
You might raise an objection about where is Vert’s sister or that’s just a superficial coincidence. Really? Well, consider this,Vert in the games and the animated series has a very close relationship with Nepgear and Nepgear does consider her to be another older role model for herself. Now, most of us remember Sega as the company that was very creative and high tech in both their consoles and games from the Mega Drive to the Saturn to the Dreamcast (Visual Memory Unit anyone?). After the end of the Dreamcast, it seems XBOX has assumed that mantle left in Sega’s absence with things like the Kinect. So, Vert being close to Nepgear seems to be an acknowledgement of their roots and the new course they may be plotting. We might also consider something truly remarkable as well. The alternative color scheme for the Joy-Cons on the Switch are bright shades of Red and Blue. Blanc’s sisters, Rom and Ram, are only a few shades lighter. When one realizes they are the future of the Nintendo nation in Gameindsutri, albeit originally intended as the representation of the DS, it’s quite an interesting coincidence.
One might also consider one of the villains in the extra part of the third installment, Victory/Re:Birth 3, where the CPUs and their sisters battle two beaver looking creatures that represent mobile gaming. They loose ground to them in shares (read: consumer confidence) and are left in quite a conundrum as to how to deal with it. They solve it by creating mobile games of their own that can be also played on their respective consoles. If that isn’t what the Switch and Super Mario Run embody as well as the efforts by the other members of the Big 3 now and in the future to the same effect, then I am Mickey Mouse. That is exactly how the Big 3 intend to compete against mobile gaming by giving the user home console AAA titles with the ability to be taken anywhere anytime besides any mobile gaming they venture with on iOS or Android.
There is, of course, another aspect that should be seriously considered. The little sisters are just a bit behind their big sisters in power and capability. Down another layer, Rom and Ram are just below the level of Nepgear and Uni. This is almost exactly how the current model Switch will probably stack up to these hypothetical consoles that Sony and Microsoft will produce. However, Rom and Ram catch up quickly as the story in the second game and original anime unfolds, just as an improved Switch will likely be just as up to speed with these consoles when they are released in next year or so. It should also be noted that in one of the endings for mk2/Re:Birth 2, the CPUs are thought to have died and the sisters prepare to undergo the ritual to become full-fledged CPUs. Though their sisters make a triumphal return before it is done, it reveals one important thing. The fact that they could readily replace their older siblings seems to directly imply this fact in the real world in respect to these new hybrids replacing traditional consoles.
With all of these points considered, it seems clear that this series gave some thought to the future as well as the present when it was being created. This forward thinking may have presaged the future of gaming. However, as the Switch presentation stated, this is something the industry has been trying to do for some time. Yet, no one else seemed to have thought the same way. Hyperdimention Neptunia seems to be the only series to have alluded to this possible reality. For this reason, I say that Hyperdimension Neptunia predicted the future of gaming…like a kangaroo! Now, all we need is a Ram/Rom game on the Nintendo Switch. Thoughts, Criware?