By William Haderlie / May 10th, 2016
|Title||MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune vs Zombies|
|Developer||Idea Factory, Compile Heart, Tamsoft|
|Publisher||Idea Factory International|
|Release Date||May 10, 2016|
|Age Rating||ESRB T for Teen|
It’s no secret that many of the staff here at Operation Rainfall are fans of both the HyperDimension Neptunia and the Senran Kagura games. So we have been quite excited for this title ever since it was announced that these two teams would be coming together to for this crossover game. But after playing this title I must also add another game series as a huge influence; at first I was a little turned off by the style change from what I was expecting. I was anticipating a bit of a Musou style like the Senran Kagura games on the Vita, but what I experienced played out like a cross between SK and Monster Hunter. The single player story campaign ended up more like Tamsoft title while the multiplayer (which played like a completely different game) was more like the Monster Hunter titles.
The story starts off similar to the anime Love Live! with the academy that the CPUs are attending, Gameacademi, planning on closure due to the declining birth rates. This is a well published issue in Japan, so the similarity here is not that surprising. But where it starts to diverge a little is that the CPUs decide to use their film club, instead of a music club, to try to attract enough money and applicants to their school in order to keep it open. Our fearless, and lazy, heroine Neptune is the President of the film club. She recruits Blanc to write the script and direct the action and together they decide to make a Zombie movie. However, this quickly goes off the rails when zombies start to invade the school. Not to be deterred by anything short of running out of pudding, they decide to use this zombie invasion as set dressing and to continue filming their picture while also getting rid of the undead. So while the chapters and scenes are broken up by story beats for the motion picture, you will see short conversations about what is going on behind the camera. Then you see the ridiculous story playing out in front of the camera before you engage in the fight. One fairly interesting addition to the story mode is that the scenes play slightly different if you pick a certain combination of two characters. So you can play it out the first time, and then you can look in the Gallery menu and find out what alternate versions are available, and then play those out. Unfortunately they do not change too much, but it’s still a nice option for the HDN fans out there.
In story mode you can choose two characters per event and as you go along you will gain more characters to choose from. They each are given a reason in the story to join, but they all start out at level 1. Thankfully your 2nd character will still gain the same amount of experience as your primary character does, so you can level them up fairly easily to catch up to the current level. To finish the story you really don’t need to spend any time grinding unless you keep on switching characters. If you have one main character that you go through the whole story with, you will be over-leveled by the time you reach the final boss. But if your main character arrives in Chapter 5 or 6, you may want to power-level them up a bit before you switch to them.
The selection of characters is really nice, a couple of new playable characters that you have seen before but have never been playable enter the fray: Famitsu and Dengiko. Plus there is the entirely new character that has never been in a HDN title before, Tamsoft, and she is really a great character, to the extent that I want her to appear in future HDN and Senran Kagura games. Lastly, along with the CPU and CPU Candidates that you would expect, you also get to play as the new major characters from V and VII; Plutia (Iris Heart), Peashy (Yellow Heart), and Uzumi (Orange Heart). They were all really nice to see together again but I was seriously missing Sadie from the otherwise fantastic MegaDimension Neptunia VII. And, while the story is quite absurd, I can definitely say that it was still very fun. Even though much of the development seems to have been done by Tamsoft, they absolutely nailed all the personalities of the girls you know and love. Not only that, but you are going to see your girls in situations that you may have never thought you would see them in. I don’t want to spoil too much, but the yuri is definitely stronger in this title than even in previous HDN or SK games.
The controls are fairly simple but it may take some time to get used to. There are combo attacks that are a combination of the square and triangle button (you can unlock additional chains through investing skill points), the cross button is jump (and you can double-jump in this game), the circle button is dash, the R button is block, and the L button is lock on. You can use various combinations of those buttons for special moves, EXE Drive, Lily Drive, Transform, and Switch. You also have access to a couple sub characters from the HDN games that can give you various temporary buffs or heals, as well as items (although I frankly very rarely used them). Those are the controls for single player, but for multiplayer you cannot Switch or Transform or Lily Drive (in the same manner at least) or have sub characters. The single player mostly gets you accustomed to building up your meters and learning the combos while you level up your characters and have fun with the story. However you generally face easy enemies and no real large challenges until the final boss of the game. So in that respect it will seem similar to the Senran Kagura games, that is, until you switch over to multiplayer.
At first I thought that multiplayer was just going to be a coop version of the single player story mode, or maybe even a PvP mode, but it was neither. The only thing that they share are some of the controls. Also the levels and items you gain from story mode transfer over. Other than that, most of the missions that you take on after the first 1 Star or 2 Star Missions are all huge boss fights, much larger than anything you fight in story mode. And this tends to play out a bit similar to Monster Hunter with group members taking their own angles to do damage to these huge monsters and stay out of harms way. The different weapon types do varying degrees of damage to the bosses, so it’s good to have a diverse group if possible for the tougher ones.
There is an aggro indicator when the boss is focusing its attention on you, so that is a good time to do a lot of defending while your partners wail on it. There are a lot of new bosses to the HDN franchise here, but there are also some great callback enemies to fight, especially from MDN VII. You can also gain a lot of great upgrades from this mode to make your characters super powerful; these items then also transfer back over to story mode if you really want to use them for that. But mostly it’s getting new gear so you can take on tougher and tougher challenges. There are 1-5 star missions and also special missions that can unlock under special conditions as well as three daily quests that change each day. The more quests you complete the higher your rank. I think that it maxes out at Rank 10, but I’ve only made it to Rank 8 so far. Even if you choose not to experience this mode with other players, most of the quests can be also completed alone, but some of them you may have to be pretty over-leveled to tackle solo. There is a chat option with general responses, and while that is a nice thing to have, I didn’t use it much. As long as your partners have played enough story mode, they should be able to tell what to do pretty easily. But the fights end up being a lot more fun than the story mode battles are, so this is a really nice addition to the game that I wasn’t expecting.
This is where I would normally state my issues with the game, but there really aren’t any major complaints to be had here. It would be nice to have more variation in the Story Scenes depending on who you choose, and it would also be nice if it was easier to find out what your next pair needed to be instead of having to load through two menus. But the story itself was still fun and ridiculous, and they also comment on how boring and stale the zombie movie formula is, so it’s very self aware. The controls take a bit to get used to, but they are good enough that once you get into the zone, they are actually pretty good. They are actually far better than the portable versions of Monster Hunter. In fact, this game may even be my favorite Monster Hunter game because I hate the camera of those 3DS titles so much and because I like these characters so much. The customization could be a little deeper, but it’s still complicated enough to be an RPG instead of just an action game.
The graphics are surprisingly good for a Vita game and the translation was really well done. Not only that, but you get the dual audio right off the bat, so you can choose the English dub by default or go right to the Japanese version (no DLC required). The various outfits are quite diverse once you start unlocking them all, and with this being a multiplayer game, even if you have two of the same character they are unlikely to look much alike. The music is the same HDN music that you would normally expect, so it is quite good, but you’ve heard it all before. For me, the voice work definitely stole the show from the music design. Especially the Japanese voices, which maintain all the voice actresses that you know and love.
Really, if you are going to just play the single player you will get a lot of fun out of this game; it will take about 8-10 hours to get through the story. The physical price is $39.99 (I’m not certain what the digital price is yet because it hasn’t been posted) and that is an okay amount although a little expensive for just the single player content. But if you also are going to play the multiplayer, like I will continue to do even after this review, this game could stay fun for months and the price becomes more than worth it. There is something truly satisfying about knocking a huge boss down and then gathering together for a massive combination EXE Drive attack (which can be combined in the multiplayer version for devastating effect). Besides, I only have one character at level 99, and I must get the rest of them leveled, and unlock the rest of my outfits, and raise my rank to level 10, and… and… and most of all, just have some more fun with these crazy Neptunia girls.
Review copy provided by the publisher
Action RPGCompile HeartIdea FactoryIdea Factory InternationalMegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS ZombiesPS VitaSonyTamsoft