By Jason Quinn / June 27th, 2019
|Developer||Idea Factory International|
|Release Date||May 21st, 2019|
Neptunia Shooter is a shmup from Idea Factory. As its name might imply, this is a spin-off of the Neptunia franchise. However, there’s no real story here, though that tends to come with the genre. You’re just blasting through waves of enemies and characters from the Neptunia series. Gameplay is easy enough to explain, it’s a horizontal scrolling shooter with 6 stages, at the end of each is a boss. Rack up points to compete on online leaderboards, so all your friends will know how good you are at Neptunia Shooter.
The one interesting mechanic in this game is that when you defeat a boss character, you can now switch to that character in the next stage. Usually to deal with some new enemy type. The first one you pick up lobs bullets that fall towards the bottom of the screen, and the second character shoots behind you. This is pretty neat and certainly gives the game some variety to make up for a lack of depth.
Visually, the game looks fine, it has an 8-bit thing going for it. The backgrounds leave a lot to be desired though. It’s just completely black with some white pixels zooming past that I assume are meant to be stars. This doesn’t change throughout the entire game. Any variety at all would have been very welcome here.
The other issue with its visuals is the size of the screen. It’s in a 4:3 aspect ratio for some reason. I guess to invoke a classic feel, but I’m certain most 8 or 16-bit shooters are more technologically impressive than this game. For instance, many of those games have actual scrolling backgrounds. The sprites are also just far too large for a game in a genre that sorta relies on making precise, careful movements. The resolution of the game can’t really be changed, the screen size is constant, and it’s simply just too small. Classic shmups worked around this issue by minimizing the size of the sprites of your characters and enemies. A lesson Idea Factory does not seem to have learned.
The boss fights are where the small screen size and relatively large sprites clash head-on. Bosses tend to clutter the screen with bullets, and with how vague your hitbox seems to be, dodging these bullets is precarious at best. At worst, it can feel like a hit was unfair. That said, I’d say the boss battles are, relatively speaking, the strongest aspect of the game. Very often, each boss requires utilizing the character that acquired before, and I can appreciate that sort of design. As mentioned before though, the inefficient use of space makes most of the bosses more frustrating than they should be. Bullet patterns feel more haphazard and random than designed, and finding a place to squeeze through their fire feels more like you got lucky than anything else.
The music in this game is nice. Unfortunately, I never heard more than maybe the first few seconds of the first song. The sound effects, specifically the sound effect of your own character shooting, are obnoxiously loud and unending. You’re gonna be holding down the fire button, so any music will be drowned out by a ceaseless cacophony of bleeps. There’s also no way to just mute the sound effects here, so it’s either listening to nails on a chalkboard, or muting the game. I elected to mute the game.
That’s about all there is to say about this game. To be absolutely frank, I have a hard time justifying purchasing this game, even at its price of $4.99. I have played free demos of full games, browser based flash games, games made in 24 hour game jams that felt like more fulfilling experiences than this does. Neptunia Shooter is a game that can be beaten in 10 minutes, and the enemy and boss variety is barely adequate to even support that playtime. Idea Factory is not a struggling developer. Neptunia gets consistent releases all the time. This just feels lacking in ambition, and I’d like to think that when it comes to spin-offs, they could put a better foot forward.
I don’t like to equate money to time spent on a game. I think that’s a horrible way to value a game. I also don’t like to say that a game isn’t worth playing because some other game is better. However, this game utterly fails to be compelling or unique. There are so many better games in this genre, with so much more vision and so much more effort. In my opinion, this is simply not worth your time, and absolutely not worth your money.
Review copy was provided by the publisher.
Idea FactoryNeptunia ShooterPCShmup