By Steve Baltimore / July 1st, 2019
|Title||Super Neptunia RPG|
|Publisher||Idea Factory International|
|Release Date||June 20th, 2019|
|Platform||Switch, PC, PlayStation 4|
The long awaited Super Neptunia RPG has finally launched here in the West. This 2D adventure with Neptune and crew was developed by a Canadian team, Artisan Studios and had some fans questioning if this game would still have the atmosphere of a normal Neptunia title. I saw the mixed reviews from the Japanese release, but the game has had some fixes since then. Let’s see how Super Neptunia RPG turned out when all was said and done!
The game begins with our favorite Goddesses in a dream world. They are fighting an unknown foe that defeats them easily. Neptune wakes up in a strange world with amnesia. This happens to her way too often! Neptune gets mixed up with the group Bombyx Mori, who want to destroy all 3D technology and keep all games 2D. She soon discovers they are evil and with her new friend Chrome she sets out to recover her memories and save this world from 2D Hell.
I have to say I really loved the art direction here. The 2D sprites of the girls look great and the animations during event scenes bring out the game’s personality. Each area of the game is highly detailed. All backgrounds are beautifully drawn and have amazing color. The way the art is layered, the backgrounds appear to have depth even though this is all 2D and I thought that was pretty impressive. The enemy models look nice, but I was a little disappointed in them. They look like typical RPG monsters and not the game industry spoofing monsters we’ve come to know and love out of this series. Though I will say there is one boss in this game that had me in stitches laughing. It might be one of the best spoofs ever, and you will know it when you see it. The game runs pretty smooth, though I did notice some background tearing while playing the Switch version. This isn’t deal breaking but a patch to smooth out the performance here would be welcome.
Neptunia soundtracks tend to have an electronic sound to them. I mean we are talking about consoles battling it out in Gameindustri, after all. The team at Artisan Studios have taken a different route with the title. Since the game world is not as advanced as the worlds found in other series entries the soundtrack here takes a more classical approach. The tracks are what you would expect to find in a traditional RPG, lots of string, woodwinds and just a more medieval sound altogether. I found several tunes here I really like, so overall I think they did a great job. If you like the music you hear in game, you can snag up the Deluxe Pack for the Steam version to have a copy the OST for yourself.
The story here is very much a mixed bag. The first part of the game is pretty bland in a lot of areas. Since the Goddesses all have amnesia their personalities are very muted. There are glimpses of the series’ signature humor during the first half of the game, but it felt bland compared to latter half of the game. The series fan service is basically non existent in this title. The few instances of it thrown in here seem more out of of an obligation rather than having a meaningful impact on anything. Despite these issues I still feel this is a decent story overall. When the girls come into their own later in the game and the jokes start flowing you tend to forget about the slow start.
The game world is completely 2D just like side scrollers of yesteryear. In towns there are some NPCs that will give the party some quests to complete for rewards. These are mostly simple fetch and hunting requests. You will have to do some light platforming, but Neptune controls really well on the field so this is never too big of an issue. There are places you cannot get to when you first reach them. As you progress you will gain abilities such as double jump that will allow you to reach these places. Exploring each area carefully is a must to collect all treasures and places hide the powerful monsters you hunt for the guild. Enemies are visible as you progress through each area, and they look like Dogoos. Just like in any other Neptunia game you can strike them with your sword for a symbol attack.
Combat here are turn based but in an active battle way. You will need a certain amount of AP to perform actions in combat. You will gain AP as time passes, and if you got a symbol attack you will even start out with a bit to get a jump on your foes. The enemy will gain AP during this time as well. If you hit the enemy’s weakness you’ll be granted additional AP. This gives you a big advantage since you can attack quickly or use more powerful skills faster, such as Neptune’s Protagonist Slash. On the flip side if the enemy absorbs that element they will be granted an AP bonus and this can put you in the hole rather quickly.
The layout here is very similar to what is found in Valkyrie Profile. Each character is mapped to a face button and when they have enough AP to execute the equipped skill a button icon will appear above them. What makes Super Neptunia RPG stand out here is the ability to rotate formations. This will switch the Goddess’s positions and give them each a new skill to use. The menu you use to set this up is a bit confusing at first. You will select a character then pick which skills you want them to use based on what button they would be located at during that formation. You can see an overview of each formation to be sure you have a good variety of skills equipped.
Now you may be wondering, how do I learn all these wonderful skills? The answer is from your equipment. Each piece of gear will teach the girls different skills. Some of these will be used in combat and others will be passive. Passive skills are called abilities and each will cost some ability points to use. You can mix and match these any way you wish with the amount of points you have at your disposal. They will have access to the skills right off the bat, but you have to earn a certain number of skill points to use the skill after switching to something else. I always loved this method of learning skills, but it has some serious drawbacks. You may have to use less that stellar equipment for a while to earn some of the skills you want.
This combat system works pretty well, but it felt a bit clunky at times. It always seemed like enemies could get their skills out before me. You can hold down LZ to speed up time to gain AP faster but be warned the enemy will speed up as well, so I wouldn’t do this with monsters you cannot easily dispatch. Though overall the combat here is pretty easy and the items they give you in abundance for healing make 90% of this game a walk in park.
Super Neptunia RPG is not a bad game, but it has some issues. I think the biggest issue for me was the story. It took way too long for it to really get started and once it did it was over in flash. The combat is a bit clunky, but honestly it is pretty fun to figure out ways to break it. I really enjoyed hunting down the huge guild quest monsters. The soundtrack is top notch, and I love the art style here. I’d love to see IFI give this one another shot, and put more of what made the series popular with fans into it. The ridiculous spoof monsters, having the girls be themselves more and a little more fan service wouldn’t hurt either.
I spent 22 hours to complete the main quest and there is some postgame content to delve into as well. If you’re a fan of the series you’ll probably want to pick this one up as well. It will be worth the $49.99 asking price. While it’s not as good as other spin offs there is still some value here. If you are new to franchise this may not be the best entry point, but you don’t need any knowledge of the rest of the franchise to jump in either.
Review Copy provided by the publisher.
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