For the past decade the “Hyperdimension Neptunia” games have been loved by fans of Japanese games and animation. While most games in the series have been 3D turn based RPGs, the newest game in the series looks to mix things up, changing the perspective to 2D.
“Super Neptunia RPG” not only mixes up the perspective, but the gameplay as well. Instead of a set turn-based combat system, the player’s team has an action gauge which slowly fills during a battle. When enough of the gauge has filled, players can unleash attacks in whatever order they want.
Another unique choice the game makes with its combat is how the player chooses attacks. Instead of a menu full of choices appearing whenever a character is ready to attack, each character only has one action they can do per battle. This action is dependent on where they are placed in battle formation, which sees each character linked to one of the face buttons on the controller.
While this might seem like a compelling way to mix up the standard JRPG formula, I found that this made the combat feel monotonous to me. Every time I would enter a battle, I simply found myself mashing the same buttons repeatedly until the battle would end, only stopping occasionally to activate a super move or to use a healing item.
Seeing as how the main thing that you do in “Super Neptunia RPG” bored me to tears, I found it hard to find the motivation to continue playing. In fact, if it wasn’t for the hilarious writing and fantastic voice acting, I probably never would’ve made it past the first hour.
“Super Neptunia RPG” takes place in the world of Gamindustri, where the evil organization Bombyx Mori rules with an iron fist. Bombyx Mori demands that the citizens of Gamindustri pay taxes in the form of 2D games, with anyone found creating new technologies or games being banished forever. When a girl named Neptunia awakens in an abandon house with no memories, she quickly learns that she is the key to saving Gamindustri.
If you couldn’t tell by the name “Gamindustri”, the “Hyperdimension Neptunia” games spoof the video game industry. Many characters in the game represent real life video game companies such as Sega, Nintendo, PlayStation and Xbox. Those that frequently play video games will be treated to a slew of inside jokes about the industry which never cease being hilarious.
These jokes are delivered by fantastic voice acting in both the Japanese and English dubs. The absolute charm of the characters and the writing were without a doubt the best parts of the game and, without them, there wouldn’t be much here.
While the character designs and background art in “Super Neptunia RPG” are beautiful, the whole game has a very cheap vibe. Characters move stiffly in the overworld with a fair amount of motion blur in combat.
Some effects in cutscenes look especially cheap, with explosions and fights occasionally being represented by a pixelated JPEG of smoke warped over it. This cheap feeling completely clashes with what would be an otherwise beautiful game.
After playing the game for a while, I found that it was simply style over substance. While some may find joy in games like these, I was bored for most of my time with the game and struggled to find the will to keep playing. Unless you are a huge “Hyperdimension Neptunia” fan, I don’t think you’ll gain much enjoyment out of “Super Neptunia RPG”.
Game reviewed on a Nintendo Switch. Review copy provided by Idea Factory International.