There’s nothing really super about this one...
- System: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC (Steam)
- Publisher: Idea Factory International
- Developer: Artisan Studios / Compile Heart / Idea Factory
- Release Date: June 20, 2019 [Steam] June 25, 2019 [NA] / June 28, 2019 [EU]
- Pricing: $39.99
- Rating: T
- Genre: Side-Scrolling RPG
- Players: 1
- Official Website: http://ideafintl.com/super-nep/
Super Neptunia RPG - Opening Movie (NA)
Who it Caters to
While it’s certainly safe to say that change, in fact, is healthy for our lives, it doesn’t always mean that you tamper with a formula that already works. Usually, we go through a change because there’s a part of us that creates a problem not only for ourselves but for the collective, and thus it’s appropriate to evolve for the better. Super Neptunia RPG is the latest title from the wonderful folks at Idea Factory and Compile Heart, who quite honestly have created some fantastic titles around the Neptunia brand, entertaining our hearts in many ways. This game, however, failed to do so and we’ll get to reasons why later in the review, but for the time being, Super Neptunia RPG is just as you’d think from the title; it’s an RPG that fans of the series will dive into, but then players may pose the unavoidable question: “is this really what I signed up for?”.
What to Expect
At first glance, Super Neptunia RPG retains its visual aesthetic through its well-delivered cutscenes and character designs, but it’s the gameplay itself that stands atop the podium as the culprit... and we’re finding it hard to defend our beloved series. To make things very clear, Super Neptunia RPG is nothing like the title that came before it, Megadimension Neptunia VII, which did a great job of sticking to the traditional formula that made the series so fun and random. Super Neptunia RPG feels like a game that had a compass in hand but somehow along the way, failed to read the directions carefully and wandered down a path of uncertainty. The story itself is your typical Neptunia adventure (which we totally like), but expect to be surprised when you jump into the game and realize that things feel more like a platformer than an RPG. This was a new direction that Artisan Studios and Compile Heart decided to embark on and we credit them for attempting to do so, but is the 2D side-scrolling perspective really the best choice for the long term? Keep reading to find out more!
Neptune finds herself in a brand new world but comes to realize that she remembers nothing other than her name. A mysterious girl named Chrome comes to her aid along with three familiar faces from the Neptunia brand, in order to help her secure her memory on her new journey. However, not all is at peace as there’s a threat among them that are causing panic in the world, dubiously trying to take civilization back to the 2D era. Neptune and her colleagues must now do their best to save the 3D world or live in this 2D universe for all eternity.
As mentioned earlier, Super Neptunia RPG has taken a new route and dived into the 2D world, of course for the purpose of relating to the story. Most of the game is hand-drawn, which we absolutely commend in many ways as the background environments are designed beautifully and come to life. The issue we have is just how everything flows within the game and by that, we’re referring to character animations. While running around in this well-crafted world, Neptune herself —much like ourselves while playing— felt out of place and stiff. It’s as if Neptune took a vacation to a brand new country and clearly isn’t used to her surroundings well enough, so she wanders around feeling restricted. Sadly, we were left scratching our heads more than actually enjoying the experience as a whole.
Thankfully, in this case, Super Neptunia RPG still sounds pretty good and once again retains the Neptunia recipe that fans will likely enjoy. It’s upbeat, quirky, and immerses you into the game as you run around slaying monsters and leveling up along the way. It’s by no means perfect, but the music really does help to bring the world to life a bit more, in spite of all the other issues that pop up from time to time.
While many bug fixes were taken care of, you can never truly erase all of them, and we’re going to address the more notable ones. Firstly, whenever Neptune enters a house the game animation for some reason leaves her in a state where she’s floating in mid-air, as if she’s falling from a platform. Once you move the analog stick she returns to her normal state, but we found that glitch to be weird because unless you moved around, she would just float there in place awkwardly. The overall controls aren’t terrible but they certainly felt stiff, and that’s probably because things were hand-drawn in 2D unlike the typical Neptunia series. Animations looked robotic, especially when jumping from one platform to another, and became even more apparent during battles where attacks really felt off a bit. By mashing on the attack button, Neptune will attempt to attack multiple times to generate more damage. However, when she does so the animation just doesn’t seem to fit her so well and looks more like puppet arms flailing uncontrollably.
Special attacks such as magic spells and healing abilities look great on-screen, so nothing to pick apart on that, but just the way characters move overall is what turned us away. Once again, we understand that this is an entirely new direction for the Artisan Studios and Compile Heart team but why even go down this path when your initial creation did a great job? It’s like you’ve created a great recipe that many people found appetizing and then suddenly decide to throw in a few extra ingredients, or in this case remove the most essential ones while expecting no one to really notice. We do like, however, the ability to change formations on-the-fly during battles, which provided more dynamic and exciting gameplay. You could formulate new strategies and engage enemies with a fresh approach every time, and really take advantage of each goddesses’ skills and abilities. It just hurts us having to watch it all happen because of how wonky the animations look.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Super Neptunia RPG, while providing us with a unique experience, ultimately didn’t deliver and sadly didn’t hit us the way we had anticipated. The new direction was more of a hindrance and didn’t really create anything groundbreaking that would make the Neptunia series stand out any more than it already has. If anything, this sort of sours the experience, especially when you’ve just completed a wonderful title from the series prior. Again, we can’t discredit the team for exploring new territory as we now live in an industry where sameness is becoming a common trend, but why not just improve upon an already well-established system? It would’ve been great to explore a vast 3D world with new adventures in place, but in this case, it just didn’t blow us away in the end.
- Tried and true Neptunia visual style that we always love and admire.
- We really do appreciate the team going above and beyond to hand draw the entire universe because it does look splendid.
- The soundtrack for the game is good, which brings the game to life nicely.
- Small glitches here and there in the game in spite of changes, still exist.
- Controls feel stiff, just like character animations.
- Why change something that’s been working for so long?
Honey's Final Verdict:
So, is Super Neptunia RPG that terrible? No way. The game does have its quirks and delivers on its traditional game industry humor, but it’s just the gameplay at times that felt bereft of its true essence, making the gameplay a little harder than usual. Perhaps it’s just something we’ll have to get used to but for now, we hope you found this review to be insightful, making your purchase decision a little bit easier!
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