Super Neptunia RPG (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Gabriel Jones 22.06.2019

Review for Super Neptunia RPG on Nintendo Switch

Neptune, perpetual protagonist, and long-time layabout, has gotten herself in another fine mess. After a series of nightmares that involved mysterious battles and eggplants, she awakens only to discover that Gamindustri has changed. For one thing, it looks a lot flatter than before. One could go as far to say that it's positively two-dimensional. While Neptune tries to get accustomed to this strange new world, she discovers that she has lost her memory. Oh, joy, a main character with amnesia, how original. However, our heroine doesn't have time to dwell on overused plot devices. Unless she can discover the truth behind her current plight, then 2D will reign forever.

There are times when a franchise could use a change in perspective - at least, that seems to be the general theme of Super Neptunia RPG. This side-scrolling platformer/RPG offers veterans and newbies alike a different approach. However, despite the strange new world and leagues of subsystems that players must figure out, there is an undercurrent of familiarity. Over the years, the Neptunia saga paid homage to many classics, usually through dialogue and character-designs. This time, Artisan Studios has gone a step further by taking elements from other RPGs and weaving them together. The results are quite interesting.

Before going any further, a moment to talk about the cast. Unlike previous entries, which tended to pile on the secondary characters, this one sticks almost entirely to the exploits of the Four Goddesses. Also, rather than leaning too heavily on tropes, this one chooses to play it straight. Well, it's hard to determine what "playing it straight" means in a franchise that treats the fourth wall like a chain link fence. Well, let's put it this way: Noire doesn't say some variation of "I-It's not like you're my friend or anything" all the time. Vert and Blanc keep the chest-size arguments to a minimum. Neptune is as ridiculous as ever though. The other playable character is Chrome, who doesn't really have any defining quirks, and that's quite alright. The villains are strange and suitably evil, or at least severely misunderstood. In any case, their frequent antics help to keep the story moving.

As far as concerns the rest of Gamindustri, there isn't a whole to say. Most of the NPCs exist solely to hand out quests to reward-driven adventurers. The locales are certainly vivid, at least. Both the towns and dungeons of each continent have a unique look. Monsters of all shapes and sizes prowl the wilderness. There is a slight amount of repetitiveness in how some locations are arranged. Expect to run through a few halls that are pretty similar to one another. It's not a major issue, especially when past instalments tended to repeat entire dungeons, only with tougher enemies to deal with.

Screenshot for Super Neptunia RPG on Nintendo Switch

Getting around this 2D world is very easy. Not only can Neptune run and jump, she can also dash through the air. In case of wandering foes, she can slash them with her sword. This action gives her party an advantage in the ensuing battle. Anyone familiar with titles like Valkyrie Profile will feel right at home here. Early on, the protagonist can't reach every platform on her own. This is where Puddingo comes into play. After it's summoned with 'X,' Neptune can bounce off of it to reach new heights. Later on, she'll receive the ability to double-jump. Combining these powers with her mid-air dash will allow the protagonist to reach any platform. This is necessary to grab tree-top treasures, and other goodies in high places. Be wary that while this is all going on, Neptune will incessantly remind her audience that she's a kangaroo. Don't be afraid to change the language to Japanese or even mute voices entirely, just to give your ears an occasional break.

The real-time battle system is an amalgamation of the aforementioned Tri-Ace classic, Final Fantasy XIII, and the Shin Megami Tensei franchise. Each of the four party members is relegated to their own button. When said button is pressed, they'll perform their assigned skills. Typically, skills run the gamut of physical attacks, spells, or buffs. The catch however is that they all require a portion of the action gauge, which replenishes itself over time. Naturally, the more powerful the technique, the more meter it requires.

In this game, sticking with one plan of attack is generally a bad idea. Monsters carry a variety of resistances or immunities to the elements. In other words, if you run into a monster that looks like a block of ice, don't try to attack it with an ice spell. Not only will the creature absorb the damage as HP, the party will suffer a large penalty to their action gauge. Conversely, when an enemy's weakness is exploited, the party's action gauge will get a boost, allowing them to use more skills. Most pieces of equipment have some sort of elemental affinity, so be wary of what everyone is wearing.

Screenshot for Super Neptunia RPG on Nintendo Switch

Since micromanaging for every encounter can be a pain, one should get acquainted with formations. Up to four can be configured, and players swap between them mid-battle by pressing the L or R button. To grasp the significance of a formation, one must first consider its leader, and then devise a strategy around her. For example, when Neptune is the leader, she provides a bonus to the party's strength. Naturally, it's a good idea to outfit everyone with commands that benefit physical attacks. Blanc grants a bonus to magic defence as well as regeneration. This role allows her to focus on protective buffs and HP recovery. However, the heroine's skillset is very dependent on their leader. Everyone under Noire's command gains extra intelligence, so using non-attack spells is neither recommended nor allowed. Basic commands such as the non-elemental spell 'might' and physical attacks are always available, so don't be afraid to experiment with different setups.

Coming to grips with these various subsystems is made all the more complicated by the fact that practically every technique has to be learned. In a nod to Final Fantasy IX, weapons and jewellery alike hold skills as well as abilities. Abilities are passive bonuses that can be equipped. Depending on the situation, they can definitely give the party an edge in battle. Be sure to hold onto every piece of gear, so that all of the party members get the opportunity to master the abilities contained within. Thankfully, mastering almost every technique doesn't take very long, so instances where someone is stuck with an otherwise useless weapon are few and far between.

Of course, if this all sounds like too much of a hassle, straight-up grinding is always a viable alternative. Once the girls reach Lowee, they can start farming for metal dogoos. Each one is worth thousands of experience points, and they're not that hard to kill. For added convenience, an option for fast-forwarding through battles is available. Furthermore, stat-increasing nuts are also semi-common. They're awarded for completing quests or as a rare drop. You could always funnel most of the INT-up boosts to one character, so that she'll quickly eliminate small-time adversaries.

Screenshot for Super Neptunia RPG on Nintendo Switch

However, this method won't be enough to handle the optional super-bosses. It's just for seeing the story through to the end. As is typically the case with Hyperdimension Neptunia games, there are always two paths to reach the story's conclusion. One involves mastering a host of RPG systems, and the other is just a matter of finding the best places to grind. This decision is left entirely up to the player. Also, battles tend to go by much faster and more smoothly with the right setup, so a little preparation goes a long way. Veteran players are sure to devise combos and string together commands, while expertly swapping between formations. All in all, there's a welcome bit of depth to the battle system.

In most respects, Super Neptunia RPG is quite good. While the story probably won't win over non-fans, there aren't any points where it goes off the deep end. A fair amount of side-content, including monster hunts and quests, help keep the adventure from turning into a strictly "point A to point B" affair. Considering the budget, the in-game cut-scenes are nicely-done, lending a sort of liveliness not often seen in the series. The frame-rate isn't ideal, but luckily this isn't a twitch-based game. Even the battles use some sort of buffering, so players don't need to time their inputs to effectively command the party. Just be sure to avoid button-mashing. Aggressively spamming the L and R buttons while waiting for the Goddesses' turn will only result in rapid formation shifting.

Still, there is something missing. While this won't be an issue for the usual RPG fan, long-time Neptunia devotees might be a little disappointed. Basically, the atmosphere isn't quite right. Though the graphics and sound are well-done, they don't match the boisterous charm of the previous entries. There's also a lack of goofy special skills and personality-driven attacks. Since all of the playable characters work with practically the same skill-set, battles are a little less interesting to watch. It doesn't help that the non-essential NPCs are just plain dull. As mentioned earlier, a lot of them do nothing more than provide quests. Occasionally there's a bit of flavour dialogue, but it's not enough. In short, the world can feel a little static. Bear in mind that this is just the opinion of someone who has played through the majority of the Neptunia titles.

Screenshot for Super Neptunia RPG on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Admittedly, the Neptunia franchise has always been a bit of a hard sell. The main characters, particularly Neptune herself, are an acquired taste. Also, if someone doesn't have the stomach for fanservice, then they're going to have a very bad time. Still, there are endearing qualities. Super Neptunia RPG does a fine job of making them palatable to a wider audience. The interesting plot is backed by a unique assortment of villains. Then there's the battle system, which presents an impressive spin on familiar concepts. Aesthetically, this RPG isn't quite the same as before. Maybe that's a good thing for some, but it might not gel with others. Regardless, don't let such a minor nitpick deter you from taking on this quest.

Developer

Artisan Studios

Publisher

Idea Factory

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date 28.06.2019   North America release date 25.06.2019   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   

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