Super Neptunia RPG is Artisan Studios’ first project with the Neptunia series. Known for its cute cast of characters and JRPG gameplay, Super Neptunia RPG can be described as a spin-off game in the Neptunia series, complete with the whimsical humor and gaming references. Straying from the traditional Neptunia formula, this game is a unique take on the series with its 2D visuals and side scrolling gameplay.
In one of the infinite dimensions where Gamingindustri exists is a world where 2D gaming is king and reigns supreme over all. An organization by the name of Bombyx Mori is mandated with ensuring the livelihood and prosperity of 2D games. However, this rule comes at a hefty price with citizens forced to produce and offer 2D games to this organization as tax payments. Anyone that utilizes any other form of technology or fails to meet their 2D gaming criteria is arrested and banished to the Trial Grounds as the ultimate punishment. With a bleak future in store for this world, Neptune awakens in this world with no memory whatsoever in search for definitive answers and a way out of her predicament.
The side-scrolling battles are reminiscent of the ones seen in the earlier Valkyrie Profile titles. With up to four party members, you use Action Points (AP) to activate skills with each party member assigned to a specific button. The party’s AP as a whole gradually refills over time as does the enemy’s AP gauge in the midst of combat. You are free to swap battle formations at any time when facing different types of enemies: Strike, Magic, Support and Heal. As for skills, they can be learned from leveling up and gaining experience or acquiring them by equipping unique items gifted with such special skills and fulfilling the required conditions. Skills must be set prior to battle with certain skills that can be set for each battle formation.
Skills have one of nine possible elemental types: Fire, Ice, Earth, Wind, Water, Lightning, Light, Dark and Physical. Whether equipping the skillset or using them on enemies, there are three possible status outcomes: Weak, Absorb and Resist. If enemies absorb a skill used on them, enemies may in fact be healed by it while resist means that little to no damage is dealt in battle. Much as you may expect, there are positive stat boosts or Buffs that can be used on your party members for a short period of time that range from increased magical defense and evasion to gained resistance and absorbed damage. Conversely, negative status effects or Debuffs vary from stop, slow, virus to poison, blind and mute effects inflicted on your party members.
When the Goddess gauge is maxed out, the respective character transforms into their Goddess form that gives them a significant stat boost and a change in appearance. Similarly, the Break Attack Gauge increases as you attack your foes allowing you to unleash the party member’s special break attack on unsuspecting enemies. You can unleash the Break Attack when it fills to the first level to a maximum of level four. They are especially useful for destroying the guard that tougher foes possess with much higher defense stats.
There are plenty of side quests to embark upon by engaging with the NPCs in town and dungeons to accept quests. Pressing the R2 button brings up the quest navigation to notify you of the ones that are active with the displayed objectives. Hunt quests, on the other hand, are found within the Guild Hills of each city and depending on the type of monster to be pursued, they may not show up on the dungeon map at all. Recommended levels range from Level 5 to 100 but you are free to embark on your quests if you choose to do so at any time. Alongside your quests, magic stones can be acquired throughout the various cities and dungeons. Finding magic stone switches give you a timed challenge to acquire magic stones and if successful, you can trade them with other NPCs.
The game tends to take a hit in the frame rate department at the most inopportune moments. There were times when I tried to jump or pre-emptively attack an enemy which did not register correctly or at all. In the midst of combat, there is noticeable slow down when there are lots of enemies on screen that makes the action look like a slow-motion replay. Characters do not necessary attack on point when they should and sometimes their attacks don’t occur in-sync with the button presses.
Super Neptunia RPG is an enjoyable game that doesn’t quite have the same charm or longevity compared to the other Neptunia titles. It’s a delightfully simple and minimalist type of game starring Neptune and the other CPU Goddesses that series’ fans are sure to appreciate. A patch has been made available by the publisher to address some of the technical issues from the original Japanese release. Ultimately, Super Neptunia RPG is a bite sized game that unfortunately lacks the rich and more diverse game experiences the other Neptunia titles have offered.
PROS (+): Stunning Visuals, Engaging Battles, Plenty of Quests
CONS (-): Frame Rate Drops, Pacing Issues
SCORE – 7.0/10
This review is based on a digital copy of Super Neptunia RPG on the PlayStation 4 provided by Idea Factory International