Has the Neptunia franchise finally lost its steam with Super Neptunia RPG or does the 2D iteration of the game actually push the series forward? Find out in our review of Super Neptunia RPG.
+Takes on a unique twist of the formerly established side-scrolling genre with RPG mechanics.
+Gear stats vary from item to item and can be mastered with usage
+Turn-based mechanics are changed out for an attack gauge
+Parties are unique and a bit more strategically designed
-Pathfinding between zones and story-based locations
-A rather forgettable story that doesn’t carry as much enjoyment as the previous entries
When it comes to the tongue-in-cheek series, Hyperdimension Neptunia, or Neptunia as I prefer to call the series, has been one of my favorites since I first experienced it on PlayStation 3 nine years ago. Since then, I’ve become a fan of the series, disregarding its fan service-focused content, after all, I enjoy the gameplay more.
Now, here we are, years later and diving into the latest spin-off of the series by the name of Super Dimension Neptunia RPG, a 2.5D take on the well-established series that decides to feed on its story-elements, using them to fuel the overall experience. For me, the games tend to be catchy, fun, and even something of comedic relief from the more serious games I play.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of trouble brewing on the horizon, and many of its issues are only surface deep.
Super Neptunia RPG’s issues begin to show from the very start
When it comes to the Super Dimension Neptunia series, I don’t expect triple-A experiences, but I do expect a functional title. Unfortunately, performance hindrances begin immediately and persist through the overall adventure. Sometimes going from better to even worse during the overall experience. There were often times the frame rates would stutter, even jitter at their worst moments, this only being a part of the games overall problematic equation.
Next comes with rather unresponsive controls, which in all unfortunate circumstances, appears from the very beginning. You’ll find moments where it’s hard to turn, job, or even initiate a fight against your AI opponents without something going absolutely wrong. Unlike previous titles, combat itself isn’t even near as fluid, often bogged down by its oddly paced ‘energy bar’ players will need to build up their energy in order to attack or use a member of their party.
While the story is almost as cookie-cutter as they come, it does leave a bit to be desired, making you wonder if the spin-off titles have begun to lose their steam. The hardest part to accept is that this one takes place in a portion of Gameindustri that’s in a 2D plane, ripped away from its 3D plane sibling, and Neptune, for whatever reason (we’re omitting it for spoiler purposes) has once again lost her memory.
Just like before, she must regain her memory, help the locals, and fight off the local tyrannical government that forces their subjects to create repetitious and rather uninspired titles.
Super Dimension Neptunia RPG isn’t all bad, there’s actually some charm, but it’s only half-baked
One of the issues is the overall experience, which does have some charm, and it’s the fact that Artisan Studios’ idea to take the series to a 2D element isn’t problematic. I actually enjoy it and with proper execution, it could work out rather well, just look at Child of Light for example.
While I applaud Artisan Studios for their attempt, it doesn’t work out all that well in the end, and unfortunately for them, it leaves a lot to be desired from a 2D Super Dimension Neptunia title. It left me hungering for more, aching for what was just around the corner, hoping this Metroidvania-inspired RPG could actually deliver one such experience.
Exploration is problematic, leaving players lost half-of-the-time, the other half, not even working out properly and leaving quests harder to complete than they should be. The combat itself is overall quite ordinary, leaving a lot to be desired from it, including the fact that nothing feels as if it was quite put together in a proper manner, but rather patched together in a matter of a few months time.
You won’t find yourself casting out any wild spells, doing anything out of the ordinary, or going above and beyond as you would in other titles. It’s a shame really as there was a lot of hope that the overall title would open up.
it’s hard to argue that it isn’t a rather beautiful title, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t troubled from the start.
Super Neptunia RPG, one of the biggest issues is combat itself, which is bland, boring, and one of the dullest experiences the series has had to offer yet. While each character such as Noire and Lowee who you team up rather early. Don’t get used to them though, parties do rotate in and out based on the progress you’ve made in the story, making it a bit tougher to really approach combat situations.
There are also moments that you will find yourself stuck, troubled even, based on what elements your gear might have equipped to it. Because of this, you may find enemies defending against your attacks, taking reduced damages or even absorbing the amount of damage you’ve dealt against them.
It’s also hard to know when, if, or how often you’ll be able to attack due to enemies being able to force you to skip your turn. Meanwhile, understanding what weapons are most efficient against specific enemies is an issue and you will run into it quite often. You’ll find yourself healing them unless you can find their weaknesses. While this is a nod towards older titles, it doesn’t make it any less of an issue, which leaves a lot of room for improvement on Super Dimension Neptunia RPG.
About the slow-responding controls
One thing we have to talk about is the controls themselves, which seem to not respond as needed when roaming about the open world, dashing across platforming segments or initiating a surprise attack. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out, which is slightly problematic for some.
It’ll send you hurtling off a ledge, into an enemy, missing a puzzle piece you were after or just simply being a bit of a nuisance. While it wasn’t a consistent issue, it did happen, and it grew quite frustrating on the PlayStation 4 build of the game. Granted we didn’t see this issue crop up as often or really – at all – on the PlayStation 4 Pro we used to finish out the review.
This one will be a pass for both fans new and old
When it comes to the Neptunia franchise, I love where the series could go, what it would have to offer a spin-off that could captivate us as much as core entries do. Unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed and found that my enjoyment of the game was rather short-lived due to troubled explorative designs, sluggish controls (on a standard PS4, not a PS4 Pro), and a story that felt like it was ripped straight out of one of the previous titles and given a slightly fresh coat of paint.
While Super Dimension Neptunia RPG does capture the art style, atmosphere, and silly antics of Neptune, Blanc, Noire, and friends – I just wish it had been a bit something more – perhaps a true Metroidvania title that fed off what made games of the 80s and 90s such nostalgic titles.
Super Dimension Neptunia RPG
Platforms: PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Developer: Idea Factory
Publisher: Idea Factory, Artisan Studios, Compile Heart
Release Date: Available Now
For now, however, I can’t recommend this one and suggest that – if you do play it – proceed with caution.
Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.