On occasion, I run into something that causes me to question and then come to a realization about myself. Generally, it might be a book or an essay online, or maybe a video. On even rarer occasions, it’s a game.
This is one such game. After spending around 4 hours with it, I came to a rather startling realization for myself. It’s not a dig at the game either, not at all, I rather enjoyed my time with it. But what I realized was this.
I do not like JRPGs anymore.
Again, I have to state that while I have a few specific issues with Megadimension Neptunia VII, the game itself is perfectly fine for fans of the genre. I mean, it got me to laugh, to stare, and to curse while playing it. It wasn’t boring, it had good music and funny characters. I found it enjoyable to a point.
Let’s get right into my Pillars and I will explain myself as best as I can here.
I will say this, this game is beautiful. Both the anime styled artwork during the conversation scenes, as well as the unique dungeon designs, this game fires on all cylinders when it comes to style.
Sadly, at times the game really doesn’t do much with the art however. Conversation screens are almost completely static, with only mouth and rarely image movements, such as the character getting larger or smaller or vibrating, with no real animation. For the most part, the characters are simply still images.
During the dungeon exploration screens, enemies are easy to pick out and thanks to having unique sprites you can generally tell what you will face in battle prior to initiating it.
The actual dungeons themselves are fairly blocking, as it seems to be built with a tile system, but the four dungeons I visited were all very unique. A ruined city, a park, a strange subway, and then a ruined arcade. Each had its own style and feel. Enemies were also varied. And I mean VARIED.
I mean, seriously, the subway dungeon had me fighting Pipes and what could only be described as the Dialog screens from a Visual Novel. The enemies are varied… and insane. I also fought mechas, space invader pixel art, and cat squirrels.
Sound is a mixed bag. The voice acting is pretty solid, each character has a voice that seems to match their personality type. Neptune is cheerful and peppy, Nepgear is more serious, and the red-haired chick is very masculine in tone.
The music is solid save for one complaint. For some reason the entire time I was in the second dungeon, the background noise was nothing but a solid wall of white noise. I tried to repair my install but that did nothing. I have no idea if that was intentional or not, as the dungeon was rather “high tech” and futuristic with lots of beeps and boops along with the wall of sound.
During battle characters speak as well. After a while I found the voices annoying as there are only so many voice clips and frankly you will be grinding. Thankfully there are options to turn down the voices.
This is one of the most insane stories in a game I have ever seen, and I didn’t even get very far. First you need to understand that the universe this game takes place in is called “Gamindustri”, where four CPUs rule over four lands. Those CPUs are Neptune, Vert, Blanc, and Noire. These ladies each represent a game console. No, really. Vert is the XBox, Blanc the Wii, Noire the Playstation, and Neptune the never released Sega Neptune. Further, this is only one in a LONG RUNNING series.
The game starts with Neptune finding what can only be described as a Sega Dreamcast, and her and her sister Nepgear (a hand held Neptune system?) get sucked into an alternate dimension. It gets even crazier there, involving talking gentlemen fish, a Tsundere CPU, a recurring villain, and giant robots. If you ever watch Anime and understand what a “Crack” anime is you will understand this. The story is completely nuts, with references and in jokes and all sorts of bizarre asides. Honestly it became too much for me, because at no point, despite the scenario (world destroying robots / end of the world) did the story ever become serious.
It was all insane jokes and madness, and even some fan service. The story here is part of my issue with JRPGs now, but I can see its appeal. I just prefer a bit more variety in my story. Not all humor, but not all grimdark, and most JRPGs now a days seem to go to one side or the other. The story needs BALANCE, people!
Gameplay wise, things take place in one of two zones I suppose you could say. The Overworld, and the Dungeons. Sadly there are no explorable cities, and the Overworld is basically on rails, with you just moving a cursor around, walking down paths, and sometimes getting into fights. I am honestly really sad about the lack of exploration in the Overworld. In fact, in the first four hours of gameplay I visited one city, which was basically a menu with a background. Even talking to NPCs was just going to a menu and clicking an icon, and then going into a Dialog screen.
The other part of the game are the dungeons. This is the real meat of the gameplay here. You have complete control to explore 3D environments, complete with jumping and puzzles. Enemies are visible on screen, and if you are able to strike them before touching with your sword, you can start the battle with an advantage. If they touch you mid sword swing however, they get an advantage.
During combat, each character can move in a circular area around their starting point. They can strike within an area in front of them. The area struck is dependent on their weapon, so for example the Red Hair Girl has a Megaphone, and her attacks hit a cone in front of here, while Neptune’s first upgraded sword hits a line in front of her. Most of the time it’s just a box.
You also have special attacks, which use SP. One of my issues is with the cost of these abilities. The only real AOE attack you have early on is with Nepgear, and it hits a column in front of her. It costs 105 SP roughly to use. At level 14…she has a max SP of about 450. I am able to use the attack 3 times. And in some fights you HAVE to use it. The only way to regen SP is items (max count of 30) or to leave and head to a town.
Your only other AOE Option are these Link attacks, but those require you to move your characters into a specific formation, fulfill specific requirements, and then they can only hit the enemies who are still inside the formation. The only one I had access to early on… required me to form a Triangle. It uses your EXE gauge as well which you have to fill via attacks. That same gauge is needed for the Transformation abilities the girls use as well
You will also find yourself frequently outnumbered and even outgunned. A word of warning: In the park and after you can run into these Squirrel Cat things. They have an AoE attack that they will spam, and it hits hard and hits a large area. Most of the time they hit two of my three characters, and in one battle I faced 5 of these cats and 3 pipes. The pipes can also hit multiple targets if they are clustered. It was the only battle I lost because I simply could not outpace the incoming damage with my own damage or healing. This fight taught me how to run.
You are possibly saying why would I be clusterd together? Healing is limited to items, mostly, and multi target healing items have a very small range around the character who uses em. Also, you have to be near a character to revive them. Its very easy to get near someone, revive em, only to have the enemy get their turn and knock that very character back out.
Beyond the issues with difficulty spikes however combat can be fun. It’s entertaining to line up shots and try to turn yourself so your attacks can hit more then one target. And basic attacks use a combo system, where you string together attacks in a chain. Use the right attacks in sequence and you can get instant criticals. You can select which attacks are available for your combos as well, and there are 3 “attack types” you can use in any order you want. Getting a nice hit combo score can give you bonus XP and it’s really satisfying to pull off. Also, the Transformation abilities the character learn are entertaining in their own right. They come complete with a Magical Girl transformation animation.
2 HOUR RULE: PASSED
I have discovered that grinding just for progression, just to be able to get past an enemy or something, is no longer fun for me. I have also discovered that purely humorous games with no serious points, or purely serious games with no humor, are also not for me. I need balance.
This is a game that you will either love or hate. I don’t see any real middle ground. For me, while I enjoyed my time with it overall and I am thankful it helped me realize that JRPGs are no longer my thing, it’s not a game for me.
If you like JRPGs and can handle a comedy based story with completely insane characters and enemies then this is the game for you. You don’t really need knowledge of the world of Neptune either, thankfully, as it gives you little 4th wall breaking moments when issues come up that you would need to know about. I recommend this game, honestly, but ONLY to fans of Neptunia, or this genre in general. This is not going to convert someone to liking JRPGs, it’s only for the diehard fans.
Which I am not anymore.