The charming Neptune has been on many meta RPG journeys over the years so let's see how she holds up in this fun new spin-off.
After watching trailers for Super Neptunia RPG, I didn't quite know what to expect when it came to its gameplay. However, I was still excited to play it considering I'm a fan of Nep-nep and her Gamindustri adventures. Now that I have, I'm quite impressed with its blend of gameplay styles. You basically traverse large areas as if you're playing a Metroidvania game then fight enemies in a fairly traditional JRPG battle system. As you progress, you'll earn more field abilities such as being able to summon a Puddingo to jump higher from, a mid-air dash move, and the classic double-jump skill. Going back to previous stages in order to collect now reachable treasures, complete quests, and hunt certain powerful monsters is great fun and it all comes together to make an enjoyable and rewarding journey.
As with any Neptunia game, Super Neptunia RPG features a large cast of quirky characters that are often hilarious to watch interact with each other. In your actual party, you'll primarily play as franchise staples Neptune, Noire, Blanc, and Vert. Aside from them, you'll meet loads of friends and foes that flesh out the world and their English voice actors do a fantastic job of making them come to life.
One of the coolest parts of Super Neptunia RPG is its party customization mechanics. Aside from levelling up and equipping new gear, you'll also master passive and active abilities from equipment. Essentially, as you fight, you'll fill gauges for each currently equipped weapon and accessory and once an ability is maxed out, that character then permanently learns it. Some of these abilities can be equipped by spending Ability Points while others are skills that you can assign to characters so they can use them in battle. I found this system to be very rewarding as it adds a fun and open-ended dynamic to character customization that you don't usually see in JRPGs.
Considering I regularly got lost in Super Neptunia RPG, I took screenshots of a few of the maps and labelled them. I figured I should include them here in case they can help anyone figure out how to reach places such as FC Land and Resistance HQ.
Super Neptunia RPG's battle system is rather unique. Basically, you wait for a gauge to fill then spend points in order to perform actions. Any character can perform these actions as the points are shared among your party as opposed to being character-specific. Your characters' actions are dependent on where they are in the party formation and you can rotate them by tapping the shoulder buttons. There are also some supplementary mechanics like Break Attacks that you can perform once you have enough energy.
All of that being said, the battle system is occasionally counterintuitive. For example, I equipped Neptune with a powerful sword then had the other characters act as support. As a result, merely mashing Neptune's button was more than enough to take out most enemies. If an enemy was immune to physical attacks then I simply mashed Noire's button so she could perform magic attacks. What I'm trying to say is that although the party formation mechanic seems elaborate and strategic, it really isn't as you'll likely just stick to a mindless tactic that works 99% of the time. There are also elemental weakness to take into account but remembering who has which element and where is nearly impossible so if you ever fight an elemental boss then it's best to merely retry once you know its weakness.
Super Neptunia RPG has a few other issues as well. First of all, the visuals regularly stutter, especially while exploring. This got so bad at parts that it seemed like I would warp across the room after the graphics paused for a second. It's also incredibly annoying running into an enemy that you didn't want to fight because of a graphical hiccup. Speaking of which, Neptune easily outruns the camera so there's only a small window in front of her. Therefore, I found myself gradually nudging forward so I could strike enemies in time. There are many more minor annoyances such as having Neptune stand behind a pillar and not knowing where she is onscreen and the fact that the maps and menus don't display all of the information that you'd want to see such as where the exits go or where hunts are.
Super Neptunia RPG does a solid job of providing an innovative blend of Metroidvania exploration and fresh JRPG combat with cool twists. However, it could definitely benefit from a lot of tweaks so hopefully, we'll get a more ironed out sequel down the road.
- + Masterfully blends Metroidvania exploration and a distinct JRPG battle system
- + Delightful cast of quirky characters
- + Party customization is rewarding
- - Battle system is designed in a way that feels counterintuitive at times
- - Plenty of graphical hiccups and stutters
- - Contains some regularly irritating issues