Title: Super Neptunia RPG
Developer: COMPILE HEART
Publisher: Idea Factory
Genre: Platformer, Role-Playing
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: Teen – Fantasy Violence, Language, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes
Release Date: Out Now – 28/06/19
Price: £44.99 – Rapid Reviews UK were very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
With a focus on anime visuals and quirky humour, Super Neptunia RPG is the latest in a long line of games from Idea Factory focused on the series main protagonist, Neptune. Offering an interesting take on storytelling, the game is centred around a 3D gaming world that has been reduced to 2D visuals by a villainous foe who wishes to rid the ‘Gamindustri’ – yep, that is a pun – of 3D games forever. Since 2010, the Neptunia series has taken on many a gaming genre, and I was keen to see how it fared as a fully-fledged RPG title.
Referencing RPG in the title is a sure-fire way to let gamers know what they are about to experience, and all the usual fanfare of a role-playing adventure is present here. From turn-based combat to party management, quest-based progression and levelling up, Super Neptunia RPG is a tried and tested RPG affair. Alongside said features is a not-so-subtle nod to other role-playing games that have made the genre famous, the most notable of which is the Final Fantasy VII battle victory theme tune which Neptune hums after defeating one of the many enemy types.
The game is quick to introduce you to the core elements of the title, and they are focused around the aforementioned turn-based combat and mission quests. You traverse a 2D platforming world, where you move from screen to screen battling enemies and engaging with the NPCs. Combat is initiated by interacting with the on-screen foes, whereby an animation indicates that battle is about to start. During the battles, the characters in your party are assigned a position, and the position of the party member indicates a button, i.e. X, Y, A or B. The button, and as a result, the position dictates the action of each character. For example, the character in the ‘X’ position will always attack with a particular move, and the others have their moves to use too.
Although the system sounds complicated, the result is an intuitive battle system, if a little lacking in variety and complexity. My early experiences felt as though the turn-based combat was a smart take on typical RPG battles. However, it didn’t take long before I longed for something more. This is indicative of my thoughts on the title as a whole, for reasons I will share now.
Alongside the combat is a system of accepting quests from NPCs situated throughout the world map, and initiating a conversation with those with an exclamation mark above their head will allow you to hear the quest and decide whether or not to accept. There are so many that it can prove difficult to follow the story, and I was often left wondering what the quests were offering to the overall storyline. As well as this, the storyline itself sounds better on paper than it was when executed, and the world map left much to be desired in terms of interaction with it and information that could be gathered from it.
The Japanese-based development and publishing teams have attempted to incorporate anime traits into Super Neptunia RPG, and as such, there are many tongue-in-cheek, humorous and sometimes downright silly story trees, conversations and cutscenes. For some, this will be precisely what they are after, whereas those looking for a more in-depth and meaningful story will be left wanting. I found myself in the latter category.
RPG by name, Super Neptunia RPG is also a platforming title, with each scene requiring some element of jumping from platform to platform to navigate the world. Again, simplistic in design and execution, the elements of platforming on offer here are neither awe-inspiring or overly impressive. What it does do, however, is provide another string to the Super Neptunia bow which is a rather welcome addition.
Translating a storyline of a 3D world being replaced by a 2D aesthetic could have been cause for a title which is somewhat limiting in design. However, the development team have managed to create something just as beautiful in 2D as they would had it been a ‘3D’ experience. I found the visuals to be the most impressive aspect of Super Neptunia RPG, and it was this that kept me coming back for more. Vibrant, detailed and engaging, the world of Gamindustri may have been affected by a villains vision, but my enjoyment in it was not. They are striking and bold, and the artistic direction of this title deserves recognition.
Where audio is concerned, I was less impressed. This was primarily due to the characterisation of the protagonist as her humour, voice acting and personality grated on me as time went by. Everything else in the game was, again, as expected, and offered both some bum notes alongside the high ones.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I believe the same can be said for a games replayability. Representative of a typical RPG, there is much to be explored and a lot of progressions available with this title. That being said, I didn’t find the game as enticing or engaging to keep coming back to, and I believe there are other RPGs on the Nintendo Switch that it would benefit you to try first. With simplistic combat, platforming and quest design, I found Super Neptunia RPG to be a game that is best suited to a casual gamer looking for some light-hearted fun.
In a genre that is arguably over-populated and steeped in competition, creating an RPG that will stand amongst the best is always going to be a challenge. Providing a visually rich and jovial gaming experience, Super Neptunia RPG represents a chance to try something a bit more upbeat and little less complicated. For every critique of a feature in the game, there is an equally valid opinion which says that for the right gamer, at the right time, there is a positive to be found. I longed for a more engaging storyline and a stronger focus on platforming, but I can see the merits of this title, making its way into someone’s collection.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Super Neptunia RPG on the Nintendo eShop at the following link: https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch/Super-Neptunia-RPG-1568836.html
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.