If you haven’t heard of Neptune (or Neptunia in the west) until now, the main selling point of this game is to have a fictional world based on the game industry where companies and games are actual female humans with consoles as goddess fighting in the never ending hardware war. While this is an amusing idea, it’s nothing new, as many mangas, anime and even other games have done similar things. However, what really sets Neptune apart is that every single important character is a cute girl who is always doing cute stuffs as they love each other very much! If I remember correctly, the V.I.P.s from 2ch classify this as a “Type-B” story, think something with a K-ON like atmosphere. The majority of Japanese Otakus love that kind of thing!
An endless battle between the most powerful systems takes place in the world of Gamindustri: Sega’s Neptune, Sony’s Playstation 3, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii. Their powers are completely even (yeah, right…) and none of them seems to be weakening. It’s when the cartridge copier add-on Magicon (it’s a R4 in the localization) appears from nowhere to manipulate the other consoles to join forces and crush Neptune. She awakens in her home-country, where she is nursed by the game developer COMPILE HEART. It doesn’t take too long for the two to set on an adventure to free the world from terrifying pirate discs that are releasing monsters everywhere. Soon after they start their journey, they make an alliance with Idea Factory, another game developer who is working as an explorer. The three girls make many other allies, but their ties are certainly the strongest in the party.
Neptune is, in my opinion, a very lousy and annoying brat! She just won’t shut up and is always trying to crack some lame jokes in any given situation. Since this game unexpectedly tries to have many serious moments, she totally ruins any possible tension during events. She is able to transform into a Goddess, becoming more mature in the process (both in mind and body), but after everything her normal self has done, it’s kinda difficult to take her seriously. Compa is…exactly what you can expect by her looks. Nothing more than a walking fan-service. She has a voluptuous body and talks in a very, VERY cute way by adding “Desuuu” at the end of her every line (that’s right! with extra “U”s). She becomes BFF with Neptune immediately and follows her to the ends of the World without ever complaining! She seems to have problems to remember names, so she just calls everyone by cute nicknames, which is something more to add to her cute fan-services.I.F. is the voice of reason in the party. While there are other more serious members joining later, they end up falling in Neptunes jokes constantly, so I.F. is the only one who still can be treated with respect until the end of the game.
For someone like me who played Fairy Fencer F before any Neptune game, the best way to describe this game’s mechanics is “Fairy Fencer F for dummies”, because most of the features found here are also present in FFF, but with a simplified use. Does this mean that this game is easy? Technically, NO! As long as you’re patient, there is nothing to fear, all you have to do is to grind, grind and grind! The game gives you difficulty levels when you start a new campaign, but what really happens is that the enemies’ levels will be very high at the normal difficult and a bit lower on easy mode. Choosing “normal” will force you to grind during, at least, 2 hours per dungeon to defeat any story-related boss. This can’t exactly be classified as difficult, since the battles that you will lose can never be won with a better strategy or with a try-and-error process, you simply get utterly defeated by your inferiority in level and must grind your ass-off until you are strong enough to defeat the next boss, rinse and repeat. They should just rename the difficult levels to “Normal Mode” and “Grind Mode”.
I’ve read that the graphics have been considerably upgraded from the original version by using the 3D models from the most recent Neptune game. Since I didn’t play the original, I am not impressed. Don’t get me wrong! The graphics are fairly decent, but nothing to write home about! I certainly have seen much worse, but have seen much better ones as well. Specially after playing God Eater 2.
Here we have the basics in a Japanese game: Mouth and eyes being just textures and not actually part of the 3D models; Very colorful textures to imitate anime style; Story Events with 2D graphics with flash animation for eyes and mouth in a visual novel style where characters never look to each other; Those elements seem almost like a rule in the Japanese game industry nowadays!
It’s complicated to say if the voice-acting is good or not! Since it certainly has many obnoxious moments with every seiyuu trying really hard to be the cuter they can be. But since it is what was intended since the beginning, you can’t say the developers failed at their objectives.
The BGMs are not bad, but are quite unmemorable or simply boring. Such a shame! Well, you can always hear a grow-up bearded man make a stand-alone Acapella of old video-games while you play this one…Which is Awesome! I would not mind to have a game with it’s entire soundtrack like that!
References & Jokes
One of the main strengths of this game is the many parodies, references and Meta jokes it does almost non-stop. However, those who watched “Meet the Spartans” will certainly understand that those kind of jokes not always work! There are some people that don’t even like this kind of humor, so even the good ones would have no effect.
There are a lot of Characters who are a direct reference/homage to certain game developers. But I suppose they add just too many in this game, because most of them appear from nowhere and only do as much as to give directions or advices. When some of them finally get to join your party, the events feel very rushed and weak.