Disclaimer: The following game was reviewed on the PSVita. A code was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
There are very few developers and publishers that continue to support the PlayStation Vita throughout the console’s long, arduous and painful death. Idea Factory is one of them. Armed with its prolific Hyperdimension Neptunia IP, Iffy consistently cranks out games for the system. While it didn’t have the greatest reputation among hardcore JRPG fans for a while, its new releases seem to have a level of polish above the infamous standard.
Don’t get me wrong. There was nothing wrong with the Nepetunia series, or the people that enjoy them. They’re solid games with lots of charm -sometimes too much – that tend to flourish with smaller, niche but ravenous audiences. The games just lacked a sense of finesse, regardless of whether it was the mainline RPG series or one of the many spinoffs.
Enter Megatagmension Blanc + Neptune vs Zombies. While the game lacks any sort of refinement in it’s naming convention, certainly taking a page from Square Enix in it’s absurdity, the title is actually a surprisingly great step forward for the series as a whole.
My primary issue with past Neptunia games was the writing style. I don’t mind cheesy, fourth wall demolishing dialogue, but I do have a problem when it crosses the line of cute and becomes annoying. Megatagmension, for the first time in my experience with the series, manages to amuse without the constant references or blatant hit-you-over-the-head irony. Megatagmension doesn’t completely rid itself of the cutesy memes but it does tone them down enough that you can read through scenes without having to wipe your eyes of the blood seeping out.
And a few cutesy memes and over the top references are always welcome, as long as they are subtle enough that it isn’t apparent to someone who doesn’t get it. An example of this is Megatagmension’s plot-line. It’s a very blatant riff off the anime series Love Live!. Neptune and friends must save the school from closing down because of low admittance, and in order to do so they open a club. Except, instead of an idol club, it’s a film club. This is a fine example of a Neptunia-style reference that doesn’t annoy the player yet it adds a welcome nod to those who get it.
Further, Megatagmension displays not only that the Neptunia series has grown in terms of storytelling but in the way it presents it’s gameplay as well. The game is built perfectly for the PlayStation Vita. Story mode is divided into separate short-and-sweet missions allowing for great bite-sized gameplay whether you’re on the run or playing during commercial breaks while watching television. Megatagmension uses the strengths of the PlayStation Vita to its advantage and promotes shorter gameplay sessions. Unfortunately, however, Megatagmension can go a little bit overboard with some missions lasting as little as 45 seconds.
In a lot of ways, Megatagmension mirrors the way I feel about chicken wings. They are fantastic and bite-sized but every so often you get an odd one that has more bone than meat, leaving you with an unsatisfied feeling, until of course you stuff your mouth with the next.
If you’ve played Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed, then you know pretty much what type of game you’re getting into with Megatagmension. It’s a hack’n’slash action game with a couple special moves here and there. You can play as a pair of any of the characters that are introduced as allies in the game, of which there are 14.
Each character has their own unique play-style, whether it consists of heavy attacker like Blanc or lighter more balanced and easy to play characters like Neptune and her sister. Unfortunately however, while Megatagmension presents many unique and fun characters to play, it doesn’t encourage the player to chose outside of their main couple. Picking new characters is further hampered by how much enemies scale throughout the game. At some point, it becomes too much of a pain in the ass to even go back and retread familiar ground just to have another character to use.
However, through this Megatagmension provides a ton of potential in revisiting the game. After the story is said and done, it’s not out of the question to go back and finish the game again with other characters, especially considering how non-essential the narrative is to the enjoyment of the game in the first place.
Like every other game in the Neptunia stable offered on the PlayStation Vita, Megatagmension‘s graphics are actually pretty impressive. At least for the character models and customization they offer in terms of cosmetics. But the same cant be said for enemies or locales, they are simply repurposed from older games and skinned with different colours, which is unfortunate considering how much more polished Megatagmension is when compared to previous titles.
Another apsect in which polish seems to be lacking is the combat system. Don’t get me wrong, the game is fun to play at it’s core. But, it just lacks the complexity and depth that is presented in other games like Senran Kagura: Estival Versus.
Overall, Megatagmension Blanc + Neptune vs Zombies is pretty good game, and more importantly, it’s a great step forward for the Neptunia series. There is still lots of room for improvement. though. I certainly have my fingers crossed that Megatagmension is simply a stepping stone, because I need more kawaii fourth-wall-breaking adventures in my life.