Developed by: Idea Factory, Compile Heart
Published by: Idea Factory International
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
MegaDimension Neptunia Goodness In a New Game
Megadimension Neptunia VII is a continuation of the popular Neptunia JRPG series that features video game consoles and companies personified as attractive female avatars. The most powerful of them, known as CPUs, can undergo magical girl style transformations into more powerful forms. Each entry has introduced new girls as the main cast goes on wacky adventures filled with self referential humor and fan service. In Neptunia VII (short for Victory 2), series protagonist Neptunia and her sister Nepgear get pulled into a Dreamcast inspired console and find themselves in a post apocalyptic realm devoid of people. As such, they find themselves unable to transform into their advanced CPU forms since they draw their power from humans.
Canonically, Neptunia VII takes place after Mk2 and Victory. It’s definitely recommended to play those first, as VII takes place after Victory’s True ending. However, it does a decent job reintroducing returning characters and doesn’t spoil much from those games. While the plot starts off with a darker tone, Neptunia VII is filled to the brim with the comedic elements that the series is famous for. It definitely doesn’t shy away from fan service with a bathing scene within the first hour. The new characters, like Uzume the Dreamcast CPU, will appeal to long time fans of the series, no doubt inciting debate among fans on which of the girls is the best.
Neptunia VII will feel very familiar to fans. While VII recycles assets like music and character models, it makes up for it by adding a lot of new tracks and characters. It employs the same strategy RPG combat system where positioning is crucial. Familiar systems like building combos, the relationship building Lily System, and game modifying Disc Development system are in place. It’s very much a game for diehard fans, but still accessible to interested newcomers as well; there are brief tutorials for each aspect of the game. While it does adopt the same structure as the previous entries, Neptunia VII is far from being a lazy sequel.
The jump to the PlayStation 4 brings an increased resolution for better clarity and now runs at a smooth 60 FPS, although it tends to drop in areas with a lot happening. There are also now actual cutscenes using the character models instead of the usual talking portraits, although those visual novel-esque segments still makes up a majority of the dialogue scenes. The game also boasts very quick load times and transitions. Being able to skip attack animations is another returning series feature that every JRPG should adopt.
Literally the biggest additions to the game are Giant Battles. They occur in separate battle areas and feature screen filling bosses. The rules are different, since standard attacks aren’t available and the heroines can jump to different platforms. This allows them to avoid devastating attacks and enables them to flank the bosses to perform new Formation Skills attacks. The other major addition are new, powerful transformations for the CPUs known as NEXT forms. The series’ world standard world map menu has been updated. This time around the characters walk along dotted paths and may encounter a random battle or event at each junction.
There’s also balancing changes. The EXE drive, a powerful super move that was easily abused in prior games, is no longer an instant win option. The meter now starts from zero at the start of each battle instead of carrying over from previous battles. The EXE drive can also be used for the aforementioned Formation Skill attacks in which 3-4 characters can combine their attacks if they form a triangle or square around their enemies. Overall, the combat system has better balance and is more strategic. The non CPU characters like IF and Compa, who were often regulated to the sidelines due to their lack of transformations, are now more viable with improved skills and better balancing.
Other additions are the new Neplunker dungeons, which is a crossover of sorts inspired by Square Enix’s Everybody’s Spelunker Z. Instead of a conventional RPG dungeon, Neplunker is a mini game that emphasizes platforming, avoiding enemies, and getting past obstacles. Although Neptunia’s physics weren’t intended for this particular genre, it a fun diversion despite the somewhat unnatural controls. Not counting the many side quests, optional dungeons, and bonus events, the game takes around 60 hours to complete. The final third stumbles a bit with a rushed paced and bland dungeons. There’s a total of three endings and an improved new game plus.
The series is known for its fun, over the top English dub and Neptunia VII doesn’t disappoint. For purists, the Japanese dub is available as free DLC. However, it’s unfortunate that the English dub is limited compared to the Japanese dub. When the Gold Third, important rivals to the core characters, are first seen there’s no voice acting which is disappointing. The same applies for some of the returning cast. The only significant alteration with the old that the voice actress who dubbed Vert, Tara Platt, wasn’t used in VII. The overall soundtrack is serviceable and the new vocal tracks are a welcome addition.
Neptunia VII won’t change your mind if you didn’t like the previous games. For returning fans, this will hit all the right notes with improvements in nearly every aspect. For curious newcomers, it’s a solid entry point, although they’ll miss out on a lot of the inside jokes and references. If you don’t mind the silly humor, over the top premise, and sometimes gratuitous fan service, VII is an excellent, fast paced JRPG experience.