I am not a Hyperdimension Neptunia fan, and by that I mean that I’ve never played one long enough to retain pretty much any information. The series has always been somewhere on my to-do list, but never quite near the top as I was unsure if I’d even like it.
That said, I picked up MegaTagmension for review – mostly because I’d heard it could be played standalone, and that it was sort of like Senran Kagura in play style. Unfortunately, I don’t think it quite comes close to the Senran series on Vita with regards to fun and polish, and it’s not really as fanservice-y as I’d expected either. What you do have here however, is a decent game that serves as a good introduction to the characters of Neptunia games, as well as a good introduction to beat ’em up style action games in general.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though, first you’ll need some background.
MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies starts out by introducing the characters and idea behind the story, which pretty much begins with our two title characters – Blanc and Neptune. Neptune is looking to make a movie in order to gain popularity for their school Gamacademi, and therefore entice more kids to want to come there. Blanc of course gets dragged into this movie-making business, as she’s orders of magnitude more suited to directing and writing the script than the alternatives.
From there, things get a little weird though. The movie is supposed to be a zombie movie – as per Neptune’s original idea, but instead of simply acting out a fake zombie movie real zombies show up. So do the girls cancel the movie? Hell no! They decide that they’ll simply use the real zombies as movie zombies to give it a more authentic feel (and to fill in for their lack of fake zombie volunteers). Things spiral downhill from there, as the girls improvise, kick some zombie ass, and attempt to act their way to a good movie.
If you can’t tell from my description, the story is pretty damn lacklustre, and it’s definitely all over the place. There are some funny moments, a few fanservice moments, and some semi-interesting plot points – but overall it’s a story that could’ve been crunched down to a much smaller size had it not been filled with a bunch of nonsense. The story is where most of your time will go in single player, and so that’s not really a good thing.
The gameplay however, is of a much higher quality – though it’s still flawed. It has you fighting enemies on a boxed-in battlefield, taking the two girls of your choice and pitting them against zombies, dogoos, and other weird enemies with a tag-team style swap-out system. You beat up all the enemies, and you get to continue; simple.
The action on the battlefield is carried out much like any other beat ’em up game, though at what seems to be a slower speed. Basic attacks are carried out with square, heavy attacks with triangle, dashes with circle, and jumping with “X.”
On top of those basic options however, you also have the abilities you gain via EXE Drive charge. The “swap character” function is pulled off with the triggers and circle, HDD transformation with the triggers and “X,” ultimate attack with the triggers and square, and tag-team attack with the triggers and triangle. Depending on the choice you’ll need a certain amount of EXE gauge to pull it off, which varies between choices.
Those attacks – both primary and EXE – are the bulk of the actions and functions you’ll be using in the battle bits, but they aren’t all your options. You’ll also have the ability to choose two support characters, which “charge” and are invoke-able when filled. Support characters include buffs like EXE gauge recovery, temporary invincibility, and attack power up – though there may be more as I’m sure I didn’t take the time to gather them all.
Lastly, there are items that you can use – and it seems you’re not at all limited in what you can take into any single mission (I’ve added up to ten items to my “take in” list as a test). Items include many of the same offerings as the support characters, but usually aren’t as potent, and are certainly not renewable.
Pulling together the two layers of attack types, support characters, and items you have at your disposal are the things that will ensure your victory in action. That said, they’re not all necessarily needed – and as a veteran of Senran Kagura and Valkyrie Drive I rarely needed any of them aside from in the later levels. This leads me to the idea that the game is rather easy compared to those “hard” examples, and therefore might not be a good place to go after playing them.
Speaking of easy, this game makes it incredibly easy to enhance your character though experience points. You’ve only got four categories to upgrade; HP, Defense, Power, and Combo. HP is obviously a way to upgrade your base health, Defense is a way to upgrade your base defense (the amount of damage you take from attacks), Power deals with your base attack power, and Combo will net you new attack strings for use with your non-EXE gauge based attacks. These things (as well as your loadout) can be upgraded from the “Setup” option on the ready page, which is the default page when you enter Story Mode.
Other options available at the ready page are links to “Action” (mission select), “Treasure” (collectibles which can net you costumes and transformations), “Shop” (where you can buy items, upgrades, and weapons), and “Config” (your basic options menu). All fairly basic options for a game of this type.
So those are the basics of single player gameplay, but the game doesn’t stop there – there’s also multiplayer. This is where those who enjoy the battle bits of single player will thrive, as it’s basically back to back attack missions with no visual novel filler. You can level up your characters quickly, gain treasure not found in the single player portions, and best of all; you can do it all with friends. MegaTagmension supports up to four players in its online multiplayer mode, and that’s a good thing because it’s also a bit harder than single player. Missions range from a single star difficulty, right up to five stars – with the harder missions containing the hardest bosses in the game. If I had to guess where the replayability was, I’d guess the bulk of it was right here – and the best part is that you can even do it solo if you wish. Best of both worlds? Yep!
Aside from straight up “online multiplayer” however, you’re also offered ad-hoc, as well as a way to check your ranking – though it looks like it’s easy to max out as there’s a bunch of people tied at #1 with all 9’s in their score.
Graphically, MegaTagmension is a fairly pretty game for what it’s offering. Areas are mostly “boxes” with sparse decoration around the outside to denote barriers like walls and hallways, the enemies and the ground being the only things inside said boxes other than the characters you’ve picked. That said, everything you see is fairly crisp, clean, and colourful – so it’s not like you’ll be complaining about the scenery. It also happens to run quite well, with motion never seeming choppy to the eye despite the plethora of enemies and “shiny” actions on screen.
As for the audio, this one’s well stocked. Not only do you get both English and Japanese voice options, but you also get them in one package with no extra downloads and no hassle. You can swap at any time, and while I prefer the inflections of the Japanese version, the English version is more than serviceable.
So now let’s get down to my verdict, which (quite frankly) is good, but not great. While MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies can be a fun game to experience and play, it’s also not much of a memorable one. The story line is all over the place other than a few key points (and some fanservice I’ll never forget), the gameplay is “wham, bam, thank-you-ma’am” over in less than two minutes for pretty much every single player mission, and it’s very basic in its options.
That said, those are the absolute worst things I can say about the game – so if you’re looking for an easy beat ’em up style game, a first jaunt into the Neptunia universe, or simply a game that you don’t have to take too seriously, then you might want to jump in. This is not a bad game at all, it’s just not much of a stand-out game either. That shouldn’t hold you back from experiencing it though, as I think even those with a mild interest can find some fun here – I certainly did, and I don’t regret a minute of it.