Updated: Jul 9, 2019
I've watched the Neptunia series from afar for a long time now, and have always been interested in them, mostly for the fan-servicey elements. I have owned one for a while now and up til now have been putting off playing it (I swear I'm going to play that copy of Super Dimension Neptune vs. Sega Hard Girls on Vita). Super Neptunia RPG is my first experience hands-on with the series and it's a weird one to start with because it's a full blown 2-D spin-off. I'd also like to point out that when I started the game I was expecting a more fan-servicey game in the vein of the Senran Kagura series, busty girls in skimpy outfits putting themselves in compromising positions (yes I'm a degenerate), but Super Neptunia RPG is more cutesy and caters to people who like a more...young anime girl. This isn't really a huge complaint, just more so an incorrect conclusion I had come to on my own.
"Super Neptunia RPG is more cutesy and caters to people who like a more...young anime girl"
First impressions of Super Neptunia RPG were not great. The opening menu is barren. The sound bites when you move and jump are kind of grating. The computer-generated models look kind of wonky in the overworld over the nice hand-drawn backgrounds. The game is very clearly a budget title (which is a common complaint of the series so it shouldn't have been particularly surprising I suppose). All of that being said, as I dug deeper into the game I uncovered a uniquely rich RPG with deep mechanics.
The computer-generated models look kind of wonky in the overworld over the nice hand-drawn backgrounds
Super Neptunia RPG starts off with the main character waking up in a strange two-dimensional world that she's completely unfamiliar with, and is completely stricken with amnesia. She knows her name and that's about it. She is taken under the wing of the local guild, who are hunting down rebels that are working against the guild. You also have the occasional monster hunting or fetch quest. You quickly find out that the guild is actually bad and the rebels are your friends. They also have amnesia as well. Not the deepest story ever and it's certainly the weakest part of the game but that really isn't why you should be interested in Super Neptunia RPG. If you're looking for a particularly rich yarn to be spun here then look elsewhere.
I was delighted to find a 2-dimensional plane battlefield with a focus on the positioning of your team
Where Super Neptunia RPG truly shines is in the deep RPG mechanics. Super Neptunia RPG lets you get as micromanage crazy as you could ever want and I personally love RPGs like that. When I first started the game up, I was expecting a very shallow game due to the lack of polish. When I first started fighting, however, I was delighted to find a 2-dimensional plane battlefield with a focus on the positioning of your team that was somewhat reminiscent of one of my favorite RPGs in the last few years, Darkest Dungeon. Position during the battle of where you put which character where effects the type of combat you'll be executing. You can choose from a strike focused, magic, healing, etc. Then on top of that, you can give each character a specific focus and skill to use depending on which position they're in on the battlefield. The way the skills are learned is handled is exactly like in the Final Fantasy Tactics games, one of my all-time favorite RPG series. Each weapon, accessory, and armor piece has a set of skills tied to it. Having it equipped allows you to execute the skill, while also slowly teaching you the skill permanently. Once you have learned it you can take the equipable item off, put another one on and learn more skills. The game can be as simple or as complicated as you like and I really love that. Oh, and they also give you a fast forward button during battles to speed it up by 10 times or so. I also really love and appreciate that.
The game can be as simple or as complicated as you like and I really love that
Traversal in Super Neptunia RPG is one of the most unique aspects of the game. The gimmick for the game is that everything is 2-D and that includes the overworld and exploration. The overworld portion of the game is essentially Metroidvania style platforming. You explore the world looking for pathways you can travel through and running into pathways you can't until you return at a later time. The platforming doesn't exactly feel polished. You have an air dash and a jump button, and the majority of it involves just jumping on platforms to get to a new area or grab an item. There's a ton of backtracking involved here as one would expect, although I found myself often unclear of where I was supposed to go and what I was supposed to be doing. Sure, there's a quest indicator at the top of the screen but it usually just said "Go to this town" without having ever been there or knowing what direction it was in. I often times ended up just wandering around aimlessly into areas I had previously been to until I finally stumbled across a pathway that was now opened. It could be frustrating at times but for the most part, it ended up just being pretty simple and just a matter of looking around for a bit.
If you're a fan of the series definitely give this one a try
My time with Super Neptunia RPG was a mix of deep enjoyment of the RPG mechanics combined with some confusion and irritation of the platforming and traversal. I think that if you're a really big fan of anime fan service games and you are itching for a squad-based JRPG with strong mechanics that let you micromanage, you could really get some quality enjoyment out of this entry into a long-running and beloved series. I had always heard that the series is low budget but the mechanics are very sound, and that advice couldn't have been more spot on. If you're a fan of the series definitely give this one a try.