Title: Super Neptunia RPG
System: Nintendo Switch, Steam
Release Date: 06/25/2019, 06/20/2019
In this Platformer/RPG hybrid, you take control of Neptune, who loses her memory and awakens in a strange altered world where 3D games are obsolete and 2D games are the only ones allowed. Upon exploring more of thisworld, she ends up working towards getting a band of four friends together as they set out to free Gameindustri!
Being completely 2D this time around, Super Neptunia RPG looks pretty solid, although some aspects of the presentation depend on what system you play this on. For instance, while I think that the PC version looks really gorgeous, thanks to the artwork coming alive against some pretty backgrounds along with a good framerate, the Switch version doesn’t hold up nearly as well. The artwork still looks fine, but the backgrounds have taken a big hit, as has the framerate. In fact, the framerate could easily break the Switch version for some people as navigating towns and the environments can lead to inconsistent framerate that can be very jarring, especially if you played on Steam where it’s a lot smoother.
Thankfully, the battles are simple enough that the framerate drop isn’t as big of an issue here compared to exploration, and battles run relatively well, with an option to increase the battle speed by holding the ZL button if you desire. Still, it’s clear that Steam is the real winner when it comes to performance, although Switch is still decent enough as a portable experience.
The sound on the other hand is a mixed bag. Basic songs accompany the OST, and some voice clips for the characters were recycled from other games and can loop often when you’re jumping around. Thankfully, the game is still voiced and the voice acting is solid despite the reused bits here and there, incorporating the standard humor the series is known for.
Super Neptunia RPG deviates from the usual entries by placing everything in a 2D side view perspective. Mixing both sidescrolling action with a bit of platforming and RPG battles, it kinda feels like a metroidvania at times, since traveling between different locations is done via typical 2D platforming, and more often than not you’ll be backtracking to complete a sidequest or get to something you couldn’t reach before.
The platforming is quite simple, using the B button to jump and the R button for a mid-air dash, and battles start whenever you come into contact with an enemy, either on accident or by striking them with the Y button to trigger a Symbol Attack for a first strike. Unfortunately, the battles themselves aren’t really that special, with each party member being assigned to one of the four face buttons as you wait for a meter in the bottom right to fill enough to perform attacks. Some skills take more points than others, and which skills you have on offer depends on your equipment, and some skills have an elemental effect on them, which can do differing damage depending on the affiliation of the enemy.
Thankfully, you can speed these battles up by holding the ZL button to make them end in no time at all, and once you’ve leveled up enough in an area, you can take care of any enemy wave by speeding up and pressing the button the second the prompts come on screen, repeating until they die. The game does throw a tougher challenge when there’s minibosses or bosses to take care of, since managing items is a bit more important there, but even then it lacks the depth of your average RPG battle system, and I ended up having more fun getting EXP from sidequests instead of through battle.
Speaking of sidequests, they’re your standard fare as well, often consisting of getting certain items, donating a certain amount of money, or defeating a certain amount of enemies. They’re simple, but they feel a lot more rewarding since they reward you with more experience and better items than your average battle, and I ended up doing them whenever I could before continuing with the main plot, which might be for the best since the main story wasn’t too terribly engaging and was more enjoyable for the parody aspects rather than for any serious nature or fanservice. Still, exploring the world through the 2D sections is a lot of fun even if the battles aren’t that great.
In conclusion, Super Neptunia RPG is a fun if clunky take on the RPG genre, with some elements of parody that the series is known for. However, as fun as it is to explore the areas and take on sidequests, the game can still get dull, with a bland battle system, slow pacing and slightly confusing navigation. Something’s just not right when the battles of an RPG end up feeling like a chore compared to the exploration aspects, even with the speedup feature. When it comes to which version to buy, Switch is still perfectly solid if you just want a portable adventure to play, and since it’s the version I spent far, far more time with I can still say that it’s a fun time if you get past the other issues and the performance.
But if you’re hoping for a smoother, prettier experience, then the Steam version is the one to go with, especially since it has a list of achievements to take on for a bit more replay value. Still, those hoping for an RPG as fun as the old RPG classics or with the same intricacy as the main series will be disappointed, and this game should only really be given a look for the side activities, self-parody and 2D platforming elements, rather than for actual battles or an in-depth story. It honestly makes me really want a full-blown Neptunia Metroidvania, since the 2D elements in this game were fun enough to make me realize that the developers’ skills would go to great use if a followup was done in that style.
I give the Switch version of Super Neptunia RPG a 6 out of 10 and the Steam version a 7 out of 10.