With main games, remakes, and spin-offs galore, Hyperdimension Neptunia has easily become Idea Factory’s most iconic franchises. Super Neptunia RPG serves as something of a soft reboot, adjacent the main quartet, Re;Birth trilogy and other various spin-offs. Featuring original gameplay and taking place entirely within a 2D space, Super Neptunia RPG may be the most unique spin so far.
Super Neptunia RPG begins just like the main games, with a bad case of amnesia. This time, Neptune is not the only one to suffer. After dreaming about being a goddess, spoilers she is one, Neptune finds herself waking in a strange bed. What’s even stranger is the group that finds our sleeping beauty. Going by the name of Bombyx Mori, the organization is quick to recruit the ever-trusting Nep. Instead of the role being given to a governing goddess, Bombyx Mori claims to lead the world of Gamindustri.
Speaking only of the best intentions, Nep raises an eyebrow or two when given the assignment of tax collecting. Luckily, Nep is as bad at this job as any other. In a matter of minutes, she finds herself on Bombyx Mori’s bad side. At least she isn’t alone. As one thing leads to another, Neptune is reunited with the equally confused Blanc and Noire. Together, the forgotten goddesses set out to find themselves and each other.
One Track Mind
Characters and setting aside, Super Neptunia RPG feels more like a new IP than a Neptunia title. The game waste no time in introducing the enemy team. From there on out, the game really revolves around the goddesses as they battle against Bombyx Mori’s elite. It doesn’t make use of the series now-iconic fluff. While the game still does present skits every so often, a good majority of the scenes are actually relevant to the plot. With the series’ normal overabundance of skits, a more focused story is certainly a welcome change of pace. While it may turn off certain series fans, it may also attract some of the more traditional JRPG crowd.
Party of Four
Describing the gameplay of Super Neptunia RPG is one of the most difficult so far. Not only because of how the system works, but also how it doesn’t. On a good day, this is probably some of the most enjoyable combat the series has to offer. As usual, it all starts by assigning a team of 4 outside of battle. As usual, Neptune, Blanc, Noire, and Vert all become playable. Idea Factory also includes a few other unlockable characters as well as those available via paid DLC. While purchasing the DLC is not necessarily necessary, some early parts of the game are pretty rough with only a party of one to two. Once party members have been selected, it is time for their skills to be set.
Battles in Super Neptunia RPG may appear simplistic at first glance. Each of the four-party members is represented by a face button (X, Y, A, and B on Switch). When pressed, the character will utilize their skill accordingly. The depth lies in the game’s use of formations. Players may freely rotate their leading party member out with the following three. Each character can be assigned a different skill per leader. This gives battle variety, allowing four different formations that can each differ in focus. The only setback is set up can take little time. Unfortunately, almost everything resets when you swap out even a single party member. The game passively dissuades from benching party members outside of the in-battle rotations. With party members going in and iht for narrative reasons, resetting everything can become something of a chore.
Outside of battle, the game offers the player some light platforming. Despite the game being hyped as a hybrid role-playing platformer, the second genre takes the back seat. All movement is done within a 2D plane. For the first time in series history, Neptune and friends travel on foot between towns and dungeons. To freely explore, Neptune can jump and air dash her way from platform to platform. While enjoyable, the platforming is all quite simplistic. Even if the player falls, mostly likely from not playing attention, Neptune will just respawn nearby. While this feels like a concept that could be fleshed out as the game progresses, the Super Neptunia RPG ultimately plays it too safe.
While the gameplay all sounds great on paper, it doesn’t completely follow through. Unfortunately, the game is quite buggy. While we aren’t talking about Sonic ’06 levels of incompletions, even the 1.03 patch feels like a beta test than a released product. From slowdowns to freezes to the game outright crashing, the game’s bugs are scarier than all of Bombyx Mori combined. Frequent lag and randomly skipped frames can result in rather unenjoyable battles. At times, even opening the menu or loading a file can take up to 10 seconds at a time. It is saddening to see an RPG with such ambition released too prematurely.
Western Japanese Animation
Hands down, Super Neptunia RPG’s greatest strength can be found in its character designs. We’re not just talking about Tsunako’s timeless concept art, but also the in-game sprites it inspires. Rather than offering the usual 3D renders, Super Neptunia RPG is made up entirely of 2D sprites. Though the series had a rough start in terms of graphics, it has come along way. Even when compared to HD renders of 4 Goddesses Online and Megadimension Neptunia VIIR, Super Dimension RPG is the sweeter eye candy.
When it comes to design, Hyperdimension Neptunia has always been consistently inconsistent. Characters would normally be represented by Tsunako’s static art, chibi menu icons, Live2D sprites, and various 3D models. The earlier games were by far the worst offenders. Here’s looking at you mk2. Super Neptunia RPG takes a different approach. Whether exploring a town, fighting a foe, or watching a skit, each character is portrayed by impressive sprite animations. In battle, fights are fully animated and look like what we have come to expect from a modern fighting game. Whether she be slashing her sword, jumping for joy, or tapping her foot in anticipation, each of Neptune’s animations bring the character to life in a way like never before. While this certainly isn’t Idea Factory’s first RPG in a 2D perspective, it is certainly the prettiest.
This far into a series this long, talking voice talent may sound somewhat redundant. But let us discuss it anyways! Whether playing the game in the default English or native Japanese, there’s nothing to fear. Each voice actress portrays her character beautifully. Even for those yet to play a Neptunia title, chances are that at least one voice will ring a bell. Unfortunately, only the main cast features recorded lines. As many of the games interactions are with random NPCs, they remain mostly unvoiced. For better or for worse, there is not really anything new to talk about here.
Throughout various Hyperdimension Neptunia reviews, one of the weaker qualities mentioned has often been the games’ soundtracks. Aside from a small handful of character themes, the series has never been able to provide memorable soundtracks overall. That may very well change with Super Neptunia RPG. The tracks found here easily range greater than any of their predecessors. From winds to the piano, the sounds of Gamindustri would fit right at home in any RPG. A couple of the tracks have an almost Zelda-esk feel to them. Considering how ironic The Legend of Zelda soundtracks have become, any comparison is quite the compliment. If Neptune did ever (somehow) find her way to Super Smash Bros., these are the tunes that should and probably would accompany her.
Overall Super Neptunia RPG is certainly one of the most notable Hyperdimension Neptunia spin-offs thus far. Being part of its own canon, it can serve as a decent introduction to the series. In spite of the smooth animations, the glitchy gameplay can be rough around the edges.
HEY! HEY!! LISTEN!!! gives Super Neptunia RPG 8.3 pudding cups out of 10!