MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune Vs. Zombies Review

20161004190240_1After having gone through Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1, Re;Birth2, Re;Birth3, Hyperdevotion Noire, Neptunia U, and Megadimension Neptunia VII, I’d say I have a very thorough familiarity with the Neptunia series, and for the seventh time in the past two years, another game in the series has found its way to PC, and law permits that now I have to play and review it.  I expected a fairly lacking game that featured marginal improvements from the mechanical predecessor Neptunia U, but not only is that not the case here, MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune Vs. Zombies is the worst Neptunia game I’ve ever played.  I’d say worse ever, but the PS3 games were rubbish.

MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune Vs. Zombies Review
Platforms: PC(Reviewed), Playstation Vita
Developer: Tamsoft, Idea Factory, Compile Heart
Publisher: Idea Factory International

To recycle my series synopsis from a previous review, the Neptunia franchise is set in the world of Gamindustri, and revolves around the adventures of the CPUs, a pair of four goddesses who represent Nintendo (Blanc), Microsoft (Vert), and Sony (Noire) consoles, with a representation of the unreleased Sega Neptune thrown in for… reasons.  However, despite featuring a variety of characters based off of game companies, and nods to other franchises and series, the link is tangential, and could be removed quite easily.  In this case however, the link to anything video game is almost non-existent.20161004185557_1

The story goes something like this: The four goddesses of gamindustri decide to leave their positions as rulers of countries in order to attend a school for humans and by extension learn more about their citizens.  Which is just an excuse to have the main characters in schoolgirl outfits.  Said school is on the verge of closing, and Blanc and Neptune decide to take it upon themselves to create a student film to further increase the popularity of the school.  Because apparently the goddesses are incapable of forcing the school to remain open or providing them with additional funding.  

From there, it is revealed that the school is under regular assaults from zombies who the main characters are unscathed by and decide to use as props for their student film, which they conveniently decided would be a zombie movie before the outbreak began.  Thus commencing a series of brief interludes that describe scenes from said movie, convoluted scenes where the main characters go on a borderline nonsensical plot filled with too many twists, turns, and repetitive fight scene cues to take it seriously.  As times goes on, more characters are added to the film, a sequel gets made, and Neptune and friends eventually discover that the zombies were created by an internet troll of some kind who… You know what?  I don’t care.  20161005202722_1

The story is ultimately garbage, with the lack of focus on the school days the main characters cherish in that Japanese kind of way, nebulous characters who serve little purpose other than clutter up the roster with series familiars who don’t have much of a reason to be here, along with the greatly disposable characters of Famitsu, Dengekiko, and the newly introduced Tamsoft.  The story is adamantly non-canon and does little to make sense of or explain series mythology.  The lack of a film connection truly does undermine the entire premise.  Blanc really isn’t even presented like a main character should be, and her role in the story is greatly reduced compared to Noire’s in her game.

I could go on, but I’d rather just say that the story is crud on a cracker, and is only redeemed by the dialog and translation.  The Neptunia games have been a source of many chuckles and guffaws as its archetypical characters engage in lighthearted anime antics.  It’s a silly series of scenes with their own charm that are further enhanced by the collection of talented voice actresses respiring these characters, some for the twelfth time.   In spite of the story, these scenes still retained some likability, and I found myself wrapped with laughter on more than one occasion.20161004185810_1

As for the gameplay… this is a spiritual successor to Neptunia U: Action Unleashed, developed by the same company as well, within a time frame of about a year.  Based on that, I expected a slightly enhanced version of that simple yet cathartic enemy slaughtering button basher, but that’s not what MegaTagmension is.  MegaTagmension is a different breed of enemy slaughtering action game, one that feels slower, stiffer, and poorly balanced.  

Gone are the massive crowds, the ability to lock enemies into attack patterns with ease, the simple yet smooth controls, and the ability to avoid gratuitous panyy shots with almost every attack.  Instead, gameplay involves fighting a series of stronger enemies who are capable of attacking the player character even as they are attacking the enemy, and needing to get back up to wail on the damage sponge baddies more until they fall, and the player is done with the mission, or rather “Cut” within three minutes tops.20161005210200_1

They are short bits of gameplay that are over far too quickly for the player to ever get into a groove, and are often so frustrating with all of the assaulting of a few resilient enemies that I became downright sick of the game after only a few hours in its paltry seven hours of playtime, which are only elongated through the use of online multiplayer, which I never touched.  There are no single player side quests, and the game’s distribution of EXP seems to imply that the developers expect the players to replay the same missions over and over again, when they are not fun in the first place.  Because of this, I actually beat the game with two level fifteen characters, when the game recommended using level 36-38 characters.

You know what the best part about that though, about everything having to do with levels?  They barely even matter.  Leveling up actually doesn’t increase their stats like in prior Neptunia games, and instead it increases their ability points, which are then invested through a terrible interfacing menu into the four stats, attack, defense, HP, and technique.  Also, characters do not have access to all of their combos from the start, those need to be purchased by leveling up their technique, meaning the already shallow move pool only contains maybe three attack strings for the first few hours, for every individually leveled character.20161004181313_1

There are also changes to general battle mechanics that I could detail, from how players are no longer encouraged to switch between characters unless they are low on health, how the EXE and SP meters were unified, and can no longer be used as effectively, partially because the super moves have limited range and often failed to hit boss enemies.  The camera is also very poorly positioned to maximize panty shots and further limit visibility, the equipment customization and lightly detailed loot systems feel tacked on and nebulous, and… the best thing I have to say about this game in comparison to the alright Neptunia U is that the clothes ripping mechanic was removed.

Well, at least in regards to gameplay, as Tamsoft, or perhaps somebody from Compile Heart or Idea Factory, I’m not entirely sure, redesigned a series of old enemies to incorporate zombie-like designs, and created a series of backdrops that are not recycled from level tilesets featured in the Re;Birth games.  Enemies have a freshness to them when given a different color, a wizard hat, or even turned into frankenstein monsters.  While the newer enemies, who don’t really fit in with the zombie theme, but whatever, manage to maintain the level of quality with the art in the series, meaning things manage to look colorful and smooth.  Also, the 2D scenes are the same as they ever were, except this collection of wifeys are now in schoolgirl outfits for your pleasure.20161005203134_1

As someone who, for better or for worse (often for worse) is a fan of this series, I don’t really recommend the Neptunia games, but I vehemently anti-recommend this game.  Whereas the prior games released on PC have been alright, or perhaps good with some qualifiers, this is just crap.  The story and gameplay are both surprisingly poor, and the seven hours I spent with this game felt arduous in spite of its brevity.  It is a clunky action game that has little value to even series die-hards, and is best left ignored.  I would craft a metaphor comparing this game to a zombie, but I don’t care about it enough to express even that modicum of effort.20161004192456_1

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