Super Neptunia RPG (Nintendo Switch) Review
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4
Developer: Artisan Studio
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Release: 20th June 2019
Super Neptunia is an interesting franchise, featuring some of the most repetitive but refreshingly dumb, cute takes on the JRPG formula since years while spawning various spin-offs in various forms. However, Super Neptunia RPG is a different beast in its entirety, not only offering the first 2D RPG in the series but also by being developed by the Canadian Artisan Studio, which is one of the few cases a Japanese company gives the rights to its biggest franchise to a western developer. A truly unique combination leading to a pretty unique little experience.
As it´s true Neptunia fashion, Neptune and her array of friends she accumulated over the years have toface an evil corporation who´s goal is to turn the entire world into 2D. Unfortunately they temporarily succeed and now our cast of meta breaking goddesses and references have to find a way to escape this flat hell.
Well, obviously the story is what you would expect from Neptunia, breaking walls here and there while having a blast with its 2D setting. Actually, the whole thing doesn´t stray far from the Japanese games, keeping the same tone throughout while introducing new friends and enemies I really came to like, mainly because they target the 2D genre this time, which is a really refreshing turn of events for a series that was pulling similar jokes and references for all its entries. As a result, I found Super Neptunia RPG a wholeheartedly amusing but not revolutionary title in a series I increasingly got bored with.
Another great part about this change of dimensions and studios is the new artstyle and hand-drawn, well, everything! Without overreacting, Super Neptunia RPG is a truly beautiful game, especially compared to the 3D entries. It features artwork that´s vibrant, full of variety, movement and details, while never being too overdetailed for its own good, which is something the typical, rather barebones JRPG graphics could never achieve. Mixed with a wonderful soundtrack that´s not astounding but manages to capture this fantasy like atmosphere the whole game is surprisingly going for, Neptune´s journey into 2D is at least presentation-wise an absolutely amazing entry in a series I would have never expected it from. Only the variety of assets could be … well, improved, as well as the occasional FPS hiccups in the Switch version or its complete lack of Japanese language support as text.
Speaking of great parts, I really loved the feeling of progression Super Neptunia RPG tries to emphasize. Instead of grinding to slowly move through levels, it all feels a bit easier on your time, every fight a bit more rewarding and the whole thing just a whole lot smoother. At the same time, I at least found the rewards to be a presented in a more meaningful amount and way, to create the impression you gain important stuff, even if it´s only healing items or peculiar other things. Unfortunately, levels still drag a bit and assets get recycled a notch too much, while the overall movement speed could be faster too, though that shouldn´t be new for anyone who´s played a JRPG or Neptunia.
Speaking of speed, there´s one aspect I actually found just the right mix between everything for this genre: The battle system. At first, I was let down by the first trailers that it doesn´t feature a real time action system, which tend to be more lighthearted and offer more potential to juice things up. However, in exchange, the once again turn based system is actually a lot of fun. Given, it doesn´t reinvent a lot, mainly offering to command your four party members against monsters with the same abilities known from the base games like transforming and so on, but there are a few little improvements I enjoyed a whole lot.
For one, the whole thing offers a really fast auto mode, a thing I needed quite often when I completed some quests heavy on the grinding part or fought
Super Neptunia RPG isn´t a masterpiece of a 2D RPG, nor a title surpassing the series as a whole.
[A Review Code was provided by Idea Factory International]