Release Date: February 12th 2016 (EU). February 2nd 2016 (US)
Rating: PEGI/ESRB: 16/T
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Developer: Idea Factory, Compile Heart
Megadimension Neptunia VII is the latest release in the Neptunia series, brought to us by Idea Factory International. Idea Factory have given us a steady stream of Neptunia games over the last year and a half, but this is the first main series game they have published, with previous entries released by NIS America. Idea Factory did release all three Re;birth remakes of the Neptunia series, however, so even if, like me, you’ve only been following the series since their release of Re;birth1 in 2014, you are ready for this new instalment. Megadimension Neptunia VII is available on the PS4 console as both a physical and digital release. Regardless of which you choose, the Japanese voices are available as a piece of free DLC.
As per usual, the game focuses on the adventures of the four giants of gaming, Sega, Nintendo, Microsoft Xbox, and Sony Playstation, but personified as an adorable bunch of girls. Sega is represented by Neptune, and her sister, Nepgear. Microsoft Xbox is represented by Vert. Sony Playstation is represented by Noire and her sister, Uni. Nintendo is represented by Blanc and her sisters, Rom and Ram. Each of the older girls is the CPU for their respective nation, with their younger sisters being CPU candidates. Unusually for a Neptunia game, Megadimension features a trilogy of stories, Zerodimension Neptunia Z: Twilight of the Desperate CPU, Hyperdimension Neptunia G: The Golden Leaders, Reconstructors of Gamindustri, and Heartdimension Neptunia H: Trilogy Finale: Into Legend. Each of these stories is effectively a full-length game, but with ties between them for a more cohesive overall plot arc.
The first of these stories, Zerodimension Neptunia Z, takes place in a desolate wasteland version of Gamindustri. Neptune and Nepgear are both transported to this dimension when they stumble upon an old Dreamcast-esque console in the Hyperdimension. In this post-apocalyptic Gamindustri, the two sisters find themselves allied with the nation’s self-proclaimed CPU, Uzume Tennohboshi, and her
fish friend, Umio. I rarely find myself enjoying an English audio option for a game originating in Japan, but the English voice actors for these two characters, Erica Lindbeck and Xander Mobus, respectively, really breathe life into the characterisations. The English audio overall is of an amazingly enjoyable standard that makes the unvoiced VN-style segments feel so much lesser by comparison; even Neptune’s constant repeating of “Boing” and “Like a kangaroo” when you jump in dungeons never crosses the line from cute and charming to annoying. Normally, I play the Neptunia games with the Japanese voices, but I’ll be sticking to the English dub for my future time with this title.
The second of the stories, Hyperdimension Neptunia G, takes place in the familiar Hyperdimension that our beloved heroes inhabit. In a shocking twist though, the CPUs are erased from everyone’s memories, with Gold Third instead ruling over the nations. Gold Third consists of four members, each named after a different real world video game publisher. B-Sha, representing Bandai-Namco, is a young girl who likes to play hero in exchange for credits, but she is scared of monsters; she rules over Planeptune, and just like Neptune herself, she slacks off when she should be doing her work. K-Sha, representing Konami, is a young girl attending Lastation’s military academy; she is ruthless with a firearm and rules over Lastation. S-Sha, representing Square Enix, rules over Leanbox, though she has Vert do missions for the nation; she has another side to her. C-Sha, representing Capcom, is the leader of the group and is subjected to torture by the corrup government in Lowee. It’s always a delight to see how Idea Factory and Compile Heart choose to personify gaming companies as girls, and these four new additions are no exception. The third story follows on directly from the conclusion of the second, but to say more would be to dampen the future experience of potential players.
The gameplay, while obviously close to earlier titles in the series, has undergone some changes; these are all for the better and make for a more engaging experience. The world map, rather than just featuring scattered dungeons, requires routes between dungeons in order to travel. Generally, routes are to be purchased at a cost of around 500 credits per node present on the route. Each of these nodes represents a chance for a monster encounter, so be sure to stay healed even when traversing the map; it should be noted that returning to the map no longer heals you, you have to reach a major city to do so. In battle, more changes are present. Combos still build up your EXE drive, but it no longer carris through to future battles; not an issue though, when you can quickly use some Rush attacks to build it up again. Switching to HDD form no longer uses SP, it requires an EXE drive level of 1, alongside depleting some of the corresponding nation’s shares; there had to be some way of ensuring people didn’t jsut abuse the HDD form. On top of this, there is also a Next Form that can be attained; using a character’s signature Next Form move causes them to revert, however. There is an emphasis on formation attacks in this game; attacks which utilise the EXE drive and positioning of between two and four characters in the same form to unleash a powerful attack. This game is very near perfect, let down only by the occasional typo, but still overall an incredibly enjoyable experience.
Megadimension Neptunia VII is available now and is definitely worth picking up; even if you’ve yet to experience Neptunia, give it a try, as past knowledge of the series isn’t required to enjoy the game. I certainly hope that another main series Neptunia game gets announced soon, so we can all see how they manage to top this masterpiece, but at least we already have confirmation of a western release of MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies due this Spring on Playstation Vita to tide us over.
Megadimension Neptunia VII has not only become my favourite title in the franchise, but it is easily one of the greatest games I have had the fortune of playing. My playtime may only hover at around 26 hours thus far, but it's certain that I'll be investing significantly more time in this game. Neptunia has transitioned to the latest generation of consoles excellently, with the visuals being nothing short of a delight to behold; the same can be said of both audio tracks, and I'm not usually one for english audio tracks.
This title was reviewed using a review copy provided by Idea Factory International.