Full of references and whimsy, Super Neptunia RPG from Artisan Studios and Idea Factory blend 2D platforming with RPG elements. Considered a spin-off of Hyperdimension Neptunia, the game is a little all over the place as the writing is clearly for an audience that has played a wide variety of Japanese role-playing games and the combat is built more for new players to the genre.
You play as the titular character with amnesia (a common RPG trope) who feels compelled to go out a be a hero. The story is generic on purpose and that’s how most of the story goes, with references to jRPG ideas and other games themselves. I noticed a variety of references including the Dragon Quest series, Final Fantasy, and even Pokemon. The tongue-in-cheek attitude of characters and the writing almost makes up for the fact that they are still using all these well-trodden tropes to tell their story as well.
The combat system uses an active time battle system which the characters share a pool of action points to attack/buff/heal/etc. Similar to the paradigm system in Final Fantasy XIII, the stance the characters are in restricts what they can do. With four characters, there are only four stances, thus you really can only have four skills active during a battle, which feels extremely limiting. On the other hand, this could be good for a jRPG newcomer who might feel overwhelmed by the number of skills and elements available in the game. In my case, I spread myself a little thin so that I can have all 9 elements accounted for in case a creature is weak to one of them because in many cases, your character’s animation can stop the enemy from taking a turn. I actually defeated a side boss with a 200+ combo because my animation just kept going and it appeared he wasn’t allowed a turn. This can also work against you in the same manner.
Super Neptunia RPG also contains some platforming elements. Not just movement in the overworld, a whole section devoted to platforming in the vein of Mega Man, right down to platforms hidden behind clouds. It not only felt foreign to be doing it in an RPG, but the jumping was floaty and not precise. The game also doesn’t do a great job in enemy design as many enemies are used over and over again.
Super Neptunia RPG Review Final Thoughts:
The thing is, even with all these issues, I still had a lot of fun with the game. It’s been the first game in a while I was thinking about it when I wasn’t playing. Despite all the frustrations with load screens and the slowness in character stance switching, I still enjoyed getting into each combat.
Overall, Super Neptunia RPG is more fun than it is a good role-playing game. Its cute art style and whimsical writing will keep you coming back while the combat is serviceable enough to get you through some of the frustration. Fans of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series and newcomers to jRPGs will enjoy this while hardcore fans of the genre might be turned off.