Super Neptunia RPG is a new spin-off take developed by a completely different studio than usual core staff Idea Factory. What sold me on the game initially was the visual design and how the game was presented, reminding me of a favorite RPG of mine from the PS1 era, Valkyrie Profile. Generally, this is characterized by having dungeon explorations done in a platform style and combat based on traditional RPGs except occurring in real time.
Our game begins with our title protagonist, Neptune waking up with amnesia, and she ends up in a fetch quest to collect taxes in the form of retro game cartridges for the guild, Bombyx Mori. As the story progress further, Neptune tries to recover her memories and gets into conflict with her initial employers. The story isn't something to marvel at, but it contains enough self-awareness and even pokes fun of itself. This is essentially a Neptunia staple, it’s a parody based on the game industry and filled with a bunch of 4th-wall breaking jokes. Each of the main characters has their own tropes and quirks that make the interactions between them often lead to comedic situations, making the dull storyline a bit more interesting.
The main appeal of this game would be the visual presentation. The in-game graphics are presented in a beautiful 2D environment where it becomes a platformer for exploration. Often you will find NPCs in the game who just give you random fetch quests or require you to slay certain monsters which aren't even remotely interesting. Although the graphics are beautifully drawn, they're difficult to navigate, with no real indicator of what places you can enter or not, often leading to you opening a map as a result of getting lost or being unsure of the current surroundings.
The combat is all done in real time, where each character responds by hitting the face buttons and switching formations to make certain skills more effective. For the characters to move, they require AP which is slowly filled over time, the same applies to the enemies you encounter. The battle system is pretty barebones until you have acquired the rest of the party. After that, the game heavily emphasizes on switching formations to make combat more tactical and engaging. If the combat is slow, you can also fast forward in battles to make it go by quicker. The battle system is not quite as in-depth as it appears to be, and most battles can be simply won over with just button mashing without much thought put into it.
The equipment system in the game is like RPGs where you learn skills from each piece of equipment. Oddly, none of it remains permanent and will only appear in your ability list when the equipment is equipped. Another issue with the game is the poor performance of the game, leading to many slowdowns on situations that shouldn't be a problem with current generation hardware.
This ranges from just moving within a town, to battle situations with multiple units, and leads to inconsistent framerates which makes battles confusing leading one to wonder if the game was too slow to respond or if it’s simply how the game it was designed. I don't think this is actually a Switch console issue as there is a patch for the Japanese release that was supposed to address some of these glaring performance issues.
Super Neptunia RPG is a fun little game but leaves a lot more to be desired. I could see a sequel full of potential, but at its current state with all the technical hiccups, it really boils down to you being a Neptunia fan or not. The game lacks enough polish for it to be a great game, but perhaps a sequel down in the line or even using a fresh IP without Neptunia holding it back can make room for a more interesting project.
Versions tested: Switch