MegaTagmension is the latest from the line of Hyperdimension Neptunia spin-offs, featuring the least “gifted” goddess this side of Gamindustri. MegaTagmension feels and plays quite similar to Action Unleashed, another spin-off from the same series, if you’ve played it before. If not, it has a very Dynasty Warrriors/Musou feel going for it during the story mode, and a sort of Monster Hunter style feeling for the online missions. Well then, places everyone, as we take a look at the anime styled attempts of Blanc to save a closing school with the power of film, and zombies.
Upon starting up the game, you will find there is an option for “multi” under “story” in the main menu. That’s right, now you can play with friends. Both the single player and on-line multiplayer modes function pretty much the same way, but they both have surprisingly different feels to them. During story mode, you’re given select characters, and more unlock as you progress through the game. In multiplayer you can choose any character, or their HDD forms, right from the start. Let’s put multiplayer to the side for a moment though, and take a look at the story mode.
The plot this time around is that the loved goddesses, and goddess candidates, have all decided to attend a high school called Gamacademy. Naming sense aside, the academy hasn’t been doing so well lately, and will be closing down soon. Naturally, our protagonist Blanc is worrying over the closing of the academy, when suddenly zombies attack her sisters! A few smacks with her oversized hammer later, and the zombies are defeated! Or not. Turns out the schools film club has decided to film a movie in an attempt to garner interest in the school by winning an amateur film competition, and the zombies were actually just students in costume. Neptune, the club president, manages to convince Blanc to be the scriptwriter and director of the movie, and lo and behold we have the makings of a masterpiece! Except some of the zombies are actually real zombies. Actually, there are a lot of zombies. But beating them up turns them back to normal, so what to do? Obviously, we use them as the most lifelike, or unlifelike, props available.
The game progresses in “scenes” and “cuts”, where scenes are like “levels” and cuts are the individual “stages”. Stage clear conditions can be anything from “kill so many things” to “kill these guys the deadest in particular”. As mentioned, the game itself plays very similar to Action Unleashed, being a third-person beat-em-up style gameplay. The differences are evident, however, as gameplay is vastly improved. The combat is performed as three basic functionalities: basic combat, technical moves, and protection. Combat is performed by hitting the square and triangle buttons for light and heavy attacks, which can chain into combos. Combos can be increased with the use of ability points earned through combat. In addition to basic square and triangle hits, you also have skills and an EXE drive and Lily combo attack. The skills are, by default, mapped to a held right shoulder button and one of the four cross, square, triangle, and circle buttons. Skills are on a universal “timer”, and can be used again once a certain amount of time has passed. Unlike in action unleashed, all the skills are available from the start of the game. The EXE drive and Lily combo is available when the EXE gauge is at least 30% full, and can be charged to do more damage. The EXE gauge gets charged by hitting enemies.
The technical moves involve swapping characters, character transformations, and lock-on capabilities. Since you can bring up to two characters with you per story mission, you can swap out at will. Characters in reserve will slowly regain health, or revive if the got knocked out earlier. Character transformations are pretty straightforward: EXE gauge slowly depletes, you get new combos and stat boosts. After clearing the story mode once, you can select the transformed versions of characters to start off with, at no EXE gauge cost, same as in multiplayer mode. The lock-on mode is mostly useful. It keeps the camera centered behind you and focused on the enemy, and allows you to target individual areas for breakable parts, a mechanic I will discuss in the multiplayer segment. Damage reduction and protection can be performed either by dashing through enemy attacks using the invincibility time, or by simply guarding. Admittedly, I’m more of a “don’t get hit” person, but the guarding was very easy to combo into the middle of attacks, giving the game a more fluid and player friendly pace. After completing stages, you earn experience and can level. Leveling nets you ability points, which you can put into stats such as health, power, defense, or technique (increases combos). A capped level character has enough ability points to max out technique, two of the power/health/defense trio, and half of the leftover stat.
Now that we have the mechanics out of the way, what about the story? Well, there’s two stories, really: the in-game movie, and the broad game itself story. The movie plotline that Blanc comes up with is, quite frankly, cringe worthy at some points. That being said, its not the actual plot of the game, and over the period of time the Hyperdimension series has been out, Blanc has been getting a rather inglorious depiction as a very cringe-y writer. The actual game plot isn’t really all that impressive or bad, but it certainly does have its moments, both good and corny, which it promptly calls itself on at the end of the game. There’s very little seriousness going on in Tagmension, or the series as a whole, really, but that’s part of the charm really. It isn’t hard to get into, and the gags are mostly assured, regardless of whether you’re a returning fan or newcomer.
In addition to the standard event scenes, you can also unlock hidden scenes and “backstage talk” by completing certain missions with certain sets of characters. While the specialized event scenes aren’t too difficult to get or figure out, some of the backstage talk can be outright nuisance, especially when you realize that if you choose the transformed version of the characters to complete a scene, the backstage talk won’t proc, or at least it didn’t for me. One thing of note is that all the multiplayer and backstage talk events are purely Japanese voiceovers. Not certain why, and it isn’t particularly bad or anything, just gives a weird feeling when all of a sudden you’ve got vocalized moon runes coming at you with no prior warning.
Characters can be customized with new weapons and appearances through either: obtaining gear in-level, purchasing it at the store, or unlocking treasure containers. In-level gear was…sparse for me, to say the least, as I only obtained about two pieces through the main story mode. Weapons at the store can be expensive, but after receiving the cash rewards for the later stages, become rather easy to acquire, especially when the final online quest gives 100k and the final tier weapons are around 20k per piece. Treasure chests can be unlocked by obtaining five pieces of a treasure, and then turning them in to IF. The treasures will only unlock different visual outfits, and can be obtained from certain stages or bosses, and as far as I am aware, they don’t actually depend on score, just chance.
Now we can talk a little bit about the multiplayer. Changes between multi and solo gameplay are pretty small, where the differences basically just constitute no item usage and only a single character, swapping the Lily combo for a teammate revive option. One really interesting mechanic that happens mostly in the online missions is the addition of breakable parts on the large boss enemies. Breaking certain parts will topple the boss, allowing you to get some major hits in before the boss recovers. Bosses can also drop “processor” parts, which can be equipped regardless of transformation, and give health, defense, and guard durability bonuses. They also all look really cool. You can also earn upgrade chips that you can insert onto weapons, but will wear out with use.
Most of the soundtrack is remixed from previous games in the series, but the original tracks add a nice rock or metal sound to some of the tunes, and was overall quite good. The online mode can be completed solo via ad hoc mode, which is nice, and the amount of new large bosses is quite nice to see, although screw the hammer guy. He’s a dick. All of the characters have unique combos, and there are probably at the very least three characters that you would really enjoy playing as. While story mode doesn’t get difficult until the last boss, I found that the online mode had the perfect level of challenge if you were progressing through it normally after completing story mode. I hear that patch 1.01 decreases the online difficulty though, so it may feel a little easier if I can ever get the game to update. Overall, I had a lot of fun, and I’m definitely looking forward to playing with more people online with the official release date hits. If you’re looking for someone to play with, or need help clearing an online quest, be sure to let me know!
Article by Richard