It really is kind of amazing to see how far the Netpunia games have come over the years, from niche RPG titles that saw releases every now and then, to not only having regular releases in the main franchise, but a series of interesting spinoffs as well. MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies is the latest such example, and it works really well - when it is working.
There is a lot to like about this title, which is very similar to the previously released and thoroughly enjoyable Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed - another Neptunia title that took characters from the traditionally RPG series and planted them firmly in an action hack n' slash title.
The story is pretty basic stuff as Blanc and her friends decide that in order to help Gamicademi gain a little more notoriety, they should make a zombie movie. Of course, things get considerably dicier once actual zombies get involved. The premise is alright, but it lacks some of the zip found in other Neptunia games. There is a ton of dialog, as usual, but the satire just does not have as much punch as it generally does. Of course it is poking some fun at the ridiculously overused zombie genre, but while the humor still works more often than not, none of what takes place in the story is nearly as memorable as most of the core games in the RPG series.
By most accounts MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies is a step forward from Neptunia U. You have more characters and multiplayer options that should elevate this title way ahead of its predecessor. While I certainly appreciated the extra characters, the multiplayer is somewhat buggy still. The biggest issues are the server freaks out over some names that have non-traditional characters in them, and you are region locked. That last one seems like an odd choice for a game that doesn't really rely on communication to be successful anyway.
Now there are plenty of things that MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies gets right as well. The action is still really good, with a nice variety of moves and gameplay that manages to continually dangle the carrot of progress in front of me. While the leveling system is pretty bare bones - especially compared to the various deeper systems found in the Neptunia RPGs - it is approachable and gaining improved stats kept me coming back for more. The visuals are colorful and the action is entertaining, reminding me of the various Warriors titles with its combination of attacks, beating down large hordes of enemies and flashier special attacks. Some people find these types of titles to repetitive and boring, and if you are among those who does not enjoy Warriors style action, odds are MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies won't convert you to the genre. That being said, I am a fan of those games and I felt right at home playing this as a result.
There are some middling aspects to consider as well. While I enjoyed the visuals overall, the camera had its moments of clunkiness that could have been improved. This is perhaps made worse by the often small, sometimes narrow maps. These small levels also contribute to the feeling that while the stages are interesting in design, they were often too quick to get through and the end result is a pretty short video game. Also, if you have never played a Neptunia game, you should be aware that there is plenty of fan service to be had here.
If you are new to the Neptunia games, this actually would not be a bad introductory point. With accessible combat and systems that are not nearly as involved as the RPG games, MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies also does not rely on the previous titles for narrative direction. Certainly knowing their characters makes the story easier to digest as I am already really familiar with their personalities and quirks, and despite the so-so story the characters' charm still oozes through the experience. However, there are no dependencies in the story that leave you baffled if this is your first foray into all things Nep-Nep.
MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies is a solid overall action experience, with good controls, pleasant visuals and systems that have more depth than the average brawler but is not so deep as to be unapproachable to newcomers. The content that is here was certainly enjoyable, though I could have used a little more of it, and the multiplayer mode will be a missed opportunity for some until the issues get fully ironed out. While I didn't experience the problems others have, one of my friends I was trying to co-op with did, and he found it pretty frustrating. Still, once those kinks are worked out, the multiplayer should help this title rise well above Neptunia U, it's just a shame it was in a rough state right off of the bat.
Idea Factory International
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Article by Nick