If I were to tell you that there’s a game out there starring anime girls, chances are that you wouldn’t be surprised in any sense of the word. But what if I were to tell you that there’s a game out there where the anime girls are video games themselves? Enter Megadimension Neptunia VII, an RPG revolving around personified video game consoles and their sizable (software) assets.
Game Name: Megadimension Neptunia VII
Publisher: Idea Factory
Developers: Idea Factory, Compile heart
Release Date: 2/2/2016
In the aptly named land of Gamindustri (pronounced “game-industry”), four goddesses called CPUs each preside over one of the land’s four nations: Pleneptune, Lastastion, Leanbox, and Lowee. Monsters threaten the nations from all sides, nefarious organizations seek to seize global dominance, and dark deities seek to destroy entire dimensions. The fate of the world rests with these four guardians and the faith bestowed unto them by the peoples of their nations.
Megadimension Neptunia VII is a conventional Japanese RPG at its core, with some stylistic twists scattered throughout. For example, combat is turn-based, but eschews a simple “basic attack” option in favor of a build-your-own-combo system which uses attacks of differing purpose (damage, hit count, balanced). This not only means that the player gets to choose what their characters’ attacks look to an extent, but also that they can min/max their combo routes to suit any situation. In addition to this, attacks do not simply hit chosen targets; every weapon has an effective range, and attacks will damage all enemies occupying that space, allowing for more efficient combat with space control.
Outside of combat, the game takes place across various dungeons, events/dialogue, and an overworld that ties it all together: in a dungeon, the player has free reign over the entire 3-D space and can enter combat at their leisure; events take the format of a visual novel and exist to further the plot or to develop characters; and finally, the overworld functions as a set of branching pathways that the player uses to select their next destination.
There really is not much to say about gameplay outside of the combat system; if you’ve played an RPG before, everything will be more or less second nature already. There are small mechanics here and there like “symbol attacks,” which guarantee that the player will take the first turn if performed on a dungeon enemy ala Paper Mario, but otherwise, Megadimension Neptunia VII is standard fare for the genre. With that said, many people don’t just play these games to beat down hordes of monsters; they play to enjoy a story full of interesting characters, atmospheres, and events; all of which Megadimension Neptunia VII offers in spades.
On top of each of the core character representing a video game console (or company), they act and even look the part through and through. For example, Blanc, the CPU of Lowee, is small, flat-chested, and adored by men who are into her underdeveloped and almost childish look. All creepiness aside, this references how many of Nintendo’s fans are grown men who love their games despite that many of their franchises are stylized to appeal to children as opposed to adults. That’s great, but it’s the fact that these characteristics build as opposed to define these characters that make them so likable. Each character has interests and characteristics that are in reference to the console/company they were based on, yes, but in addition to that they all have their own motivations and personal styles that give the characters depth and keep them from being purely living references. This level of care is apparent in all aspects of the game, from enemies to entire areas of the game and even entire plot lines.
Technically speaking, Megadimension Neptunia VII is appealing, but not overly impressive. The game suffers from the same problem that many anime games do in that the characters look strange in 3-d due to them having anime proportions, not to mention that in what limited CGI cutscenes the game offers, the characters, as well-designed as they are, just have different textures applied to their mouths to show that they are talking instead of animating their jaw moving (or modeling a mouth at all for that matter). The environments are well-made and aesthetically pleasing, but the magic fades when most of the dungeons are just mirrored and reused in a later part of the game; a sentiment which applies equally to the game’s OST. The voice acting is well-done, but disappointingly fewer than half of core story-related dialogue is voiced, and even fewer of the side conversations are.
In the end, though Megadimension Neptunia VII is a pretty good game by all counts, it’s floating in a sea of RPGs with more clout and mass appeal. However, the characters, settings, and situations are all so unique yet familiar that the game is definitely worth picking up if it’s your style. Obviously, everyone’s mileage may vary, but all of the game’s key components are built strong. If you don’t mind the occasional near cringe-worthy reference to modern internet lingo or panty shot, you’ll find a great deal of enjoyment here.
Megadimension Neptunia VII
Girl and game, never tame
Console War. Console War never changes.
Megadimension Neptunia VII is a niche game, and there's no way around it. Every inch of the game is littered with anime tropes, fourth wall breaks, and video game references of all sorts. However, everything is blended so well that it really doesn't take much to have a great time. The characters are all charming in their own way, the story is both heartfelt and fulfilling, and the gameplay is interesting enough that the game is hard to put down (even if it's just to get to the next piece of story [or fanservice]). Whether you're a diehard gamer, an otaku, or just enjoy a good lighthearted RPG, Megadimension Neptunia VII is a great buy.
- well-written, lovable characters
- Engaging combat system
- references galore
- Obvious recycling of environments
- Invisible walls in certain dungeons
- not entirely voice-acted