Video game industry references, 4th wall breaks and moe hack n’ slash action? Sign me up! MegaTagmension: Blanc + Neptune vs. Zombies delivers all of that in spades. The main question here is whether or not it’s worth the $40 that you’ll potentially be plunking down on this (in my opinion) wonderful time-killer of a game.
Game Name: MegaTagmension: Blanc + Neptune vs. Zombies
Platform(s): PlayStation Vita
Publisher(s): Idea Factory
Developer(s): Compile Heart
Release Date: May 10, 2016
MegaTagmension, at its core, is what would be called a musou (a hack-n’-slash type game), where you take on hordes of enemies, similar to a previous game in the series, Hyperdimension Neptunia U. You take the general role of Blanc, a CPU at Gamicademi, a school in the world of Gamindustri, who is dragged into a plot by Neptune, a fellow CPU to create a blockbuster movie in an effort to save the closing Gamicademi. You’re joined by a litany of other CPUs, all with names or motifs related to video game culture, who all choose to help out with Neptune’s venture, with Blanc taking the role as starlet, writer and director. Despite their innocent intentions, a sinister plot is afoot in Gamindustri, and it’s up to Blanc, Neptune and the girls to save the world, all while filming their blockbuster motion picture.
MegaTagmension isn’t the most satisfying game in the hack-n’-slash genre, but neither is the genre as a whole. A lot of the time in this game you’re facing off against some of the same enemies and bosses, with very little variation between them. While that can seem like a major strike against most games, MegaTagmension takes this in stride, and it’s a brisk one at that. Where this game truly excels is the constant self-awareness that it executes so frequently.
A general staple of the Neptunia universe, the characters effortlessly break the 4th wall and self-reference themselves in mostly comedic points of the game, helping save the story on several occasions. Moments like when Peashy makes her first appearance and transformation into Yellow Heart, causing Uni and Blanc to lose their minds in jealousy, help take the story out of the doldrums. While moments like these generate healthy laughs, the story is bland and cliche, and the dialogue doesn’t match the character’s expressions most of the time, taking a lot away from what might have been a fantastic plot towards the beginning of the game. While the plot does pick up towards the ending point of the game, it doesn’t however take away from the general faults with the story.
The characters exude personality, even if you don’t see it on their faces most of the time. As I previously mentioned, while the dialogue and the character voices are inspired, the art isn’t always so. The expressions shown on the characters’ faces while in the dialogue portion of Story mode generally don’t change, and don’t always reflect the mood or situation that is currently unfolding. When the attitudes of the characters do match up, you sympathize with them, or laugh at some of the more comedic moments, like when Noire and Vert are forced to play zombies in certain parts of the story. It doesn’t feel coherent, and while story is a minor part of this game, it is somewhat important to those who…like that sort of thing in their Nep.
Gameplay-wise? It’s a musou. Sometimes the camera is your friend, and sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes the fighting mechanics can be pretty easy to pick up and other times it can be a daunting task. With MegaTagmension, it’s a mix of the two. The general button layout is easy to pick up, and tagging out, performing special attacks, transformations and Lily tag attacks aren’t overly complicated. The lock -on mechanic helps heaps, when facing off one on one with a boss or a tanky zombie. The camera and lock-on mechanic can be a pain when facing multiple opponents, as the camera tends to take a mind of its own during the battle. When you get to the nitty gritty of this game, which is leveling up and customization, this is where things start to get weird. On one hand, you have the simplistic method of buying weapons and enhancements that can change weapon attributes and strengths, and that’s pretty point blank. On the other hand, you have an ability point system, which presents you with 4 different stat enhancements that you can fill: HP, Power, Defense, and Technical. Each incremental fill increases one of these stats, with Technical being the major exception, where every 3rd or so fill nets you a brand new combo. To say the very least, it can get complicated and annoying to level and power up your CPUs in order to progress through the story using this method. Graphically, for the PlayStation Vita, this game is gorgeous for what it presents. The characters look crisp, the zombies and enemies have unique looks to them, and the stages and backgrounds are cool to look at.
However, a true shining beacon of this game is the online. Whether you’re playing solo or with up to 3 of your bestest (yes, I said bestest) friends, there are a myriad of missions and enemies to fight in one of 5 dimensions. It’s also a great place to level up your heroines for story mode, especially if things get a little too “hairy” for you towards the end of the game. You can receive items and new power-ups in this mode as well, and it’s one of the best time-killers in the game, especially after beating the story.
MegaTagmension: Blanc + Neptune vs. Zombies is one of those games where you definitely have to be either a fan of the genre or a fan of the series to enjoy, and even then you’re not necessarily going to enjoy it past the initial playthrough unless you’re a diehard fan of these games. The story is bland, the characters have a lot of personality that doesn’t always get to shine, and the gameplay is repetitive, even according to musou standards. However, the moments where everything seems to click, it serves this game extremely well.
– Beautiful visuals
– Characters exude personality
– A few good laughs
– Story can drag at times
– Level up system can be overly complicated.