And absolutely no one expected this to happen.
Neptunia U is simultaneously the lewdest and purest thing I have played in recent memory.
It’s a brawler spinoff of the Neptunia series made by Tamsoft, who you might know better for Senran Kagura, the “ass is hometown” game. What this means is that you can expect women’s clothing to tear and there to be lots of titillacious boobage. The game does give you the option of disabling the clothing breaks with some unlockable equipment, but let’s be real: This is a Neptunia game, and Neptunia stands for fan-service.
Surprisingly enough, the writing is incredibly heartwarming and innocent. There’s no real sexual tension and all the dialogue tends to centered around the relationships between the CPU’s and their sisters. It’s incredibly cute, even if doesn’t make a ton of sense. The plot is practically token and the villain may as well not exist, but none of that matters. You’re playing the game to watch the girls snark at each other, and the game delivers that in spades.
And when I call the story token, I mean it. A pair of game journalist characters representing Dengeki and Famitsu want to write a fluff piece about the CPU’s doing quests, so they drag the goddesses out to kill monsters. That’s it. A few plot threads are introduced asking where the playable journalist girls get their powers, and why there are so many monsters, but in the end neither really get addressed.
As a brawler, the game is good, but held down by a lack of mission variety. Most missions just involve defeating waves of trivial enemies in the presence of some slightly threatening enemy, and while it’s kind of fun in a Dynasty Warriors way, it still gets stale after a while. The game does mix in some more interesting ‘hidden objective’ type missions, but they’re far too few to really help throw off the feeling of grinding. A lot of the time I never really even felt like I had to pay attention to screen; I just kind of stared at the minimap and repeated my mashed out infinite combo in the general direction of the enemies until the game told me I was done. I’d max out the combo counter, then the damage counter, and then run out of interface elements to keep me interested beyond a simple kill counter to victory. It can be fun in a mindless kind of way if you’re in the mood for it, which is pretty fitting for an Idea Factory title, but it still feels a bit disappointing.
It’s really a shame, too. The game has an excellent combat engine, and it’s kind of disappointing to see it go to waste. Combos feel great, character movement is mostly pretty fluid, and if you bother to pay attention then working out dodge cancels for different characters to make custom combos can be pretty fun. Sure, there are some issues with camera control, but really a lot of the time you don’t need to really look at what you’re cutting down anyways so it’s not a huge deal. It feels like Neptunia U lays out the groundwork for something more substantial here, but the only time it ever really comes into play is a small post-game fighting tournament mode that’s treated more as a distraction than anything. Senran Kagura had an online multiplayer mode where the depth in combat actually came into play, but Neptunia U lacks any sort of multiplayer, so in the end that depth is just wasted.
In the end, while Neptunia U has a few flaws, and while it may not have any parts that shine much either it still managed to put a big dumb smile on my face. It’s fun. Dumb fun, but fun. If you’re looking for something cute and fanservicey that doesn’t take a whole lot of brain power, you could do worse than this one.