MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies - Review  

Everything's Better When the Undead Are Involved
by Sam Wachter

PS Vita
Less than 20 Hours
+ More character choices
+ Heroines have different play styles
+ Short
- Bland environments
- Boring mission structure
- Dialog is painful at times
Click here for scoring definitions 

   Sometimes the best way to spice a series up is to toss in a twist. In the Neptunia franchise, it's quite common for the developers to throw everything and the kitchen sink at it. While we haven't had a full-on fighting game or kart racer (I'm sure those are coming, eh, Compile Heart?), we have seen the series take some different turns with Hyperdevotion Noire being a TRPG and Neptunia U, an action RPG spin-off. Unfortunately with MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies we are given the exact same skin of Neptunia U, only with a much hollower shell, and a multiplayer element. Oh, and zombies, because apparently zombies can fix any franchise, right?

   In MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies, our story begins at Gamicademi, a school deep within Gamindustri. To alleviate the boredom, the heroines of the Hyperdemension Neptunia series decide to make a zombie movie. By making a zombie flick, the girls want to put Gamicademi on the map in hopes of promoting the school. The twist of fate, however, is that real zombies end up showing up, and wackiness ensues.

   Much like its predecessor Neptunia U, the story of MegaTagmension is mostly comprised of somewhat entertaining filler. There's snappy dialogue, crazy characters, and decent localization work, but there's something lacking in terms of how the story is told. Relying on memes and pop culture, there's not much that stands out plotwise to make the game remotely interesting. A lot of the time it feels like fluff, which is fine and dandy, but the game doesn't give the player reason enough to care about what is happening either.

   The largest issues with MegaTagmension is that it basically is a carbon copy of Neptunia U, only it's a much shorter experience. There's no real changes made here, minus the removal of the fanservice that was present in the previous game. The environments are boring and uninspired, and traversing the same few during every chapter. While it's supposed to have home-movie aesthetics, it feels like the developers didn't go very far to highlight that the Neptunia characters were in fact making a zombie movie. Having bland environments and palette-swapped enemies make for dull exploration experience, and the AI isn't very smart either.

Blanc is going to mess you up! Blanc is going to mess you up!

   One thing that has changed, and sadly for the worst, is the game's mission-based structure. Part of what made Neptunia U more challenging, is the fact that missions often encourages players to use different characters to complete the job. It forced players to experiment with all the heroines and it allowed the player to get a feeling for each of their playstyles. In MegaTagmension the mission structure is mostly "kill the boss" or "destroy X amount of enemies," with any incentive to use the other characters completely nonexistent. It's fairly easy for the player to only use two heroines for the whole game and beat it, and the boring structure doesn't offer any reason to mix things up.

   Since this is an action RPG, a lot of the combat involves players completing a mission, or a "cut." Players select two heroines to send into the scene and they must complete the objective. Each heroine comes equipped with a strong and weak attack, plus an .EXE Drive, which can only be used when thirty percent of the .EXE gauge is full. Each character also the ability to transform into their more powerful alter-ego. The playstyles from Neptunia U are still present here and nothing about the combat has changed, which is disappointing given that there is room to shake battles up. One benefit of the battle system is that there are more heroines to choose from, and each character's playstyle is vastly different.

   The lack of change from the battle system may come from the fact that MegaTagmension is also a multiplayer game where friends can band together to wreck some zombies. This multiplayer element is a fresh component that works well for this style of battle system. Battles can be matched via ad-hoc or internet, and itès a fairly seamless process. In Story Mode, however, it would have been great if the combat had been upgraded in some significant way to make it feel less stale and samey.

Tamsoft is hardcore. Tamsoft is hardcore.

   Speaking of samey, there's not much new music this time around, and what is new is decent, but completely forgettable. In terms of voice acting, the English dub is great and there's a lot of quirkness that comes from each of the female leads. Visually, not much has changed, other than the environments being a big step backwards from the wackiness in Neptunia U. It's sad that the game would rather go for dull looking areas that are boring to navigate through, given the potential for creativity from a graphical standpoint.

   For a series that sparkles with personality, MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies is a hard game to recommend when it feels like an inferior cut-and-paste job of Neptunia U. The story is silly and fun, but there's not much there for non-fans, and I think even fans would have a hard time shelling out for a game that feels so short and unbaked as a sequel.

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