According to the wonderful world of anime, high school is a magical time. Chock full of friendship, hardship and personal growth, actually going to class is a complete non-issue. Hell, if it weren’t for the fact that school buildings offer the best locations around to eat lunch and stare contemplatively into the expansive abyss of introspection, I don’t think anyone would even make the rushed, last minute run there. However, things begin to change once the inevitable, world concluding threat rears its ugly head. Aliens, demons, non-descript monsters, princesses, dimension hoppers, time travellers, different dimension hoppers…time travellers from a different time. You name it, it could throw your youth into shambles. That being said, what’s life without a little unexpected, unbelievable adventure? Real life, that’s what. So check your disbelief at the door and learn to embrace the insanity, you might not survive otherwise…or you just won’t have fun. You probably won’t die…sorry I lied.
Neptunia. The series with more prefixes and syllable than you can throw a fictional dictionary at, a fictionary if you will. Taking a canonical break, we find ourselves dropping the Hyperdimension title for a spell and instead replace it with MegaTagmension, which is just as ridiculous as it sounds. Though no moreso than normal for this franchise, so let us move on. Having decided to attend high school in order to better understand humanity, and somehow actually managed to follow through, the CPUs you all know and love are now happy students at Gamicademi, an academy…that has games? I don’t know, believe it or not, the school isn’t actually that important. Not as an educational institute at least, more of a plot point. Having seen a drop in applicants due to the declining birth rate (which is oddly real for such a cutesy game), Film Club President Neptune has decided to save her beloved school by making a wicked cool film that will bring new students in droves, because of the cool. Yada, yada, yada, Blanc joins the club, yada, yada, yada, the students turn into zombies, blah, blah, blah, they decide to film a horror movie whilst simultaneously saving the world. You know, the usual. And so, our intrepid heroines set forth on a journey that will test their mettle, strengthen their bonds and improve the world at large. Probably, the storyline is pretty basic. Spoiler alert: The good guys win.
With the large and colourful roster that has been built up over the years, MegaTagmension features a solid amount of combat variation. With differences both slight and major, it takes quite a deal of trial and error to truly grasp each character. Of course spamming square can get you through most combat scenarios with a passing mark, it is pretty satisfying to pull of one long, continuous combo. Take that palette swapped enemies, you jerks. Having been developed by Tamsoft (the company, not the identically named new character), gameplay shares more than a few similarities with Senran Kagura. Combat is broken up into small quests, which take roughly one minute to complete. Enemies swarm en masse and it is up you, and the two characters you chose, to fend them off and meet the quest requirement. Don’t let that last word scare you however, as requirements are either kill everything or kill one specific thing that only spawns when you’ve killed everything. So not rocket science. Beating up baddies also has the added benefit of filling up your EXE Gauge, allowing you to perform an awesomely destructive move or transform into an even more powerful form. The choice is yours. That being said, I personally forgot EXE moves were a thing until about three quarters of the way through the game. So, whilst they are cool, they are not inherently necessary in beating each quest, or even doing well for that matter, I netted a SSS rank on most levels regardless. Hell, even when I sucked I got SS…you know I don’t actually know how this game ranks things, those could be the only options and they’re just trying to make me feel good. Well, it worked. SSS mastery achieved, take that Devil May Cry.
As hinted at by the whole forgetting-about-an-entire-form-of-attack thing, MegaTagmension suffer from being simpler than the features it includes. Namely, levelling up. Though a standard trope of video gaming since, like, a really long time ago, the mechanic is completely unsuited to this game. As each quest in the campaign possesses an increasingly high recommended level, it is completely inadvisable to rotate between characters. Which kinda sucks. Despite the variety of characters available, your best bet is to simply pick two at the start of the game (when your choices are Blanc, Neptune and Tamsoft) and continue with them the whole way through the story. Though characters appear throughout said story, with the implication that certain quests are their characters introductions to the film in progress, you are in no way forced to choose specific characters. I myself used Tamsoft for each and every mission, only falling back on Neptune once when I was swarmed and Tamsoft fainted. Of course you could alternate characters, but you would be forced to level grind. Which is not something you want. However, if grinding is your jam, then have I got some happy time news for you. Though the final boss possesses a recommended level of 39, characters are able to reach the holy level of 99. Why? I don’t know. But they can. Aditionally, on the topic of powering up, there is an entire weapon equipment mechanic that too is not necessary. Does it help? Sure. But all you honestly need to do is purchase the strongest weapon from the store. That’s it. The most useful mechanic would be the AP gained from levelling up. funnel said points into Health, Power, Defence or Technique (which unlocks new combos) and reap the benefits. There isn’t even any danger, as you can respec for free at any point, altering your character for specific encounters if you so wish. Not that you’ll need to…
As it stands, this is far from the strongest entry into the Neptunia franchise. Heck, it isn’t even the strongest entry in the Senran Kagura-esque spin-off domain, that award goes to Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed (you know, the other one). For those who haven’t played said game, it is essentially a more robust version of MegaTagmension, to the point that MegaTagmension feels incomplete. whereas some quests in Action Unleashed required traversing the various segments of the battlefield, 95% of MegaTagmension occurs in the starting area, making the battlefields themselves completely pointless. Why bother having so many unused sections? The levelling system also had more use in Action Unleashed, as the game constantly forced you to alternate between the roster, mixing up gameplay and allowing you to learn the pros and cons of each character. Even the goofy plot of the previous game held together better. Though the gimmick of making a schlocky horror film is pretty interesting, the campaign around it is so incoherent that the jokes are lost. I get it, their film was supposed to be terrible and disjointed, har har. But the development surrounding it is supposed to build off of that. Instead, we find ourselves with a handful of random sequences that play out before predetermined quests. Even the reveal of a quirky villain was ultimately nonsensical and anti climatic. You straight up beat the guy the first time you see him and even then he only had about three dialogue sequences beforehand. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the ridiculousness this series prides itself on, hell, the entire franchise is built upon the personification of gaming consoles. But there’s just something missing from this outing. Sure the elements are there, but it just lacks that charm that takes those aspects from overplayed to endearing. And that makes me sad…
Iffy I were you, I’d do my best to stay in Blanc’s good books. She might write you into her next movie.