Game Review: MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune Vs Zombies (PS Vita)
11/05/2016 2 Comments
Publisher Idea Factory International continues to be on top form as after successfully releasing MegaDimension Neptunia VII onto the PS4 and Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart onto the PC the Japanese publisher has now returned its sights to the PS Vita with this latest installement MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune Vs Zombies. It’s a pretty long-winded title; but it has to be, as it is the first game in the franchise to deviate from its usual route and focus on an entirely different topic; zombies!
So; what can one expect to receive from this newest addition to the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise? Well let’s find out in our latest game review!
MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune Vs Zombies is easily the weakest game in the Hyperdimension franchise and yet despite its simplistic gameplay and relatively unimaginative storyline I still spent endless hours trudging through the game to enjoy what it has to offer. Do I dislike the game? Not at all; do I think it is the worst game of the franchise? Absolutely; but it is still incredibly fun to play.
Harsh words aside; MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune Vs Zombies is the latest title in the Hyperdimension universe to arrive on the PS Vita and unlike games released before it it’s actually a hack-and-slash styled adventure game, similar to the likes of Hyperdimension Neptunia: Action Unleashed U, and features Blanc as the lead protagonist as opposed to Neptune – a fact which I completely forgot about until I started playing the games campaign mode.
The storyline of the game is set in an alternate universe to the normal Hyperdimension franchise and it sees our favourite CPU’s and CPU Candidates attending school, which is known as Gamicademi, alongside humans in order to learn more about them and their lifestyle. Unfortunately for our protagonists the school they are attending will close at the end of the year if not enough students sign-up for the following year, a story which seems oddly familiar to Love Live: School Idol Project, and as such Neptune and Blanc join forces in order to create a zombie themed movie in a bid to draw up interest for the school. However as the story moves on its revealed that a monstorous force is turning the students of the school into actual zombies and it’s up to our heroines to save the day; and this is where the games hack-and-slash styled gameplay comes into effect.
Each part of the game is separated into Scenes, which is another word for Chapter, and Cut, which is of course another way of saying Mission, and each Cut (or mission if you prefer) will see a fight taking place between any one of your chosen characters and a large number zombiefied monsters such as DQN’s. In order to progress the story along each mission must be completed within the target time and surrounding each of these missions is a selection of visual novel styled dialogue; majority of which depicts Blanc expressing how the film should be shot or certain characters portraying their lines of the film.
What’s quite amusing about these visual novel styled scenes, all of which is available in English or Japanese, is that it’s easy to differate between ‘normal conversation’ and ‘acting for the movie’ as the tone of the voice over work (especially in the English Dub) differs slightly depending on the dialogue being spoken. For instance when Blanc is expressing her interests about writing the movie its filled with passion, joy and excitement; but when she is trying to say her lines for the film it seems empty, lifelessly and in some situations as if she is scared of being filmed. Basically it’s interesting to see how far the voice actors will go to highlight that some parts of the game are different to the others; and they do an excellent job of it. Speaking of voice-acting only the ‘main story’ and dialogue on the main menu has been dubbed into English; as special side-stories and the introduction to the multiplayer all play in Japanese even if the English audio is selected. I’m not entirely sure if this is an error in the game or intentional but if you’ve been playing the game in English it is a bit concerning to see a small part appear in Japanese; even if it is only brief.
For context most parts of the campaign have visual novel dialogue wrapped around small segments of gameplay and depending on the characters chosen for that particular mission it can result in a ‘secret dialogue sequence’ being shown; although at the time you may not actually realise it. Unlike Hyperdimension Neptunia: Action Unleashed U the gameplay in this game is ‘very’ short lived with most fights only lasting a handful of minutes but as you progress through the story these battles do become larger and more wide-spread.For instance the fights taking place within the first three scenes (or chapters if you prefer) stick to a very small area of the map but by the fourth scene you will find yourself navigating the entire area in order to find the next target.
Naturally once all monsters have been defeated it sparks the end of the mission and you will be graded upon how quickly, and effectively the mission was completed. To make the game slightly harder a boss fight will appear on the final mission of each chapter and as you progress these will become more difficult to overcome; which is pretty much what you would expect from a game such as this.
Generally MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune Vs Zombies is extremely easy to play as moving the characters and camera angle is done via the analog sticks while attacking is done by pressing the square and triangle buttons. Meanwhile Dashing and Dodging an attack can be achieved by pressing the X button while using a specialised ability can be done by pressing the circle button. In order to use more complex attacks however, such as specialised attacks, EXE attacks or transform into HDD Mode players must hold several buttons as a time.
For instance holding Left Trigger and Pressing Triangle can result in a more powerful special attack being used while holding both Left and Right triggers, along with pressing X, can result in HDD mode being activated. Personally I find it to be too fiddly, especially when it comes to locking on to an enemy with the Left Triger, and complicated for my liking and as a result you may find yourself just mashing buttons as opposed to skilfully planning your attack.
Speaking of battles up to two characters can be chosen to take part in a fight and the number of characters available will increase the further you progress forward with the game. While only two characters can be taken into a fight they can be swapped at anytime during the battle so you are free to swap between the two chosen characters depending on the situation. It may not sound beneficial to the players cause but during later boss fights it really does come in handy as when a character is swapped out that characters health beings to slowly restore and better yet each have their own EXE and Special gauges so you can always save them to deal the ultimate attack. Of course if one character runs out of HP the second character will automatically jump in and to make the game even easier the character which ran out of HP will be revived after a short period of time.
MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune Vs Zombies is a relatively forgiving game; but as you progress through the story mode you will soon realise that it is actually harder than it first led you to believe. Soon enough monsters will start causing more damage and after awhile you will find yourself being defeated within a few hits. To avoid this from happening players must ‘upgrade’ their character by using AP points earned from battle. Unlike traditional exp, which sees character levels increased after each battle, players must use AP points to purchase upgrade stats for their character and in the customisations menu, known as Setup, these can be applied along with alternate outfits, attack and defense upgrade perks and weapon upgrades.
The combination of visiting the shop, purchasing upgrades and equipping them to your chosen characters is important and while it does not specifically state it during the tutorial segments these features will be your key in beating the game. For example the final boss of Chapter five was giving me some difficulty; but upon discovering these ‘upgrades’ I was able to defeat the boss with ease. It is basically traditional RPG methods but spun in a slightly different way and while it does work it is a pretty long-winded-way to go about it.
Personally I found MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune Vs Zombies to be a rather shallow short-lived experience that does not live up to what you would expect from a Hyperdimension title. Sure enough traits of the normal franchise, such as comical banter, cameo references and one liners, are here but from a gameplay stand-point it feels like it is missing a lot of content and it is over too quickly.
Of course MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune Vs Zombies offers more than just an offline campaign mode as also built into the game is an online (and local) multiplayer mode that requires other players to take part. This multiplayer segment of the game, which is a first for the entire Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise, is an extremely nice touch as opposed to the main campaign it sees a team of four characters attempt to clear out a zombie infestation of a single location through numerous mission.
The missions found within this mode differ slightly from the main game and it will see all four players team up to try and stop the onslaught. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to give this multiplayer section a go as no online players could be found, something which I fear may also be the case when the game is officially released, but it does prove to be an interesting addition to the main campaign mode as it means than fans of the franchise can team up and have fun with each other.
The final modes of MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune Vs Zombies are the inclusion of a Gallery and Sound menu whereby all content unlocked through the games campaign mode can be rewatched at your leisure; which is always a welcome addition with a colourful game such as this.
In short MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune Vs Zombies is another fun-loving spin-off of the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise but its lack of gameplay content, clunky controls and unmoving storyline makes this the weakest release of them all. Sure enough Hyperdimension fans will enjoy what it offers and newcomers may even give it a go; but if you were hoping for plenty of hack and slash action spliced together with visual novel dialogue then unfortunately you won’t find it here.
MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune Vs Zombies will be available for the PS Vita as both a digital download and retail cartridge on the 13th May 2016 within the UK and Europe.