Game Review: Megadimension Neptunia VII (Nintendo Switch)

Originally released onto the PlayStation 4 in 2016, before being released a few months later onto Windows PC, the fourth mainline entry into the Neptunia franchise, known as Megadimension Neptunia VII, makes its way to the Nintendo Switch as a digital download on the Nintendo eShop. Has the four years since its original release sparked new life into this aging JRPG, or does it suffer from performance issues like other ports of Idea Factory International titles? Let’s take a closer look and find out.

Title: Megadimension Neptunia VII
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Developer: Compile Heart
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Audio: English & Japanese
Subtitles: English (White)
Local Players: 1
Online Players: N/A
Install: YES (8GB)

Our View:

Developed by Compile Heart, with support from Ghostlight Games, and published worldwide digitally by Idea Factory International onto the Nintendo eShop, this Nintendo Switch port of the notable JPRG dimension hopping franchise once again sees our favourite CPU and CPU Candidates in a familiar story of saving Gamindustri from a new type of threat. Those familiar with the PS4 or Windows PC version of the game will already be familiar with the story on offer and how it plays; but for the newcomers out there let us provide an insight into what to expect.

Unlike past Neptunia games, of which see a single storyline spread across forty or so hours worth of gameplay, the story within this game is presented across three story arcs that blend together to deliver the true storyline of the game. This story being the threat of the four CPU goddesses being overthrown from there high-ranking positions during the CPU Shift Period.

The CPU Shift Period is a time whereby the goddesses of the four great nations, known as Planeptune, Lastation, Leanbox and Lowee, as well as other potential candidates, perform various tasks in order to win over the hearts of their respective nations citizens and in turn receive their share energy. This Shift Period is an important time for the four nations, especially CPU and CPU Candidates which rely on share energy, as this acts as the source of power for the CPU Goddesses and CPU Candidates. Basically no share energy, no power.

Naturally for Noire, the CPU Goddess of Lastation, Blanc, the CPU Goddess of Lowee, and Vert, the CPU Goddess of Leanbox, performing these daily tasks in helping the citizens and increasing their share energy is a given; but for Neptune, the CPU goddess of Planeptune, she opts to goof off and play videogames. Alas, this is where the story of Megadimension Neptunia VII begins and it sees Neptune, and her younger sister, CPU Candidate Nepgear, transported to an alternative dimension that is filled with destruction and death after discovering an old games console.

This begins the first of three story arcs within Megadimension Neptunia VII and it sees Neptune and Nepgear assist the sole CPU survivor, Uzume, with her quest of defeating Giant enemies in an attempt to save her nation from destruction. During this first story arc of the game we are introduced to familiar characters in the Neptunia franchise, such as Arfoire, and teased the introduction of new characters that will pose a threat later on. More importantly it acts as an introduction to Uzume as well as the prospect of even more dimensions existing in the universe.

With the completion of the first arc, known as Zerodimension Neptunia Z: Twilight of the Desperate, players will be swiftly moved onto the second arc, Hyperdimension Neptunia G: The Golden Leaders. This second arc not only introduces players to the selection of new characters that are here to rival the current nations leaders, but also allows players to re-familiarise themselves with the current selection of goddesses and their own quirks. Naturally the completion of this arc leads players on to the third arc that unfolds into the true ending; if the requirements are met of course.

Basically the story within Megadimension Neptunia VII is set up to be three stories that arc together to deliver a complete story and while this works in theory it does mean sitting through hours of dialogue without a clear understanding of the story being told. As an example near the completion of the first arc the story becomes a bit vague, slightly tedious and a little boring to play; Naturally sitting through this portion will open up the next segment of the game and thus will once again spark your interest in the story that is unfolding.

It is this sluggish approach to the games story that makes Megadimension Neptunia VII a chore to play, and that’s without exploring the games traditional RPG mechanics, but the Neptunia franchise has always been more than just the story that is being told. Regardless of the adventure, and the story being presented to us, the enjoyment from the franchise comes from the exceptionally well written – and localised – text that helps bring these characters to life. Dialogue moments in JRPG titles usually drone on with useless banter and while this game is no different it is how the dialogue portrays the characters, their personalities, and their objectives that makes this stand out above others.

Compared to most JRPG titles the visual novel dialogue moments always manage to bring a smile to my face, and even four years after the original release it still makes me smile; especially the banter Neptune has with other characters. As with the original, and with other games in the franchise, the story is presented through traditional visual novel dialogue scenes with crisp clean readable text and just like the original release the game is playable with English and Japanese audio options. Sadly not ever dialogue sequence is voiced, but the key storyline elements are voiced in the respective languages.

Naturally visual novel dialogue scenes work exceptionally well on handheld devices, and in recent years we have seen a string of titles developed and released for the Nintendo Switch platform, and I am glad to see that these visual novel scenes in Megadimension Neptunia VII retain the high quality you would expect. It seems these scenes are animated to 60FPS (or at least it looks like it) and only on the odd occasion will you see a character ‘judder’ into frame as it loads the next dialogue sequence. This is to be expected from a port, although I have seen worse in other visual novels developed entirely for the platform.

Regardless of how the story is portrayed to the player Megadimension Neptunia VII is your traditional turn-based JPRG experience with key locations, such as event sequences and dungeons, discoverable through a world map. Dungeons are found as on unlockable points on a map and walking between destinations on the map can also activate random battles. While exploring a dungeon battles will start when walking into an enemy. Naturally enemies can surprise attack you, but one issue I noticed is that surprise attack battles can even activate when walking in to them.

When it comes to combat options during a battle then players can use ‘Standard’ or ‘Skill’ type attacks with both lists being available for customisation when new attacks are learned. For example at the start of the game only a traditional attack can be used, of which will attack three times in succession, but as you progress you can add different types of attacks – some of which come with additional effects such as a flame attack. Skill attacks meanwhile use SP, which disappointingly does not refill automatically, and these can deal devastating damage to your opponent.

Outside of regular attacks and skill attacks players will find the Tri Burst ability as well as HDD Transformation. Both Tri Burst and HDD Transformation will use the EX Guage but while the Tri Burst Attack does large damage in a single attack HDD Transformation will rise your attack and defensive stats for a long period of time (as well as display your character in her HDD form). Unlike standard attacks these cannot be interchanged or customised; but they do bring balance to difficult fights if used correctly.

Aside from the different attack styles available combat is played in turns and players can freely move characters around a small area with a gauge dictating how far your selected character can move in the area. In addition depending on the equipped equipment the character movement will vary on the distance that players can move and attack. For instance the base weapons can only attack a short distance in front, but later equipped weapons can be attack in lines or across larger distances. This is in addition to weapons and equipment offering stat boosts, such as increased attack and defensive stats.

Naturally as this a JPRG experience a wide variety of weapon customisation and enhancement is available, along with battle formation and character links for follow-up styled attacks, but weapons and accessories can be found through dungeon exploration and in the in-game shop located at the base on the world map. At first character customisation is frustratingly restricted, but as the game world expands more options will become available. Pretty much everything you would come to expect from a Neptunia RPG game, and in turn a typical JPRG, is here and it works as intended; if not a little frustrating at times.

Megadimension Neptunia VII may be considered as the fourth mainline game, but newcomers can easily pick-up and enjoy what this game has to offer and, to some, may act as a nice starting point into the franchise. That aside the base game still suffers from the same issues as the original PlayStation 4 version and then expands upon them with new issues brought about in this Nintendo Switch version.

For instance the difficulty curve still continues to sharply rises after a mere two hours of gamplay and frustratingly continues to do so at regular intervals. Those unprepared will ultimately meet there demise so saving regularly, and stocking up on recovery items, is advised. This sharp increase in difficulty greatly reduces the fun factor of the game and thanks to the archaic way of saving means that you may find yourself dying and replaying large portions of a dungeon. This high difficult spike also instantly makes it a chore for required grinding sessions, and due to the way the game plays – by not restoring HP and SP at level ups or at save locations in dungeon and having limited recovery items available – makes the experience even more tedious.

To some this may be considered part of this games JRPG heritage, but to newcomers or those wishing to enjoy the story it can be an off-putting experience. The same can also be applied to the story which, as fun as it can be, certainly has its low points that turns a fun experience into a rather dull one. It is a ‘grind your teeth and bare with it’ situation as once you passed the hurdle of difficult monsters and tedious story points you’ll eventually open yourself up to something fun and entertaining.

These were also the same issues I had with the PlayStation 4 (and Windows PC) version of the game, and issues I had completely forgotten about, but I am now once again reminded. Fortunately, thanks to the Nintendo Switch’s portable nature, and quick access to standby mode, pursuing through these portions of the game has become less tedious than on other platforms which means my overall enjoyment of the game is slightly higher than on preivous platforms. Either I am just a glutton for punishment or this type of grinding style is suited to the Nintendo Switch’s pick-up and play in short bursts style of gaming.

Of course while this Nintendo Switch port does elevate some of the issues I had with the game on other platforms it does bring in new issues exclusively to this version of the game. Firstly, as with Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force and Arc of Alchemist, the “out of the box” game does have glaring performance issues that include questionable frame-rates, long loading times between segments and low quality visuals compared to the original version of the game. Running through a dungeon, or even battling, felt sluggish, slow and unresponsive which combined with the poor visuals meant it did not deliver the type of Neptunia experience I had in mind on the Nintendo Switch. The issues were the same regardless of being in docked or handheld mode.

Fortunately most of these issues can be addressed by changing visual settings, such as shadow textures and lightning effects, in the options menu. By disabling all of these graphical settings the game will not only run at a higher frame-rate, but loading times will also be improved greatly. The caveat is that the visuals take a slight decrease in quality, but considering they were not that great to begin with it is a recommended suggestion from me to adjust the settings; especially if you prefer consistent frame-rate and quick(er) loading times.

Despite a few performance issues, and an aging style of JPRG gameplay, Megadimension Neptunia VII on the Nintendo Switch delivers a positive experience to both newcomers and fans alike.

Score: review-stars-4

Megadimension Neptunia VII is now available digitally for the Nintendo Switch via the Nintendo eShop. A physical limited print run is available from Limited Run Games. Megadimension Neptunia VII is also available for the PlayStation 4, physically and digitally, as well as digitally for Windows PC.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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