Game Review: Neptunia X SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars (Nintendo Switch)

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The worlds of Neptunia and SENRAN KAGURA collide in the cross-over action-RPG Neptunia X SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars; but what can one expect from this ninja adventure on the Nintendo Switch? Let’s take a look and find out!

neptunia-senrankagura-gameicon Title: Neptunia X SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Developer: Compile Heart
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Audio: Japanese
Subtitles: English (White)
Local Players: 1
Online Players: N/A
Install: YES (3.2GB)

Our View:

Developed by Compile Heart, in collaboration with Idea Factory, Tamsoft, Acquire and Marvelous, and published by Idea Factory International, Neptunia X SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars is the cross-over collaboration game that sees the 4 Goddesses of Idea Factory’s Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise mixed with the 4 lead Ninja’s in training from Marvelous SENRAN KAGURA franchise to create a unique Action-RPG spin-off that is both simple and fun.

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Originally released onto the PlayStation 4 in 2021, and now available for the Nintendo Switch in 2022 (and soon to be released on Windows PC in May), Neptunia X SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars takes players to the world of Gamninjustri, a world that sees two rival nations, Heartland and Marvland, and their relevant shinobi fight style, the Compa Style and Honeypa style, fight for supremacy in securing the others nation.

Amusingly the story within Neptunia X SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars isn’t one that sees these two rival nations fight it out, as instead the story is about the two factions coming together to defeat a mysterious new faction; the Steeme Legion. That being said the story does begin with a quick introduction to the world of Gamninjustri and the current state of affairs within its world and helps provide a little bit of context for the characters involved.

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Newcomers to either franchise need not worry about the lore or history, but it certainly has it advantages with subtle hints and references being displayed throughout the games main story, as this is a self-contained story that brings out the unique individuality of each character in it’s own right. For instance Neptune’s “I am the protagonist” personality reigns true, and so does Asaka’s “everyone can be my friend” attitude; but the most amusing (and reoccurring joke) is that of Blanc and her chest size.

Lore and jokes aside the story within Neptunia X SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars sees the ninja of Heartland and Marvland team up to defeat the invading nation of Steeme Legion; a mechanical army of ninja that look to take over the whole land and consume each regions share energy in order to resurrect a demon that was once sealed away in the land.

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As the campaign progresses it splits into two different story points; with one focusing on the Steeme Legion and their conquest of the land as well as the introduction of another fourth nation, the Virtue Nation. The Virtue Nation introduces (much like the Steeme Legion) entirely brand new characters and this section of the story sees the leader of the nation kidnapped and their shinobi, one of which has memory loss, attempt to rescue her after being befriended by the main cast of characters.

The change of story direction keeps the overall storyline fresh and ultimately gives players a bit of variety and a desire to pursue the story further. The storyline of a invading force from another dimension has its merits, but it is something that has been done countless times before; whereas the story of a lord being kidnapped isn’t in itself a new concept it does give the player another reason to pursue forward.

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These storyline elements are presented to us in traditional visual novel style with Japanese audio and (English) subtitles. Unlike the past spin-off title, namely Neptunia Virtual Stars, the character models are presented with traditional 2D artwork and lip movements (like the mainline games), but sadly they do not share depth as those. Firstly the lip movements of the characters do not match what is being said, so at times characters lips could be moving but no voices are being played – which is distracting and immersion breaking. Additionally, unlike past mainline games, there does not seem to be a breathing mechanic where you see the characters bodies move slightly as if they were breathing. Naturally this is a small technical complaint, but when it has been presented in past games it is strange to not see it included here.

In short; the visual novel segements are presented as flat 2D pieces of artwork with mouth movements and occasionally change in posture. These will be played before and after each campaign mission, with each campaign mission taking place as its own chapter. Additional dialogue sequences can be triggered from the Ninchat option from the main menu; of which sees additional context provided for some story elements.

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Storyline aside it is the action RPG combat mechanics where this game begins to shine, as it offers a mixture of traditional hack-and-slash combat with RPG mechanics seen in Cyberdimension Online. Sadly only ten characters are playable, with these becoming unlocked as you progress, with each having a unique fight style. While the limited number of playable characters is disappointing it does mean you are not overwhelmed with deciding on which characters to use and better yet the movesets can be slightly customised as you progress.

The combat in Neptunia X SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars is pretty straight-forward and simple, as each character only has two attack buttons – attack and throw attack. Skill attacks can be activated by holding down the corresponding button and pressing any one of the face buttons – with up to four different skill attacks available. These skill attacks can also be changed as more is unlocked. An ultimate skill can also be activated once the relevant guage has been filled, and these will usually deal large amounts of damage. In addition to the standard combat style each character can also access elemental powers, with their appearance and fight style changing slightly to accommodate this new power.

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It’s a very simple approach but it does allow room for some flexibility and decision making. For instance you can chain three skill attacks together (assuming you have enough skill guage available) and you can even switch out to your reserve character. It is a combat system that really does blend the gameplay styles of Neptunia and SENRAN KAGURA quite nicely together but due to its Action-RPG origins it is not as fast-paced as you might expect, especially on the Nintendo Switch platform which offers lower visuals and performance compared to its PlayStation 4 counterpart.

So how does this combat blend with the story? Once again it is pretty simple. Starting main campaign missions through the world map will take you to that dungeon and before (and after) each dungeon will be dialogue that plays out the story and the reason for you being there. After the said dialogue is played you will then be allowed to explore the dungeon, of which will have enemies of all different types spawning for you to defeat and at the end of the dungeon a boss battle will start. There is some replayablity to these dungeons as well, as item boxes will be located behind hidden or blocked off areas; areas which can only be explored on a second play through of the dungeon. This process will rinse and repeat until the overall story is completed, but there is more left to explore within this game.

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Outside the main story, and accessed through the main menu, players can take part in side-quests, a peach meditation mini-game and customise their character with weapons and gems to boost their overall stats. New side-quests will become added to the shrine as you progress, with additional quests becoming unlocked when you talk to characters through the chat menu.

Unlike traditional side quests these are separate to the main campaign and upon starting a quest you will be instantly transported to the area. It is disappointing that side-quests aren’t merged with the main campaign, so that you can do multiple tasks in one go, but it does mean that you can level up your character(s) by completing side-quests and make the main campaign missions that little bit easier.

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That’s right; each character has a level that can increase with experience gained, of which is earned by defeating enemies in battle. While there is a bar that monitors progress to the next level there is no way of knowing how much experience your character earns in battle.

Why is this experience important? Well each mission and side-quest in the game has a ‘recomended level’ option and if your character is under-levelled it will prove difficult to beat the level. Additionally if you are over levelled the game will throw in more powerful enemies to make your life even more harder.

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Earning experience points will, as mentioned, unlock new skills for your character to use; but there is more than you can customise with your character. Sadly unlike recent Neptunia games (or the entirety of the SENRAN KAGURA franchise) you can not customise the appearance of your character, but you can equip perks (in the form of gems and charms) with the former being upgradable by sacrificing gems.

There are a variety of gems available, with benefits being added including increased health, stronger attack and more experience. Character enhancements aren’t the only addition either as you can also equip your character with different throwing weapons, such as shuriken and ninja blades, with some even having status change effects to make combat a bit more varied.

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The final aspect of Neptunia X SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars is the Peach Meditation Mini-Game. Presumably taking inspiration from the variety of different mini-games in the SENRAN KAGURA franchise this mini-game uses the motion controllers (or analog sticks) of your Nintendo Switch controller to balance a small ball on a white line.

Three different difficulty modes are available and by passing the mini-game you chosen character will earn in-game benefits for a limited time. It’s a simple mini-game, and adds a bit of fan-service to a rather fan-service empty game, but it also has some benefits to the overall game such as increased attack and defence.

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Neptunia X SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars is, generally, a good game on the Nintendo Switch and compared to previous Nintendo Switch entries, such as Super Neptunia RPG and Megadimension Neptunia VII, performs a lot better and feels more comfortable to play in both handheld and tabletop mode. More importantly while there is a noticeable quality (and performance) difference between the PlayStation 4 version the difference is marginal. Sadly while I enjoyed my experience of the game it felt like it could have been better.

The small rosta of characters and the limited functionality they offer (you can not play in non-HDD forms for instance) are obvious complaints, but also the story, as enjoyable as it was, had some rather lacklusture moments that could have been better refined. In hindsight the game feels slightly rushed in some areas with its limited content and small selection, but on the flipside it offers a simplistic action-RPG that won’t take too much of your time and allows fans to experience a story that brings two of the greatest fan-service themed franchises together for a single unified adventure.

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Neptunia X SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars provides fans of Hyperdimension Neptunia and SENRAN KAGURA a unique experience that sees characters from both franchise interact together in an action RPG game while, despite a few complaints, is a pretty solid experience both in gameplay and performance on the Nintendo Switch.

Score: review-stars-4

Neptunia X SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars is now available digitally and physically for the Nintendo Switch via the Nintendo eShop and is also available for the PlayStation 4 and will be available on Steam (for Windows PC) on 11th May 2022.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has produced content for 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 Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.

One Response to Game Review: Neptunia X SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars (Nintendo Switch)

  1. Pingback: Neptunia X SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars Launches on Steam with Launch Discounts | AnimeBlurayUK

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