When I went to college, not once did I have to gather a group of friends and face evil forces. This is extra disappointing considering it took me four and a half years to graduate, and during that long slog never did I gain magical powers, nor did I ever get to choose between a sword, shield, or spear before a crazy on-the-quad battle. If I’m basing my life experiences on the events from Hyperdimension Neptunia games (and I very much am), it appears I missed out on a ripe chance to fight zombies and bond with my classmates.
MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies is a zombie invasion, film school project, and hack and slash thriller rolled into one tight package. MTB+NVZ stars Blanc, a brooding and ambitious young woman, and Neptune, the bubbly central character of the Neptunia universe. Faster and more action packed than the series’ RPG titles, MTB+NVZ is a much improved game over any other I’ve played in the series.
MTB+NVZ is an action game with the full litany of RPG leveling and character building available. The game is structured so that cutscenes are followed by battles, with specific clear conditions for each. With very little else happening, this saves a little bit of time, but does suffer from repetition issues.
This is the same structure as the series’ RPG titles, which I will be comparing to quite a bit, and it’s the first example of how it works better. Now, cutscenes aren’t followed by long jaunts through a dungeon seeking random encounters. Instead, all of the enemies are in the dungeon itself, and you attack them freely and at will.
Battles are quick and usually painless, with a horde of enemies coming at you in semi-waves. You choose two characters from a large list of fighters, and they fight one at a time against the enemies, with one tagging in if the other is defeated. Two support characters provide different buffs when a power up meter is filled. Learning combos is important, but never feels any better than random button mashing.
The battles are fun, and I love that there is no more wandering around just to get into battles. Unfortunately, even when the map is large, the game fails to take advantage of space. You’ll see the mini-map with long corridors and connecting paths, but all of the action will take place on one central space, neglecting all the rest.
There is a large cast of characters, and you are able to make any duo you want before each battle. This is really great, because it means you’ll be able to enjoy each level with a different style of fighting, and while the hack and slash nature of the game doesn’t lend to variety that well, there is a distinct feel to each fighter. The RPG titles in the series tend to neglect a variety of characters due to party restraints, and this eliminates that problem.
Characters can be modified with clothing, hair, and other accessories, and the game does come pre-loaded with a litany of “fan service” clothing options, but they tend to ignore that in the game proper, meaning you can avoid it altogether, if that’s not your thing. The game also gives you all of the RPG character building options, with weapon upgrade slots, attribute points, and a way to power up and expand possible combos.
Fighting together bonds characters together as you progress, making them each stronger when fighting together. The cutscenes before each battle are supposed to be different depending on your character selection, though, in practice, I’ve found that mostly they are the same, just with different characters speaking.
In MTB+NVZ, the story goes that Blanc and Neptune, along with Blanc’s two sisters Rom and Ram, are setting up to film a Zombie invasion movie at their school. Coincidentally, an actual zombie invasion breaks out on campus. The girls decide to use the real invasion to save money on extras, makeup, and other costs instead filming their battles against the zombies as scenes for the movie. This plays into the aforementioned cutscene choices, staging your movie as you play.
The game overcomes a ton of the pacing issues from the RPG titles in the series. That said, the game does still tend to drag, and the cutscenes are graphic novel style, leaving the player to read text on a static background. The game is incredibly easy, and is designed to give you more busy work than substantive challenges. These issues are minor considering the game, but they do tend to limit the time you’ll spending playing at once. The replay value is very high despite this, and the challenge picks up as you progress.
The game is colorful and detailed, graphically speaking, and the character design is creative and fun. Enemies are even better envisioned and created, with cartoonish features and inventive forms of attack. Music is always great in Neptunia games and this one is no exception. I’d compare some of these tracks to good Sonic the Hedgehog music (i.e. Green Hill Zone), sharing that same fast-paced feel.