Cute anime girls breaking the fourth wall and fighting zombies: the game!
Judging from the title and cover of MegaTagmension Blanc+Neptune VS Zombies, you might think that this game is a typical cheesy Japanese title with cute anime girls fighting zombies – and for the most part you’d be right. Looks can be misleading though, because there is more to this game than meets the eye, especially to those unfamiliar to the franchise like myself. I didn’t know exactly what to expect from this game as I have not played previous entries in the Neptunia series, but I can safely say that my time with MegaTagmension Blanc+Neptune VS Zombies was – at the very least – enjoyable.
The game’s story is very weird to describe, but I will do my best to explain without spoiling any events that happen after the beginning of the game. The basic premise is that the beloved school of our dashing main characters is going to be shut down because the number of students applying is lowering due to the declining birthrate of the population. Because of these events, the main characters decide to band together and save the school. This where things get weird and interesting. To save the school, they decide to make a film in the hopes that it will entice others to enroll at the school. Directing this film is the titular character: Blanc. Also – as the title suggests – the film is a zombie film. Now this premise sounds convoluted and a lot of the time it is, but that is what makes it so interesting. This game takes its premise and completely goes wild with it – with constant meta jokes and self aware humor. While the snark can be frequent, there’s enough sincerity in its generic tropes that it isn’t too overbearing. The real joy comes from the interactions of the cast with each other. While these characters do feel like archetypes and tropes, they are endearing, and seeing them interact with each other is always a treat. This is complemented really well by the voice acting which – for an english localisation dub – is pretty solid. Overall, MegaTagmension Blanc+Neptune VS Zombies – with its quirky meta humor – kept me entertained for the hours I put into it. While not groundbreaking, and at times far too snarky, the game’s story has enough charm and humor to outweigh this.
While MegaTagmension Blanc+Neptune VS Zombies could have easily relied solely on its cute moé premise to sell units, luckily the gameplay is solid all around for what you get. Single player is broken into chapters called scenes – fitting the movie theme – with each scene having levels called cuts. These levels are small areas with specific goals – but these usually default to killing all the enemies more often than not. After each level you will receive a rank based on performance and these levels are replayable for a higher score or rewards. These are typical action levels with varying layouts and scenery. For the most part, the scenery and map layout is pretty uninspired and dull, and it doesn’t help that most of the victory conditions for the game are often the same. Despite all this, playing the game is actually very fun. While victory conditions are the same for most levels the way you play is different depending on the characters you play. All the characters in the game’s large roster play differently from each other with varying playstyles and combos to be learned. The story scenes also change depending on the two characters you choose at the start of each level, which adds replay value for those who want to view different scenes. As you play with the varying characters; they level up, gain new equipment, learn more combos, and gain stat points. Characters get progressively more powerful to combat the tougher enemies you fight as you progress through the story. While this growth isn’t massive, it is a noticeable difference from when you start out.
The actual task of killing waves of otaku zombies, robots, and other strange enemies is very satisfying for the most part. The basic actions are dash, jump, light attack, and heavy attack, with everything building off those actions. All these actions and more advanced techniques function very smoothly, with no clunkiness or lag found when executing them, which is complimented by a stable frame rate and decent character models. The varying characters’ different combat styles and moves also help diversify the combat. While enemies become more difficult, the goal of killing everything on screen stays the same, so variation definitely helps things from getting repetitive. While I don’t have any real complaints about combat, the auto lock camera does sometimes have weird placement when your character’s back is facing a wall. I feel that I should mention multiplayer gameplay, but unfortunately I couldn’t get into a game with people without crashes or bugs – so for now it’s unplayable. Even though the enemy’s AI isn’t great, the level design is lackluster, and the victory conditions are the same throughout, for the most part the game’s good qualities overshadow the less than stellar things I mentioned earlier. Overall, the combat and varied characters made the game really fun and I enjoyed replaying levels with different characters just to see what can be accomplished.
The graphics are solid, especially in the character design. A lot of the characters are tropes and archetypes, but since MegaTagmension Blanc+Neptune VS Zombies is inherently satirical about its own cliches – that isn’t a bad thing. Also, the character’s in game models are a good representation of the art shown in cutscenes, so there’s no jarring differences there. Characters’ in game models can also be customized further with unlockable weapons, clothing, and accessories. However, other than weapons – all of these things are purely for aesthetic value. Enemy types are also designed well, with varying enemies ranging from the titular zombies to giant robots. Unfortunately, the UI and levels are pretty lackluster to look at. They function okay and look average but that’s about it. The game’s soundtrack fits really well with the pace and tone of the game, while no track stands out too much – the game provides enough cute electro pop and adrenaline-inducing ambiance in combat to enhance the playing experience. Overall, the presentation of MegaTagmension Blanc+Neptune VS Zombies is oozing with charm and makes up for lack of polish in the UI and levels.
I quite enjoyed my time with MegaTagmension Blanc+Neptune VS Zombies. The game lacks polish in some visual and level elements but that’s my only real complaint. The meta humor of the story, large character roster, and smooth action gameplay made me enjoy the game more than I thought I would. I can only imagine the real deal breaker for people would be the current broken multiplayer and the overall anime girl moé presentation. While I don’t believe that this game will convince people to change their minds about the Neptunia series of games, I do think this particular game is an overall fun experience, and would recommend to those who are into this genre or enjoy the particular humor of the game.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: Idea Factory International ; Developer: IDEA FACTORY, COMPILE HEART, TAMSOFT; Players: 1 ; Released: October, 2016 ; MSRP: $29.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.