Bite-Sized Shooter, NepNep Flavoring
It’s fairly common practice for games to at least try to branch off into different genres to keep things fresh. Mario has RPG’s, racing, tennis, and more under his belt. Mega Man has adventure and soccer, and even the Senran Kagura series is taking a stab at pinball this summer. Being a game universe centered around the games industry and related subjects, it’s only relative that the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise would branch off into different genres of games as well. Originally starting as an RPG series, Neptunia has forayed into idol-raising/dancing sims, card battle games, and musou-style games (one of which I personally reviewed a long time ago here). The Neptunia universe is no stranger to trying something different, and Neptunia Shooter is yet another spinoff from the folks at Idea Factory International.
Your prescription is PAIN
Despite the cute exterior, Neptunia Shooter hides a punishing difficulty within.
There’s really not much to say about Neptunia Shooter because at its core it’s an incredibly small game (literally too – it’s only 24MB). The game consists of five of the Neptunia girls flying through space shooting down various iterations of the Dogoo enemy. You start the game with Neptunia and encounter the other girls as bosses at the end of each level. Defeating them adds them to your team, where you can switch to them on the fly to utilize their unique attacks to fend off the increasingly difficult hordes of Dogoos. All told, you can beat the game’s six levels in around ten minutes total if you manage to make it to the end.
The key word in that previous paragraph is “IF”. Neptunia Shooter may be a rather unassuming game that almost feels like a mini-game as part of a larger title, but it is actually pretty tough! I’ve played a number of shooters in my day. From Gradius to R-Type, Blazing Star to Aero Fighters, and even oddball games like Ai Cho Aniki; I’ve played quite a few. Neptunia Shooter starts off easily enough but when you get past the first two stages the game ramps up in difficulty substantially. You have a limited amount of lives in the game and can earn more by scoring enough points. Getting hit results in a lost life. Lose them all, and the game is over. You have to start all over from the beginning of Stage 1.
Hope you got quick reflexes
Neptunia’s controls definitely help with managing storms of bullets coming your way
Thankfully, despite the difficulty, Neptunia Shooter is incredibly fun to play. The enemy patterns are engaging and keep you on your toes. The mechanics of unlocking characters and utilizing their attacks basically equates to switching between weapons in other shooters. Knowing which weapons to use to take out each incoming wave of enemies is tantamount to making it through a level with your lives intact. Bullet patterns are also tension-filled, with later enemies making the game into a bullet hell-esque nightmare. Thankfully your hitbox is pretty small despite your sprite taking up a decent amount of real estate. The controls in Neptunia Shooter are very tight, thankfully. Navigating the hordes of enemies and bullets is doable, so long as you have the skill to do so.
A N G E R Y DOGOO (But also cute)
Neptunia Shooter dials up the charm with bright, colorful sprites and 8-bit visuals
The graphics and music in Neptunia Shooter set the mood as playing a simple 8-bit shooter very well, even going so far as to present the game in 4:3 aspect ratio. The character sprites are simple but identifiable. Neptune and all the other girls resemble their primary game counterparts well, and the music is extremely catchy. The game seems to use an NES sound font, and the music is composed very well. Listening to the songs kind of reminded me of some tunes I’ve heard from the likes of Chibi Tech and other chiptune artists. One thing to note though is this game is hilariously loud for some reason. Playing on my laptop I had to turn down my speaker to around 25% volume to get a comfortable listening level going. Headphone users, consider yourselves warned.
Being a shooter – and a fairly short one at that – Neptunia Shooter’s core strengths lie in going for a high score as many games of old were built on. There are a number of achievements available to test your skills on. Aside from clearing each stage there are also score based achievements. For the particularly hardcore there are also damage based ones as well. Clearing the game in 5,3,1 and zero hits should provide plenty of challenge for the avid shooter fan to keep coming back.
Though the game is small, Neptunia Shooter offers up a decent and well-built shooting experience at a good price. It may have initially started off as an April Fool’s joke, but I’m glad it became a reality. The brunt of the content may be behind repeated plays aiming to better your score and top leaderboards, but there is still a challenging game hiding beneath this cute, bite-sized package’s exterior. If you have 5 bucks to spare and really love shooters this should prove to be a good little time sink for you.
Final Verdict: 3.5 / 5
Available on: PC (Reviewed) ; Publisher: Idea Factory International ; Developer: Idea Factory International ; Players: 1 ; Released: May 21st, 2019; ESRB: Not Rated ; MSRP: $4.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of Neptunia Shooter given to Hey Poor Player by the Publisher.