I’m a huge sucker for anything Neptunia related, it’s a series that does so well in its story execution for being so carefree and uncommitted to its own adventures thanks to its witty, lazy and lovable characters that more often than not, I just feel really bad that the baddies are often so utterly disrespected and disregarded as the protagonists continue on in an endless ramble with no end in sight. The regular fourth-wall breaking antics also help break the ice of the more serious RPGs but it’s also a series that has its share of ups and downs due to the multitude of genres it tries to break out on. The more traditional turn-based RPGs are honestly fun and well thought out while others turn out bland and simplistic to say the least. Now with SENRAN KAGURA which is more commonly known for its eye-catching plot (if you know what I mean) in the mix, I was worried and excited at the same time when it was first revealed. So let’s break it down slowly… okay?
There’s pretty much no rhyme or reason for these franchises to clash into one spin-off title but just like Neptunia and SENRAN KAGURA’s past titles, there wasn’t any reason to go into a pinball game or a shooter either. So finding any sort of reasoning behind what kind of title or genre gets brought to the chopping block is a huge shot in the dark for its fans. Now if you’re familiar with Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed, it’s a game that pretty much felt like a SENRAN KAGURA title without the SENRAN KAGURA name in its title. It brands the same type of hack n’ slash combat while also having a sort of dress break mechanic more commonly found in the SENRAN KAGURA series. Meanwhile, Neptunia x SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars doesn’t particularly share the same sentiment as Action Unleashed. But instead, it follows a more tamed approach to its core mechanics.
Rather than having a more eye-catchy feature of the Ninpo of Outfit Tearing, Ninja Wars focuses more of its assets to the art of gameplay while also having a little bit of the after-shower peach ball balancing antics. The hack n’ slash combat of Ninja Wars doesn’t particularly feel as fluid though which is a bit of a shame considering how well SENRAN KAGURA handles the genre with its fast and frenetic combat. Instead, Ninja Wars has this sort of delayed action executions when it comes to its usage of Ninja Arts so you end up having to notice a brief pause before a ninja art can be executed. It’s a bit of a nitpick but it’s noticeable enough to keep me perplexed as to why that’s a thing in the first place. Your toons of goddesses and ninjas however does follow through in a neat and a more strategical combat approach where enemies aren’t complete ragdolls to your attacks so having a sense of when to melee, use shurikens, change partners or block and evade can be the difference to the outcome of battles. It’s definitely something that couldn’t be called a re-skinned SENRAN KAGURA title by name but at times I feel like it would’ve been better if it had more of that certain flow of combat.
On the other hand, its core campaign is as simple as it gets… you have a dimension called Gamninjustri where all manner of ninjas gather and different nations such as the warring states of Heartland and Marveland are situated. You then get introduced to an organization called Steeme Legion led by Yoh Gamer who started to invade the nations with her mechanical ninja army. Thus, the four Ninja Goddesses led by Purple Heart seek an alliance with Marveland’s four Honeypa Shinobi to rid of Steeme Legion and their plans.
But going back to Ninja Wars’ gameplay elements, the game pretty much feels like a numbers game where you gain more damage to enemies the more you level up which makes complete sense however the difficulty spike ramps up tenfold if you’re trying to skip optional side quests and only go through the main objectives just like a regular gamer would. So in a way, you’re kind of forced into these optional objectives to gain levels and items just to mask the game’s length which isn’t a lot to be honest considering that even the cutscenes and endless banter between the cast aren’t as long as previous instalments either.
However, gaining levels does let you unlock new ninja arts for your characters that you can use in battle or unlock new slots for your spirit gems which activate new effects to customize how your character plays in battle. It’s a system that does its intended purpose for customizability so spending the time to play around with these elements does provide you with a deeper understanding of how your character should act to take advantage of these effects like gaining back a portion of health as you kill enemies or being able to deal more damage using Ninja Arts to name a few.
Visually, the game’s environment does offer very little in the way of eye-catchy structures to make the slog between rooms and corridors a bit less bland and uninteresting. Enemy types and objectives are also often more of the same no matter how far you are into the game’s narrative which hurts the entire game to make it worthwhile for longer periods. I, myself, often find the need to take a break from playing a chapter or two just because of this reason so it kind of begs the question as to how far a more casual gamer can take before they’ve had enough? Character models and their animations when it comes to attacks and ninja arts does offer some visual flair to keep the game from being a completely bland experience though. And that’s pretty much the only saving grace to its visuals when boss battles aren’t particularly that interesting either.
In conclusion, Neptunia x SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars is a game that didn’t shake up the genre nor does it need to do so. There’s definitely a lot of improvements that could make the game a much better experience especially with how the fluidity of combat goes or how it needs a much better pacing with its difficulty scaling. But in the end, Ninja Wars is one that as a fan of both franchises, is something that I would still enjoy moderately to the point of just playing it for its narrative antics despite it being a little bit tame for what I am more accustomed with in previous entries for a Neptunia title. Is it worth buying full price? Most definitely not, but I wouldn’t stop anyone from getting it regardless.
Publisher: Idea Factory
Developers: Tamsoft, Compile Heart
Platform: PlayStation 4
Grab your copy here – https://ideafintl.com/neptunia-senran-ninja-wars/
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