It is, of course, part of a broader game that is constantly poking fun at, not only itself, but the entire games industry. One of the tragedies of modern gaming, so bred as we are to appreciate the ultraviolent, ultraserious tone of the Skyrims and Call of Duties of the world, is that gamers have largely forgotten how to sit back and laugh with a game. It’s either the object of derision, or something to take seriously. It’s a discussion for another time, but that’s the real problem facing JRPGs now, the industry has left the likes of Nippon Ichi, Gust and Idea Factory behind because it’s forgotten that games can be cheerful, stupid fun, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The big threat facing the world is, essentially, piracy, and the organisations that facilitate that. Rather than be heavy handed on the moralising (which is just as well, since the game has rather loose morals itself), Neptunia is just having a bit of fun with the theme. Anonymous is a recurring faceless villain that you’ll complete quests to quiet, the game’s monsters are riffs on everything from Space Invaders and Pac Man ghosts to Square Enix’s Dragon Quest Slime monsters. There’s even a “Twitter” (called “Chirper” in the game), that you can use to find bits of juicy information and rumours. And just like Twitter, it takes a lot of wading through crap to get to the good bits of information.
So there’s a nice system there that rewards some strategic thought without being too complex. Battles do sit a little on the easy side, especially if you spend the time doing all of the side quests, which will level your party beyond the capabilities of even the boss fights. Side quests are a nice way of wrapping up the traditional JRPG grinding structure by giving it a bit of a purpose, but when the side quests don’t amount to more than “kill x enemy” or “collect y goods,” there’s not much variety there.
It’s a game of excesses; excess colour, humour, strangeness, content and more underwear than you’ll see in the rest of the games you’ll play this year combined. Cut through that excess and there is a really good, albeit traditional JRPG there, and it’s a pity that many will look at the game once before dismissing it, because it’s actually a lot of fun.
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