MegaTagmension Blanc+Neptune vs. Zombies PC Review
There’s a joke to be made about zombies being added to the Neptunia franchise, an undying JRPG series that continues to be released on consoles and computers with ceaseless frequency. In fact, that joke may have already been made when MegaTagmension Blanc+Neptune vs Zombies originally debut on the Playstation Vita (truly the personification of an undead console) earlier this year. Now available on PC like every other Neptunia game, how does this action spin-off fare with a higher resolution and framerate? Not that differently, to be honest.
The plot of MegaTagmension is yet another non-canon scenario where Neptune and the other Goddesses are students attending a Japanese high school. In an attempt to bolster the declining population of students (if this sounds suspiciously like commentary regarding Japan’s declining birthrate, it’s best not to think about it too hard), Neptune has started a film club along with Blanc’s younger sisters, with plans to shoot an exciting zombie movie to raise the school’s popularity. Despite her reservations, Blanc is eager to act as scriptwriter for the zombie flick, and is only further motivated once it turns out that actual zombies are attacking the school. Eventually the other characters get involved, including Noire, Vert, Nepgear and a few new additions to the expanding roster of moe girls, and they all display their trademark comedic banter despite the looming swarm of undead literally at their doorstep.
If anyone out there hasn’t grown tired of said banter, MegaTagmension does add a unique collectible in the form of cutscenes: when forming a team of two characters, certain pairings during certain missions will yield exclusive dialog between the two characters before the mission starts. These unlockable moments serve no purpose to the main narrative or the gameplay, but it’s a neat incentive for extra fanservice that few other games explore. There are also the requisite number of unlockable outfits (and for those select fans who will undoubtedly be pleased that the battle-damaged, underwear-revealing outfits are free and available right from the start…don’t care who you are, just keep it to yourselves), but be prepared to do lots of grinding in order to afford it all. It isn’t cheap dressing up your favorite character, but fortunately there’s no shortage of missions to take part in to earn the extra coin.
Speaking of which, MegaTagmension is the second Neptunia game to forego its JRPG roots in favor of an arena-style beat-em-up. Similar to Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed, MegaTagmension has players select two characters at a time to take part in a Musou-inspired action game, where the goal is to take out a certain number of enemies (and usually a boss or two) before time runs out. Naturally this results in dozens of fodder enemies filling the screen, followed by one or two that put up more of a fight. Being a team consisting of Goddesses, CPU Candidates, and equally-strong high school anime girls, the characters possess more than an adequate amount of abilities to fend off the zombie hordes, from combo attacks to launchers to transformations and team-up attacks. All of these moves are instantly activated with the right button combinations, but the game doesn’t really take the time to let players get the hang of them: whereas Neptunia U displayed what a button combination did before activating it, MegaTagmension keeps that information tucked away at a help screen that is almost as cumbersome to bring up as it is to actually perform the ability.
Combat is fast-paced and fluid, sporting impressive animations for a Vita game, and now displaying a boost in resolution and framerate from its jump to PC. Unfortunately, the gorgeous visuals and crazy combos are sorely undermined by how brief each mission is: many of the encounters barely last five minutes, ending just before players can get into their button mashing groove. This is further exasperated by the loading between missions, which hasn’t gotten any faster compared to the Vita version. The PC version is also victim to a few crashes and glitches that haven’t been fixed at the time of this review, requiring some of the usual file-editing workarounds that are all too common in PC ports of Japanese games.
Simply put, MegaTagmension Blanc+Neptune vs Zombies is a contradictory case of being too fast-paced to practice with its mechanics, and too long before the missions reach a comfortable length. There is a metric ton of unlockables and modes (including online Monster Hunter-inspired soirées against massive bosses), which will once again be appreciated the most by longtime fans of the series (or anyone invested in obtaining all of the various states of dress…or un-dress…available for all of the anime ladies presented here), but the small-yet-plentiful amount of obstacles that get in the way of the action makes everything feel like an extra chore compared to other games sharing the same brand low calorie-yet-addictive blend of character action.