Parody is one of the easiest forms of comedy to understand. You take an existing cliché, trope or caricature and make a satiric mockery of it. With the amount of redundancy in the video game industry, the Neptunia series has lots of material to work with, which leads me to the question of why it doesn’t? Like stopping before the punch line, if you make a parody game that brings up all the corny and repetitive aspects that tar gaming without actually doing anything humourous or fun with them you literally end up being exactly what you were trying to make fun of to begin with.
A linear game that scatters point a, b, c and d around the map is still a linear game. Making a sidequest poking fun at do x of y quests; first off, doesn’t that belong more in your MMO spin off? Secondly- not really a parody when your own game is packed with pointless sidequests with no comedic payoffs.
There is a main storyline- villains want to destroy all 3d games, you’re stuck in 2d, and everyone in the main Nep Nep crew has lost their memories (of course). Overall, the premise is perfectly fine, but not enough is done with it; to me, I’d expect if they were going to make a platformer which, at my best guess, combines Paper Mario and Valkryie Profile- they’d have some humour around it, but they almost seem to have forgotten aside from the plot itself what they are trying to parody to begin with.
But it’s not all bad- though I’d argue the central focus of the game is pretty badly hamstringed, there are some bright spots. I love the artistic style which captures much of the vibrant backdrops of games like Legend of Mana, though not quite coming close to the variety. It’s heavily voiced, though that may be a double edged sword as even as an anime fan some of the exploration and battle voices get annoying quickly.
Platforming and exploration controls are fine, but there’s nothing interesting to find, sidequests are just as tedious as they are in MMOs but in this case there’s really no need for them to act as filler. Combat is functional, with the four goddesses having an ability assigned to each button, which you can rotate provided an enemy isn’t attacking. The ability queuing is annoying to use though. If an enemy attacks, you have to wait, which is fine- and once they’re done, you can say have a heal and an attack go off, or you can rotate three times. You can’t use an ability and then rotate though, and it makes battles feel like you’re being jerked back and forth between being able to do nothing at all and having to do everything at once.
While the game looks very charming and has a decent combat system, the inability to parody the type of game they’re parodying, and the lack of creativity in the game’s humour end up being pretty massive black marks. While decent, I don’t even think diehard fans of the game should pick this up at full price.