Review: MegaTagmension Blanc+Neptune VS Zombies (PlayStation Vita)
- Release Date (NA): May 10, 2016
- Release Date (EU): May 13, 2016
- Release Date (JP): October 15, 2015
- Publisher: Idea Factory
- Developer: Compile Heart, Tamsoft
- Genres: JRPG
- ESRB Rating: Teen
- PEGI Rating: Twelve years and older
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
Idea Factory’s satirical and wacky series based on console wars, Hyperdimension Neptunia, has had it’s fair share of spin-off titles, venturing into quite a few different genres throughout the years. This is one of them. Megatagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies (From here on out, it will be referred to as MB+NVZ) is a hack-and-slash game developed by Tamsoft, notable for their work on the Senran Kagura series and 2015’s Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed.
This variation to the Neptunia universe starts off with the main characters attending Gameacadmi High School, where they try to blend in with the regular students in order to get a better understanding of humans. But the school is in danger of closing down due to low enrolment, so it’s up to our heroes to save Gameacademi! How, you might ask? By recruiting girls to join their film club and shoot a low-budget zombie movie of course! Things get even wackier, though, when an actual zombie outbreak occurs on campus, and the club decides to use that to their advantage to add more “realism” to the movie. The plot to MB+NVZ is ridiculous, and the game takes every opportunity to lampshade and poke fun at itself. Jokes and references to video game and movie tropes are in full force here, and while it’s cheesy, the game manages to come off as charming with its attempts at humor.
The main story is fairly short, only requiring a few hours of playtime in order to complete it. Each stage has a 30-60 minute time limit, but you’ll only ever need about 3 minutes to clear out all of the enemies. The game for the most part lacks challenge. Unless you go into levels with specifically low leveled characters, it’s extremely easy to win. The parts of the game I found to be the most exciting were moments where I was severely underleveled, making boss fights much more intense. After progressing through a few chapters, it was apparent that simply mashing the buttons to attack the basic enemies and storing up super attacks to use on the stage boss was an unbeatable formula. Should grinding ever be a necessity, replaying the same 17 second segment of a stage repeatedly will level up everyone in a fairly short manner.
In terms of gameplay, you have the traditional weak and strong attacks that can chain into combos, assorted super attacks, and a useful dodge and guard function. At the bottom of the screen is a meter called the EXE Drive, which builds up as you defeat enemies. Once it’s filled to 50%, you can transform into a more powerful form that deals greater damage to foes, or you can unleash an ultra powerful special attack that devastates everything on the battlefield.
There are 14 playable characters to choose from, each from the Neptunia series, including newcomer Tamsoft, whose character is a reference to the developer of the game! Each of the characters control uniquely from one another and are fun to play as. They each have pros and cons; heavier weapon users like Blanc and Vert do massive amounts of damage, but will leave you open to counter-attacks if you don’t manage to guard at the right time. Sword users like Neptune and Nepgear are able to attack and dodge quickly, but aren’t as defensive as others. You also have some characters with short range and long range attacks, so the game gives players some great options for finding which control scheme best fits their playstyle.
MB+NVZ allows for a nice amount of character customization outside of battle. Hair color can be changed, accessories can be attached, and collecting enough items dropped by enemies will let you unlock different outfits for each character. The fanservice-y clothes from Hyperdimension Neptunia U also make a return as well. There’s a sort of simple fun in being able to change up each character’s wardrobe.
While character models are nicely detailed, there’s a distinct lack of variation with enemy character models. At first, the enemies are standard fare and there’s a little variety to them, until you get halfway through the game and realize you’re fighting Different Colored Boss Robot #129 every other stage. While the regular enemies are of little consequence, it would have made the game a bit more exciting if the boss fights weren't just recolors with no new attack patterns.
A more blatant issue with the game is the camera. It tends to be zoomed too close to the ground and swings around wildly as you dash about the arena. This makes targeting enemies absolutely abysmal. You can’t choose what you lock onto, so it comes down to pressing the L button and hoping it works. Even if you manage to target the right thing, anything other than regular attacks will usually cancel out the lock-on, and you’ll be forced to just attack frantically in the general vicinity of the enemy. This can get aggravating, especially when you waste your EXE Drive and your attack misses, all because the camera was panned just a little too far left from the action.
To veterans of the series, it’s obvious that it reuses graphical assets and music from previous Neptunia games. Also, being a spin-off, it seems not as much effort went into this title’s localization than mainline entries. The translation itself is good, but in some circumstances, translated text would stretch out far beyond the textboxes, looking obviously out of place. The talented English voice cast of the series make a return and act out their lines with just as much passion as usual, but there were a number of audio mixing oddities throughout the story. Should you use two characters together in battle enough, you’ll unlock a backstage talk feature, where you get a little cutscene between those two characters. While a majority of the game is English dubbed by default, these backstage lines would play in their original Japanese incarnation, which seemed like an awkward oversight.
MB+NVZ offers local and online co-op, and is definitely the standout mode of the game. Enemies are far more challenging than in the main story, and although it’s encouraged, you don’t need a second player in order to take on multiplayer missions. In an otherwise underwhelming game, the enjoyable multiplayer is a welcome feature. Up to 4 players can join a lobby and take on quests together. Of course, that much action going on at once can get to be a bit overwhelming on the Vita hardware, but the framerate never dropped that significantly. From the matches that I experienced, the online was very solid. Lag was never too much of a bother when playing with people worldwide. As a bonus, this game is PS TV compatible, meaning that the wider userbase of Vita owners can join in on the fun.
Despite a few hiccups, Megatagmension Blanc+Neptune VS Zombies manages be an overall mediocre game. Where it truly shines is in the multiplayer department. If you love the Neptunia series, or are looking for a fun game to play online with other Vita owners, check this out. If not, you’re best off picking up a more solid hack-and-slash game.
+ Online Co-Op
+ Enough differentiation between the roster to justify playing as each character
+ Cheesy dialogue is amusing
- Boring story missions
- Repetitive enemies
- Overly large empty maps with concentrated enemies
Tagmension has bright, colorful visuals, but a lot of things are lifted from the mainline games. The character models, clothing, and accessories have a great amount of detail put into them. However, the repetitive enemy design, localization errors, and draw distance hold the game's presentation back.
It's the standard Musou/Dynasty Warriors formula. It's fun in short bursts, but after playing it for extended amounts of time, it's easy to get burnt out on.
Although the story mode is short and easy to breeze through, the online component gives the game an extended longevity, and makes it worth coming back to. If you want to max out each character's level and see all the possible dialogue, that can also give the amount of gameplay a substantial boost.
out of 10
(not an average)
It’s hard to recommend this title at all for the single player campaign alone. While the combat is fun in short bursts, it can easily get repetitive since most levels require the exact same strategy each time in order to win. However, Neptunia fans should like this, as well as Vita owners looking for an enjoyable online co-op experience.