Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars Review (Switch)
Release Date: April 19, 2022
File Size: 3.2GB
Publisher: Idea Factory
Developer: Compile Heart, Tamsoft
Click here to view on the Nintendo eShop.
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Neptunia and Senran Kagura are both fairly infamous amongst the gaming community at this point for being your standard anime fanservice game. Each game has aspects that may attract a certain crowd into their demographic, which has caused those outside of that circle to look at both series with an unfair bias. I can’t speak about either game particularly, given that I haven’t played any major games from either series.
So with this sudden collaboration announcement, I thought that this was a great opportunity to dip my toes into both franchises. But does Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars do a good job at showcasing the best of both series? Or is it just a failure in the making?
The story of Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars is fairly straightforward at the beginning. In the Illusory Dimension, there are several nations with their own ninjas and fighting powers. Of the many nations stand two world powers: Heartland, where the Neptunia cast reside, and Marveland, where the Senran Kagura cast reside. These two powers have been battling against each other for a while and the game even opens up with a battle between the two ninja factions.
However, there’s trouble brewing with the arrival of a strange new faction known as the Steeme Legion, who seems to have made the entirety of the Illusory Dimension and particularly, the two current world powers, their enemies. The leader of the Steeme Legion, Yoh Gamer, declares a Ninja War to decide who exactly is the world’s strongest faction.
While the plot does evolve somewhat from the initial conflict between the three nations, it still remains fairly surface level and rudimentary. With a mixture of common anime jokes about breast size, the fourth wall constantly being broken, and tropes galore, it doesn’t leave much for those looking for anything particularly deep. But of course, if you’re coming into Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars, you’re more than likely not looking for a gripping story.
The dialogue is cute and the camaraderie between the characters is about the same level that you would see in an anime. The girls are all cute in their own way and if the moe trend that has taken anime by storm of the past decade or so is something you enjoy, then you’re sure to find some enjoyment from this game.
Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars is an action RPG where you can select levels and must either defeat the bosses or clear through a specific task in an area. You can select between easy, normal, or hard difficulty, the difference being how much damage an enemy takes and deals. The difficulty starts off fairly simple, but things do start to ramp up as you progress until you reach a point where you need to start guarding and dodging enemy hits if you want to avoid taking unnecessary damage. If you end up losing your entire team during a mission, you can choose to go back to either the last checkpoint or back to your base.
Battles take place in real time, with combat starting any time that you enter an enemy’s line of sight. In your arsenal, you have a normal melee attack which can be chained, a projectile attack (which is limited to a certain amount at one time before they need to recharge), Ninja Skills, a Shinobi Extreme attack (your ultimate attack), and an awakened technique known as Fuurinjazan that has four different elemental types (wind, forest, fire, and mountain).
Your Ninja Skills use up varying amounts of stamina and each skill has its own strength (small, medium, or large), range (a charge attack, radius, or single target), and additional abilities if chained with another Ninja Skill. After using a Ninja Skill, a timer will appear on screen, which lets you know how much time you have to chain another Ninja Skill and get additional bonuses.
Battles tend to be straightforward and after a while, even a bit stale. Since you only have your one melee attack, there’s not much in the way of combos or interesting battle mechanics. The flow of battle will mainly be you spamming melee attacks to build up your stamina gauge, and then spamming Ninja Skills before going back to your melee attacks to start the cycle all over again. Perhaps you’ll throw in a guard and a jump here or there. While this may not be a problem during your first dungeon run, by the eighth run, you’ll be over it.
Adding to the monotony are the enemy types and attack patterns. Obviously with games like this, there will be many repeating enemies. However, once you play through a chunk of the game up until you meet the Steeme Legion, you will have seen just about all of the enemy types. And those enemy types don’t change their attacks in any way, even when they are stronger variations. This isn’t just limited to regular enemies either, but also a couple of the bosses. It really brings down the game when you end up having to face the same boss again, especially when said boss isn’t even a talking NPC that appears in cutscenes.
Side Quests and Side Content
Outside of doing main missions, there are a couple of other things that Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars has to offer. You can take on side quests, which populate after each main mission completed. You can also pick quests up using the NinChat feature. These quests typically reward you with money, items, and additional experience, making them a great way to grind for experience other than just going through the same dungeon over and over. However, these side quests are a variation of either killing enemies or collecting items.
Speaking of NinChat, it is a function that allows you to “talk” to characters in order to gather information. This can be anything from unlocking more side quests, unlocking new cutscenes, getting free items, or just hearing strange tidbits from the main and side cast. There’s nothing of note with any of the text when it comes to the story, so you’re not really missing much by skipping through the text altogether.
You have the ability to manage your characters and team format. You will unlock ten characters to play with, four from Neptunia, four from Senran Kagura, and two original characters. Each of these characters handles a bit differently in terms of the melee weapon they use and how their melee combo plays out, so who you use ends up coming down to which character feels the most comfortable for you to use. There aren’t any distinct advantages or disadvantages when choosing one character over another. You can take two characters with you on missions, with one being the leader and the other being the partner. You can switch between the two characters at any point and if one ends up fainting in battle, you will automatically be switched to the other character.
The last feature available to use outside of battle is known as Peaches and Creme Medication. This is pretty much just a balance game using the gyro controls. One of the girls will be balancing on a giant peach and you will need to move your Switch left and right to keep her balanced. Depending on how long you last, you will gain active effects during missions, such as increased health.
The art for Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars is your standard anime art, nothing really to write home about. However, rather than keep the sprites static during the visual novel cutscenes of the game, the sprites have animated mouths. This ends up looking pretty awkward and honestly, I’m not sure why they didn’t go the route of adding live2D to the models if they wanted to add some sort of animation. Instead, we’re left with awkward open and close mouth flaps that just come out looking weird.
The game is fully voice acted and both casts did wonderfully with their lines. The music is nice to listen to but again, it is your standard traditional Japanese anime music fare. It does its job well and easily gets the player into the headspace that they are playing as a ninja, though.
Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars runs pretty well. Outside of the initial load in of a large amount of enemies, there isn’t any major noticeable lag. Of course, enemies will fade or pop in as you move forward, but that’s to be expected with a game like this. The UI is simple and doesn’t feel cluttered, displaying your HP and stamina, a mini map, any tasks that need to be completed, and the amount of projectiles you currently have available. In terms of controls, everything felt and worked fine, although I did have a minor complaint concerning the auto-lock feature. Auto-lock will lock onto the closest enemy that is standing right in front of you. This means that if there are enemies right behind you and another enemy in the distance in front of you, it will lock onto the one in the distance, because you are currently facing( them. While not a huge deterrent, it can be a bit annoying if you have enemies crowding up behind you that you need to defeat.
Overall, Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars falls just short of being a memorable experience. In fact, it ends up feeling like any other basic anime action RPG. The story is lackluster and leaves little incentive to find out if the girls overcome the Steeme Legion, the gameplay is fun but simplistic, and the art and audio are standard. Nothing truly stands out with this release that would make someone instantly choose this over any other anime title.
Perhaps for fans of Neptunia or Senran Kagura, this can be treated as just fun fanservice. But for those who have no foothold in either series and were curious if this was a good entry title, I would say look elsewhere for your entry point, as Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars doesn’t feel as though it displays the best that either series has to offer.