|Publisher||Idea Factory International|
|Release Date||May 13, 2016|
This game was reviewed using a key provided by the publisher
MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies is a multiplayer-focused, third-person action game. A spin-off from the main Neptunia series, MegaTagmension takes the characters of the franchise back to school, Gamicademi to be precise. It turns out Gamicademi isn’t doing so well, and with enrolment numbers at an all time low the academy faces closure. So Blanc decides the best thing to do is to make a movie to try and save the academy – which is right around the time the zombies show up. Figuring that they can make the best zombie movie ever, Blanc and her friends decide to use the zombie attack as part of the filming.
That’s pretty much the whole plot (spoilers, I guess) for MegaTagmension. To be honest the plot isn’t really that important in this spin-off, because the entire single-player mode here kind of feels like an afterthought. It’s very clear that MegaTagmension was designed as a multiplayer brawler first and foremost. I mean, the story doesn’t really do anything wrong, really. MegaTagmension has all the same charm and wit you’d expect from a Neptunia game, and the characters are just as entertaining as they’ve always been. I think it’s just the sheer uselessness of it all that really starts weighing on your mind after a while.
After playing through a few levels you kind of get left asking yourself “is this it?” MegaTagmension isn’t helped by the length of its visual novel style cutscenes. In truth, these are about average for a Neptunia game (which is to say, pretty damn long), and that’s fine for an RPG – where you can go through a long stretch of gameplay before going through a long stretch of dialogue. In MegaTagmension, most missions are cleared within a couple of minutes, and then you’re chucked into another lengthy cutscene. I’d say less than half the gameplay time in MegaTagmension’s single-player mode is spent actually playing the game.
I love the characters of the Neptunia universe. One of the highlights of playing a Neptunia game is the dialogue and the interactions between the different personalities. But I also kind of want to play a game when I sit down to play a game. It doesn’t help that the story is just stupid, and not in a good way. Heck, it should be gold, given the general premise. Heck, even the game agrees! The characters in MegaTagmension are constantly talking about how stupid the plot of the movie they’re shooting is. And it really feels like they’re critiquing the game they’re starring in at a certain point (which, given the series it’s spawned from, would not surprise me in the least).
So it’s down to the gameplay to impress, which it kind of does at first. Briefly. As you’re introduced to the various mechanics of MegaTagmension the game shows some brief promise. You take two girls of your choice into an arena to battle the zombies, dogoos and other weird Neptunia-esque enemies. You can pull of light and heavy attacks, mixing them to pull off combos, as well as dash and jump around the arena. EXE transformations returns, and there are tag team attacks and the ability to swap between your two chosen characters to allow one to regain health while you kick ass with the other.
The trouble is there’s no challenge. At all. For the entirety of MegaTagmension’s single-player campaign. I don’t remember a single time I ever found the game challenged me. That’s not a boast either, that’s simply the way it is. You can pretty much mash buttons until all the enemies are dead and the game grants you the next cutscene. MegaTagmension’s gameplay mechanics are reminiscent of Senran Kagura, as you’d expect since both games share a developer, but devoid of difficulty. Honestly, if it weren’t for the easily lovable cast of characters, there’d be no reason to even bother with the single-player.
MegaTagmension is all about its multiplayer suite (which seems strange to me, given its platform of choice). Once you jump into an online game with other players, MegaTagmension actually begins making sense. Smashing enemies to bits with other players is actually a blast. There are some changes in transition from single-player to multiplayer – the difficulty is increased, for starters, and you don’t get a tag-team buddy or the ability to perform EXE transformations. In multiplayer it’s just you, your teammates and your hack and slash skills.
The visual novel stuff gets chucked away in mutliplayer too – which is both a blessing and a curse. It makes the game snappier and more fast-paced, allowing you to get straight into the fighting, away from the pretty bad story. It also dispenses with the characters and their interactions, however. But if the characters are the only reason to plough through the single-player, the multiplayer is where the gameplay actually comes alive. If only the best of the two modes could have been combined with a better storyline.
Multiplayer missions come with an array of more difficult encounters, as well as with unique enemies and bosses you won’t find in the offline component. Co-ordinating with up to three other players makes the game a heck of a lot of fun, and thanks to the extra challenge on offer (especially in the five-star difficulty missions) there’s also a decent amount of replayability here too. Best of all, you can even play these multiplayer missions solo if you so desire, and with the difficulty boost you’ll find that MegaTagmension can actually challenge you to a decent fight.
There are issues that plague both modes – notably the wonky camera. Controlling the camera is a fight in and of itself. It never seems to point where you want it to, and regularly veers wildly away from the enemies you’re trying to beat up. There is a lock-on system in place, but it never actually seems to lock onto the enemy you want it to. This is exacerbated by the plentiful number of special moves that will negate your lock-on, so once you’ve managed to point yourself at the right enemy, you’ll undoubtedly preform a move that will cause the camera to reset, and you’ll need to start the whole process again.
MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies is a game with an identity crisis. If you’re a fan of the Neptunia series the single-player might be worth it to spend some extra time with the characters, otherwise it’s best to simply avoid it in favour of the multiplayer. Offline the game features a poor storyline with brainless, button mashing gameplay that offers no real challenge. Taking the game online is where the fun is found in MegaTagmension – beating zombies up with a a few friends as backup is always fun. But with the difficulty turned up and the moveset stripped back to basics, the games multiplayer is actually a legitimately engaging hack-and-slash experience.
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