Neptunia x SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars makes its way to the Nintendo Switch this month. The title from Compile Heart/Idea Factory launched on April 22nd. The single player action RPG crossover was previously released on PlayStation 4 a little over 7 months ago.
The story of Neptunia x SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars sees you take command of the four goddesses of the Neptunia series as well as four ninjas from the Senran series, with the addition of two extra characters. The two main opposing factions are embroiled in constant conflict to decide which style is superior when a new threat appears in the form of the mechanical ninjas, steeme legion, quickly making themselves known to these mechanical ninjas set about stealing each nation’s share of energy. Well, just who are these invaders and what are they up to? That is something you will have to find out for yourself.
Over the course of the story, the ninjas of the compa style and the honeypa style must form an alliance to tackle this powerful new foe that threatens the whole of Gamninjustri, while also taking on the requests of the world’s citizens besieged by Yokai and this new threat. As new factions and nations get drawn into the conflict, will our heroines be able to stop the sinister plans of the steeme legion?
The main story of the title is fairly interesting and boasts the Neptunias series’ typical humour and meta commentary throughout, making it feel very much like another entry in said series. For the most part, it has my interest, despite never really seeming to get serious and echoing key points of previous entries from the developers. I still found myself pretty invested in the story and the characters. While there is a lot of dialogue in the title, and honestly, a lot of it is basically fluff to pad out the game’s runtime, while it is typical of the series, the early hours see a lot of this dialog, and it can get a wee bit tedious if you just want to get back to the hack and slash of the stages.
Story segments play out in the visual novel style, utilising 2D anime styled models for the characters along with a fair amount of Japanese voice acting. These models are relatively well designed, and I personally enjoyed seeing the characters in their ninja outfits having away at their mechanical foes. The 3D segments are where the visuals truly shine, however, as the characters look great and the animations are perfect for such fast-paced combat. With that said, the level design is a bit “meh”. At times it’s decent, such as with the city map, and at others it looks a bit budget. Honestly, it’s not going to kill your enjoyment. After all, you’re here to spank Yokai and ninja booty, and that’s where your focus will most likely be when entering these stages.
The visuals and designs should be familiar to fans of either series and work quite well together, with little feeling out of place. However, there is little variance in the enemy designs. Outside of the title bosses, there are only a handful of unique designs, with stronger enemies’ being more aggressive recolours. All in all, I think I counted around six enemy types (excluding sub/bosses). Again, this feels very budget and new enemies are less of a surprise or challenge and more of a fleeting thought, “oh this guy is going to hit harder”. With the main game play and short runtime, it would be easy to overlook this, but when clearing the large number of side missions, it becomes repetitive quite quickly.
The game’s BGM and sound effects all function well within the title and provide an overall decent auditory experience. I particularly liked the opening movie and accompanying song myself, but generally the Japanese-inspired tracks and effects go down well. On the audio side, I don’t have anything to fault in the slightest. Everything is well suited and the timing for effects is spot on.
Gameplay is made up of two main areas: The first is the game’s main story, which, as mentioned, plays out with visual novel styled story segments explaining the latest bit of plot before entering a 3D field populated by enemies and bosses for you to slash and pummel your way through with the aid of skills and ninja tools. The main campaign is relatively short, consisting of 11 stages (including the tutorial stage). However, The second main area of the game is the shrine, and it adds a lot more meat to the game’s bones due to a number of optional missions known as requests. These missions provide both training in the form of experience and also decent rewards to deck out your character’s equipment. Both segments play pretty much the same, though they offer slightly different objectives at times.
The title’s actual combat is pretty fluid and the switch handles it well with no noticeable frame rate issues. Most normal mobs are little more than enemy cannon fodder and die quickly, as only elite enemies can cause you trouble. The game also has 3 difficulty modes, aptly named “easy, normal, and hard.” Should you wish to steamroll missions or make things a bit harder for yourself, simply pop into the menus and adjust as you see fit.
Each stage sees you pick 2 of the girls from the games’ roster to take with you, with more choices becoming available as you progress through the story. One character will be the party leader who you start the mission as and the other will be the partner who will be able to tag in with a simple tap of the down button. With that said, however, it really doesn’t make much difference. Almost all the characters feel the same, with the occasional flourish setting them apart. Honestly, just pick the character you like the look of best and slay some dogoos. You’ll be fine. Regardless of who you pick, combat will be a combination of standard attacks and powerful attacks that eat up your stamina gauge and recover slowly as you hack away at your foes. As well as this, you also have ninja tools in the form of shuriken and kunai that can deal long-range damage, with the former seemingly doing more damage and the latter causing status effects. All in all, there are a variety of ways to approach each battle, and some foes will require a different approach.
There is some endgame content I won’t go into details on. However, I wanted to give it a short mention for the sake of spoilers, but thought I should include a mention as I pointed out the small number of stages in the main story.
Overall, I enjoyed playing through the game. As someone who’s enjoyed previous entries from the team, this felt like a good new addition and while I can’t speak for everyone, I’m sure it will feel familiar to other fans. While it’s not exactly rich in any area, playing through it was enjoyable enough for me to see it through. Honestly, I could see myself recommending it to fans of the series. Would it be my first choice against other titles in the series? It’s probably not, but I wouldn’t call it the worst entry.
Not the best release for either series, but a worthwhile play for both sets of fans.