Fans of the popular Hyperdimension Neptunia series are sure to be happy about another game coming out.  Megatagmension Neptune + Blanc VS Zombies features poster girl Blanc (essentially a “tan” of Nintendo consoles) and Neptune (the main character of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series, inspired by an unreleased sega console) in their effort to save their school while battling zombies in this action-based role-playing game.

Those who are curious as to what this game entails and whether-or-not it is worth your hard earned money, be sure to hit the jump to check out RoKtheReaper.com’s full review!


[   Getting Started   ]


There are a few things to know when getting started with Megatagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies, exclusively for Playstation Vita and Playstation TV.  This will better to help you understand the overall options that are available to you when playing this game.

First off, the game in itself is a 1629 MB (1.6 GB) download, and it was released on May 10th, 2016 for North America and May 13th, 2016 for Europe.  It was developed by IDEA FACTORY, COMPILE HEART, and TAMSOFT while being published by Idea Factory International, Inc.  The game is currently rated Teen by the ESRB and 12 by PEGI.

The game itself features four main sections upon start-up; Story, Multi, Gallery, and Config. 

“Story” contains the main game and all options related to it, this is where players will see the events that unfold in Megatagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies.

“Multi” is composed of options for gamers to enjoy online mode by pairing up with other players to take on a variety of quests and missions that are not available in Story Mode.

“Gallery” is used to view the game’s tutorial, listen to music present within the game, or check out various cutscenes and past evens triggered by the game’s Story Mode.

“Config” features a variety of settings that allows the player to customize their gaming experience to their individual liking.  Things like volume settings (BGM/SE/Voice), voice settings (turn specific character voices on or off), button config (change your button configuration), camera settings (vertical camera/horizontal camera/camera speed), display settings d(display damage/display map/display subtitles/text speed/player name), language (switch between English and Japanese voices), and “bonus” skill (more on this later in the story mode impressions portion).



[   Story Mode Impressions   ]



Megatagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies story is rather simple in premise.  You have Blanc explaining that the world is known as “Gamindustri” (a play on “game industry”), which exists within a faraway dimension.  That goddesses (also known as “CPUs” or “Console Patron Units”), befriended humans and attended school alongside them to learn more about their culture.  Unfortunately, a fierce decline in the birthrates of humans (possibly a play on the fact that Japan has rapidly decreasing birthrates) is forcing their current predicament.

Gamicademi is about to close down, something that none of the protagonist want.  In an effort to keep its doors open, they brainstorm an idea of producing a self-shot zombie film in order to bring more attention to the school in hopes of keeping it from closing by attracting new attendees.  However, things take an unexpected turn when they realize that actual zombies are now popping up.  Also, no matter how many times they cure their fellow schoolmate CPUs with “Share Energy”, they continue to revert back into mindless zombies.

The goal of the entire game is to go along for the ride as Blanc, Neptune, Ram, Rom, and others figure out the root cause which is transforming students into zombies, while simultaneously shooting the best movie possible to save their school from closing its doors permanently at the end of the year.
Also, it should be noted that this game took a little bit over 10 hours to beat in full.  A lot of that was due to being too low in level and power when meeting bosses and dealing with certain enemies as I progressed through the story.  Also, it should be noted it will take longer if you encounter a new character that you want, as you have to start them over from level one.  There are twelve scenes in total, with each scene possessing between 1 and 8 “cuts”.

The story in itself is quite “weird” to be honest, but that is nowhere near a bad thing.  In fact, they prove to be comical as the game progresses.  You have girls whom really want to save their school by trying to attract attention with an indie film, only to have to deal with actual zombies.  Not only that, but they defend themselves and the school while simultaneously filming their movie using the real-life undead they encounter.  While that part makes sense, since it would achieve the maximum effect for “realism”, it is hard to believe that they were so steadfast to save the school regardless of the actual danger that they encountered.  While I get that the game is supposed to be light-hearted and upbeat, displaying more of a sense of urgency would have help with the overall feeling of immersion. 

To combat all of this lack of seriousness and obvious plot holes, they do make up for it with plucky and grit.  They have high energy, argue amongst each other with enthusiasm, and create some truly hilarious situations due to inappropriate humor, breaking the fourth wall, and general teasing of their classmates.  The true nature of the story lies within the character interactions and their attitude towards one another.  The sheer ferocity shown in achieving their goal of keeping the school open while enjoying the spring of their youth shines through brilliantly.  Also, there was a part where Uzume was worried about ending everything quickly and she was reminded by everyone that she should enjoy her schooldays with all of her friends.  The overall point was, despite everything falling down around them, they should keep a positive attitude while enjoying life and things will take a turn for the better eventually.
Something that also proves that this game is all about character interaction, they allowed for special event cutscenes to take place dependent on when you play a particular act inside of a scene a specific character combination.  A lot of the fun in the game is figuring out who is paired up with who during what act in order to gain access to those special cutscene sequences.

However, aside from seriousness vs lightheartedness, something that particularly bothered me is how none of the main characters were affected by what was transforming CPUs into zombies.  While I do understand that they are all heroines with the ability to transform into different versions of themselves, it would have been nice if some explanation was given along the main storyline which called into question the “immunity” of the characters to transform into zombies.  While they did say that students transform back because of “Share Energy”, and it is powered by citizens of Gamindustri believing in CPUs, then it should have either transformed them all into zombies simultaneously or reverted everyone back to their original forms together.  While I understand that none of the characters transforming is something necessary to the plot, I would have liked a valid explanation, or at least allowing one of the characters to “turn” at one point to show that no one is effected and it was merely luck of the draw.

Something else I should mention that is pretty awesome within the game is their references to other media.  They make several references to videos games like Resident Evil, and even some towards more popular movies that feature the undead.  This was a nice touch as it was done within a way so it seems just to be another wacky part of the story if you are unaware, but a very cool easter egg if you can actually catch the reference.  Well done in those regards for providing users with more moments that prove sublimely laughable.

Overall, the story in itself was longer than I thought it would be, and they managed to make the plot interesting with all the additional information they added as it proceeded chapter by chapter.  Character interactions were the highlight of this entire thing, and it does well to actually make you care less about the sense of the plot and more about how they are going to respond to what happens next.  Blanc’s ability to come up with film ideas that were outlandish (boat crashing into the school?!) were pretty comical to read and play out.  I think the story, while lacking a lot as far as those who want actual depth, makes it for it in the lightheartedness and antics of the characters in question.  Megatagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies achieves its goal of keeping its players entertained by providing a nonsensical and character driven story that grounds itself in its cheerfulness.


[   Ranking and Progression Systems   ]



Within this game, every mission is judged by a rank.  They are numbered by letter, and they go all the way up to “SSS”(Super Strike Student).  Unfortunately, I have no idea what the lowest rank is since I have yet to fail and I have yet to actually score below a “B”(Barely).  How well you do in mission, determined by certain criteria, will present you with your rank.

You are judged by a few different things: Quest Clear Time, Incomplete Penalty, Number of items used, and Max Combo count.  However, from what I have seen, it normally comes down to your Quest Clear Time and Number of items used over everything else.  Generally, clearing the quest as quickly as possible while using absolutely no items means getting “SSS” rank easily. 

Something that should be noted, however, is that in Story mode you have the option to enable “Bonus skills” which are selectable in the Config menu.  “No Damage”, which means you will be constantly invincible during battle; “Iron Wall”, which means you will not be taken aback when you are damaged during battle (i.e. boss level hyper armor); “Knockout Blow”, which is the ability to defeat any enemy with one hit; “Infinite EXE Drive”, which means your EXE Drive gauge will always be maxed out; and “Infinite SP Gauge”, which means your SP Gauge will constantly be at max level.  While it is said that these bonus skills are “Settings that might break your game’s balance! (Story only)”, you can actually use it to level up yourself to the point that it does not matter if you become a master of the combat system.  By the time you reach max rank, you will be strong enough to deal with whatever comes your way.  The reason that this is noteworthy is that the game does not seem to punish you for having all these features turned on.  This means that you can grind quickly and easily to level up a character, farm money to spend in the Shop, and attempt to get Treasure to power yourself up.

[   Progression   ]

This game’s progression system is one that you also find within many other action role-playing games.  You have the ability to level up the attributes of every character, buy them new equipment, upgrade their equipment, and improve their ties with one another.

The very first thing to examine is their attributes which can be upgraded.  Their HP, Power, Defense, and Technique can all be leveled up dependent on the ability points you acquire from clearing missions.  Your HP determines how much health you have, Power is the damage that you are capable of dealing, Defense is how much damage you will take from enemies (as well as if you will flinch or not), while Technique is the ability to learn new combos.  As you begin to level up your character, you will notice you will need an increasingly large number of ability points as you further the bar along, making it so that you will need to play or grind quite a lot to fully max out a single character.
Something to take in mind to is the “Lily Rank” that character possess.  A character’s Lily Rank is determined by their synergy with another character (Uzume with Peashy, Uzume with Blanc, Uzume with Ram, etc.).  Your Lily Rank can be raised to a maximum of level 10, and it increases the damage of your attack (and specific character combinations also have small differences).

Weapons can be bought using “Credits”, which are also earned the same as ability points, from completing quests.  You can buy the 1st through 4th weapon for each character.   You can also purchase “Update Programs” (Things to alter weapon types and general stats) and “Update Assets” (parts you can fuse in the shop to create Update Programs) to help customize your weapon.  You can make your character fight how you wish and focus on the stats and attributes of your character that you think are important.  The “Fuse” mechanism allows you to obtain certain “Update Programs” that are not available in the shop.

Overall, the progression system within this game is one that has been seen in many before it.  It is straight forward and easy to learn, but the amount of customization has a definite impact on how well your character will perform.  Those who want to have the strongest character possible will continue to grind it out and acquire all the best parts to make a truly devastating combination.



[   Customization   ]



As with the majority of these types of games, a heavy emphasis is based on how you can customize your character to your preference.  It also helps in case you are playing online multiplayer and want to be able to easily separate yourself from someone who may be using the same character as you are.

You are able to change your hair style, costume, and add accessories (up to a maximum of 5).  While the hair style and costumes are pre-made for every single character, you can actually customize the look of accessories on your character.  You can make them bigger, smaller, wide, and even apply them to different parts of the character bodies (Head, Both Hands, Both Arms, Both Underarms, Both Ankles, Both Shins, and Both Thighs). 

Accessories themselves can be bought with credits instead of the “Accessories” option in the shop.  They feature a variety of different options; glasses, headbands, headphones, and even plushies!  There is sure to be something for everyone.


[   Game Play Impressions   ]



The game play for Megatagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies features the same play that the series is known for.  It is an action role-playing game which has elements of a “hack n’ slash” and “beat em’ up” style games.  For those who are not familiar with this particular series, think along the lines of the Senran Kagura series (which is also produced by Tamsoft), or a 3D version of the fighting featured in Phantom Breakers: Battle Grounds.


[   Controls and Battle System   ]

The controls for the game are rather simple.  By default; Circle is to dash, X is to jump or double jump, Triangle is your Billion Attack (Strong Attack), Square is your Normal Attack (Weak Attack), Left Bumper controls the Camera Reset and Lock On, Right Bumper is your Guard, while Select controls the menu for items.  All of these buttons are available to be remapped by selecting “Config” on the start screen and by choosing the “Button Config” option.

You have four types “SP Skills” which are done by pushing the Right Bumper in combination with anyone of the four face buttons (Circle, X, Triangle, or Circle).  What you get depends on the character that you are currently using.  Not to mention they can only be done once your “SP Gauge” is fully charged, which happens by attacking enemies or doing so on its own over a certain period of time.

You also have four types of “Special Moves” which are done by pushing the Right Bumper and Left Bumper in combination with any of the four face buttons.  You have two which are story mode specific (Character Change and Transform, performed by pushing the Circle and X button respectively), and two that can be done within all modes (EXE Drive and Lily Special, performed by pushing the Square and Triangle buttons respectively).

Using the default control scheme is actually not too bad, you just have to get use to using the shoulder buttons in combination with the face buttons to pull off combos and moves.  At first it feels quite restricting and takes a bit of an adjustment to get familiar with, but it proves no trouble whatsoever after you have played the game for a while.  With enough practice and experimentation, it is not hard to pull off long, elaborate, and devastating combos that make use of your normal attacks, SP Skills, and Special Moves.  With more practice, you are even able to interrupt specific moves by performing a dash in the middle of it to begin the combo anew and create some truly impressive feats.  Cancelling your move into a dash or a jump also has other uses, such as getting away from enemies.

[   Combat and Enemies   ]

Most enemies, including bosses, are easily taken care of once you have sufficient power and the ability to withstand their blows.  However, it should be noted that most bosses have hyper armor and do not flinch to attacks.  While I agree that bosses should not be easy to fight, they should not have to rely on the “unflinching” gimmick to be competent.  Also, I wish that enemies would have been more zombie like in nature rather than a variety of very kid-friendly abominations. 

Enemies in this game are stronger or weaker dependent upon your stats.  Defense controls whether-or-not an enemy can hurt you and make you flinch or not.  Increasing this rating, as well as your health, is the key to remaining alive.  While it is possible to defeat an enemy well above your level by connecting attacks, blocking theirs, and expertly getting away to avoid massive damage; it is not advised that you battle enemies above the recommended level.  The rating system (explained later) is judged based on the speediness in which you can defeat all enemies (or the target enemies).  Getting the SSS (Super Strike Student) rank is impossible if you cannot defeat all your enemies fast enough, even if you are so skilled that you can defeat a high level enemy due to your battle capability and masterful use of blocking (perfect blocking will result in no damage being taken) and evading.
While the combat is really good in my opinion, the best of this variety I have come across, there is really no benefit in learning how to play correctly.  This has to do with you not being adequately being scored based on skill rather than time, meaning that the best thing to do is grind Story mode in order to acquire the strength needed to best the level within a minute.



[   Multiplayer Impressions   ]



Multiplayer can be played either solo online, or you can team up with a maximum of four other players.  You have five different dimensions to choose from, each with their own individual bosses; Hyper, Ultra, Mega, Heart, and Zero Dimensions

Upon starting, you can create a room and set specific settings.  Some of those settings include the room name, password, goal, room purpose, player rank, quest, and view mode setting.  These help you set the criteria for players to join, as well as help players who are looking for a specific room.
Quests here are set by the person who created the room, of which three different flavors.  One Star Quests (levels 1 – 5), Two Star Quests (Levels 5 – 10), and Special Quests (Levels 20 – 60).  There also seems to be quests that pop up dependent on the day, meaning that it is best to play online every single day (sometimes at particular times) to get a chance to experience everything.

Also there is the ability to talk to other players by using a set of pre-written lines that are selectable before everyone readies themselves to start a quest.  There is a wide selection available and covers a variety of different scenarios and expressions.  Most should be happy with these chat options, especially since it seems to also have voice acting per pre-written line.  Even without the ability to type custom messages, I still feel players are able to convey clearly how they feel to one another.
Multiplayer has a bit of a different flavor than single player, as you are allowed to pick every single character from the beginning without unlocking them first in Story, and a few of your attacks do not function here (as I said before, Transformation does not work here and Lily Attack has to be done with other players).  That and the ability to collect “Dark History Parts”.

Defeating massive characters in the “Special Quests” allow for players to equip their characters with Dark History Parts in the “processor and dark history parts” section of the Setup menu.  These allow your character to gain a slightly different look due to the parts and simultaneously using it to boost their core stats.  These are highly sought after and drop in a gold box (while regular parts drop in light blue) after defeating one of these mega-sized bosses.

Overall, multiplayer is really fun.  It can be quite difficult due to the power and HP of some of the mega bosses (which were already nerfed in Japan due to a 1.01 patch, which is the default standard for Megatagmension in the western release).  It is fun and rewarding, especially since the “Bonus Skill” ability does not work here.  It can get chaotic with four people, and it is such a blast to work with everyone to take down a boss.





[   The Verdict   ]


 Yes!  This Game is Worth Buying! 

 STRENGHS  – Addictive game play, Happy-go-lucky characters, Cool customization, Multiplayer is actually fun, Wide variety of characters to choose from.

 WEAKNESSES  – Lack of seriousness during story mode, Megtagmension’s “bonus skill” setting makes you feel stupid for playing story mode legitimately, More in-game knowledge should be given regarding Dark History Parts.

When it comes to action role-playing games of this variety, I would have to say that Megatagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies is the best I have played to date.  It features a story line that is decently long and shows interesting characters, an impressive combat system that is addicting to play, and a good online function to keep players going even after they have finished the main quest line.  While it did have a few glaring weaknesses, overall it was a pleasurable experience that I am glad I participated in.

I definitely recommend this particular title for those that have an interest in action role-playing games as it is the most fun I have currently had with this particular genre.  I also have a friend who religiously plays anime action RPGs fall-in-love already, she absolutely loves it too.  Well done indeed!