I personally love the hack-and-slash genre, but I also understand the criticism that’s leveled in its direction. After all, so many of the games that fall under its umbrella just involve mashing the same button over and over. But I like to think there are certain nuances that make said button mashing a fair bit of fun: enemy variety, a diverse set of playable characters, occasional puzzles and clever level design can really keep things interesting. Unfortunately, MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies only hits upon one of these factors — the playable character bit — leaving this Warriors-lite spin-off from the Hyperdimension Neptunia series with precious little to offer anyone who dares to give it a go.
Bored Out of Your Braaaaiiiins
While I was playing MegaTagmension, I found myself considering the same question over and over again. “What does this game not have that other hack-and-slash games do have?” I thought. I was feeling a bit guilty, because I’ve recommended similar games as “mindless fun” before, but just couldn’t get into this one. As I continued playing, I was able to put my concerns into words: there’s not enough here to ever trick you into thinking you’re doing something new and unique through all the button mashing. Sure, there are a whole bunch of characters that do play differently, and sure, the backgrounds and maps change from level to level, but the monotony sinks in regardless.
This is particularly true of the game’s story mode; my time with it was easily one of the most soulless, depressing stretches of gaming I’ve had in recent memory. You just beat the same enemies up over and over again, occasionally breaking to purchase new equipment or build up your chosen girls’ stats, and repeat ad nauseum. That boss you beat in Episode 3? Don’t be surprised if you see it again in just about every one of the following episodes. Perhaps the “zombies” in the title are a meta reference to the players of this game, who will inevitably go dead-eyed from boredom. When I say this feels like filler stretched out to feature length, I’m not kidding.
It’s Satire…or Something
There isn’t a whole lot of justification for the brainless action, either. The narrative — if you can call it that — sees the eponymous pink-haired Neptune and her friends making a movie about fighting zombies… and yeah, that’s about it. As expected, the series’ commitment to absolutely lame in-jokes and dopey gaming references have not let up in the slightest; but while there was at least an infectious sense of energy and passion to some of the previous games, even the story feels sort of exhausted here. There’s no real connection between the short cutscenes you’re watching and the dull-as-dishwater gameplay, and everything feels a lot more obligatory than inspired. But while the writers may not have been trying, both the English and Japanese voice casts — who have made their way through nearly ten games at this point, not even counting the remakes — bring plenty of spunk to their performances.
Things do pick up a little bit if you decide to opt for the online co-op mode. Though it’s designated as “multiplayer,” you can create a room to play by yourself if you don’t have friends around to join you — and weirdly enough, I think the multiplayer mode makes for a better single-player experience too. To be sure, beating up hordes of enemies and giant bosses is a lot more fun when you’ve got even one friend on hand, but the increased enemy variety and more diverse map design are a breath of fresh air after the tedium of the single-player campaign. And if you do happen to find yourself particularly enamored with the proceedings, there are plenty of unlockables to earn through continued play.
MegaTagmension’s presentation isn’t bad, but it doesn’t have much “wow” factor, either. I very much enjoy the character design and use of bright colors, but there’s nothing particularly special about the way they’re utilized in-game. These are the same sub-par budget graphics we’ve come to expect from certain JRPGs, and in the case of this series, the repetition is really starting to get old. In the audio department, as mentioned before, the voice acting is easily the most impressive element. The music — a typical blend of electronica and guitars — is cheerful if generic, largely fading into the background amongst the cacophony of sound that comes with hacking and slashing large groups of enemies.
Hack-and-Bash Your Head Against the Wall
If you’re a massive fan of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series, or not at all picky about your hack-and-slash titles, you might get a kick out of MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies. Unfortunately, there’s not much I can say is worth the investment for anyone else; outside of a decent multiplayer mode, the game only has a mind-numbingly dull campaign to offer. That mode is so monotonous and soulless — from its endless use of the same enemies over and over again, to its trite and tired narrative — that it drew my attention to just how fatigued this entire franchise is feeling with multiple releases every year. I think it’s time to give Neptune a well-deserved vacation.
MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies review code provided by publisher. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.