In September, Senran Kagura celebrated it’s 10th anniversary with a special video. Not much else was done to commemorate the special occasion, and was passed up rather swiftly. Fast forward just over a month later, the next installment for the franchise isn’t it’s own game.
On the other hand, the Neptunia series has numerous games to it’s name. Set in a new universe, the ninja themed Gamninjustri, your favorite Neptunia characters are adorned in shinobi gear. Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars features gameplay like Senran Kagura with Neptunia RPG elements; making a fun, but a somewhat forgettable, game.
This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review or read the full review of the game below.
Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars
Developer: Idea Factory, Compile Heart, Tamsoft
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed)
Release Date: October 26, 2021 (North America), October 29, 2021 (Europe)
Price: $49.99 USD
Gamninjustri, a place where all manner of ninja gather, is the dimension this Neptunia game takes place; featuring everything from a 19th century era Japanese buildings and towns, to clothing and feudal lords.
Different nations such as Heartland and Marveland are entangled in a competition with each other. Sometime later, the Steeme Legion Led by Yoh Gamer started to invade with a mechanical ninja army- starting the Super Ninja War in Gamninjustri.
Along the way, Purple Heart and friends team up with the 4 Honeypa shinobi from Marveland; Asuka, Miyabi, Homura, and Yumi. The game features 8 chapters, which are main story missions, of locations all over the world of Gamninjustri.
Neptunia is typically a much longer game due to being a JRPG, but this game takes more cues from Senran Kagura with it’s gameplay and length. The story is very much a classic Neptunia game with locations like Marveland and characters from the Steeme Legion. Character motivations are sometimes unclear, and even too cartoony at some levels.
Leveling, ninja arts, and ultimate moves are still staples, but lack aerial raves from previous Senran Kagura games. Gameplay isn’t as quick as previous entries, and feels closer to Neptunia U. At first glance, the tutorials can feel overwhelming even though they are not. Nonetheless, they’re condensed in a menu setting for future reference if needed.
Ninja arts are used from a stamina gauge which can hold, at the start, 5 bars. Stamina can be recharged by hitting enemies, over time, and through the use of items which can be used anytime during a level. Along with other gauges, shuriken can also be purchased from the market, and used to debuff enemies and provide damage.
Neptunia x Senran Kagura is a numbers game, sort of. You can do more damage when you level up, but more with customizations like Spirit Gems and equipment such as the aforementioned shurikens and charms. A Spirit Gem board can give bonuses when you apply them in a certain order using different gems dropped from enemies or purchased.
There are a number of side content items you can do to help level up, earn items, and money for the market. Requests are gotten from using NinChat, a place for ninja to talk and also give more cutscenes. Doing them can be as simple as gathering items, defeating enemies, and completing gauntlets.
Fuurinkazan Drive is a new addition to the franchise, giving elemental buffs and changes the color of your shinobi’s outfit. They can be useful in situations depending on playstyle. For example, you can sacrifice defense for an increased attack power. There is a set limit on how many times you can activate this skill per mission.
Peaches & Cream Meditation is a small balancing side game that can provide buffs like increased attack power when completed. It’s one of the only fanservice-y moments in the game, but isn’t something overtly sexual in nature regardless. It does provide a challenge for higher difficulties, like a disappearing bar and ball. And yes, there is no clothing destruction for any of the girls, unlike prior games.
When it comes to all of this culminated gameplay elements and features, does it mold together? Fortunately, it does. It might not do it extremely well, but it does make for a replayable game. Elements were toned down for me reminiscing about Senran Kagura Estival Versus, which in my opinion has the best controls in the franchise.
Difficulty spikes near the mid point of the game, making for some frustration. During the opening segments, it’s a slower pace and fairly easy to help ease you into the new mechanics; whereas the middle point to the end require a bit more grinding with requests. I only felt underpowered during two boss fights during the playthrough.
The first boss I nearly died to was during the first difficulty spike was Affimojas. He’s slow and easy to hit, but has one hit knockout moves. It was frustrating to deal with, but if you carry the right items and enough of them, it’s fairly normal to get past. However, the final boss fight of the game in which you take on 3 different bosses in one go was the most difficult.
It was the first time I died during the story mode, mainly because I ran out of items but was also under leveled by just a few levels. Completing requests and changing Spirit Gems to level up was helpful to gain those levels required to complete the game, but was the first time I felt like I needed to do so by force.
Environments in Gamninjustri are very empty arena spaces with connecting corridors. There’s nothing truly unique or special about them, since most locations are either in the forest or mountain sides. Buildings, floors, and rocks are low quality. They aren’t what you would notice during fights, but still stick out a good bit from the corner of your eye.
When approaching this game’s graphics, don’t expect too much different than the 3D models of main characters you’re used to. In addition, the art style for Senran Kagura characters is slightly different than what most are used to, and it can be jarring at first. Obviously, Neptunia characters can be versatile when in visual novel style cutscenes, so they look great in 2D and 3D.
Coincidentally, the 2D sprites are fine, but in one moment was used in the most horrific way possible. To convey the high-drama of a character going over a waterfall, the full body sprite slowly moves down a still image. Even cutting to black and having text and audio convey what occurred would have been better.
On top of the fact that these sprites are used to dump exposition, the game is mostly voiced over, all in Japanese since there is no English dubbing.
My assumption is they wanted to keep with the tradition of Senran Kagura characters never being voiced in English. It’s not a huge detriment, but something I did find a bit odd and doesn’t detract from the overall game.
Marrying the game being voiced over in only Japanese, the mouth flaps not matching in any regard is a weird choice that can be mentioned. It shows that there’s almost no quality in the presentation, and shouldn’t be hard to do in the grand scheme and was easily of the most noticeable things I disliked.
Music is, of course, thematic since it is focused on ninja and old school Japan. It was appropriate at all times and flowed with the story fairly well. Most compositions were epic sounding and fast paced and fit situations they were in making it a good listen.
Originally this game was meant to be only a Neptunia game titled “Game e-Ninja Neptunia” when it was announced back in 2019 at a special event. Eventually, it was altered and became a crossover between two franchises. It’s main appeal is the Senran Kagura franchise that was slated to have “SE7EN” which is still absent due to Kenichiro Takaki leaving Marvelous, but still producing Senran Kagura games.
I enjoyed getting back in the saddle of playing a Senran Kagura game with a cast of Neptunia characters. The gameplay was simple enough to learn and it felt natural. Some other elements like the graphics and weird mouth flap choices were the biggest issues. The story not being too much else than traveling from place to place and defeating a boss at the end of a stage is fine for replayability.
The price tag of $49.99 USD is perfect for the type of game this turned out to be, and makes me wish for a full on new Senran Kagura game rather than one that needs Neptunia to save it. For everything that this game does right, it goes out of it’s way to do something wrong, almost intentionally. I’d recommend this game still if even for a single playthrough and trade-in afterwards.
Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a code provided by Idea Factory International. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.