In possibly one of the most creative, and different ways imaginable developer Tamsoft, and publisher Idea Factory have come together to steer the Neptunia lore in a distinctly new direction. This spin-off of sorts does away with the usual Neptune guided hijinks, and puts Blanc of Lowee in the seat of power as a the Gamindustri gal leading the show. In fact it is a sort of indie movie show that plays out as the Gamicademi girls/CPUs fight off a very real zombie threat. When the game begins we find the ruling CPUs of the Gameindustri attending a Gamicademi (Academy) which is on the brink of closure due to a lack of attendees. Like the anime "Love Live!" these CPU goddesses, and their CPU sister candidates devise a plan to attract an even bigger crowd to the Gamicademi in hopes that they can keep it open. This begins with a fantastical idea involving the creation of a film club, and later a scripting of a zombie apocalypse indie that pays homage to games like 'Resident Evil'. The filming starts off innocently enough with only actors participating, but for whatever reason real zombies come into the picture only to be used by Blanc, and her quirky film crew as source material for their indie film project. There are plot twists, and sequels aplenty as you act your way from cut scene to cut scene in fun-loving film fashion.
Gameplay in this zombified misadventure could be best described as a pick up, and put down action experience with a plot scripted, and performed by the Gamindustri CPUs in a behind-the-scenes manner. There are tag team elements, combat that is closely akin to that of "Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed", and character management options that have been tweaked to allow for deeper customization. Things like assists with boost effects, dual equipping for both CPU standard and goddess forms, and even an online co-op multiplayer experience are included to keep the gamer returning for a perfected playthrough.
There's even the return of the former 'Lily Rank' system with a new hands-on use that coincides with the in-game tag team combat system. Providing a sort of linked attack. Additions like the treasure listing which allows players to fulfill lists of gathered parts/materials for unlockable costumes, and secrets will keep gamers playing until they have seen all that the game has to offer as well. Along with the equipment setup also comes a deeper management system tied to assignable ability points for RPG stat upgrades (HP, POW, DEF, TECH), and weapon boost add-ons. Even the accessory system received an overhaul allowing the player to add multiple cosmetic accessories to set their characters apart from other online players' within the game's co-op multiplayer. You will definitely be doing a lot of grinding in combat graded arena scenarios to unlock everything. Scenarios that are divided into scenes, and further into cuts (numerically). Each of which has a set circumstance for clearing (killing of certain enemy types, etc.), a required character level, and a time limit.
Should you complete said filming tasks you will be graded alphabetically (SSS "Super Striker Student" being the best), and will be rewarded currency for spending on shop items and material fusion as well as materials/items that can be used to your benefit in junctionm with your equipped weapons. Speaking of fusion you can collect/buy base materials, tools, and builds during your playthrough to "fuse", or create special weapon boosts that can be added to weapons for added effect (POW/DEF increase, ...). This is all done in the game's "Shop" menu system, but assigned through the "Setup" menu. For those of you wondering about consumable items they do make a return, but aren't as necessary as one might think. At least not until later on in the game.
Aside from those new gameplay mechanics characters, and character interactions also play a huge role in what MegaTagmension has to offer. Between the usual character story panels, and animations that disclose the behind-the-scenes happenings in regards to the given plot you will be battling new zombified enemies, and bosses as you do the bidding of Blanc, the director. Your selection of characters is limited to begin with, but as you continue to win the battles in the scene, and cut listings you will unlock more characters from past Neptunia games as well as then newly introduced 'Tamsoft' character. How you pair up the CPUs, and in which scenes you choose to pair them up will greatly influence the storytelling, and will open up new conversation panels which can be viewed from the game's extras menu. Along with the multiple story paths tied to specific character pairings you'll also be able to unlock the songs featured in the game. This adds to the already heavy replay value which comes with the various elements of grinding. Things like character leveling, and Lily Rank leveling will help your favorite pairs be more prepared when you go to take them online, and battle out completely different non-scripted quest scenarios with co-op partners. The co-op portion of the game comes complete with four player compatibility, and chat options. In a way it extends upon what the core game offers, and adds even more replay value to the experience.
The game, as I said earlier is more of a pick up, and put down type of experience that only gives you short bursts of combative gameplay while playing heavily on the character management, and scripted story elements. It is a fun game, and is one that PSN trophy hunters will no doubt enjoy. As with every Neptunia game those new to the series will not become lost in the plot due to a lack of having never played through previous titles, but will find themselves slightly out of the know when it comes to prior character knowledge, and subtle hints tossed out here and there. This is more, or less a side story or spin-off in the Neptunia mythology, and can be enjoyed freely as such regardless of such gaming nods. Keep in mind there are some perverse innuendos included in character conversations, and depicted torn/revealing outfits of some of the Gamindustri girls that can be equipped. If this offends you, you don't have to buy the game. It's as simple as that. I personally enjoyed my playthrough, and loved it every time I returned to play. The torn costumes did not bother me in the slightest.
I should also note that a Japanese voice over option is available in the main menu for all of you Japanese faithfuls, and that the tutorial (should you need it) is also made easily accessible through the main menu listings. The only thing I found problematic, if anything was the awkward camera controls, and the controls in general which used a combination of the shoulder buttons, and face buttons. Once you get the hang of the control functions though it's not too difficult to manage. In closing This game gets my seal of approval. Control-wise, and camera-wise it may not be perfect, but the combat and story are entertaining enough to warrant a purchase. The game is slated for release on May 10th. That is this coming Tuesday. To guarantee a copy, if you are interested in doing so, I'd say pre-order it. PS Vita games are the least stocked of all video games.