Neptunia Virtual Stars (PlayStation 4)

  • Gameplay
  • Story
  • Audio
  • Visuals
  • Entertainment

Also available on Windows

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Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 04/18/2012 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night

Oh, Neptune, why do you break my heart?  I’ve been so faithful to you, evangelizing your series and dishing out an obscene amount of money on your limited editions.  Why do you betray my love with sub-par games?  Sure, even at your peak, you were little more than a generic RPG that served as a vessel for fan service, but at least the games were solidly decent.  Between Megatagmension BlancSuper Neptunia RPG, and this, you’re on a bit of a losing streak.

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Neptunia Virtual Stars is an action RPG that sees the four CPUs team up with a group of “VTubers” all of whom have been summoned to Virtualand by the Digital Goddess Faira to save her planet, Emote.  Rather than their typical melee weapons, the four CPUs all have guns.  That’s my first complaint; each of the four goddesses has pretty well-established weapon preferences.  My second complaint is that the voice acting is entirely in Japanese.  Normally I don’t have a problem with games that have only subtitles in English – hell, that’s most of what I buy from Play-Asia – but not only is this an official North American release, but it’s the first game in the entire series not to feature English voice acting, and the English cast they had was rock solid.  IF said in response to a tweet of mine that it was due to licensing issues, but my gut tells me that they just cheaped out with the localization.  My third complaint is that the whole game just looks a bit “off” to me.  Character models looked lower quality to me than they did in VII, and cutscenes looked just a bit blurry as if a slight film were over my screen.  My fourth and most significant complaint – the one that primarily earned the game the score I’m giving it – is the controls.  They’re horrendous.  There’s a noticeable dead zone with the control sticks before it actually registers that you’re moving, and there’s no option to adjust that.  What sensitivity options I do get seem to have no happy medium; aiming always felt either too sluggish or too jerky.

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For those keeping score, the main characters’ weapons feel out of place, there’s no English voice acting, the game doesn’t look that good, and the controls are atrocious.  The story is also pretty rubbish, but that’s par for the course for these fanservice games, so I’ll let that one slide.  As for the good…well, Nep’s in the game?  It is playable once you start to get a feel for it.  Unfortunately, that takes a while as the tutorials only answered about three-quarters of my questions, so it took some fiddling and trial and error (or giving up and accepting ignorance) for me to figure out how parts of the game worked.  Still, I did eventually hit a bit of a rhythm about halfway through the game.  It never got “fun” per se, but it did cease to be painful to play.  There’s a rhythm mini-game that they kind of stuck on with scotch tape.  Like, it seriously feels like they just plastered in at the last minute because it’s the clunkiest and least intuitive rhythm game I’ve ever played.  Even calling it a “rhythm” game feels wrong because, despite the tutorial’s claim, there was no connection whatsoever between the song’s rhythm and the correct timing of the button inputs.  Button inputs, by the way, that seems completely arbitrary with whether or not they registered the timing.  I’m bad at rhythm games – I’ll be the first to admit it – but I’m not as bad as this would have you believe.

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Truthfully, I’m really not sure how much more I can say about this game.  It’s just bad.  It’s certainly not unplayable, but I can’t see anyone getting any actual enjoyment from playing it.  I dropped $100 on the limited edition for this game and played it through to completion including the Platinum trophy because it’s Nep and I’m a cult-like superfan of the series, but unless you’re a big fan of the Neptunia series, just skip this one.  It’s just not a good game.  It finally replaced Megatagmension Blanc + Neptune vs Zombies as the worst game in the series (although that one still has the title for the worst title in the series).

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