Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars
After starting 2021 having played zero games in the series, I am now officially three games into the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise of RPGs from Idea Factory & Compile Heart. After testing the waters with the PS5 exclusive Neptunia ReVerse, I’ve been tasked with picking up my Dualshock 4 and loading up Neptunia X Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars for the PlayStation 4. Here’s what I thought of this crossover between an RPG full of humour, with a game known for ninjas… and fan service.
At A Glance
|Positives||+Finely balanced crossover|
+Irreverent story full of humour
-OTT voice acting
|Price (When Reviewed)||£44.99|
|Our Playtime||10 Hours|
|Available On||PlayStation 4, PC|
Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars is a crossover game between the Hyperdimension Neptunia series and Marvelous Inc.’s ninja side scroller, Senran Kagura. Both series have been around for the past decade, with Senran making the debut on the 3DS and Neptunia appearing on thePlayStation 3 before growing into two highly successful franchises. As fans wait for the next entry in each respective series, the idea of a crossover between Neptune and Asuka was born, and while Marvelous Inc oversaw the development, it was ultimately Idea Factory & Compile Heart that created and published this strange and humourous ninja RPG.
The Neptunia series has never taken itself seriously and Neptunia x Senran is no exception. From the off, Neptune points out to the players that “Our two universes merging their narratives is causing some kind of rift in our story continuity”. This is a game created purely for the fans but even so, there is definitely appeal for a wider audience. There is the usual attempt at a story; Gamninjustri (as opposed to Gamindustri, the home world of Hyperdimension Neptunia), is a Ninja-star shaped land where factions of ninjas are at war with one another for unknown reasons. It just so happens that the two biggest factions are from our titular houses, Neptunia and Senran Kagura, but as a menace from elsewhere appears and starts destroying the land, it’s up to both houses to come together and fight off the evil. It’s a by-the-numbers story and plays out just fine… for a crossover. It’s a story that is secondary to the fact that the two universes are colliding.
Like the other games in the Hyperdimension Neptunia series I’ve experienced so far, it’s not the destination that’s being advertised, it’s the journey, and Neptunia x Senran certainly is a fun ride while it lasts. We’re presented with the dungeon crawling RPG set up we’ve seen in previous Neptune games. And again, thethe story unfolds by text and static images, rather than having to explore the different regions to find your next quest, I think this is how Compile Heart and Idea Factory manage to churn out so many games, but that’s not a bad thing! Navigating menus is straightforward enough but the game comes into its own when you do make it into the free roaming dungeons. The combat is a slick hack-and-slash affair with one character being the sole focus at all times, while one other waits to tag in and provide support if needed. The buddy system feels refined and fluid and while you can’t quite reach Devil May Cry level of combos, hacking away with a sword, then throwing ninja stars at enemies further away definitely felt like I was fighting like a ninja. To go along with the combat is a spirit-board upgrade system. This gives various buffs such as additional Exp. for beating certain enemy types, but ultimately isn’t needed – I set the spirit orbs to grind money and didn’t run into any problems with enemies throughout my time.
Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars combat is lovely and is complemented by graphics of the game. Although there is barely a ninja mask between them, the characters are beautifully drawn, and are fully voiced in Japanese, with no English option; this might be a relief to some who are happy that they don’t have to sit through awful anime dubbing, the characters, especially Nep, are as loud and high pitched as ever and even though the backgrounds are typically static, they look lovely – showing off historical Japanese architecture. When out exploring the world the dungeons do unfortunately let the side down as they are basic in appearance – if it wasn’t for the colour of the floor, or the trees/mountains in the background there would be nothing to distinguish between each area, which was disappointing when every other aspect of the game looks great.
For two series that have elements of pure fan service, you’d be forgiven for thinking Ninja Wars is anything but straight smut and thirst-content for a certain type of crowd, and while elements are certainly present, such as one character being jealous of the size of another’s *ahem* assets, every time conversations are brought up, they are swiftly handled with a shot of humour that completely changes the subject and the game moves on. It’s a brilliant move that makes fun of the image both series are known for.
It’s an odd decision that Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars was released on the PS4 when Neptunia ReVerse was an exclusive release on Sony’s latest console a few months earlier, as the crossover title is objectively better looking and perhaps could have benefitted from the upgraded technology. I think the choice here came to which console has sold more units, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think either game pushes their respective consoles, it just seems like a step backward not to use the more modern machine when another title in the series already does so. It’s also odd looking at Ninja Wars, releasing on an older console with improvements, such as all enemies being on the battlefield.
The one thing that goes against Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars is that it is painfully short. The sum of the game can be finished to 100% in around 10 hours, which is shorter than other RPG tutorials, let alone a fully fledged J-RPG. Even when taking into account the optional fetch quests. As I found myself playing the game and experiencing what was on offer, the story was brought to its conclusion, and I was left sitting on my sofa with a raised eyebrow as “Is that it?” left my mouth. I managed to tie everything up neatly and there’s little replayability other than changing my main character for fighting the bad guys.
In fact, that’s how I would sum up my time with Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars – a game that’s full of humour, fluid gameplay and a story, which despite being hamfisted to bring two series together, was ridiculous enough to work. It is more Neptunia than Senran Kagura so I think it’ll appeal to the former fan base rather than the latter, but the run time left a bitter taste – just as the game was starting to roll, it ended. The team up between both franchises was a strange choice from the outset but it’s well crafted and surprisingly well done, at least until the developers seemingly decided it was time for the Neptunia and Senran Kagura girls to wrap up and go home. That being said, on my little journey of playing all the games in the Neptunia series, Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars is currently sitting at the top of the pile so it definitely isn’t all bad.
In the interest of full disclosure, the publisher provided VGamingNews with a copy of the game in order to conduct this review.