Initially debuting back in 2010 few could have imagined just how much cross-genre potential the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise could offer. While the majority of their games have been RPGs we’ve seen brawlers, strategy RPGs, a VR-enabled entry, and even an idol raising game so it only makes sense that the series tackle something a little different, especially since it happened to be a joke to start with. Neptunia Shooter is a bullet hell style shooter and with Neptune and her friends now in an 8-bit side scrolling shooter, is this entry worth it?
Neptunia Shooter forgoes the usual explanation as to how the girls have ended up in their current situation and drops players immediately into the game playing as Neptune. Neptune has a rapid fire ability that allows her to fire chainshots together for a faster rate of fire or separately for more spread. This allows her to be fairly versatile and help her avoid taking damage which is essential as players initially can only, at least initially, take three hits before facing the game over screen.
The primary enemy that players face happen to always be various types of Dogoos that act in specific ways that range from simply firing at the player or flinging themselves at them and this variety is kept fairly standard throughout the stages with each Dogoo having a unique coloration or style to help match their attack pattern. The early stages of the game are fairly simple as far as a bullet-hell style game go with the screen being filled with Dogoos that must be killed or avoided all while trying to avoid incoming fire though this can be a bit rough as the background design of the stages is occasionally a bit too similar to some incoming attacks that other shooters utilize, meaning players may end up dodging a harmless background particle into a more dangerous situation if they aren’t paying close attention.
At the end of every stage players will have to take down a boss that, when defeated, will join the player’s party as a character that can be swapped to on the fly. Each boss fight plays in a different manner that is a unique and fun enough take on the genre while also giving a bit of a preview of the character’s actual firing capabilities. Compa has the ability to fire close-range falling pills to hit enemies below, Iffy fires in the opposite direction to allow for enemies to be taken out from behind, and more.
This creates a fun enough game that while not incredibly hard to learn is actually quite difficult to master. After the initial stages players will quickly find themselves being overwhelmed as the challenge increases immensely the further along players get in the stages. Sure there are only six stages in total but it will take a lot of skill to actually face off against the final boss and hit that clear screen. It is worth noting that there really isn’t too much else to aim for in Neptunia Shooter besides clearing the game and of course getting the best score possible as there are leaderboards available if you want to see just how you rank.
Visuals & Audio
Stylized like an 8-bit shooter from yesteryear Neptunia Shooter pulls it off quite well. The character sprites for the various playable characters and their boss variants are nicely detailed while the Dogoo enemy types are varied in appearance enough that they stay fairly fresh although more visual enemy types would have been a better touch. It is also worth noting that the space style background can be a bit of a problem at times due to its simplistic nature and stylized “star sprites” looking like incoming fire.
The soundtrack is also similar to what one would expect in an 8-bit shooter with standard chiptune music accompanying players in these stages. It is also worth noting that players should not expect any voice work in this game as there is no dialogue.
Few could have imagined that an April Fool’s joke would have ended up being developed into a solidly designed side-scrolling shooter but here we are with Idea Factory’s Neptunia Shooter. While it may not be complicated and its simplicity is a bit of a disappointment for those who want a little bit more of Neptune and her friends’ charms, the design of this shooter works quite well as something to pop into for a bit and enjoy and considering it’s incredibly low price-point, isn’t going to break anyone’s bank.