Neptunia Shooter / ネプシューター (Steam) Review
Release Date: May 21, 2019
Publisher/Developer: Idea Factory International
Originally an April Fool's Joke, Neptunia Shooter is a double-niche game. Project Neptunia is a unique series of games that reaches across genres that in general pokes fun at the genres it's apeing with characters that are supposed to represent physical game consoles and stories that mirror actual game development or console wars. This time, they dip their toes into the traditional "Bullet Hell" shooter which tasks gamers with surviving wave after wave of enemies firing so many bullets at you it feels like you are threading the gauntlet of a constantly moving maze with deadly laser sides. Both of these are very specific genres and styles that cater to a small corner of the gaming community at large. The result is entertaining, albeit a little difficult to recommend to fans of either side.
Neptunia Shooter consists of six levels. You begin the game as Neptunia herself, and each level culminates in a boss battle with one of the other avatars. Defeating them adds them to your team which lets you use a different shooting pattern. Neptune starts with a basic forward shot, whilst others may have a reverse or even downward shot. As you unlock more characters you can cycle through them with a press of a button.
Every enemy other than main bosses are varying colored Dogoos, enemies from the Neptunia series. This fits with the traditional retro style the team is going for, but it does limit graphical options. The game follows traditional bullet-hell tropes, like using color or enemy rotation patterns to help gamers identify what's coming their way to prioritize attacks. I've also read that certain boss patterns even evoke classic shooter boss stages as well.
The biggest problem with the game is that it doesn't really dedicate itself to either niche. Fans of Neptunia are going to want to see the trademark humor prevalent in the series, and there's not a single bit of storyline to be had. Non fans of the series won't even know the names of the characters they are controlling. Meanwhile, bullet-hell shooters are known for their punishing difficulty but usually give a little for gamers to get the chance to progress. Players get three lives, and can earn more if they play aggressively, but losing all lives (which are one-shot deaths) kicks you back to the very beginning. With only six stages running a few minutes apiece this may not be a problem for a bullet-hell pro, as they can breeze through and go for a high score. Anyone else, though, may end up getting frustrated at being knocked down to Square One so quickly (it took me several attempts before I even got past the first stage). At only $4.99 though, it markets as a budget shooter that provides enough bang for the buck. After all, it started as an April Fool's joke, so you really can't expect a whole lot out of it.
Neptunia Shooter gives players a chance to go back to classic arcade-style shooter that you probably would have pumped at least $5 worth of quarters into back in the day. It is frustrating to deal with the barebones of it all, especially for those going into it expecting a full Neptune experience or looking for the traditional progression of a bullet hell shooter. It's a wonderful little homage to the genre and worth the entry price. However, unless you are a diehard who feels they have to support the company regardless of game quality, Neptunia Shooter should probably not be purchased solely on the Neptunia name.
-Value priced, quick action for a fast and fun challenge
-More variety once you start unlocking other avatars
-Short, difficult, and throws you back to Square One on loss
-Literally zero storyline, justt a flat shooter
-Doesn't really embrace either side of the mash-up
Special thanks to Idea Factory International for providing a code for review!