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Neptunia Game Maker R:Evolution Review

Neptunia Game Maker R:Evolution Review

As the resident Neptunia fan, I always look forward to the next game from Idea Factory. I first got into the series when Megadimension Neptunia VII was new (the VII stands for “Victory 2”), and as a heck of a coincidence, the latest game is a continuation of that 2016 classic! Now, the series has hardly been stationary since then, in fact there has been a steady stream of games released, but they don’t all follow one story and are usually quite standalone. It’s a topic in a couple of them, including VII, but Neptunia is a multiverse, which allows for new and interesting ideas using familiar protagonists. Neptunia Game Maker R:Evolution, while not an entry in the main series, does follow the adventures of a character we met in VII.

R:Evolution sets its sights on a character known as Older Neptune (AKA Adult Neptune), who is a dimension-hopping bug collector. She comes from Ultra Dimension (the main games take place in Hyper Dimension) and travels with the aid of a pixie named Croire who she stuck in her bug book. Croire is a mostly unwilling participant but is antagonistic, so I guess that makes it okay to use her powers for insect hunting. Anyway, Neptune arrives in a world where everyone develops games, and through shenanigans winds up agreeing to help three people out by becoming the President of game company Victory. From there, she’s embroiled in a conspiracy by a mysterious group to create clone games!

Her co-workers at Victory are named Pippih, Jagaa, and Reedio, and are collectively known as “the Failure Goddesses”. In the lore of Neptunia titles, the people in charge of nations are super powerful Goddesses, and said rulers are styled after consoles from the real world. For instance, Blanc is the Nintendo Wii, and her twin sisters are the Nintendo DS. Well, the Failure Goddesses are based on the Apple Pippin, Atari Jaguar, and the 3DO, even going as far as Jagaa constantly saying “Do the math”, the tagline used by Atari for the console.

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Neptune is fashioned after Sega

You may be wondering what Victory develops, and that’s actually up to you. One of the main mechanics is a redress of something you do in several previous games: develop discs to equip on your party members. This time, the more discs you develop, the more points you gain to spend on upgrading Victory, which in turn allows you to create more types of games. Each disc is imbued with effects, such as gaining more XP from battles, so it can be useful to craft a selection of them. Of course, each one takes a set amount of time to develop, so you can get some discs started before going into a dungeon, for instance.

New dungeons are unlocked using the same points used for developing discs, so another reason to keep developing. The story reason for opening dungeons is to deliver games to places via them, but really, a lot of them seem optional — or at least optional until you need to go there for the main story to progress. I would recommend completing side quests as soon as you can, if only because you'll struggle to remember where you need to go to get your rewards if you leave them too long, as the quest log doesn't tell you.

As an action RPG, you wander dungeons freely and have to whack enemies to initiate combat (or blunder into them, of course). You can have four party members, which marketing materials seem to be making a big deal out of… but past games have also had four? The last one only allowed three, so perhaps that’s why? Your attacks are set in the menus and unlock more as you continue to level up. You can set them to one of two buttons and, unlike Neptunia: Sisters VS Sisters, you can switch to another combo without ending the first.

However, your main damage dealer is the Link Chain, where you swap from one character to another after a couple of moves. Used correctly, each attack winds up doing 2.0x damage, and if you can get some special moves in there, it really adds up!

Unfortunately, combat in R:Evolution is a little iffy. I hit a wall with my characters averaging level 35 because all of a sudden there was a boss rush against level 40+ enemies who just trounced me no matter what I tried, so I had to go away to grind levels. Combat up to that point had resulted in a few near misses with health getting low, but I hadn’t had any characters be downed until then. To go from occasionally using health to burning through resurrection items was a shock to the system, made worse by the fact that you can either use a special move or an item, because they both require the same bar to have filled up.

Another thing that I noticed was sometimes I would have a tough battle against enemies 20 levels below me, and then absolutely destroy some that were three levels higher. It felt very uneven.

One huge improvement over past games, however, is that characters will request to use a health item to heal another party member, once their special bar fills up. It really removes some of the stress of having to check health bars all of the time.

As always with Neptunia, the biting industry commentary is on full display. Black Sister, a character based on the PS Vita, announces that the VS Nita store won't be closing, after an outpouring of support from fans. Another time, someone suggests that they make a AAA game, and Neptune (as President) tells them to just do it, without considering the costs and personnel involved. I can only assume that the Neptunia game released in 2027 is going to feature Microsoft-Activision-Blizzard, and somehow find the humour in it.

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Mini consoles on blast!

There are issues with the game, unfortunately, some of which could probably be easily avoided. Enemies getting stuck on dungeon walls because they’re too big for that section. The characters talk while exploring dungeons, and the voice lines repeat the same handful of phrases every few steps, making me literally mute the voices during a couple of puzzles because I was sick of them.

New to the franchise is the ability to use a motorbike while in dungeons, which helps you to get around the place and cuts down on how boring backtracking can be. Also, specific monsters challenge you to races, and if you win, you get prizes. Unfortunately, the handling of the motorbike isn’t great, even in races, and you’ll often activate speed up or slow down blocks on the road despite not going over them. Also, if the monsters get stuck on walls, you can imagine how much you pinball around on your motorbike…

The graphics are fine; not really much of an update from the previous title. But to be honest, the Neptunia titles reuse maps, monsters, and character models a lot. Like, more than you’re probably imagining. Same goes for audio — you’re going to hear music in this game that has appeared in every single title since Hyperdimension Neptunia in 2010. So if past games haven’t impressed you, this definitely won’t.

Speaking of graphics, there’s a Heartfelt Photo Mode, which is entirely separate from the game in the main menu, and just lets you pose characters and stick filters on. There’s no photo mode in the game itself, unfortunately, but if you want to create a manga starring Neptune, then have fun!

I will say, the voice acting is stellar as always, with franchise actors back in their familiar roles, and the new Goddesses are just as fun. I always say that a highlight of this franchise is the script, and they all carry it so well.

Neptunia Game Maker R:Evolution is another Neptunia game. That’s a blessing and a curse, unfortunately, as fans will like it, but it’s definitely not going to bring in newcomers. It doesn’t even explain what a Goddess is, which past titles usually do, so newbies will have no idea what Croire is, why she’s in a book, or why nobody questions Older Neptune’s claims she’s from another dimension. It’s a fun time, but probably not one to create new fans.

Neptunia Game Maker R:Evolution is available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch from 14th May 2024.

8.00/10 8

Neptunia Game Maker R:Evolution (Reviewed on PlayStation 5)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

It has its issues and doesn’t bring a lot of new things to the table, but it’s a fun, familiar stepping stone to the next Neptunia game, and that's all fans really want.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Andrew Duncan

Andrew Duncan


Guaranteed to know more about Transformers and Deadpool than any other staff member.

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