Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars by developers Idea Factory, Compile Heart, and Tamsoft and publisher Idea Factory International—Sony PlayStation 4 review by Richard with a copy provided by publisher.
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Nin nin. Nin nin. Toki- hold up, I’m getting my references mixed up. Either way, it’s time for another collaboration spin-off title from the Neptunia franchise, this time it’s ninja themed with Senran Kagura! With all of the fourth wall breaking jokes of the Neptunia franchise, combined with the ninja “physics” of Senran Kagura, it’s time to bounce on in to a world of shinobi in Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars.
In Neptunia x Senran Kagura the four Ninja Goddesses, or Neptune and her fellow goddesses, are the four strongest ninjas of the Compa style ninja arts, fighting for Heartland (Compile Heart) against the ninjas of Marveland (Marvelous) who are the four lead ninjas of each primary faction in the Senran Kagura titles. Every night it’s a 4v4 battle as the Senran Girls attempt to destroy Heartlands share crystal. All this changes however when one day a mysterious flying ship bombards them as they’re fighting on top of a roof. Mechanical NINJAs then descend, and Heartland and Marveland are beset by the Steeme Legion led by Yoh Gamer and Tetsuko.
In terms of gameplay, Ninja Warriors is closer to Senran Kagura than Neptunia. You can bum around in town, browsing the market for equipment and items, managing your equipment, chatting up the townsfolk etc. Once you are prepared, you head into the field by selecting a stage from the world map. You will then begin combat in a 3D action style gameplay. Off you go to run around the field with a partner you can switch between, defeating enemies to open magical barriers, collecting treasure chests, and maybe fighting a boss at the end of the stage. You’ll earn exp from defeating enemies, and will level up increasing your stats.
Each character has a standard attack combo, four ninja arte slots, as well as ranged weapons, kunais and shuriken. You can dodge, block, jump, and run, although most of those will use your stamina gauge. The stamina gauge will deplete as you perform actions, and will regenerate slowly over time, by attacking enemies, or in large chunks if you get a perfect guard off. Using ninja artes will take a set number of bars from the stamina gauge, and can be chained in a combo of up to four. Characters also have access to a super move if you can fill the gauge up, as well as an “elemental drive” mode, which can be activated for a set period of time, but provides benefits such as health regen or not flinching.
Something that may be of interest to any of you is that ranged weapons can actually be extremely powerful in certain scenarios, so don’t neglect them. They have a set ammo capacity, but will recharge fairly quickly over time. Also, for those familiar with the Neptunia franchise, you may notice that apart from Neptune, the other three goddesses are using different weapons than you may be used to (Editor’s Note below). As you’re playing through the game, you will collect spirit gems and talismans. Talismans can be equipped as accessories, and spirit gems can be placed in a grid to give passive bonuses, such as periodic healing or increased damage output. The spirit gems come in different levels, and if you get two of the same you can combine them into a higher level gem. The gems can be put into a grid where certain arrangements will provide bonuses.
After you’ve completed a stage, you can return from the world map to explore, earn more exp, and collect any chests you may have missed. As you progress a little into the game, you unlock a minigame called “Peaches and Cream Meditation” where you use the controller motion sensor to balance on a giant peach. Succeeding gives a stat bonus for the next three stages to you and your partner. It’s an interesting minigame that has three difficulty options with better bonuses the harder the difficulty. You can also accept requests from the local shrine, where you be sent straight into the field when you accept the request. Some requests can only be unlocked by talking with the townspeople.
After you manage to finish the game, you get to unlock “Yomi Training”. This is a pack of 8 sets of 3 stages each that have set restrictions on the stages, and you have to go through all three in one go, where your health and drive uses carry over between the stages. Completing all 8 unlocks a final challenge for you to face. Pro tip, the challenge in the top right is probably the easiest. These stages give a nice post game challenge, and while some of them, one in particular, made me almost throw something for real, they tend to be a good test of skill.
I am pleased to announce that Ninja Wars combines both the musical styling of Neptunia and the Senran Kagura franchise, in a wonderful combination of traditional Japanese themes and newer electric guitar. The characters also have new 2D models that are well illustrated, although the Senran cast does look a little off, especially Homura who looks cross-eyed half the time.
Ninja Wars is a pretty solid game all around, although it does come with a few…quirks, let’s say, that can be rather frustrating. Enemies can, and will, attack you off screen and flinch-lock you given the opportunity. The evade has… mixed usefulness, and it is generally better to guard most attacks, especially since perfect guarding negates damage taken. The game did lag at times, although it happened rarely, and surprisingly not when there were a bunch of enemies on-screen. Fair warning as well: the game is short. It only took me about 10 hours to finish 90% of the quests and the main storyline. There is a little more due to the post game content, but it is purely optional. Combat will get a little repetitive, so you may want to play periodically, but the game is short enough that you don’t really notice it. There also aren’t a whole lot of enemy variations, as there are largely just a bunch of palette swaps for more enemies.
Editor’s Note – PY
Overall while fun to play, I did have a discussion with Richard about the weapons chosen for the four Goddesses of Gamninjustry. For Neptune, hands down worked as it is literally her usual weapon type of a Japanese Katana. For Noire, while her usual Western European rapier blade would have been out of place, her dual Sai were well designed and she had a great move set to go along with that weapon type. Where I found things not working as well were with Blanc and my favorite Goddess Vert. I found that their weapons didn’t quite jive with their characters as a hammer or a Kanabo would have been great and in theme for Blanc and a spear or a Naginata for Vert. I eventually settled in with NepNep and Asuka for the rest of the adventure after having tried everyone as a partner to Neptune.
Overall, Neptunia X Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars is a pretty fun game. The combat largely takes after Senran Kagura with Neptunia themes and felt really smooth. The plot is fairly cliché, more than I was expecting for a collaboration spin-off, the side scenarios were pretty funny, and it was all in character. The illustrations are nice, the music is all great, and the stages don’t take too long to finish, so it doesn’t start to wear on you too bad. While the game is incredibly short, the post game content is a nice challenge.
Fans of either Senran or Neptunia will be able to get a kick out of Neptunia X Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars.Score: 8 / 10