Neptunia X Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars by developer Idea Factory, Compile Heart, Tamsoft and publisher Idea Factory International—Nintendo Switch review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Shuriken, Kunai, and Ninjas, oh my! We’re back once again for a Neptunia spin-off colab title, Neptunia X Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars. In a world where nations war in ninja battles, the two nations symbolizing the Neptunia and Senran Kagura franchises are bitter rivals, or maybe sweet rivals would be a better description. When the land is invaded by the Steeme Legion, however, perhaps it’s time to set aside their differences to fight off this invading force. While Neptunia X Senran Kagura released last year for the PS4, a review of which is also available, today we will be looking at the Switch port.
The world of Neptunia X Senran Kagura is set in Gameninjastri, a sort of continent with warring ninja forces. In particular, the superpowers of Heartland (Neptunia) and Marveland (Senran Kagura) have been rivals for quite a while. During a battle one night on the castle roof of Heartland’s castle, both the Neptunia and Senran ninjas are attacked by the Steeme Legion. A temporary peace treaty is drafted in order to combat the menace of the Steeme Legion. It’s now up to the ninjas of Gameninjastri to defeat the leaders of the Steeme Legion: Yoh Gamer and Tetsuko.
In terms of gameplay, Ninja Wars is an action game more in-line with the Senran universe than the JRPG style of the Neptunia franchise. You run around a map beating up enemies, collecting exp and dropped items, and then maybe fighting a boss at the end. Each ninja has their own unique weapon style and combo moves, with special ninja arts that can be assigned to the four action button inputs. You have a dash, a guard, a normal/combo attack, and a ranged weapon, that thankfully recharges uses over time.
Actual combat is a little interesting, more so because of how you as a player will probably approach it, rather than how it’s actually laid out. For one, your guard will probably be significantly more useful to you than the dodge, despite the decent amount of invincibility from the dodge. Thanks to a parry, which negates damage taken and restores a portion of the stamina gauge, end game bosses, and even enemies, become much more manageable when you are regaining stamina rather than using it to evade.
You also have access to Kunai and Shuriken, which provide status infliction and flinching ability respectively. As an example, Kunai can get a poison application, and Shuriken can get a Disrupt status, which they can flinch an enemy, stopping their attack. You also get access to a special move by attacking or being attacked. The regeneration of stamina this way is used for running, evading, and using special ninja arts. If you find yourself in a bind, you can channel the power of the elements to give yourself a temporary boost associated with the element you choose. For instance, fire mode will increase your attack at the expense of defense. These modes can only be used a limited amount of times collectively per stage, so use them well.
When you come across a boss, they will have a guard gauge in addition to health. By dealing enough damage, you stagger the boss, allowing you to get a bunch of hits in while they are recovering. Also, don’t underestimate the power of piercing ranged weapons. Most of the bosses are rather reasonable, where learning their attack patterns isn’t too hard, and will turn the fight from challenging into very manageable. Except maybe a few of the post game challenges, but that’s only if you don’t prepare.
I feel like P.Y. will beat me if I don’t mention this, but for those familiar with the Neptunia franchise, you’ll probably notice that only Neptune uses the same weapon, while Noire, Vert, and Blanc all have different weapons than they normally do. While it makes sense for Noire, it doesn’t really for Vert and Blanc. Characters don’t get different weapons to equip, but what you do have is a Spirit Gem board, where you can place up to five of the same gem in a grid to improve your abilities, such as increased health or item drop rate. You can fuse together two of the same gems to make a more powerful gem, and if you put gems of the same grouping (such as ranged weapon related) in certain patterns, you can increase their effects. The grids start out with few slots, but expand as you level up.
At this point, I’d like to talk a bit about the difficulty levels, or just one, really. While you can select between Easy, Normal, and Hard, the Easy mode is insanely easy. There isn’t really any difficulty to it, and there’s one particular stage where you can exploit this to basically get 30 free levels in one go. If you want any sort of challenge, I suggest playing on Normal or Hard. If you’re struggling and need a few levels, you can always either return to areas you’ve previously cleared, or take on side quests from the Kumotsu shrine, which also offer rewards.
When you get tired of beating up monsters or other Ninjas, you can try out the “Peaches and Cream Meditation” minigame, which tasks you with balancing on a large peach using the gyroscope in the Switch, or you can set it to the trigger buttons if you want. The minigame comes in three difficulties, the harder of which gets unlocked with story progression, and will give a substantive boost to your health, defense, and attack at the final difficulty, at least for three stages. This works perfectly though, as there is a post game challenge called the “Trials of Yomi”, where you need to get through three stages in one go, with different restrictions per challenge, and your health/gauge usage carries over between stages.
In terms of graphics, you get those great hand-drawn style character portraits during the plot scenes, and some fancy new 3D models during combat. As has become my expectation, the port to the Switch feels like a bit of a graphical downgrade, although not enough to warrant getting up in arms over it. The music is a wonderful blend of the Senran classic/guitar mashups and the Neptunia more digital sounding tracks.
So, I do need to point out a few things here, mainly that combat can get a little repetitive, and sometimes feels a bit clunky, although it does smooth out once you find your rhythm. The game is also incredibly short. No, seriously, after earning the platinum trophy in the PS4 version, I skipped all the talking and side quests, and was about halfway through the game in, like, two hours. Obviously this won’t be the same for those who haven’t played before, but the combination of just powering through and easy mode makes things incredibly short. Also, be aware that enemies can, and will, hit you from offscreen, and the gattling gun enemies are super arse.
Overall, I still rather enjoy Neptunia X Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars. While you aren’t getting the same level of action you would from a Senran title, and it is rather short, it’s rather entertaining to run around stages as ninja Neptune. I honestly wouldn’t recommend picking this up on Switch if you already own it elsewhere, but if you see it on sale or something, I highly recommend picking it up.Score: 8 / 10