Dimension Tripper Neptune: TOP NEP Review

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Our Score: 8/10

Dimension Tripper Neptune: TOP NEP is an on-rails shooter game taking inspiration from the 1985 arcade game Space Harrier. You don’t need to have played either Space Harrier or the mainline Neptunia games to enjoy this title, but you will definitely enjoy all of the references to those games if you have played them. Many of the characters and antagonists in this game come directly from the Neptunia franchise.

Dimension Tripper Neptune: TOP NEP doesn’t have any story and plays like an arcade game where you get right into gameplay as soon as you start the game. You can select either Normal or Hard difficulty modes. Normal difficulty allows you to keep playing after dying and is useful if you’re not familiar with these kinds of games, but I’d recommend you start with Hard difficulty if you’ve played on-rails shooter arcade games in the past.

The gameplay of Dimension Tripper Neptune: TOP NEP is on the easier side, which is a nice surprise. Space Harrier was an easy game to get into, but a difficult game to master. I wouldn’t say Space Harrier was unfair by any means, but you definitely had to repeat many of the stages and master how to defeat the bosses to get to the end of the game.

Dimension Tripper Neptune: TOP NEP, however, is a very forgiving game for newcomers, but at the same time it will let you master it if you wish to do so. The enemies and bosses have attacks that are well-telegraphed for beginners and there is often plenty of space to dodge their attacks.

The game has 5 stages and 5 bosses, all comprising about a 20 minute playthrough. The stages are separated with Japanese torii gates that act as transitions between the different stage designs.

You can only control Neptune as the protagonist. She can move around freely and she has the ability to shoot forward and also slash forward with her sword. Most objects in the game are destroyable, but if you aren’t able to destroy or avoid them then you will take damage for getting in contact with them. The slash is very useful because it can not only destroy objects and enemies, but also their projectiles as well.

If enemies are releasing too many projectiles at once, you can just slash through them but you’ll need to be a tad careful with your timing. If you’re unable to destroy or dodge an enemy and they’re about to come in contact with you, you can use the slash to destroy it. This is handy because some types of enemies will charge at you after a few seconds of appearing on screen. Thankfully the slashing timing is not too strict and you don’t need to be anywhere close to being frame perfect. In fact, you can even spam the sword slash if you want and most of the time you’ll get through almost damage-less.

You can also collect coins scattered through the stages that are floating freely. Stage 3 also has breakable gold boxes stylized as boxes from Super Mario that contain coins, but in general the breakable objects don’t have coins. Collecting coins also increases a bar for your next “wingmate”. When the bar fills it’ll summon a Neptunia character next to you, who will also shoot alongside you for a period of time to increase your damage output.

Even when you have a wingmate next to you, you can still increase the bar to the next wingmate and it’ll cycle through many of the Neptunia characters in their HDD form including Plutia, Ram and Rom, Blanc, Nepgear, Peashy, Uni, and Vert.

The characters, enemies, bosses and level design all have very great spritework. This title really looks and plays like Space Harrier and the developers put the effort into it. Everything looks very crisp and the art design is up there. It feels like the characters are flying through the air at high speed because you can see their hair waving wildly as they’re flying. As well, you can feel the weight through the animations when Neptune shoots her gun or slashes her sword. The soundtrack is very retro-inspired and each stage has its own track.

Although the game is short, the price is very affordable and the game does have offer a substantial amount of replayability. Defeating enemies and collecting coins increases your score, just as it would in an arcade game. Looking from the high scores records online, the game has a little over 206,000 as a max score and you’d have to collect all coins and defeat all of the on-screen enemies. You can also do other kinds of challenge runs for fun as well, such as doing a no-damage run and Steam offers achievements for completing these challenges.

I’d recommend you to play Space Harrier too if possible because it’s a really fun game and worth an experience while also not taking too long either. It is owned by Sega, and you can get it on the Sega Genesis Mini console. Alternatively, if you don’t have that console but you own any Yakuza or Shenmue games or their remasters they will likely have Space Harrier among other Sega games in the in-game arcades.

When I was younger, I bought the original Shenmue on the Sega Dreamcast just to play all the arcade games in the game for free instead of going to the mall arcades. I even got the game over in that game for not progressing the main story of the game enough!

Another reason I enjoyed this game is because it’s something I’ve always had in the back of my mind. When you beat most of the Neptunia games, they’ll have a fun credits sequence where they’ll show the main cast in parodies of old games on one side of the screen while the game credit plays on the other side.

These parodies of old games would often show the Neptunia characters being in old Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy games with retro sprites. I always wondered to myself what if they actually made those parodies into an actual retro game, and that’s exactly what Dimension Tripper: TOP NEP is.

Back to the main subject, my only criticism with Dimension Tripper Neptune: TOP NEP is that I wish you could’ve played as other characters, instead of only being able to use them as wingmates. But otherwise, this is a really fun and relaxing game to try out. For the scope it’s trying to achieve it does a great job and I really enjoyed all the old references, not just to the Neptunia series but even to other retro games such as Super Mario and Space Harrier.

This game was also developed by Tiny Cactus Studio, who specialize in making retro-inspired shoot-em-up games, and I’m looking forward to trying out more of their games moving forward.

Dimension Tripper Neptune: TOP NEP is not trying to be grand or anything, it feels like a fun passion project. It’s great to see a refreshing indie game like this in 2022 and it even costs less than you’d spend at an arcade. I’d really recommend giving this title a try, even if you don’t play Neptunia or haven’t played old arcade games in decades, because you’ll still get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

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