Our score: 9/10
Neptunia Virtual Stars is a solid action game with a one-of-a-kind collaboration with many Virtual YouTubers, or Vtubers.
This review will contain no story spoilers, but I will give a basic premise to the game’s plot. In the first half hour of the game the four goddesses are teleported to a new world to help another goddess named Faira. She wants to save her world. Her world is a unique one, that relies on entertainment called Content, with places such as Neotube.
Faira needs the four goddess’s help because there’s an antagonist named Kado who is the leader of the planet Obsoletia, who is deleting all Content and attacking the poor Vtubers. Faira also teleports MEWTRAL to help her out in addition to the four goddesses. MEWTRAL is made up of two women named You and Me.
I can’t lie, the plot sounds silly, but the gameplay is fun and the interaction between characters is great. It’s not necessarily meant to be a serious story, it’s meant to be funny and meant to be a parody to people who don’t support content creation.
The game itself is a collaboration between the developers of the Neptunia franchise and VTubers. If you’re not familiar with Vtubers, they’re YouTubers who use software to turn their face and body’s movements into an animated 3D character. If you’re not familiar or even interested in such a concept, you don’t need to worry, the game stands up on its own feet regardless.
The game explains the concept of VTubers well and you’ll find yourself laughing at the plot even if you don’t regularly follow VTubers online. Anybody can pick up this game and have a good time! In fact, I found myself looking up more of real-life Vtubers online after playing through this game because it was such a fascinating concept to me and such an interesting new way to do content creation.
Years ago in the 2010’s, I’d always think to myself why there weren’t more streamers who wore costumes and outfits, but Vtubers are those who ended up doing that. In fact, I even realized that videos I was watching earlier in my spare time were Vtubers without even realizing it.
At the same time, the addition of Vtubers is nonintrusive in this game and the plot of the game holds up well regardless. The story in the game does deal with the real-life issues that content creators have to face. The game shows the antagonists bullying around fictional Vtubers, harrassing them, stalking them, saying that they got lucky that one of their videos went viral, false copyright takedowns, etc.
One antagonist even calls the fictional Vtubers old men, but then goes on to say that he’s looking forward to watching a baseball game on cable later. The dialogue is really well-written and the developers are with the times.
It’s a very silly game, but the dialogue is just that witty. I found myself laughing out loud countless times because of how funny the character interactions are. You’ll still see some of the regularly tropes such as Noire being lonely, Vert being into video games and MMORPGs, Blanc reading books, etc, but it’s certainly not overplayed. With the new MEWTRAL characters and Faira you’ll get plenty of funny character interactions and cutscenes.
If you are worried that the introduction of Vtubers or that because this is a spinoff game the writing would not be good, don’t worry at all. The writing and dialogue in this game is easily on-par with any of the mainline Neptunia games.
One concern for many is that there is no English dub for this game. You will have to play this title with Japanese voices and you’ll need to read the subtitles. This is because all of the Vtubers in this game are Japanese and only speak Japanese. As well, the soundtrack in this game features Japanese vocals and it would be extremely difficult to translate these songs into English.
One major benefit of the game having no dub is that every single line of dialogue in the game is voiced and I was not able to find any unvoiced dialogue lines unlike older Neptunia dubbed games.
They could’ve had English dubs for the cutscenes featuring Neptune and company in the game, but didn’t. I actually prefer this decision because I don’t like it when a game switches constantly between English and Japanese, I’d actually prefer watching and playing it in one language throughout.
For example, I enjoyed playing through Yakuza: Like A Dragon and it’s one of my favorite Yakuza games; however, its English dub only had most (but not all) of the lines of dialogue translated to English. So although the protagonists would speak English in battle, the enemies in the game were still untranslated, yelling phrases such as “ORA ORA ORA!” to me, which in that context would translate roughly to “Come fight me!” The localization reads well with no typos and I never find myself confused by what the characters are talking about.
The graphics have great art design and the game has many CGs with all the characters illustrated well, as well as cutscenes with animated 3D models of the characters. There are many new 3D models for the new characters introduced, such as the two MEWTRAL members and Faira to name a few.
The soundtrack of the game is phenomenal. This game re-uses many tracks from older Neptunia titles, but they still sound great and feel like the theme of the franchist. Most of the tracks used in skit cutscenes are upbeat techno tracks that are great to listen to. The songs playing in the boss fights are very passionate and make the boss fights very exciting.
Although the game uses fictional Vtubers for a majority of its main storyline, the loading screens have a plethora of real-life Vtubers. We counted about 30 of them. You can skip them as soon as the game has finished loading, but they’re very interesting. I would it fun to learn more about Vtubers and I found myself watching more of their content on YouTube. You also get bonuses for watching them completely.
If you’re not interested but still want the rewards, I will emphasize again that it’s not intrusive at all. Each of the Vtubers’ promotions on the loading screens are a max of 30 seconds, and the PS4 Pro can load the levels within 5-10 seconds typically. It’s not like you’d have to watch through hours of Vtuber content.
The game presents a mixture of both bigger and smaller Vtubers, including Vtubers such as Inugami Korone and Minaduki Natsuki to name a few. I found myself laughing at some of the jokes in the loading screens, including one loading screen that had someone Vtubing as Heart from Fist of the North Star.
The level design is great and an improvement from older entries in the franchise. The oldest Neptunia games would unfortunately have copy-and-pasted levels with the game calling them different level names, but Neptunia Virtual Stars takes effort to build unique levels.
In the levels you fight a variety of enemies that spawn on the map for experience points to level up. As well, you can acquire rewards from destructible boxes and from even finding Vtubers around the level. You will certainly be rewarded for exploring; for instance, I actually shot a screen that had a Vtuber video playing, and it actually changed the video that was playing, showing her thanking me for my interest and giving me a gift. The game has an astounding level of detail if you keep an eye out for it.
This game plays with action combat, not turn-based combat you’re used to seeing in the mainline Neptunia games. It’s fast-paced and very fun, and the dialogue cutscenes between parts of the level help to break up the action gameplay with funny skits and an endearing story.
All the characters have their own playstyle. Neptune has her quick-firing guns, whereas Blanc has a gun that is able to charge up to fire more powerful blasts. The MEWTRAL members, Me and You, have close combat swords if you prefer that method of combat. All playable characters will get experience from battles and you can easily switch between characters with a simple button press. Sometimes I’d find an enemy Neptune’s gun couldn’t pierce, so we’d switch to Blanc and charge her gun for a more powerful shot.
The boss fights are some of the best in the franchise. The boss fights in Neptunia Virtual Stars have “MV Battles”. These MV Battles are boss fights but with Japanese songs from this game’s soundtrack in the background. The song will have different portions marked with a timeline you can see, and to summarize briefly, red means the boss gets more powerful, and blue means your allies will be more powerful.
It sounds complicated, but it’s very easy and fun, and the game presents you with tutorials to make sure you understand. It’s NOT like a musical QTE game at all. You need to time your gun attacks to correspond with the part of the song to benefit you. Bosses will also drop notes you can shoot that can give you temporary powerups as well.
These MV Battles are a very interesting take on action gameplay. The bosses genuinely feel hectic, but not overly so, because you have very passionate songs playing and you’re also trying to carefully plan your attack and dodge the boss’s attacks too. As you progress through the game, you also unlock more songs and you can change the songs that are playing too.
Overall, even I was a bit scared about Neptunia Virtual Stars before I played it. I didn’t know much about Vtubers before playing it, and I was a bit afraid that it was going to be a bad spinoff title. After playing through the title, my fears were completely unfounded. Even though it’s a different game from the other Neptunia games, the fast action gameplay was really addicting and fun and the characters have their same personality as before. The game gives you many new characters such as MEWTRAL who only add more to the experience. I constantly found myself laughing at the cutscenes in the game. It was a very terrific experience and the game is a great entry point into the franchise whether you’re a Neptunia fan or not.