Neptunia Sisters VS Sisters Review
Neptunia: Sisters VS Sisters is a very fun and light-hearted action JRPG that I strongly recommend you to check out. The humor and writing is the best part of the game because it parodies the real life video game industry. The Neptunia games are JRPGs but with a big twist: the protagonists and supporting characters are all personifications of video game consoles (as well as publishers and IPs) and the wars in this game reflect real life “video game console wars”.
One question you may have is if you need to play other Neptunia games to understand the plot in this title, and no it’s not necessary. Writing this review in 2023, there are a lot of Neptunia games, which are divided into both “mainline” and “spin-off” Neptunia games. To confuse further there’s remakes of the earlier games. But in short, no, you don’t need to play other games before this one because Sisters VS Sisters is technically a spin-off title.
If you don’t play the previous games, you may be confused at first because the game will introduce a lot of characters at once, but the introductory cutscenes do a great job of summarizing the world of Gameindustri and you can pick up who the characters and what their traits are pretty quickly. This title in particular also features many unique characters exclusive to this game too with a unique storyline not necessarily related to the other games. I would recommend you to check out the mainline Neptunia games if you have spare time, they’re really fun games and if you’re craving more then check out all of the spin-off titles.
I will only give you a synopsis of the first half hour of the game to give you an idea of what to expect without giving away any of the plot. The protagonist of this game is Neptune’s younger sister, Nepgear, who is based off of the Sega Game Gear. The major supporting characters are Neptune, Vert, Noire, and Blanc who represent Sega, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. They are Console Patron Units (CPUs) who rule over their respective lands – Planeptune, Leanbox, Lastation and Lowee. They can each be thought of like a head of state, but in this case they make decisions on what games can appear in their lands and what consoles they’ll release in the future. They also each have the ability called Hard Drive Divinity (HDD), allowing them to transform into powerful goddesses to vanquish their enemies.
Their younger sisters are Nepgear, Uni, Ram and Rom, who are CPU candidates and represent portable systems (Gear Gear, Playstation Vita, and the top and bottom screens of a Nintendo DS).
Nepgear and Uni are exploring and find a device hidden in a cave which unleashes a new threat onto their lands. They get knocked into cyro stasis and two years pass. Monsters rampage, causing all of the console leaders to close off their land and isolate themselves. Nepgear uses a used video game shop as her base and makes allies so that she can save her land, Planeptune, and her sister Neptune.
Admittedly, the story starts off a bit slow and awkwardly, but there are many interesting new faces to the Neptunia franchise such as Higurashi, Alice, Maho, and Anri. You also recruit the mainstay CPU leaders again and the plot and writing really pick up. The first half of the plot is pretty much recruiting everyone again, but the second half of the plot gets really good and is full of surprising twists. The plot also appears to have been inspired from the real life pandemic, which made many plot points hit harder such as how some of the CPU had to force lockdowns on their nations and they were getting riots from their citizenry.
One aspect of this game that I enjoyed was how modernized it was. The old Neptunia games are getting dated now, where they were released in the late 2000’s and had characters using flip phones. This game, however, has plenty of social media and smartphone jokes. One of the big conflicts of this title is how the r-phone is taking over, and all of the CPU leaders need to find a way for their game consoles to co-exist with the emerging mobile game market.
It was also great seeing how characters would make jokes from real life video game trends. Neptune was complaining about how she had to win a contest just to get an opportunity to buy a new console, which was how bad it actually was during the worst part of the pandemic. Blanc (Nintendo) was also making fun of how Noire (Sony) had become so restrictive on the kind of games she allowed in her land which was inline with Sony’s recent policies. Neptune has a habit of always viewing her life as if it were a video game so she’ll always make jokes like “Oh no you triggered a death flag!”. This series is similar to Disgaea’s in the sense that the story and characters aren’t like those you’d see in regular JRPGs, it’s like a parody but it does take itself seriously for the major plot points.
The gameplay is not traditional turn-based combat like in mainline Neptunia titles. Instead, the combat is action-based similar to some Tales of games. In this title you have AP that is spent for each move you make. You make combinations of moves to put in a combo string just like mainline Neptunia games (which can vary between break, power and rush which do more guard damage, regular damage or quick moves for building gauges, respectively). AP regenerates after a few seconds of waiting and can be increased by leveling up. Instead of running around waiting for AP to regenerate you can switch between 3 different characters, so when one character runs out of AP you can switch to another and there will be a prompt to do so. If you switch characters at the correct time you build a chain, and having a higher chain makes your move have a damage multiplier.
You explore regions with enemies you can fight or ignore. If you fight enemies you’ll level up as you would in any JRPG. You can also attack enemies to gain initiative in battle or destroy obstacles to gather materials, items or equipment. You can buy equipment and items in shop to upgrade your characters’ loadout.
Discs are present in this game in a new form. Like old games, you can equip discs to characters to gain many kinds of bonuses, such as gaining an experience bonus or increasing a character’s maximum AP just to name a few. You create discs by selecting a genre, selecting an NPC, and selecting a support item and then by waiting a period of time, roughly 10 to 20 minutes. It’s not too hard to make discs because the game rewards you with plenty of NPCs who work for you and plenty of support items. It is a bit random but the game is never hard so you don’t need to spend hundreds of hours optimizing them. I was able to create a disc that made my critical rate go up, resulting in most of my moves always being critical hits.
The graphics are not cutting-edge but the areas are colorful and charming. The levels are more lengthy than the previous games and the art direction looks great. Each world and dungeon looks distinct, from forests to caves to even cities. The oldest Neptunia games were notorious for recycling the exact same level layouts and just giving them a different name. It’s not like that in this game. The dungeons will have the occasional corridor or room that’s copied and pasted a few times, but the developers were much more liberal in the use of recycling assets this time around. I really liked how Planeptune is now an entire city you can explore full of NPCs with dialogue about the world. In previous games Planeptune was a major area but you’d only see its background in the cutscenes, so it was fun exploring Neptune’s and Nepgear’s room.
This game has lengthy visual novel style cutscenes with characters talking. The characters are animated to look like breathing 3D character models. This game has better models and animations than the previous games. There are many optional cutscenes in the game as well marked with blue objective markers, which often have funny banter between characters or worldbuilding. There are both dub and sub options available for voice acting. The game defaults on Japanese voice acting. I played the first hour with English, and most of the major scenes are voiced, but not all of it unfortunately. I switched back to Japanese voice acting with subtitles and there was definitely more voice acting present. Both are great options with professional voice actors either way. The blue optional events are unvoiced in both languages. The in-dungeon dialogue that plays while you’re walking around in a map is only voiced in Japanese.
There’s a new smartphone app in the game used to take optional quests. The sidequests in Neptunia games, including this one, are generally not good. They don’t have good dialogue and they’re usually just “fetch quests” or “kill x number of enemies”. But they’re a good way to get extra items or level up from defeating enemies between lengthy story events. The phone app in-game also lets you like your friends’ or enemies’ social media (tweets, but I’ll keep referring them as chirps).
It took me 30 hours to beat the game and get the true ending. The game has multiple routes – I found a normal route and a true ending route. It is actually very tricky to get the true ending to the game and it’s meant to be done on a new game plus. Like other Neptunia games, this game uses the “shares” mechanic to determine your ending. The CPU leaders get their powers from shares, which is the energy their citizens give if their leaders are doing a good job. You can increase it from storyline events or completing optional quests. In this game there are two categories of shares: goddess shares and the r-phone shares.
To get the true ending, you need to keep the meter balanced (you want video games and consoles to co-exist with mobile games). In this game, it’s extremely easy to get goddess shares, from just main story events to completing optional quests and also liking your friends’ chirps. But it’s not so easy to get r-phone shares (the only method I could find is to like the enemies’ chirps in the phone which is very slow). That means if you do to many optional tasks you’ll be stuck with a very high amount of goddess shares, meaning the bar is not balanced and you’ll get stuck to the normal ending route. There is a way to fix this, if you keep liking the enemies’ chirps you can reduce the goddess shares, it’s extremely slow but it’s possible to do.
All I can really say is don’t stress out about getting the true ending on your first run, since it means you can’t do any sidequests and such. The normal ending is a perfectly good ending to the game. The new game plus of this title is also well executed, where you carry over your levels, equipment, items, all your combo settings and even the maps are filled out. This means that on a new game plus run you can just skip most cutscenes and get to the true ending within another 2 or 3 hours by skipping optional tasks. If you do a new game plus run, you’ also get new characters to play you’ll also be able to play as Higurashi and Alice, which were strangely not playable in your first run of the game.
This game has many quality of life improvements compared to older Neptunia games such as more save points. You can also edit your party formation, moves loadout and equipment before every boss battle. The exclamation points are used to trigger the next story event, but the range of them are more well-defined and they’re clearly marked with lines too. As a result, you don’t need to worry about accidentally triggering a fight like you would in older titles.
All in all, it was a really fun game with great humor. I’d rank it as one of the best Neptunia spin-offs. It genuinely has really good writing and I kept grinning from ear to ear listening to the dialogue and real life references to anime, Japanese culture, and the video game industry. Many off these references were also extremely recent references compared to the older games. I was really impressed with its world-building and its very likeable protagonists. Whether you’re a Neptunia fan or not it’s definitely worth a buy because the dialogue is just that good. The only note I’d make is that this might not be the game for you if you’re not into Japanese culture, video game trends or if you dislike lengthy visual novel style cutscenes. It’s not a big budget title but for the scope it’s aiming for it does a very great job.
Neptunia Sisters VS Sisters
- Great writing and voice acting. Although the gameplay and graphics aren’t the best, it’s definitely worth playing to see the character interaction.
- The references to real life are hilarious, such as Gamindustri being a reference to the video games industry in real life.
- This game is great because it’s more recent than the older games, and it makes references to the rise of mobile gaming for instance.
- The gameplay can be a bit repetitive at times.
- The pacing of the story can be a little off during some of the story arcs.
– Brandon Harris
Reviewed on PC