When Super Neptunia RPG was announced, it had a very distinct sort of look. Initial screenshots and information from Artisan showed a game that seemed familiar. Both the battle system, presentation and world looked similar to Square Enix’s Valkyrie Profile. Now that its here, people might want to know if it could really scratch that same sort of itch. Is this really a Valkyrie Profile-like? Well, the truth is that it is more attempting to mimic that style, without delivering anything that could be considered even close to some sort of similar successor.
Super Neptunia RPG definitely has the look. Valkyrie Profile was known for taking people into a 2D world with detailed character sprites moving around a layered environment. The HD character sprites for the console goddesses are surprisingly expressive for their size and limitations. When exploring a town or dungeon area, you needed to move into the foreground or background to proceed. At the very least, the methods of navigation and character designs do have a certain vibe. You’ll be hopping (like a kangaroo!) through stages, collecting crystals, slashing at enemies and meeting people throughout the world who might need your assistance or want to hamper your progress. While Lenneth would let you summon crystals to get a boost and jump higher, Neptune can summon a pudding for a bit of extra height.
However, there isn’t the same sort of complexity. Valkyrie Profile was known for this deep story that was heartfelt and touching. It made you connect with the characters and care about their plight. Super Neptunia RPG is effervescent. It’s like someone poured some pop from a machine, but didn’t wait for the fizz to settle, so you only wind up with a half-full glass. Neptune, Blanc, Noire and Vert all have amnesia. Chrome and the group Bombyx Mori are trying to prevent the creation of any non-2D games, so you have to stop that so all sorts of games could be made. But, in the meantime, you are running rather meaningless fetch quests for NPCs and listening to everyone voicing their opinion about things.
Super Neptunia RPG expects familiarity. It wants you to already know about its characters and have an idea of how the world of Gamindustri works. You’re supposed to know the series makes a habit of poking fun at games and tropes associated with them. Conversely, Valkyrie Profile builds up its characters and world with you. You could go in knowing nothing and still have a great time, due to the way it grows with you.
But the one part of Super Neptunia RPG really trying to capture the Valkyrie Profile spirit is its battle system. When a fight starts, each member of the party is assigned to a button. However, while Valkyrie Profile has a sense of strategy about which characters to use each turn for a combo and every person has a role, Super Neptunia RPG has an active-time system. You gradually build up the energy needed to perform an attack and have to wait for enough for someone to perform actions. Rather than pressing a button for them to do their thing, you use the trigger buttons here to change the formation and determine if physical attacks, magical attacks, healing skills or support skills are used. It means the fights have a much slower pace and it becomes more about rotating than knowing which buttons to press in a combo.
Super Neptunia RPG attempts to be like Valkyrie Profile. It has the same kind of atmosphere, when it comes to its character designs and locations. Its battle system also tries to have the same kind of approach, though with a much slower pace that might be a bit less challenging. However, the story is very different in tone. There is an expectation of familiarity, which might be off-putting to people unfamiliar with Neptunia. You could very well mention the two games in the same breath, but one is far more frivolous, sillier and less substantial than the other.