It’s interesting to see two highly regarded fanservice games cross paths. Ninja Wars brings the four main cast members from Hyperdimension Neptunia and Senran Kagura into a single hack and slash entry. But does this mashup live up to these established video game series?
Neptunia X SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars wastes no time showing the struggle between two powerful nations fighting for supremacy. Heartland, home of the Compa Style, and Marveland, known for the Honeypa Style, clash it out to achieve dominance. While the fight raged on, the ninjas were rudely interrupted by an army of mechanical ninjas calling themselves the Steeme Legion. Yoh Gamer, leader of the robotic army, ignites a Super NINJA War to decide the strongest ninja style.
The game’s story certainly isn’t the driving force behind it. It’s the action and some of the comedic moments in between. It serves more as a mashup between the two popular series to entertain mostly fans of either. Even if you’re new to either, the action gameplay and the 10-12 hour length of the game is sufficient to pull most people through it.
Picture running through a number of stages and fighting small hordes of enemies while searching for treasure chests along the way. This gameplay loop is Neptunia X SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars in a nutshell. You’re able to change gear, level up characters, and upgrade Spirit Gems. When not clearing dungeons, you can interact with characters through the conversations menu.
Stages and Combat
Mowing down enemies in this game is the most satisfying part of it. It feels good to subdue foes from using a basic attack to pairing it with the four equipable Ninja Art skills and an ultimate special skill. The throwable kunai is the icing on top to get some quick long-range damage in and maybe a status ailment. It’s impressive how all of these attacks land fluidly without lag on the Nintendo Switch version of the game.
Second to destroying hordes of enemies is movement. It’s a pleasant experience seeing each character press forward through dungeons whether they’re walking or running. Some of the characters even have their own distinctive movement. You’re able to interchange between the two characters that accompany you through a stage. It looks great when properly pulled off, but gets dampened by having to wait until a combo is near its end to initiate.
The stages are fine at first, and the game does throw in some obstacles to prevent plainness, but it still feels pretty generic where combat has to save the day. Even using the same character for long periods of time can get tiring, but the generous number of playable characters and the number of skills they can learn help alleviate this. I did wish for more availability of skills, but it felt sufficient for the short stages and the high number of characters.
Each dungeon in this game is presented with a recommended level before tackling it. If your level isn’t close to recommended, the bosses may prove difficult to beat even if you don’t have much trouble with the small fry at the beginning. They will test how good you are at maneuvering dodging or blocking.
While I didn’t find the appearances of most bosses appealing, the challenge they provided was satisfying. The most notable ones are the main characters you encounter. Some of the later fights may force you to use your consumable items or into the Fuurinkazan Drive state and both are convenient to use for such a fast-paced action-packed game.
The generous number of playable characters in Neptunia X SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars helps the game from getting old too quickly. Each character has a different set of Ninja Art skills and their very own unique special attack. The voice acting accompanied by their accounts is always a pleasure to listen to and enhances the experience of slaying dozens of enemies. Leveling up characters unlocks more Ninja Art skills, and it’s simple to swap between them. What I would have liked to see, however, was the ability to view a small preview of each skill while choosing the most suitable ones. The names aren’t too memorable and if you’re like me, you’ll have to focus more effort on remembering and putting a skill to a name when the time comes to equip new ones and remove the old.
New to either series are two playable characters, Yuuki and Goh. While there’s no takeaway from playing as any of the characters from either Hyperdimension Neptunia or Senran Kagura, even if you’re familiar with the two games, it’s nice to have these two additions as a breath of fresh air. You won’t find any real transformations or stripping off clothes in Neptunia X SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars. Each character does get two costumes to choose between. Other than that, the Fuurinkazan Drive adds four additional colors to these outfits and plays a short animation of the color transformation. It’s no real substitute for Senran Kagura’s transformation mechanic, though.
Peaches & Cream Meditation – Fanservice
What’s a Senran Kagura or Neptunia game without fanservice? Besides the still-pic bath scenes, there’s an optional “Peaches & Cream Meditation” mini game. You’ll have to balance one of your desired characters on top of a giant, pointy-tipped peach ball in a cross-legged position to prevent them from falling off. This must be done by using motion controls.
Peaches & Cream Meditation has several difficulty levels and completing a session rewards your character with a buff. The clothing they wear is a little more revealing than usual, and the motion is shared between all characters. Even though the motion is shared and can become repetitive, I’m sure a lot of fans will enjoy playing this mini game with each character model to experience their tilts and jumps.
Switching Between Menu Screens
While the performance during combat is excellent, switching through menus when not in a dungeon can be painfully slow. I’ve found myself avoiding some of the actions more than I’d like. I dreaded having to click multiple times to do this or that and going back and forth through slow-loading screens. It’s discouraging having to do it each time a dungeon is cleared.
Graphics and Soundtrack
The game does look good on the Nintendo Switch, maybe even better when docked. It’s satisfying to see the battle animations play out, and it runs smoothly on the console. The environments could have used a bit of work, though, as well as some of the enemy designs. The soundtrack is full of spirit and fits the ninja theme well. Even though most of the tunes are nice, it didn’t take long for me to get exhausted from hearing some, especially the Steeme Legion’s theme song.
Neptunia X SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars had the potential to be much more but has unfortunately been limited in what it could have been. The hack and slash gameplay feels like it’s the only motivation behind playing the game. The concept of the crossover felt more interesting than most of what else it had to offer. If you’re looking for a short action-packed beat ’em up and are a fan of either series, Ninja Wars is worth looking into—maybe during a 50% off sale.
Neptunia X SENRAN KAGURA: Ninja Wars gets a 6.5/10.