Neptune, Idea Factory Internation’s infamous console goddess, is known for her her range. She’s appeared in all sorts of games, from RPGs to beat’em ups. Now, her latest tackles another genre, the shoot’em up. Neptunia Shooter isn’t as nuanced as, say, a Touhou title or Cave shooter, but it is challenging and has some interesting elements that gives players a chance to do some crowd control. Each heroine gets to stand out, but Neptune, Compa, Iffy, and Noire are especially handy.
Neptunia Shooter begins as a rather traditional, side-scrolling shooter. People only have access to Neptune. She has a rather basic, rapid-fire attack. When you press it down, she shoots out D-pads rapidly at enemies to the right of her. This makes her not only an ideal character for the first level, but much of the game in general. It is good at dealing with most of the Dogoos who will head for you. However, completing the first of the six stages opens up the world to people.
Each Neptunia Shooter heroine has a specialty, which allows her to handle a certain sort of crowd control. Neptune, as I mentioned, is more basic. Once Compa joins the roster after her boss fight, verticality is added to the game. A new sort of enemy, yellow Dogoos, shows up. These ease their way up from the bottom of the screen and shoot energy bullets up at you. While Neptune could deal with them, she is nowhere near as effective. However, Compa’s moveset is tailored to them. She drops pill bombs that quickly wipe these out. Since she literally drops them, she’s most effective when placed at the top of the screen, as she has no range otherwise.
Iffy is the next member of the team to show up, and she shakes things up too. While Neptune shoots to the right, Iffy offers the exact same sort of attack toward the left. This is great as a sort of crowd control effort for when another variety of yellow Dogoos shows up from the left side of the screen. It is also a huge help for facing Noire, as she is a wandering boss. While Compa and Iffy tended to stay toward certain areas, Noire will float around everywhere with her green blob attacks.
Once you get Noire, you have everything you need to completely address any kind of enemy invasion. Noire’s weapon might seem a little out of character and unconventional, as she attacks with balloons. However, she’s helpful with handling the one missing direction. All of Noire’s balloons head upward. This means she’s only effective if you can safely have her hug the bottom of the screen. But, when you do, it makes it easy to address those enemies that would otherwise drop down from above to rain energy bullets on you. Once she’s around, you can start making out strategies that allow you to completely maneuver around the screen, swapping as quickly as possible to attack every enemy.
It’s not a perfect system. Sometimes, it can feel like there is a little delay when swapping between characters, where precious seconds could have helped with avoiding enemy fire. Still, Neptunia Shooter’s concept is sound. It really helps you handle all sorts of enemies. It allows for different strategies. Most importantly, it helps make each Neptunia series heroine feel special and useful in her own way. Which is handy, given how difficult the game can get.
Neptunia Shooter is available for the PC.