In the past year, Compile Heart and Idea Factory has been expanding the Neptune franchise by making various spinoffs in order to reach a wider audience. Last year, they made an idol simulator, which left a disappointing taste in my mouth. This year, they released a strategy RPG featuring Noire (Chou Megami Shinkoku Noire Gekishin, 超女神信仰ノワール激神) and planning to release an action game, which is developed by Tamsoft, the makers of Senran Kagura at the end of this month. While I’m not interested in the latter, I decided to get this game since I enjoy Noire/White Heart’s personality. Since I’m close to half way done with this game (currently on Chapter 4), it’s time to reveal what I think about the game first hand.
Although this is my first time playing a strategy RPG, Chou Megami Shinkoku Noire plays like any strategy RPG like Final Fantasy Tactics. You basically move your characters on the field. From there, you can attack an enemy (or use a skill), pick up boxes to reach higher places or open treasure chests. Like most handheld strategy RPGs, the fields are small. Therefore, each battle will take at least 10-30 minutes to complete depending on the difficulty setting, the enemies on the field and obstacles. Battles that are tied to the story will have specific conditions to win such as defeating the main boss, collecting items, etc. Just like any strategy RPG, this game will spike in difficulty as you progress, requiring you to either develop new equipment/items, messing with the disc maker or level grind by replaying older missions/doing quests.
Depending on the field you are playing on, there might be some gimmicks and traps that require careful planning. This can range from getting rid of bombs, moving platforms, electrified fences, etc. To me, they are easy to deal with since Histoire will give you some hints about them before you begin the battle.
Like the main games, the Lily system still exists with some new additions. During a battle, you need Lily Points in order to use a character’s most powerful move, transform or add more member to the unit during the match. You can gain these points by using a skill (or a special move if you have enough Lily Points) while having other characters near you in the front, back and sides. The skill menu shows how much Lily Points you will gain. Once you use a skill, other members will kiss your character before executing the skill. In addition, the Lily rank for those involved will rise as well. This is important since it will determine the ending and there are 22 trophies you can earn by maxing them out for each character.
Despite the controversy over the self-insert character with some disgruntled fans declaring this game being the worst game in the franchise (which I do not agree with since the secretary plays a minor part compared to Neptune Idol PP), I have to admit that Chou Megami Shinkoku Noire is definitely better thus far than the first spinoff. Like the main games, there are lots of references to video game and otaku culture, more so with the girls personifying various video game franchises on PlayStation. Aside from that, I will be sharing my final thoughts about this game once I complete it within the next few months. ¶