Idea Factory is bringing Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars to the Nintendo Switch this month, mashing two niche franchises into one action-RPG hybrid.
Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars dives right in to its hybrid world, Gamninjustri, where the cast are ninjas from competing nations—Neptunia‘s “Ninja Goddesses” of Heartland, and Senran Kagura’s “Honeypa Shinobi” of Marveland. A seemingly-routine altercation between them is interrupted by an army of mechanical ninjas from the “Steeme Legion,” headed by a nefarious assassin known as “Yoh Gamer.” The nations must attempt to put aside their differences and broker a truce if they are to stand a chance against the invaders, who declare a “Super NINJA War” to decide the world’s strongest fighting style.
The Neptunia series’ trademark of parodying the gaming industry runs through the entire crossover. Neptunia and her allies Noire, Blanc, and Vert each represent one of the main console-making companies—Sega, Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft respectively—while Yoh Gamer not only represents Steam, but also streaming personalities in a way. Even their nations’ names are riffs on the studios behind each series, Compile Heart and Marvelous. Nep regularly breaks the fourth wall, especially, like asking the player “Were you surprised to see us all as ninjas?”
Senran Kagura has lent most of its gameplay hallmarks to the ninja war effort. Missions unfold on large, branching paths littered with yokai monsters blocking your chosen duo of ninjas from their goal. Each of the ten playable characters has their own unique Ninja Arts skills, and can unleash special elemental states that temporarily affect attributes like stamina regeneration, flinching, and so on. Attacks are relegated to the Y button for standard melee combat, while pressing X deploys your chosen ranged weapon.
You’ll need to employ all of these tricks during Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars‘ missions, especially as the story progresses and the recommended level rises. Bosses—whether giant yokai or rival ninjas—have multiple health bars and their own devastating repertoires, so staggering them by depleting their break gauge should be your top priority.
To keep up with the recommended level curve, you can dip into a wealth of side missions between chapters. These take place in the same stages as the main missions and require you to fulfill certain conditions, like beating all the enemies within the time limit, or finding all the items. As a reward for these side jobs, skilled ninjas can earn restorative items, or others that make a bigger impact on your loadout.
Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars boasts an interesting, yet not overwhelming, character development system. You can obtain kunai or shurikens with their own effects and stats to customize your ranged game. The most robust aspect may be the Spirit Gem system, which allows you to equip crystals with certain effects to each combatant. Depending on how these gems are arranged, you can strengthen their effects—stack gems for gaining extra EXP to help keep your roster up to snuff, or equip various bonuses against certain enemy types to be prepared for multiple situations.
Or, if you’d like a change of pace, you can try the “Peaches & Cream Meditation” minigame, where your chosen character attempts to balance on a giant peach-shaped ball while enjoying a hot spring. Keep your balance using move controls, either with your Pro controller or with the Switch in handheld mode, to earn temporary bonuses to stats for both the current leader and partner characters.
For a game that was recently released on the PS4, Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars runs well on the Nintendo Switch. Load times are minimal by the system’s standards, and I noticed no glitches like slowdown or pop-in. That being said, the graphical bar does dip during mission play in handheld mode and character models get slightly blurry. The bounty of side missions does make this game well-suited to play on the go, so hopefully this could potentially be addressed down the line. Gyroscopic motion controls were implemented into the meditation minigame with either controller method—though it wasn’t compatible with my Hori Split Pad Pro, at least before launch.
This preview of Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars was my first legitimate experience with either of the franchises, but from what I’ve gleaned from the early chapters, this crossover caters more to the Neptunia side. While both are known for leaning into “fanservice,” Senran Kagura‘s signature clothing-destruction mechanics are nowhere in sight—although you could say that its impact is seen in the character designs, which emphasize a particular anatomical feature.
The allusions to the larger industry, other games, and just general pop culture are amusing distractions, like the cameos that turn up in the “NinChat” feature. Here you can talk to various characters and watch special scenes, or be taunted by the likes of a “Turtle Ninja” or a clear homage to Final Fantasy VII‘s own ninja, Yuffie.
You can wade into this battle for shinobi supremacy for yourself when Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars launches on the Nintendo Switch on April 19. It will also be available on Steam May 11, while the PlayStation version is already available.