IMPORTANT THINGS TO NOTE
-Dialogue only voiced in JP
-Short game overall. ~10 hours main story
-Very few side content
The Neptunia and Senran Kagura series are both relatively long running series with their own spinoffs. The Neptunia games have generally been more RPG focus while Senran Kagura are more action focus. Probably expected by nobody, these two unrelated series have a crossover game in Ninja Wars. It is however, more focus on the Neptunia side while mostly featuring the Senran Kagura characters.
The plot of the game is a simple one and takes a lot of elements from the Senran games from the various ninja factions and conflicts with each other. Ninja Wars follows the ninjas of the Compa style (Neptunia) and the Honeypa style (Senran). The two factions have been fighting each other for a long period of time trying to conquer the opposing nation. The two sides have been deadlocked throughout their various battles until a new group, the Steeme Legion makes their appearance and attempts to conquer both sides. The ninjas from the two factions join side against their new enemy.
Despite the seemingly serious premise, the story is quite laid back and full of comedy. The story never particularly becomes serious which follows the spirit of the Neptunia games. It remains simple, predictable, but surprisingly entertaining at times. Expect a lot of fourth wall breaking and comedic quips.
The cast of characters include the four main Neptunia girls, some of the minor Neptunia members, the four Senran Kagura characters and a few original ones. For those familiar with the two series, the main characters are nothing new. They are pretty much identical to how they were originally portrayed. At least with the Neptunia side, they aren't particularly deep characters, but are interesting nonetheless.
I'm not too familiar with the Senran Kagura characters as the Neptunia side, but here, they aren't fleshed out or receive any actual character development. They also don't stand out as much too despite each of them having their own quirks. The Neptunia girls are just more quirky and exaggerated in comparison.
The graphics have always been a weak area for both series. At least compared to the other Neptunia games, the game does look better...slightly. The textures on the character models do look cleaner and not as faded as Neptunia's general models. The same applies to the enemies where even the common Dogoo looks better too.
The map designs are also an improvement. They have more details and the different maps have decent variety that do a decent job hiding the reused assets. They are all still on the linear side with a few branching paths, but ultimately small areas and rooms.
For a game that's on the very low budget side, the game at least looks better than the standard Neptunia game, but still pales in comparison to other bigger titles.
The main story is advanced through a world map with a list of locations you can pick. The main objective in each level is usually just to get from Point A to B. Along the way are scattered enemies, and treasure chests. You can blitz through a number of parts and avoid the enemies along the way, but a have locked obstacles which may require beating all of the enemies in it or hit switches to open them.
You can bring any two characters to battle, but only one character appears on screen at a time. The character that's in the reserve will slowly heal their health during that time, but can be switched back any time.
The combat here is simple to learn and understand. There's only one attack button which you'll use a lot for the standard combo chains. There's also another button for special ninja art skills which consumes part of the stamina gauge. The gauge itself will recover over time as well as when dealing damage.
Other than the character's main weapon, you can equip both a shuriken and kunai that you can throw at enemies. These are essentially unlimited, but does have their own cooldown to avoid continuous spam.
Despite the simple combat, this isn't a game where you can mindlessly hack away at the enemies (most of the time). This is in part due to the high recovery frames from the standard combo chains as well as ninja arts. Furthermore, not every hit will stun the enemy so it is better to wait for an enemy to finish their attack animation before starting your own.
You can also dodge enemy attacks, but there are times when simply defending is the more optimal action considering the damage reduced is significant.
The regular enemies start off simple, but different variations will appear as you get deeper into the game. Not only do their damage increase, but their attack patterns are changed/enhanced as well. Some of the larger enemies do present a challenge, but the true challenges come from the bosses who hit much harder and are mostly resistant to hit-stun.
Overall, the game is still on the easier side since you can spam items during battle. The only drawback is that you are limited on how much you can bring, but still not really enough to make the game particularly hard.
The game has a decent amount of customization through its spirit gems. These can be obtained from side missions or from enemy drops. The gems themselves are put into various categories like damage up, defense up, improved drops, etc... Each gem are ranked 1-10. You can combine two same rank gems to get one in the next rank.
Each character has a spirit board where you can slot the gems in. You can also gain increased effects based on the formation of linked gems that are the same type. You can even save a few different spirit boards to switch for different situations.
Other than the main story, you can complete optional side missions which reward you with money, weapons, gears or spirit gems. The side missions have no story and they use existing story maps that are often limited in scope. What do changes are the enemy placements and the various barriers. These missions aren't particularly noteworthy, but are nice to do when you need a break from the story.
The problem is that these side missions serve as pretty much the only optional content with meat to them. There's a balancing mini-game that can give you a temporary stat boost, but it's not something you'll spend much time on.
After clearing the main story, you have access to the Yomi trials which can be quite lengthy. There are nine maps (each with three levels) that are accessible. The mission content is similar to the side mission objectives, but what set these apart are the significant restrictions. Restrictions like no item use, no ninja art use, no projectile use, constant damage decrease, etc... Some restrictions are more dangerous than the other, but overall, require an adjusted approach to clearing these levels. In addition to the restrictions, the enemies' damage output (especially bosses) are significantly increased.
Some of the best spirit gems are gotten from these Yomi Trials so there's a nice incentive in completing them.
Neptunia spin-offs games have mostly been a miss for me, but Ninja Wars had surprisingly been a fun experience. The story was also entertaining. My main issue is the lack of side content and short story campaign. Overall though, a solid entry for Neptunia fans. Even though the Senran Kagura characters take a back seat to the Neptunia cast, their presence and the combat will probably appeal to those fans as well.