Ever since the first Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 first released and featured a fake retro-style interpretation of the game you had just played running alongside the end credits, Neptunia fans were keen to actually play some retro-style Neptunia games. Back in 2019, we finally got the opportunity with Neptunia Shooter, an April Fool that went a lot further than originally intended — and in 2022, we got the opportunity to take our retro Neptunia fun into the third dimension with Dimension Tripper Neptune: Top Nep.
In Dimension Tripper Neptune: Top Nep, you take on the role of Older Neptune from Megadimension Neptunia VII as she flies through five stages inspired by the lands of Gamindustri, battling familiar foes and huge bosses on her journey. Her ultimate goal? Take down Arfoire… again.
For fans of the series, Dimension Tripper Neptune: Top Nep is an absolute delight, since it incorporates a wide variety of enemies that we’ve been seeing for game after game; you’ll fight Dogoos, eggplants, robotic Bits and even sentient Super Mario pipes. Bosses are all drawn from the various Nep games, with particular highlights including the gigantic Ancient Dragon and the utterly loathsome CFW Trick, still one of the most genuinely unpleasant foes from any RPG I’ve played.
The backing music for each stage and boss fight is likewise drawn from the various Neptunia games — particularly the more recent ones, which have significantly more elaborate soundtracks than the first few installments — but remixed into 16-bit FM synthesis style. This works particularly well for the tracks from Megadimension Neptunia VII in particular, since many of these tracks already had a distinctly “Mega Drive” vibe to them.
But don’t feel you need to be a super Nep fan in order to enjoy Dimension Tripper Neptune: Top Nep. The beauty of the game is that while it’s a love letter to the series sure to please all Nep fans (except the ones who keep complaining that Compile Heart never release new “mainline” installments) it’s also simply a highly enjoyable game in its own right, and one that will particularly appeal to fans of classic Sega titles.
Dimension Tripper Neptune: Top Nep is a loving homage to Sega’s classic Space Harrier, you see, with the action unfolding from a third-person perspective as you follow Older Neptune on her flight through the various lands. You can freely move Older Nep around the screen to aim shots, avoid bullets and dart between obstacles, and much like the original Space Harrier was Yu Suzuki’s earnest attempt to incorporate truly 3D gameplay into an arcade game, so too does Dimension Tripper Neptune: Top Nep make good use of its perspective for some interesting challenges.
It’s not just a straight clone of Space Harrier, though. Besides simply shooting, Older Nep also has a sword attack, which has shorter range than her shots but is more powerful; this is good for taking down powerful enemies that attack by hurling themselves at her rather than shooting. On top of that, the sword attack is also capable of cancelling bullets, so it’s possible to hack and slash your way through dense bullet patterns if you’re really keen to stay on target for one reason or another.
As you progress through the game, you’ll also spot coins floating in the air — sometimes revealed by defeating enemies but more commonly seen floating at predefined locations in the stage. Collecting these adds to a meter in the corner of the screen, and when this is filled, one of the various Neptunia characters will show up in their “goddess” form to supplement your firepower for a limited time; they’ll float alongside you, allowing you to cover a broader angle with your shots — ideal for boss battles where you’ll need to move to avoid projectiles.
Speaking of boss battles, many of them actually incorporate mechanics where coins will be placed in the middle of “rings” of bullets, allowing you to fly through them and potentially score yourself an ally to help with the rest of the battle. This is a nice inclusion that helps the supporting characters feel worthwhile and helpful — and it makes it a lot less disappointing when you reach the end of a stage with an almost-but-not-quite full meter!
The main criticism of Dimension Tripper Neptune: Top Nep is that it’s quite easy. Some Steam reviews have been complaining that the game is only about 20 minutes long, but as any shoot ’em up veteran will tell you, that is absolutely nothing unusual for the genre. Most shoot ’em ups are designed to be replayed repeatedly in pursuit of better scores, after all, so while a single run through the game may well take you 20 minutes, in total you’ll actually spend a lot longer with it.
Except in Dimension Tripper Neptune: Top Nep I’m not sure there’s enough depth in the scoring system to provide sufficient incentive to return time after time. Enemies are worth a flat value and there are no combo or bonus systems in place to allow you to score the big points; as such, any variance in score will primarily be determined simply by how many enemies you successfully managed to hit on any one run through the game — and the fact that in Normal mode, if you run out of lives you can spend 5,000 points to continue.
Hard mode, meanwhile, demands that you one-credit clear the game — though the actual gameplay itself doesn’t feel noticeably more difficult and as such won’t present that much of a challenge once you get to grips with the various stages and attack patterns.
All this is less of a problem than you might think, though; after all, Dimension Tripper Neptune: Top Nep costs £3.99 (which is marginally cheaper than ordering a coffee from my local Costa on Deliveroo) and takes up 25 MB on your hard drive, so I don’t think anyone coming into this experience is expecting something that will keep them occupied for hours on end. What you do get is something that will give you a joyful ride through a colourful pixelated world for 20 minutes, and which you can easily return to any time you just fancy a quick diversion from the stresses of the day — or something to play between more substantial gaming sessions.
It’s clear that was the sole intention behind this game — and in that regard they’ve succeeded admirably. Whether or not you love Nep, this is a delightful arcade-style game that pays loving and respectful homage to an all-time classic — and which provides enough twists on the formula it’s referencing to feel like its own distinct and worthwhile experience in its own right. A definite winner. Top Nep indeed!
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