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“Worst” RPG is often a harsh misnomer, given that the staff is often able to simply skip out on some truly horrible entries. It more regularly goes to those titles that have somehow enticed multiple staff members and then completely failed to impress any of them. Such is the case here. Super Neptunia RPG looks beautiful. If it was a painting on a wall, it’d be one that people would stop to admire. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the game begins to fall apart, but there are oh so many candidates. First, as pretty as the game is, backgrounds are far too busy to allow players to see precisely where they need to go, and when characters are in motion, they have choppy marionette-like movements. For those players with discerning-enough eyesight to see what most miss at first glance, the game’s complete lack of labeling on backgrounds and maps makes sure everyone has a frustrating navigational time.
Second, in an initially well-designed fashion, enemies are clearly visible on the map, allowing players the chance to avoid combat. The problem here lies in that there is one overworld enemy model in the entire game. There are a hundred or so enemies to fight, but no indication which are approaching, as they’re all just represented by a simple blue dogoo. And for those gamers not in possession of an eidetic memory, avoiding battles is a good idea in Super Neptunia RPG as the battle system is also an unlabeled labor. Players need to memorize skill and spell positions as well as which stance and button they’re mapped to, while also trying desperately not to have multiple party members with low health, because healing spells can’t be precisely targeted. Sadly, a few bright spots in the art and sound direction as well as a much less verbose script from Idea Factory International cannot save Super Neptunia RPG from the top of this list. Titled Brave Neptunia in Japan, brave indeed must the gamer be to try to conquer this game.
Record of Agarest War has something of an infamous reputation around RPGamer and the release in 2019 of Record of Agarest War: Mariage, a PC port of a PSP game originally released in Japan in 2012, does little to change this perception. While Mariage ditches the series’ earlier SRPG battle system for a turn-based one, pairing off the main character with one of a selection of adoring ladies to sire another generation to carry on the fight against evil remains core to the experience. Honestly, the combat isn’t that bad, but encounters are completely unbalanced and when “exploring a dungeon” consists of moving a cursor along a line, it doesn’t take long for any positive elements to wear thin. Combined with humor that even the crassest of teenagers would likely find to be juvenile, there isn’t much reason for RPGamers to experience Mariage.
I love a good town-simulation game, but I dislike games that kill this element with poor combat, terrible graphics, and uncomfortable dialogue. That’s Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World in a nutshell. There’s little worse than playing a game where one great element is utterly destroyed by everything else being half-baked or barely trying. Nelke is a great example of being dull in just about everything it does, while also being a shoddy attempt at Atelier nostalgia. Atelier fans deserved a much better effort than Nelke to celebrate the series’ twentieth anniversary.
by Matt Masem, Joshua Carpenter, and Sam Wachter