Neptunia Game Maker R:evolution Review – Evolution, Revolution, Absolution

Anything is possible in the Neptunia multiverse. You never know what will happen next. Megadimension Neptunia VII opened up a lot of options for the saga. Rather than creating an ending to the Hyperdimension trilogy, VII introduced a new wave of characters and more dimensions to explore in future sequels and spin-offs.


Continuing the story of what happens next for the four iconic CPU goddesses and their respective sisters, follow-up Sisters Vs Sisters introduced a new chapter, delivered through the migration to the Unity engine. Sadly, the framework they built onto the Unity engine wasn’t utilized to the best of its capabilities for the hardware available, resulting in gameplay imbalances, input delays, and a staggering frame-rate drop, but that’s a story we’ve covered before.

Today, our story follows a different branch of the Neptunia timeline and instead returns to a beloved character we met back in Neptunia VII. She’s known by several names, but to most, she’ll always be ‘Older Neptune’. Older Neptune is an alternative version of the usual protagonist, Neptune.

Unlike classic Neptune, who is an immortal ‘CPU’ goddess, Older Neptune comes from the alternate ‘Ultradimension’ and, as such, never became a CPU. Instead, this version of Neptune is a little older (at least physically) and a little wiser, too. She uses her knowledge of the dimensions to cross from world to world, collecting strange bugs in her digital ‘Nep-Note’ journal and helping those in need when required.

This change of circumstance has a deeper meaning for those who have studied the lore. While classic Neptune frequently takes a beating in various games, representing her underlying meaning of Sega’s unfortunate fall in the console war, Older Neptune is a mortal ‘Maker’, representing Sega as a maturing developer instead. Neptunia’s hidden depths are never-ending.


Taking place in an alternate version of the world of Gamindustri, in a new dimension where Game Makers rule the world and battle for shares and supremacy, it is an era of war between the factions of Game Makers. Three Game Maker goddesses, Pippih, Jagaa, and Reedio, were defeated in the race to win the market share of game sales and seemingly disappeared, being branded as “failures” and left to fade away.

Later, Neptune, or ‘Older Neptune’ as she is also known, a girl who has traveled through many dimensional worlds, appears out of nowhere and is asked by the three fallen goddesses to become the new president of their company and hopefully resurrect the dead Game Maker after she sees its potential where others did not. The ‘Console War’ is about to begin anew with a new player in the game.


Built using the same engine implemented in Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters which had questionable results, this time the effort has been made to refine and enhance each mechanic to far greater success. Firstly, your active party members have increased from three to four girls participating in battle.

Link Chains can be activated by combining multiple attack chains with simultaneous strikes between party members equal to the number of chains in the combo. This can be tricky to pull off in the early hours when it’s easy to mess up the timing, but it makes for a nice bonus attack when you get the timing right or stumble into it by chance.

Another advantage in battle is gained by filling your Link Gauge, which acts as a ‘special meter’ of sorts. This is done by landing blows and switching to other party members on the fly to keep the combo damage flowing. There are handy on-screen prompts that recommend an ideal party member to switch to.

EXE and Link Drives can be executed by increasing the Link Gauge to a certain level. If the gauge level is greater than 1, the player can activate Link Drive, a powerful special attack that can potentially deliver damage across a wider area. In addition, party members will support the attack and deal massive damage to all enemies, depending on the level.

Rather than the smaller dungeons of yesteryear, R:Evolution brings back the huge, sprawling open fields and multiple zones from Sisters Vs Sisters. At first, this can make traversal and progression a long and repetitive affair, yet a brand-new mechanic has been introduced, arguably the game’s greatest new feature. As Older Neptune, players can traverse through dungeons faster by using a motorcycle.

Mastering the motorcycle also brings additional benefits. A mode in which the player must pass checkpoints and compete for the time it takes to reach the goal. If the player beats the target time, they can earn rewards. Players can go around various racecourses and reach the finish line faster than the opposing monster to win. Rewards can still be earned by winning or losing.

Speed boosts can also be activated. When used, the player can move faster while accelerating for a certain time. There is a cooldown time before it can be re-used, so it pays to time each use for when its effects can be maximized. Obtaining a boost orb will restore the boost gauge and reduce the time until the boost can be re-used. Going through acceleration pads offers the same effect as boosting while riding down deceleration pads reduces your speed.

Players can customise the look of their bike and add accessories to improve its boost, turning ability, and acceleration. Additionally, from the start menu, ‘Heartfelt’ Photo Mode returns with new additions such as speech bubbles, text stamps, and additional filters, allowing you to view each of the beautiful girls however, wherever, and wearing whatever you wish, within reason.

While Disc Development has always been an optional crafting mechanic in the Neptunia series that allows you to create and equip ‘Discs’ that offer handy stat boosts, here, this mechanic is actually integrated into the story and progression. At the company Plaza, players can gather Creators and place Objects. Placed Objects will affect Disc development.

Your success as a Game Maker is determined by the quality of the games you develop and the productivity and prosperity of your HQ. Each Genre of game you develop features a Skill Tree to work through. As the player continues to unlock Nodes and increase their levels, the company HQ will expand as well. By changing a building’s Genre, the player will gain the ability to develop that Genre of games. Navigate the skill tree to develop Discs that meet the trends in different Sales Areas.

By placing Objects, players can inspire their Plaza Creators to create better Discs. Stats such as Base Quality, Development Speed, Judgement, and Motivation are affected by Objects differently, yielding different results, and this encourages experimentation. By unlocking Nodes or acquiring business cards through Request E-mails, Creators will begin to appear in the Plaza. Creators will level-up by participating in Disc Development or being dispatched to infiltrate other companies.

Company management and development uses CP (Company Points). CP can be obtained from Disc Development, dungeons, and events. Unlocking Nodes is vital to expanding the company. By using CP to unlock Nodes of a Skill Tree, the player can obtain development Know-How, Objects, and Creators, increasing development potency. There’s a lot of jargon to get your head around, yet the menu-based management system is surprisingly easy to use.


You can tell that feedback from Sisters Vs Sisters was taken onboard here. Game Maker R:Evolution is certainly a treat for the ears and the eyeballs. We’ll start with the sound for a change, which has some welcome new additions to the soundtrack from sound composer Yuki Sugiura, featuring some catchy techno-rock fusion tracks which bulk up the variety nicely, rather than simply recycling Nobuo Uematsu’s old tracks from game to game. ‘Dream ON’ by Ayane acts as a great opening music video intro too.

The voice acting features a more prominent English dub than some previous games, and Melissa Fahn absolutely outdoes herself by delivering identifiably different voices for all three versions of Neptune featured in the game, with Classic Neptune being her usual airheaded self, Transformed Neptune being wiser and mature, while protagonist Older Neptune’s tone finds that perfect middle-ground between the other two.

I’m also pleased to see that Sisters Vs Sisters’ best feature returns in Game Maker R:Evolution, which is the visual overhaul of the 2D anime spirits used in cutscenes. Gone are the days of fixed 2D character images with light mouth movements when speaking and only blinking when not. They’ve now been upgraded to include some grand yet realistic head and body motions and hand gestures, a feat of pioneering presentation that I’ve never seen elsewhere.

In battle, the engine returns from Sisters Vs Sisters but this time has a major performance overhaul. Environments are still bright and colourful, yet the bloom level is now toned down to sensible levels. The input delays for attacks have been fixed, and the frame rate has received a major, much-needed boost. We’re certainly back to all smiles and no migraines.


Games are expensive, so I’m pleased to see the action-focused combat engine from Sisters Vs Sisters re-used and fixed to perform how it should. Rather than simply re-releasing Sisters Vs Sisters with the necessary fixes included, the engine has instead been recycled and enhanced to create a far more polished game. However, the absence of quick-saves and interim auto-saves can often leave you feeling lost and stranded within those big dungeons when you need a breather.

Still, it’s better, much better than recent games in the series, yet it lives in the shadow of earlier games like Re;Birth 3 which set the bar so incredibly high. It’s also held back by the game-making mechanics, which, while easy enough to learn, can be tricky to master. I’d honestly have no idea what to do next during the odd time when this alternative to crafting is mandatory, without the handy little objective prompt listed in the top-right corner when you explore dungeons.

As its name suggests, R:Evolution shows a lot of evolution for the series, and that isn’t just limited to the decent visual overhaul. The story also makes a long-overdue step forward for the narrative, showcasing Sega’s (Neptune’s) next chapter as a game developer trying to find a home on formerly rival hardware.

With the series’ main gimmick being game companies and hardware anthropomorphized as cute girls, it’s finally time to meet other consoles outside of the ‘Big Four.’ The three new ‘Failure Goddesses’ you’ll meet here make for some welcome additions to the team and very much kindred spirits for a character with a backstory as turbulent as Neptune’s.

The cute and confident Pippih claims to be far more intelligent and efficient than she is, representing the Apple/Bandai Pippin. In contrast, the feline-like, bossy yet bumbling, grammatical-error-heavy Jagaa represents the Atari Jaguar. My favorite is the gorgeous, eccentric ‘Doctor’ Reedio, who represents the 3DO console project and is a quirky scientist. Seriously, keep these wonderful characters coming.

Let’s not forget this new version of Neptune, which I hope we see a lot more of. Her brand of gaming industry-related situational humor is still there. Still, now it has less randomness and more knowledge and experience behind it, which will resonate better with us aging fans. Fans also don’t have to wait for Neptune to transform to age her enough to highlight her underlying sex appeal since Older Nep is gorgeous no matter which forms she takes. However, her ‘Awakening’ mode bikini-like outfit is sure to be a fan favorite.

While I do miss the superb turn-based combat that was gradually perfected over numerous games, the action engine now feels a lot more balanced, responsive, and polished compared to Sisters Vs Sisters, which is a huge step forward. The ground covered in the narrative proves that the aging franchise still has a lot more life left in it.


  • Beautiful characters, old and new
  • A great visual overhaul
  • Solid story and character developments


  • Action-focused combat not quite as refined or strategic as the turn-based games
  • A lot of busy-work required to really master the game
  • No interim auto-saves or quick-saves

Neptunia Game Maker R:Evolution


Neptunia Game Maker R:Evolution takes the engine of Sisters Vs Sisters and elevates it into a fun action-RPG. While it's not quite as refined as some of the earlier games in the series, we've still got a decent standalone game on our hands here.

Gary Green
PS5 version reviewed. A review code was provided by the publisher.