Day 4 is here, and with it marks the halfway point of Senran Celebrations month. Picking up where we last left off, Senran Kagura Estival Versus marked somewhat of a turning point for the franchise. While previous titles had a more serious tone, Estival Versus had a more light hearted tone. So what does the sequel do? Well it took the most logical direction, it ditches any serious plot and now it’s a third person shooter with water guns and swimsuits, because why not?
Much like Estival Versus, this game has little to no actual plot. The thinly veiled story goes that there’s an ancient shinobi tradition where ninja’s compete in a water gun tournament for a special prize. Yes, this is real, they somehow managed to work in a story that sees the girls compete in a water gun tournament, and believe me it’s a silly as it sounds. This story follows the same formula as Estival Versus, in that the main story takes a backseat to smaller stories based around specific characters. However this game tries to have it both ways, with certain character stories tying into the main plot as well. Sometimes it works, but other times it leads to a pretty cluttered situation. This story is fully embracing the silly nature of Senran Kagura, it’s at this point the team has realized they don’t need to be serious with a gaming franchise involving busty waifu ninja girls. While this setting does work well with a silly and light hearted tone, I just wish they made a choice over whether they want a coherent story or just a cluster of smaller personal character stories.
The characters here are pretty much unchanged from Estival, except this time they’re all in swimsuit. Well…they were in swimsuits before, but more so now and…I don’t know where this thread is going so best leave it. The girls here all have the same motives, as in they don’t have any that are congruent with the major conflict. Their main, and honestly dull, motivations are either A. Get off the island they’re trapped on, or B. in Katsuragi’s case: Stay on the island and lust for the other girls for eternity. It’d be redundant to just talk about specific characters again as I’d just be paraphrasing stuff from Estival Versus. The only character with any sizeable development is Shiki, as she gets faced with the prospect of leaving her friends to travel overseas and pursue her dreams. The game does try to have a bit of a theme with the idea of friends or future, but this is a bit of a poor theme to have in a franchise like this. This series is dependant on it’s waifu characters and their appeal, they’ll never die or leave the franchise in any way as it would take away from the appeal, which therefore makes a plotline about losing one of them somewhat redundant and not very effective. So while the characters are as fun as before, there’s not much to really talk about that’s new or exciting to add. Although I do have to give credit to Kiriya and Rin as Mr K and Ms. R, who do double duty as commentators and stellar comic relief.
This is the most unique gameplay of the series so far, not including Bon Appetit which was basically just a rhythm game, abandoning the hack n’ slash style for a third person shooter style of gameplay. Now, let’s talk about the positives first, this is really smooth gameplay. The controls are great and they managed to adapt the exhilarating rush you get from previous games, giving you plenty of enemies to mow down with your water gun of choice. The game also introduces special abilities in the form of trading cards that you can equip like power-ups, which acts as a neat call back to the Senran Kagura mobile games New Wave and New Link, and can help spice up the gameplay with unique abilities and effects. The water jet packs that come with their respective guns also give you an edge in movement and gives you some unique ways of traversing the levels. I’m happy to also say they fixed the vast majority of the level designs, the wider level layouts working now since the games more like an arena fighter rather than a point A to point B style beat em’ up. But now we get to the flaws that make up Peach Beach, the biggest problem being this game is way too easy. These levels last two minutes at most because it’s so easy to cleave through the enemies, you can increase the difficulty, but even then it’s over before you can even tell the difference. Another glaring problem is that you can give any character any weapon you want, but why is this a problem? It leads to absolutely no diversity in characters and how they play, if each character was limited to a specific weapon then I’d honestly be ok with it because it leads to a more diverse way to play. Instead you can make a team of girls with miniguns, or shotguns, snipers etc, and that makes for generally poor team building. There’s also a lack of uniqueness in the conditions to win levels, it’s either, last gal standing or beat more people, this would have benefited greatly from some other mission types like capture the flag, an obstacle type level of sorts, basically give us more to do in these levels other than equip your favourite gun to your favourite girl and basically autopilot your way through the games. The paralogues are also back, but they do nothing to add to the gameplay since all they are are just bonus missions where you can pick your own personal roster again. Look, I don’t hate the gameplay, it’s a lot of fun and if you’re in the mood for some silly fun and a game where you slaughter dozens of NPCs with a watergun, you’ll have fun, but if you;re looking for a challenge, you’re better off looking elsewhere.
This is, once again, a good looking game, but it calls back to the problem I mentioned in the last review. The layouts do encourage a lot of unique locations to take full advantage of your weapons and That being it reuses so much stuff from the Estival Versus and it can get really distracting. The animations, gestures and accessories/costumes are all ripped directly from Estival Versus and it really does just scream lazy design. I get it saves time and resources, but it’s just so noticeable and really drags down the presentation’s impact since it’s such a jarring aspect. Other than that, this is a pretty game, the weapons are well designed and have some really fun aesthetics to them, the level layouts aren’t nearly as cluttered and are a tad more coherent, plus the soundtrack is bubbly and lively, really elevating the mood in the levels.
- Story: 3/5 – This is a disjointed plot. It takes a backseat to the character interactions once again, but this time the character interactions aren’t as strong or unique so it drags the story down a bit too.
- Characters: 4/5 – The characters are great as always. They’re consistently fun even through to this game and they do carry its narrative to the point where they are enjoyable. I wish there was a bit more unique stories involving the girls, but it can’t quite match Estival before it.
- Gameplay: 3/5 – The gameplay is consistent in its pacing, but that pacing is a bit too fast and easy for its own good. There’s no character versatility, the customisation being too varied to the point where you don’t need to really think about your team. It’s fun and full of energy, but really lacks in terms of gravity and thoughtful design.
- Presentation: 4/5 – This is the standard for these games now in terms of visuals. It reuses a lot of animations and assets from Estival Versus which can be distracting, but overall the game does sell me on the visuals.
- Enjoyability: 4/5 – For all the stuff I’ve complained about in this game, it’s fun and I cannot deny it. It’s a fun third person shooter with that Senran Kagura goodness covering it and adding oodles of charm. It’s good if you just want some mindless fun and are a fan of the series, which perfectly describes me so I guess the game did it’s job.
Final Grade: 3/5
This game is a real mixed bag. I really want to say “This game is good, a lot of fun and has great gameplay” but that would only be half true. For every good character moment, fun gameplay choice and decent presentation and overabundance of fanservice, you have boring repetitive game and level design, little to no variation in character creation and a generally disjointed plot that might as well not be there. I do still want to recommend this game, it’s a change in gameplay that was unusual but still kind of fun, and I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing this third person shooter style of gameplay be explored again in a future game. There’s good stuff here it just needs streamlining and be less of a random conglomerate of ideas that don’t really add up. With that said it’s still fun, the girls are on point ad fun to see interact and there’s bucket loads of swimsuit fanservice goodness for those that want it.
We’re at the halfway point folks, we have 2 more weeks of Senran Celebrations month left, and maybe a little extra surprise if I’m feeling generous. Oh what the heck of course I’ll bring in an extra surprise, I’m having way too much fun with this. Join me next time for the controversial remake Senran Kagura Burst Re;Newel, but controversial how you ask? You’ll have to wait to find out.
Thank you for reading I hope you enjoyed it, if you did please consider leaving a like and following my blog for updates on future posts. Also follow me on twitter @joe_reviews for further updates and general nonsense. Till next time.