Marvelous Entertainment / Tamsoft
PS4 / Vita (PS4 version reviewed)
Warning: Some of the content in this game could be considered adult in nature. If anime-style nudity isn’t the sort of thing you want saved in your internet history, don’t read on.
There have been countless articles written about the Senran Kagura games for reasons that will become breast-wobblingly obvious very soon.
Most of these articles fit into two distinct categories: those who think Senran Kagura is all that is evil in the world and dragging civilisation back 70 years, and those who think it’s just a bit of a laugh and hey lighten up don’t censor me bro etc.
For this review, I’m going to attempt to play it right down the middle. If you absolutely must know, I’m not in favour of it and really don’t think it’s the healthiest thing young teenage boys should be playing.
That said, considering I also have a website dedicated to weird and wonderful horror movies, it would be massively hypocritical of me to declare: “My choice in questionable entertainment’s better than your choice in questionable entertainment.”
So then, the deal: I will make it clear in no uncertain terms what sort of content you can expect in this game, but I will do so without commentary. It’ll be up to you, based on the examples I provide, to decide whether it’s suitable for you.
Instead, I’ll be focusing on the gameplay itself and whether it justifies a purchase if you can see past all the jiggly bits. So let’s get on with it.
Senran Kagura: Estival Versus is the seventh game in the Senran Kagura series, which specialises in two things – female ninjas, and their tendency to lose most/all of their clothing any time they get so much as a Chinese burn.
The story in this one is that groups of young shinobi ladies from four rival schools are all dragged into a mysterious portal, which takes them to an alternate dimension. Which is set on a beach, because tits and fannies and that.
In this odd time/space paradox paradise, the girls are reunited with their departed loved ones for reasons that don’t make a lot of sense but it doesn’t really matter because dead baps are still apparently fair game.
Before long the girls meet the island’s mistresses, who reveal why they’re really there: to compete in a massive ninja competition. The winning school will not only learn the most mystical secrets of ninjitsu, they’ll also get the chance to lay their loved ones’ troubled souls to rest once and for all.
You may be thinking that actually sounds quite touching. And it is touching. Lots of touching. Like this sort of touching:
I’ll admit I’m no expert in this series but I quickly learned each of the 30+ playable girls’ personalities thanks to the lengthy but entertaining cut-scenes. That’s ‘entertaining’ as in ‘well localised but batshit crazy’.
I quickly learned that Katsuragi is the pervert who is obsessed with grabbing the other girls’ breasts at any opportunity. And that Murakumo is the one who’s an introvert and wears an ogre mask (and not much else) to give her confidence while she fights. Or – to show that not all their characters are well-rounded (ahem) – Ryobi is the one mainly defined by her tiny wee chebs.
Then there’s Ryona, who’s the submissive one. Bearing in mind I’m trying to review this game without passing judgement on its subject matter, I therefore present you this without comment:
Moving swiftly on. The meat of the game focuses on the aforementioned ninja festival – or, to give it its full name, the Surprise Shinobi Slippery Splash-n-Spray Sports festival.
On paper (well, on screen) some of the rounds in this festival sound… unique. Examples include The Grand Grope-n-Grapple, Butt Splitting, Strip-n-Rip and The Undie-Eating Contest.
If nothing else, I was at least interested to see how Estival Versus would turn these ‘inventive’ activities into playable form. Would there be some sort of pant-munching mechanic where I’d have to… actually, let’s just leave it at that.
As it turns out, the game just bottles it and doesn’t let you do any of this at all. Instead, practically every stage is a Dynasty Warriors-style affair where you face off against hundreds (sometimes thousands) of identical female ninjas, all of whom shed their scants when you boot the piss out of them.
Inevitably, one or more of the girls from a rival school will then turn up midway through your mass battle, and you’ll have to give them a swift kick in the jugs too to finish the stage.
It seems these boss girls are really unlucky, because when you beat them they often lose all their clothes, fly through the air in slow motion and by pure chance (certainly nothing more than that) end up in ‘defeated’ poses like this:
Pray for them.
If you’re struggling to defeat the slew of jiggle-jitsu fighters trying to take you down, there are ways to power up mid-battle. By hitting the L1 button you can do a Shinobi Transformation, which lets you pull off special Ninja Arts moves by collecting scrolls dropped by enemies.
Oh, and it also involves a costume change, which is of course very tastefully handled. Observe:
If that’s too subtle for you, there’s also the Frantic feature.
This lets you gain extra attack power but the payoff is that your character takes far more damage when she’s attacked. It’s your standard risk/reward mechanic you’d get in a normal action game.
The thing is, the way you trigger it really should be noted. First you have to press R1 and Triangle, which zooms the camera right onto your lady’s Chegwins.
Then – and again, I am telling you this with absolutely no commentary whatsoever – you place two fingers on the Dualshock 4’s touchpad and move them apart to tear her clothes off.
“Oh Chris, you prankster, you can’t really mean that. That’s too much.” Aye. Too much. Have a gander then:
Your views on ripping the drawers off schoolgirls aside, Senran Kagura: Estival Versus is too repetitive to truly recommend.
While there’s a lot to praise – the combat system is surprisingly detailed and each of the 30+ characters feels completely different to play as, at least keeping things varied in that respect – ultimately by the time you’re wading through your umpeenth (and then umptieth) sea of bikini-clad brawlers you’ll be left in no doubt that this game is more about titillation than tribulation.
If you’re unashamedly here for the funbags then get stuck in: despite my views on the subject matter it’s clearly a technically wonderful game, with brilliant anime-grade cel-shaded character models that will – to quote The Breakfast Club – pump your nads, if you’re into that sort of thing.
But if you’re here mainly for the combat, and consider the 30-odd women getting their arses out more of a feature than a major selling point, you’re going to be disappointed at the repetitive gameplay. This is less Dead Or Alive 5: Last Round, more Dead Or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball.
This review was based on a code I received for free from the developer. The content of my review is in no way influenced by this.