Publisher: XSEED Games
Genre: action, side-scrolling
ESRB: T for Teen….yes I’m serious.
System: Nintendo 3DS (eshop download only)
…Not gonna lie, I didn’t think I would be reviewing this game and possibly shouting out my inner pervert to the entire world. For those unaware by the cover alone, Senran Kagura Burst is a hack and slash game exclusively for the 3DS, and it’s obvious that the game focuses on appealing to a majority of those that like to see high school girls bouncing up and down and kicking the asses of ninjas. Naturally, when I bought the game, I was expecting something incredibly stupid, but at the very least, a fun hack and slash to help satisfy an itch Code of Princess kinda failed to do. For all my talk about serious games and stories, I do admit that I do like just having fun with something stupid. Given the anime feel this game had only made me want it more. Yet surprisingly, I got a more interesting game than I gave the developers credit for. Can it perhaps convince those that think this game is fap-material that maybe, just maybe, there’s a deeper game underneath?
Well when one of your openings focuses on shredded clothes of underage girls, their busts featured prominently, and two girls fighting each other by slamming their butts together like they were Ren and Stimpy as their clothes get torn apart, any chance to counter their arguments becomes a losing battle.
Still, it didn’t stop me from having fun…sort of. Also a note: I’m not putting anything else on here that can be considered NSFW.
The developers, Tamsoft, definitely knew how to make such a game. Bouncing breasts that make even those Dead or Alive characters scratch their heads? Check. Clothes being torn as you take damage? Check. The girls being apart or even making such perverted/boob jokes that you will eventually get sick of after hearing a ton in SRW: Endless Frontier? You bet your ass that is a check. Hell, the 3D in the game activates mainly when the girls’ clothes are shredded, so you’ll get to see large breasts right in your face. Also in the dressing room as well, where you can dress the girls up in various clothing options, bikinis, and even add on silly things, like toast, hats, or even a plushie among other things. Even the development of this game that I saw in Wikipedia pointed out that, and I quote “within 30 seconds of thinking about a possible game he decided that one of the things people want to see the most in 3D are breasts.”
…You know, this isn’t helping my case of not looking like a pervert for buying this game.
First, let’s talk gameplay because I already know that’s the first thing on everyone’s mind. Visually, the game is appealing to look at with some very nice backgrounds at times, though the actual environments are your basic 2-D scroller while occasionally going down another hallway. Combat is done using one of the ten characters (12 if you unlock the two bonus characters), and string together combos, and can even knock enemies into the air, or combine them with Ninja Arts that are usually meant to take care of enemies quickly, and often in entertaining or bizarre attacks, ranging from a quick dual slash to summoning a giant gun between your legs and firing large energy bursts….No I’m not making that up. Outside of those, the key to each fight is stringing together large amounts of combos to gain more EXP to level up, and each character does have some unique strengths and weaknesses, like Yagyu being a much better long-range character than others. And as stated before, yes, character clothes can be torn in battle, and even has its own health bar. Clothes are only shredded in shinobi mode, and actually lower your defense; no nudity however. When in normal mode however, you just get knocked into your bikini or whatever outfit you set as it.
However, the game can be insultingly easy on the normal difficulty unless you are severely under leveled. Frantic mode, a mode where you can fight starting off in the girls’ bikinis, is probably the only challenging mode in the game. And no, it’s not because perverts will try to play with one hand. In fact, sex appeal will be the last thing on your mind. At first, you may not see it due to the insane attack and speed boost, but on later stages, it actually becomes harder since your defense is reduced dramatically, and the damage enemies do piles up very quickly. So if you don’t wanna end up repeating the stage over and over, this is where you actually have to be more careful and skilled, plan your Shinobi attacks more carefully and even when to obtain items that restore your health and ninja meter.
Still, this doesn’t help the game’s greatest weakness: boss fights. This is an unforgiveable flaw in a game, and shows that this series is going to be in trouble if it sticks with this style. How easy is it? Well, not only there are a lack of knockback attacks from bosses to force the use of strategy, so you can’t be overwhelmed unless minions are around, and even then, I can only think of one fight that gave me trouble. And even that one was easy because of the high level I was already on. Combine this with Frantic mode and boss fights become even more of a joke, as you can stun lock enemies and easily knock them into the air where they will be even more helpless. Its times like these that I know why there’s an achievement for actually seeing every single special attack the boss has: because you will most likely kill them before they can do it unless you are extremely under-leveled. And even then, that just means a longer time using combos to defeat your enemies.
The soundtrack for the game is surprisingly good, if a bit repetitive in some areas, though I usually didn’t care because I enjoyed it. There are varying themes for each character, and probably my favorite part of the game; I’m a sucker for character themes. They even change when a transformation takes place, so when one them may start out calm, once the transformation kicks in, so does the energy of the song too. Sometimes I even prefer listening to that rather than keep playing the game. Adding to this are the collectables, which include pictures, music, new costumes, characters, and even achievements. There’s actually a staggering amount of content to collect, enough to guarantee completionists will be playing for days, maybe even a few weeks, to try and collect everything. Some of the stuff is actually funny to see, like seeing the girls fight in mascot outfits. You can even dress up each character with accessories too, though it’s never addressed in cut-scenes. Still, fits in better than Lightning Returns because of the story tone.
Which brings us to visuals. Not much to say, but the anime cell-shaded look is something I always appreciate. Sadly, the game has trouble keeping everything running smoothly, so when combat comes, everything feels a bit choppy with the framerate, but never to the point of being unbearably unplayable. With so much action on screen, it’s a bit understandable, but it’s something you can get used to. Of course, all the effort seemed to go into the actual character models given the jiggle physics and how detailed they are, at least as detailed as you can get in anime. A shame more focus wasn’t put into other areas, but at least the actual battlegrounds look good a lot of the time. Oddly enough I focused more on combat rather than the girl I was controlling, though that may be more because of the fault with the framerate. That and some enemy attacks block you from seeing your character.
As for the plot, a section I’m sure you plan to skip because you’re thinking “it’s filled with perviness and boob jokes.” Well, to be fair, you are kinda right. The game does go for humor with its story at times, and surprisingly not all of it is perverted. It oddly switches between the 3D character models and talking, and a visual novel approach usually told from one of the character’s points of view with some decent prose and Japanese voice acting. While a confusing style, the game does have serious moments and arcs for each of the characters, showing off their personality, goals, etc. And also giving a surprisingly dark tone at times that can contrast the super happy pervy fun time feel the game usually has. The Hanzo Academy storyline definitely feels cliché at some parts, and sadly focuses more on certain girls rather than give everyone fair time, but was still enjoyable with some of the themes regarding good and evil shinobi, and how things are not simply black and white. There are even moments of character development and interaction, and how they get across the challenges life set for them, like expectations or being rejected by everything by even their own family. Sadly, the ending felt like a cop-out with a lackluster boss fight.
The good news is that there’s another storyline, the Hebijo Academy focuses on the “evil shinobi” is surprisingly better, despite having many similarities to the first, especially with missions. Yet not only does this story mode feature better missions with a bit more challenge and even more extra bosses (not by much though), but has much better focus on the Hebijo girls, better storylines, and even a slightly better ending that has more focus on the actual story that kinda makes more sense and at least felt more satisfying. But to get the most out of it from a narrative perspective, playing the Hanzo side definitely helps. Still, you can play either one without penalty. And surprisingly, despite some plot-holes that make me tilt my head, I was able to take this game’s story more seriously than quite a few games that “try” to be serious, like Final Fantasy XIII, or DmC. I’m sure there are others, but I may go insane from remembering worse games, like 3rd Birthday. But I can’t deny that if the game had taken itself more seriously and not crammed in so much fanservice, we could have gotten a more solid story, and I’m sad that’s not the case with this game. I’d recommend the anime or manga but…well they embrace the worse aspects of it so far.
Overall, if you are the type of person who doesn’t like the perverted angle this game goes for, it’s going to be impossible to ignore and try to find the good points in the story, and I can’t recommend it. Moreover, the boss fights make this game get a much lower score because boss fights are meant to be a test of skill, and yet turn out to be the easiest possible thing in the entire game. But despite all my complaints, I still had my fair share of fun of this game and with all the unlockables to try and earn, it guarantees days of playing to try and get everything, and even if the combat can be easy, it’s still pretty decent. I bought this game expecting a mindless yet fun game, and I got that and a surprisingly entertaining story to boot, despite many flaws. It’s understandable if you do feel uncomfortable wanting to pick this up, but if nothing above has bothered you, I can recommend getting it. And after seeing the trailer of the second game, they seemed to have improved things.
Senran Kagura Burst gains a 3 out of 5.
I’m Final, and I am a perv—I mean…eh I would take this game over Lightning Returns any day of the week. At least this game was meant to be perverted and stupid fun rather than super serious and requires me to read 1000 pages of content to understand the basic plot of each game.