Publisher: XSeed Games (NA)
Genre: action, side-scrolling with rpg elements
ESRB: M for Mature
System: Nintendo 3DS
Price right now: $49.99
…Sometimes, I can have high hopes for games. The industry has constantly made me more skeptical and wary of purchases thanks to DLC and overall mistrust with a company’s attitudes, such as Capcom with DmC, EA giving little content with Star Wars Battlefront, and Konami being so Konami that the former two companies I mentioned are tame little kittens by comparison. Senran Kagura 2 was one of the games I was generally hyped for, only enhanced when I finished playing Shinovi Versus, which will get a video review. And while Burst was a heavily flawed game, there was a lot to enjoy, but a lot to improve.
The good news is that Senran Kagura 2 improves on a lot of aspects.
The bad news is that it is somehow less fun to play than Burst. So let’s take a look as to why this is the case.
Now, I’m actually a fan of the story and characters of the Senran Kagura universe? Is it silly? Of course, but a lot of things we love are silly in their own way. Not to mention Burst had some good character moments, particularly with the Hebijo route. If you played Shinovi Versus, you might be confused a bit by what is going on, but that’s the thing: the 3DS and Vita games exist on a separate continuity. I assume the 3DS follows the Hanzo story more, while the Vita follows the Hebijo story more, with some minor exceptions.
In fact, the beginning of the game basically retcons the Hanzo story a bit, showing off the villain Dogen more. But the first two chapters are otherwise wasted, telling us things that anyone who has played the games would already know for the most part. It’s also held back by trying to explain the game mechanics too. The third chapter is better, actually giving some interesting character development regarding the good and evil shinobi problems, mainly in killing and how Asuka’s group is reluctant while Homura’s team discovers a sense of freedom. Then there’s individual problems such as Katsuragi struggling since she wants to be approved by the council so her parents cannot be renegade shinobi anymore, or Haruka dealing with her hatred of Dogen, no doubt reminding her of the time she was being raised by her over-controlling mother. I would have loved for this to be expanded, but then it goes downhill, with chapter 4 as filler, and chapter 5 painfully predictable. Also very painful in the gameplay department. There is a chapter 6, but it’s worthless with no real story at all.
Combined with the fact that you can finish this story in less than 15 hours, maybe even less due to the other game modes, it’s pretty lackluster. I’d give it a C if I graded each section. It’s really confusing since the story in Shinovi Versus for each school was actually really damn good…Okay it was still silly and stupid in a lot of areas, but it was genuinely interesting.
This is by far the most notable improvement from Burst. Okay, yes, the camera now zooms in while stripping is happening, but they got rid of pre-special attack animations, meaning combat now goes at a much faster pace with some very pretty animations. Even the cut-scenes work really well. Not only that, but the game runs pretty damn smoothly too, and looks fantastic while sounding really good. The music sadly was much less notable aside from some certain themes.
Adding to the visuals are some new various outfits and the customization for them is surprisingly good and varied. Hell, one guy on twitter tried making Gray Fox from Metal Gear Solid…and damn near succeeded!
As much as I praise Shinovi Versus in this review, this was one aspect Senran Kagura 2 knocked out of the park. You can even decide to change into any outfit regardless if in normal or transformation mode. For example, like that apron no matter what? Now it can be equipped to both pre and post transformation. The same goes for accessories as well, meaning you can truly make some ridiculous or awesome stuff.
And there’s even a Photoshoot mode to take pictures of the characters posing in various backgrounds and such. These can really get creative…or super pervy. Really, this is completely optional, and I didn’t get much time to use time, mainly because I wanted to just be done playing this game, as you’ll soon see why in the next section.
Unfortunately, the camera is the worst offender the game has to offer, ruining the gameplay but more on that later.
And by later, I mean now because goddamn I did not expect to be unable to make out what is going on! Say what you want about Burst or Shinovi Versus, but it was fairly to see what was going on, especially since the lock-on wasn’t craptastic in the latter. The lock-on does not do a good job in tracking the enemy, meaning they can easily blindside you if you aren’t careful. Hell, they can break up combos and strip you out of nowhere. So if you cannot what they are doing sometimes, like they are on the other side of the screen and you CONSTANTLY need to get into view, it becomes frustrating beyond belief. That is not how you make a game difficult! Based on a preview I saw of the first game, I was led to believe that the lock-on would track enemies in your view and adjust to it, like Shinovi Versus does. What the hell happened!?
It’s not impossible to play at least. You can choose at times to go solo or with a team. Going solo allows you to use a move to constantly go where the opponent is, while being a team replaces that by not only being able to switch partners, but use a unavoidable group special attack that varies depending on who you paired your character with. Some can even have special conversations, sometimes changing depending on how high their bond is. These can be very entertaining. My personal favorite is that of Daidouji and Suzune actually fighting each other, yet doing more damage to the enemies around them with their DBZ-style fighting. I should also mention that newcomers Kagura and Naraku are not playable. Just FYI.
The main goal of course is always going to be beating the opponents as you strip them down. While not going into censor territory like Shinovi Versus, it retains the same mechanics of defense level wearing down as the girls (and Murasame) lose clothing. You can also start at the base form and eventually transform for the better skill set. Due to the poor camera and low levels, especially at the Yoma Nest, it is actually better to wait before using it sometimes. There are also now giant boss battles, which with an improved camera are actually more fun to play than the standard fights…except the hitbox can be really weird, as I found myself hit without realizing it until I was stripped. And the camera just becomes worse by giant fights towards the end, which once again become infuriating in that I can’t see at times! I kept wondering if I was doing something wrong, like if the camera DOES track like I saw in the first ever preview of the game, but it doesn’t.
And yet, when I play in the Yoma Nest, the gameplay actually works MUCH better. The camera is not too much of a hassle as it does move around the battlefield while you move around the locked on target. This made it much easier to dodge enemy attacks, though it was still a bit iffy. The only real problem with the Yoma Nest is how you need a high level to make a lot of progress down below, but that’s expected and welcomed considering this mode also relies a lot on skill. When I was playing this mode, it was a relief from the main story. But it not nearly enough to save this game as it still has some problems present. It is definitely worth it for the prizes of different weapons. While they don’t enhance your attacks, they look cool and are wonderfully silly.
There are also challenge modes too, which can then grant you shinobi stones (that look like Magatama) that can enhance your abilities, such as more attack, restoring partner’s health slowly, and much more. Depending on how strong you are though, these may not be needed, save for maybe the Yoma Nest due to spikes in the difficulty as you descend.
Overall, Senran Kagura 2 is a disappointing game. While the presentation is vastly improved, the alterations to gameplay ultimately created new problems not accounted for. At this rate, either Tamsoft needs to step up their game, or try to get the series on the Wii U for enhanced gameplay. If Bayonetta 2 can look stunning on it, why not this series? Perversion? Again, Bayonetta 2. Argument over. My hype for the 3DS series is pretty much low now. And the only reason I am so hard on this game is because I genuinely care about this series. If I wanted to just bash this game, I would have done a joke review like Jim Sterling did (at least it was barely a review).
The final verdict for Senran Kagura 2 is a 2 out 5. Or in Quick Review terms: for the most dedicated of fans/perverts that cannot get Shinovi Versus.
I’m The Smartest Moron, and hopefully Estival Versus will be a far superior game. And if you think I am not a Senran Kagura fan and am just doing a bad review for the sake of a bad review, just wait a few more months for another Saviors of the Tale, featuring a certain shinobi from this series.