Thursday, March 23, 2017

Senran Kagura: Estival Versus Review (PS4)

One of my secret joys in life is reading reviews of games like Dead or Alive Xtreme or Senran Kagura and laughing at how hard some people try to convince others why they should feel bad for liking something. In this case I’m obviously talking about gratuitous fanservice. You won’t find any finger wagging or high and mighty lectures here, however. I play these types of games because I genuinely LIKE them and want to review them honestly. Today’s pervy anime romp is Senran Kagura: Estival Versus for PS4.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Marvelous Entertainment
  • Developer: Tamsoft
  • ESRB Rating: “M” for Mature
  • Genre: 3D Beat-Em-Up
  • Pros: Tons of content; tons of fanservice; fun gameplay
  • Cons: Some characters aren’t fun; story dialogue; a bit repetitive
  • MSRP: $40

I’m not super familiar with the Senran Kagura series though I have watched the anime. Basically, there are different schools around Japan with secret all-girl ninja clans. At first the ninja girls all fought each other, but then became friends. Or something. In Estival Versus all of the major characters in the series – some 30+ of them – get magically transported to a mysterious island where they have to participate in a competition against each other. The island also just happens to be bathed in permanent summertime warmth, which gives the girls an excuse to wear skimpy swimsuits pretty much constantly.

The gameplay in Senran Kagura Estival Versus is a fairly basic 3D beat-em-up similar to the Dynasty Warriors series. You have just a couple of attack buttons and string them together in various ways to execute different combos. Most of the enemies you fight are hordes of mostly mindless grunts, but you do occasionally also fight against other main characters in more difficult battles. Each of the 30+ characters has different weapons and abilities and they all play fairly differently from each other. Some are more fun to use than others, though, so being forced to play with a specific character during story missions is kind of a drag if you don’t like their style. Once you beat a story mission you can go back and replay it with any character you want, though.

Since this is Senran Kagura, however, there are various things that spice up the gameplay a bit. As you beat up generic enemies they lose their clothes until they’re just in their underwear or a bikini (because you’re fighting all girls, of course). Main characters will also have their clothes rip during battle and if you do enough damage they’ll even end up totally naked save for those cursed magic anime light beams. Each character also has a couple of transformations you can activate during battle as well. First is their shinobi battle mode where they, of course, strip and don a new skimpy outfit of some sort. Their shinobi mode makes them more powerful and gives them some new moves. The second transformation is to simply change into a swimsuit. Why? Because of reasons!

The fanservice pervades pretty much every aspect of the experience. Even the start menu has jiggling breasts and it only gets more lewd from there. Expect lots of bouncing boobs and jiggly butts, near nudity, and girls in all sorts of embarrassing positions, and that’s all just in the course of the normal beat-em-up gameplay. If you’re so inclined you can also play a dress up mode where you dress up the girls however you want and position them around in diorama scenes. It is all pretty shockingly over the top, but fans wouldn’t want it any other way.

The presentation is surprisingly good overall. The graphics are pretty fantastic as all of the character models look great and the animation is really smooth and well done. The backgrounds don’t look especially good, but your attention is usually focused elsewhere. Estival Versus also has pretty great sound all around with tons of voice work (I’m assuming from the real Japanese voice actresses, I dunno) and an excellent soundtrack. If you buy the Endless Summer special edition of the game you get the soundtrack on 2 CDs and it’s actually legit good.

All in all, Senran Kagura Estival Versus is a solid Dynasty Warriors clone with extremely pumped up fanservice. If you like either or both of those things, it is actually pretty enjoyable. Sure it can get repetitive and you get sort of numb to the fanservice after a while, but then you just switch to a new character and things get a lot more interesting again. Obviously, if you don’t like musou-style games or are vehemently against fanservice you won’t like Senran Kagura, but then again you probably wouldn’t be reading a review about it anyway. For fans of Senran Kagura and ecchi anime in general, Estival Versus is exactly what you’re looking for. Check it out.