Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Senran Kagura: Burst Re:Newal Review (PS4)

The latest Senran Kagura action romp is a blast from the past in the form of a 3D remake of the first title in the series, Senran Kagura: Burst. Originally a 2.5D sidescroller on Nintendo 3DS, Senran Kagura: Burst Re:Newal re-mixes the gameplay into a 3D action game while adding new playable characters and other content. While the 3D musou-style gameplay borrowed from Estival Versus is just as enjoyable as ever, the too-serious story told through long, long, long text crawls simply isn't very fun compared to where the series ended up by the time Estival Versus or Peach Beach Splash rolled around. Despite that, the gameplay is solid, the fanservice is phenomenal, and the overall package will more than satisfy fans of the franchise. Continue reading our full Senran Kagura: Burst Re:Newal PS4 review for all of the details. 

Game Details

  • Publisher: Marvelous Entertainment
  • Developer: Honey Parade Games
  • ESRB Rating: "M" for Mature
  • Genre: Third-Person-Action
  • Pros: Great character models; solid gameplay; lots of content; fanservice
  • Cons: An ocean of DLC; boring serious story; some characters aren't fun; lots of text
  • Price: $40
Click to Buy Senran Kagura
Burst Re:Newal
at Amazon.com
Since this is a remake of the first game in the franchise, you can probably guess that this is the origin story for the whole thing. The world of Senran Kagura is a world of good and evil ninjas and the story here focuses on the ridiculously well-endowed female ninjas of two rival high schools. The main characters of the franchise are introduced and the game puts a lot of effort into explaining their motivations and reasoning for wanting to be shinobi. The first Senran Kagura anime roughly covers the same plot that you'll find here. 

Honestly, though, I don't really like the story in Burst Re:Newal. It is far too serious and boring and comes from a time when the franchise wanted to actually be a semi-serious shinobi story. I much prefer the later games like Estival Versus or Peach Beach Splash where the good and evil seriousness is thrown out the window in favor of just making fun excuses to have the girls dress up in revealing outfits and hang out together. The storytelling here doesn't do it any favors, either, as HUGE chunks of it is told through scrolling text that is about as dry and bland as awful as can be. There are still lots of cutscenes with the 3D modeled characters doing stuff and there are lots of voice clips, but man is there a lot of boring text.

Thankfully, the gameplay is just as fun and solid as it was in Estival Versus. It's the same musou-style button mashing gameplay where waves of brainless enemies stand around and let you beat the crap out of them, but darn it, it's fun. Each of the characters has a distinct fighting style and weapon so there is s surprising amount of variety when switching from character to character even if you're still mashing out their attacks with the same button combos. Because they are all different, however, that means that some are much more fun and easy to use than others. Just like real life, you don't always get what you want (Asuka) and sometimes you just have to put up with what you're given (Hibari). It's all pretty enjoyable, though.

Another high mark is that the fanservice is right on point in Burst Re:Newal. The girls are busty and jiggly and curvy and, I'll say it, they're hot. Dressing them up in various costumes is an enjoyable distraction as well. Some folks don't like fanservice and don't like jiggly anime girls, and that's fine. If that sounds like you, you won't like the game at all. If you don't mind ecchi anime or already dig this aesthetic, jump right on in. One point of contention is that Sony is censoring works of this type and a mode from past games where you basically just fondle the girls until they're embarrassed has been cut out from the PS4 version and I think that is fine. You aren't missing anything with that mode not being present here. It was creepy and weird.

One other area I want to bring attention to is the sheer amount of DLC already available for the game and upcoming. This is not something exclusive to this game, or Senran Kagura in general, and seems to be largely Japanese anime-style games preying on otaku who will spend real money to dress up their cute waifus in new outfits. There is, no hyperbole, more content available as premium DLC than there is on the games you're paying $40+ for. That feels weird to me. I get it that these are largely niche games that they need to make as much money as possible off of, but the overwhelming mount of content offered up as DLC is pretty gross. I'm not saying you aren't getting your $40 worth here, but damn that's a lot of DLC.

The presentation is also pretty solid all around. The character models are about as good as 3D anime girls can possibly look and the animation is wonderfully jiggly. The backgrounds don't look so hot most of the time, but that is pretty much par for the Senran Kagura course. Sound-wise the game is excellent with plenty of voice work and a great soundtrack.

All in all, Senran Kagura: Burst Re:Newal is more of the same as Estival Versus but fans of the franchise will definitely enjoy it. I think Estival Versus is better overall, though, thanks to a better story and more content, so if you aren't already a Senran Kagura fan and want to give it a try I would recommend Estival Versus over Burst Re:Newal. And, if I'm being honest, I'd recommend Peach Beach Splash over all of them because that game is legitimately great. Ultimately, as long as you don't mind copious amounts of fanservice and enjoy musou-style button mashing beat-em-ups, you can't really go wrong with Senran Kagura: Burst Re:Newal.