By Demoskinos 24 Comments
The girls of Senran Kagura are back and this time they are bouncing and shedding their clothes on the PS4. This marks the first time the series has been on a non-handheld platform. Which is super exciting for me being a fan of the series. So I guess first question is if you are new to the series WHAT is Senran Kagura. Senran Kagura is a "musou" game. Musou is referencing the Dynasty Warriors approach to beat em' up action where multiple characters are played and the action is focused usually on large scale battles with dozens of enemies on the screen at once. The latest entry in the franchise Estival Versus is currently only a Japanese release but is ripe for localization. It is the 4th main game in the franchise and the 6th overall game in the series. I'm writing this blog as a way to catch people up on what is going on with the franchise as well as a information roundup for Estival versus. Note: Credit to CureVylash over at NeoGAF for some of these pictures I'm going to use.
Senran Kagura: Burst
Release Date: August 30, 2012 (JP) November 14, 2013 (NA) February 28, 2014 (EU)
Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus
Platform: PS Vita
MSRP: $39.99 - $49.99
Release Date: February 28, 2013 (JP) October 14, 2014 (NA) October 15, 2014 (EU)
Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson
Release Date: August 7, 2014 (JP) Summer 2015 (NA/EU)
Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit
Platform: PS Vita
Release Date: March 20th, 2014 (JP) November 11th, 2014 (NA) November 12th, 2014 (EU)
Senran Kagura: Estival Versus
Platform: PS4, PS Vita
Release Date: March 26, 2015 (JP)
TGS 2014 Gameplay - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LC2R5mU1bE8
20 Minutes Raw Gameplay - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vYYjTwgHdE
Announcement Trailer - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pp3V3IzhTDQ
Girls of Choice PV - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4dQ0cfnhQI
Girls of Choice PV 2 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTBrbCBaZxo
Character Trailer - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b00vUM5jqJY
Lore / Story
Despite what pre-conceived notions you may have about the writing and the story the SK games are actually for the most part pretty well written. They aren't going to re-define storytelling in gaming or anything but they do a good job of making the girls more than just pairs of tits and make you care about them as characters.
Only having a Vita I've only been able to play Shinovi Versus and Bon Appetit which is a spinoff. The basic premise of all the games however revolves around four groups of five girls. Each group of girls are shinobi that train at academies designed to teach and hone teach aspiring shinobi. The stories usually revolve around conflicts between the various schools/factions and the interpersonal relationships of rivalries and friendships between them.
Each of the girls are given rather fleshed out backstories most of which revolve around personal loss or some sort of tragic event that shaped their personality and place in life. The game also occasionally takes fun detours into sillier more lighthearted side stories such as Homura's quest to find out why she is so awful at telling jokes.
Gameplay / Combat
The combat of Senran Kagura is surprisingly deep. Its no Bayonetta but for a game that could have gotten away with flashing tits on the screen and making you mash a single button for attacks they sure put in a lot of effort. The DS series and the playstation "versus" series are slightly different in game play with the 3DS series being a bit more of a standard 2D brawler while the versus series is more of the 3D musou action that I referenced at the top of the post. Battles in versus are usually waves of enemies that cluminate to a "boss" battle with one of the other characters.
While taking out dozens of fodder enemies with flashy moves is all good fun the boss fights are where the game really shines. Guard breaks, parries, combo breakers, air combos all things that you would find in proper fighting or character action games are present and accounted for. Hell, you can even extend your combo window Devil May Cry style by taunting mid-combo. The cool thing is also that if you want to just mash through you can do just that as well. So the combat is accessible to everyone. Its honestly a lot of fun.
What's new for Estival Versus
Estival versus has a number of new features and additions first of which is obviously a new story. Which features events surrounding the Kagura Thousand Year Summer Festival. There is also an entirely new faction featuring five new characters. One of those characters is Ryoki Ryona and Ryobi's dead sister. One of the other characters is Sayuri is Hanzou’s wife and Asuka’s grandmother who comes with an interesting mechanic.
Upon entering her "shinobi" state which is a transformed state all of the shinobi girls go through before battle (think magical princess like transformations) Sayuri goes through a most unique transformation of actually shedding years off of her body and transforming into a much younger version of herself for a short time allowing the now elderly woman to fight like she is still in her 20's. The remaining 3 characters are a trio of sisters who are traveling with Sayuri during the Kagura Thousand Year festival.
Renka: Renka is the eldest of the Mikagura sisters with a fiery and confident personality. She hates cute things and is the first to jump into the fray when the action gets hot.
Hanabi: The middle of the Mikagura sisters Hanabi isn't too bright but she is very straight forward. She knows a lot about gunpowder and fireworks as her name literally means "fireworks" in japanese.
Kafuru: The youngest of the 3 sisters Kafuru is a calculating brat who looks down on other people and gladly provokes them by using internet slang or baby talking them. She likes to tease her older sister Hanabi due to her explosive temper.
One of the big new features is the multipalyer. The previous games being limited on handhelds were only 4 players over ad-hoc or Internet connections. Estival versus on the PS4 features 10 player online battles.
Point Battle: Point battle is very straight foward. You fight against other opponents and receive points for damaging or taking them out. The person or team with the most points wins. Think of it as the vanilla death match type of match.
Panty Battle: Panty battle is a mode where players scramble to collect as many pairs of panties as possible which are scattered across the map. You can attack other players along the way to have them drop their panties in an attempt to foil their chances at winning.
Capture the Bra: This mode is like the traditional Capture the Flag mode except you know Senran Kagura style. The flag is made out of bra's and your objective is to capture said bras taking the flag back to your base to score a point.
The game also features a very robust photo mode where you can dress and pose the characters to take advantage of the PS4's share function of sharing screenshots. The mode was demonstrated by the series creator on a stream a few days ago.
I'm very excited for the release of this game I currently have it on pre-order. There are several sites still accepting pre-orders if you'd like to get in the action. My current plans are to stream the game the day I get it on my Twitch page and do sort of a "Quick Look" style look at it where I'll most likely stumble through the first few hours of the game. The game is to release on 3/26 in japan.
If anyone has any questions or comments on the series I'd be happy to answer them. Also, if you have a NeoGAF account consider stopping by the Senran Kagura Community Thread. Lots of good people there discussing the series at large. I don't know if anyone will actually care about anything I just typed but I had fun writing it. I do hope that a few of you will give the series a chance beyond the gratuitous fanservice lies a really fun beat em' up game with some good stories to back it up.
Until next time thanks!