Game: Senran Kagura Estival Versus
Consoles: PS4 (reviewed), PS Vita
Publisher: Marvelous Entertainment Inc.
The Senran Kagura franchise knows exactly what it is and embraces that proudly. A host of female anime stereotypes embrace their shinobi teachings and lash out against hundreds of baddies with those skills in tow. Senran Kagura Estival Versus finally lands on the PS4 and manages to look much improved over the series prior entries. Gameplay wise, there’s actually a host of mechanics that make this a bit deeper than your average Mosuo-style beat ’em up. But the lackluster story and overwhelming feeling of repetition turns this release into a game you may tire of sooner rather than later.
Let’s chat about the game’s finer qualities first and foremost. Senran Kagura Estival Versus’ visual sheen is strong. The bright and bubbly graphics shine and the wonderfully drawn cast of playable female avatars appear fully realized. You’ll hop from sunny beach side resorts to dark enclosed dojo’s and be impressed at the flashy attacks each lady warrior can dish out. You have to commend this latest entry in the Senran Kagura series for it’s strong graphical presentation. The story mode cutscenes feature actual moving avatars as they offer up some instances of dialogue, plus the still images are desktop wallpaper worthy. On the visual front, Senran Kagura Estival Versus hits on all cylinders.
The playable roster offers up a surprisingly diverse set of viable ninjas. Each lady sticks to a certain anime stereotype (such as the super timid schoolgirl type and the extra vehement/always in a sour mood-like character). You’ll utilize all types of combat styles that involves serious weaponry and some more comical instruments of war. With more than 25 characters to play with, there’s certainly at least one roster member every type of player will grow to love. On the gameplay front, there’s a host of mechanics to play with – wall running, air combos, tag team specials, Shinobi transformations etc. You’ll have the chance to make great use of these elements throughout the wealth of mission types on hand. There’s an extensive amount of quest to engage in that push the story along, go into the background of each girl or throw tough boss challenges in your direction. There’s a lot to involve yourself with here.
There’s a few things that falter here, though. The main plot thread behind this sequel focuses on a group of women tied to different shinobi clans. They end up stuck in an alternate dimension where a special festival is taking place. Each of the ninja clan’s members do battle amongst other rival groups in order to prove their organization’s superiority. To be quite honest with you all though, you won’t care too much about the story being told to you. The dialogue sessions run entirely too long and they’re mostly full of boring exposition and corny jokes. These cutscenes only serve to throw in as much sexual innuendo and blatant boob/ass shots as possible. Skipping the story sequences altogether and getting straight to the action will make your experience a lot more tolerable.
If you’ve spent years playing through a ton of Dynasty/Samurai Warriors titles, then this next gripe shouldn’t come as a shock. While the 1st couple of missions will keep you satisfied for a good while, that feeling will eventually fade away. The boss fights manage to ease up all that button mashing since you have to approach these fights from a much more strategic approach. But the stages that throw hundreds of rival ninjas in your way grow tiresome after a while. The fresh factor behind these stages soon diminishes, so only the most dedicated fans of this series will stick around long enough to complete them all.
Senran Kagura Estival Versus has no shame and that’s just fine. It’s “titillating” cast of characters are beautifully animated and they all offer up a myriad of fighting styles that help differentiate them all. You’ll come to appreciate the surprisingly deep combat mechanics and strong visuals. However, the lackluster story that’s told to you will force you to push the skip button and rush straight to the gameplay itself. The game starts out well enough, but not enough is done to keep that feeling of repetition from creeping in. For those who’ve devoted plenty of attention to this franchise for so long, there’s a lot to love here. For everyone else, this beat ’em up’s fun factor may not last long enough to keep you.
- The bright, anime focused visuals look great and provide this game with a happy-go-lucky feel
- There’s a huge roster of playable characters here that provide all types of weapon styles
- With so many mission types to hop into, longtime fans will have plenty to hack ‘n slash through
- The plot is pure fan service and not exactly enthralling
- After a while, cutting down swaths of rival ninjas grows a bit tiresome