Everybody was kung fu fighting.
Thanks to Marvelous for the PS Vita Review code
Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus on the PS Store 15/10/2014
Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus on the PS Store 15/10/2014
Senran Kagura, what can I say about this series that the media hasn't already told you?, For those who aren't in the "know" I'll give you a brief description.
Lewd Ninja girls with huge breasts and shorts skirts fighting each other till their clothes come off, that's it at it's very basic form.
Love it or hate it Senran certainly made it's statement and presence known with Burst on the 3DS, will it leave such a reminder on it's Vita debut?.
Shinovi Versus is the next title in Senran Kagura, following on from the events of Burst. Using the power of the Vita the girls and their unique world are taken into the 3rd Dimension.
Featuring the adventures of 3 Ninja Schools, Hanzo Academy, Gessen Academy & Hebijo Academy.
These schools paths cross when a Battle Royale between schools is announced, the loser gets their school destroyed, the stakes for the girls has never been higher.
What I noticed most about the main narrative in this game is that compared to Burst it all felt a little more urgent, this is mostly down to it following on from Burst and as such the majority of character and setting development has already been laid down.
The Battle Royale setting allows for some brilliant interaction between the schools, especially the rival characters, naturally the ever fairing Hanzo are the underdogs with heart once again but as it was in Burst it's just as fun to see the girls overcome adversity.
During this narrative you'll hit little Novel style pieces where you find a little more about the girls which is good for those who missed out on Burst. My only gripe with this is that you'll get more development and higher quality writing in these than the girls own arc.
What I mean by this is outside the main battles there are a set of Girl exclusive missions, these are mostly mad cap adventures playing on the sillier side of things I.E Kat's desire to be the ultimate Sexual Harasser (seriously) or Asuka wanting to make the ultimate food.
I understand that maybe they would of wanted these arcs separate from the main, especially with the conflicting personalities displayed but it just seemed strange whenever I would hit one of the girls Novel stories after spending 20/30 mins on a story dedicated to them where no serious development happens.
It's also strange when you have a segment as above and then the main narrative comes in & it just isn't as well written as the girls personal inner turmoil. It just seems to weaken the overall package when you have such blatant up and down writing that close to each other.
Graphically Versus is untouchable on the Vita, it's a cel shaded treat running at full mind blowing speed.
The settings are the usual kind you'd associate with modern anime games, forests, snowy hills, temples and urban settings. None are terribly interactive but you won't notice this when your screen is full of rival enemy ninja awaiting you.
Musically nothing really stood out and took my attention, voice work is fairly good, Japanese dub only which does cause problems mid battle as the subs are too small and out of the way for you to focus on if you want to battle at the same time.
Gameplay is once again a shining diamond. If you have played Burst then think of it with more freedom of placement and faster.
Versus plays like a Musou game without the bases, you have hundreds of enemy forces standing in your way & you have to combo your way through them in the quickest way possible. Normal grunts are only really dangerous in large numbers so it's the special troops you have to look out for. Usually bigger than the standard & often backed by ranged units these are the ones who will require the most focus.
Once you have taken everyone down it's onto the main event which is usually a 1 on 1 with another Main Girl. These boss battles are where all your skills truly come into play and usually take the most of your time and damage, as the girls are all as able as each other these are the most entertaining parts and often involve flying about and ludicrous amounts of combos going on.
Naturally you have a few tricks up your sleeve to help with this, you have the ability to Shinovi Transform. This is a change of clothes, harder hitting but less defense & access to hidden Ninja attacks which can be quite devastating. To top this off you can also strip down to your lingerie to cause even more damage but at the cost of most of your defense.
The game has 3 meters which build up the more you make use of these abilities so the game tailors to how you choose to play it, The aim being to strip (defeat) the other girl/s while keeping your clothes intact as much as you can, sometimes this is harder than it sounds when it's 3 on one.
Levels will usually last around the 10 minute mark and barring a few enemy types the only time you will really put your skills to the test is the boss battle, that is unless you play on hard where are it's complete focus the whole way through.
There is little to no exploration on the levels so it's just pure brawling from one end to the other, akin to titles like Streets Of Rage/Golden Axe. For the most part aswell simple combos can get you through most of the level so during longer playtimes repetition may set in, like Burst I find shorter playtimes help to get the most of this title.
Outside of battling you can use your money to buy clothes for the girls to dress them how you see fit, there is an online mode I have yet been able to use with a set of battles modes & the lottery mode where you use coins to play in a lottery for even more lingerie. There are music tracks and art work to unlock and buy so they should keep you going for a long time. The Side Stories are around 20 min each and there is one for every girl so you are looking at the very least a 20 min playthrough if you hit all the stories and the main arc.
My major issue with Versus is barring the freedom of movement is that it doesn't do anything better or different than Burst did. With games like Akiba, Monpiece and Neptunia on the Vita shock value is lessened (yet the stripping does go a little further) to what it was on the 3DS. As the original was a fairly original and surprise title I was hoping Versus would have a little more up it's sleeve, instead it's more of a refining to help smooth players into the upcoming Senran Kagura 2.
Newcomers should enjoy this if Fan Service Ninja fighting is their thing but it certainly seems one more for fans of the first, with the majority of character building being in Burst you miss some of the finer aspects of the story telling.
Still the game is a fun & serviceable romp with sections of outstanding writing and just has that old school brawler "One more go" feeling to it.
[For reference click HERE for our original Senran Kagura BURST review]
Who Should Buy This?
- Fans of the series/fan service
- Old school brawler fans
- Wanting something pick and play which isn't too serious
Who Should Avoid?
- If you dislike fan service this is a nightmare for you
- If you want Tekken like depth from the combat
- Wanting a slower pace.