Senran Kagura, here we are again!, the series that welcome controversy has another title to it's line up. Senran Kagura Bon Appetit is the name of the game, making it's home on the PSVita again we are given a Rhythm game in the style of a cooking contest!.
Can this game cook up a storm or is it destined to be another cheap ready meal?
Review code supplied by Marvelous
First thing off the bat, this game is a spin off. It's not to be taken seriously in any regard, this much is made apparent once you watch the intro. You are given a speech about a legendary meal and a quest before the Headmaster Hanzo breaks it and tells you it's all fluff and just an excuse to get the girls together to cook before making several unsettling references.
This is pretty much the beginning and end of any narrative this game tries to weave together, unlike the previous titles which mixed daft fan service with some well written scenarios this just jumps to mock shock value and weak word play. A prime example of this would be when series lead Asuka leads a quest about the importance of "Big & Wide" food and wanting to preach about the importance of "Girth", actual quotes from the game I must point out!.
From my experiences no one really plays Rhythm games for the story [Ed- Though Elite Beat Agents gave me a tough case of the feels] so it wouldn't be right to knock it down purely for story though I will say I wasn't a fan of the narrative at all & at times I think it went a little too far!
Graphically the game is fairly solid, it uses the character models from Shinovi Versus which was quite impressive as noted on my previous review for it. For those who missed it or are just interested in this title, the character models are of a higher quality than in the 3DS which sharp cel shading and smoother animations. Outside of the models there are a few visually impressive set pieces involving the headmaster but the girls for the most part are the focus.
With Rhythm games the main focus is the music and gameplay fusion, The game features a decent collection of tracks for you to cook to, some naturally of a better quality than some, this includes a strange fusion with "Here comes the bride", it does a serviceable job without featuring any licensed tracks though none really stuck with me.
The game plays like any standard Rhythm game, you are given a song and have to play the corresponding buttons in time to it, closest to the actual rhythm for higher points. To make this more of a "Battle" it's done in a Tug of War fashion where the better you perform the higher quality your food will be compared to your opponent.
Each battle takes place over 3 rounds which helps break the tougher songs up but also presents the biggest gameplay flaw in this title, the only round that counts is the final.
To show what I mean during one battle I perfected rounds 1 & 2, I struggled with the 3rd round but assumed that I had done well enough to pass, apparently not. The first and second rounds only affect your score where as the third is the outcome.
This to me is a major insight because it's fairly annoying to be dominating for the majority of the song to lose it in the last minute and have nothing to show for it.
The game also does everything in it's power to divert your attention from the actual gameplay aspect, featuring swooping camera shots, colourful background and the dodgy heart power up. The latter is a heart you can get via performing well in the first two rounds, hit this heart & you are treated to a video of your opponent in her underwear with suggestive poses.....again yeah.
For fans of the series, clothing destruction is back! this is done by successfully winning a round, you can also once again fully dress up your girl to suit your needs in the dressing room.
For those who enjoy fan service whenever you beat a girl in the story mode you are presented with a interactive scene with the girl you have beaten, covered in food and served up.......yeah awkward.
The game features several modes, arcade, story, online and freeplay, there is enough here for any die hard fan of the game. The difficulties are a little strange with Easy being near enough a guarenteed win, Normal the same for the most part though a particular theme always defeats me and hard being a rhythm hell.
For me I can pass Senran games due to the actual core gameplay being really solid and at times impressive, some of the narrative being really well written serious or comedy and just because I have had fun with them, Bon Appetit not as much.
This isn't to say that the game is a horrid mess as at times I do enjoy the rhythm aspect of it which is good as i'm not really big on that genre of game it's just everything surrounding it which puts me off this title, that & the fact the only round you need to pass is the third.
I'm sure die hard Senran fans would be more than happy with this package but for people who are expecting something closer to the quality of the main games there isn't going to be a whole lot for you, a few catchy songs, suggestive writing, questionable camera shots, yeah it's all Senran visuals but without the gameplay to back it up.
[Ed- As a final note, half the cast are DLC which is due to be released soon, as I felt this didn't affect the game in anyway I didn't bother to include it into my review. Take this as you will and how it'll effect your personal mileage of the game]
Who Should Buy This?
- Die Hard Senran fans
- Itching for a rhythm game
- Fans of anime and fan service
Who Should Avoid This?
- Passing or new fans to Senran Kagura
- If fan service and suggestive writing makes you uncomfortable
- If you are expecting main Senran quality