Boobs, Breasts, Tits, Norks, Knockers, Jugs, Boulders, Airbags, Badoinkadoinks, Bristols, Melons, Bosums, Headlights, Chesticles, Funbags, Goombas, Hood Ornamants, Mounds, Milkshakes, Pillows, Puppies, Rack, Yabba-Dabba-Doos, Tatas, Wahwahs, Bitties, Brad Pitts, Honkers, Hooters, Baps, Gazongas, Chebs, Traffic Stoppers, Zeppelins, Speed Bumps, Snuggle Pups, Muchachas, Chitty-Bang-Bangs and Mammory Glands.
Now I’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about Senran Karuga 2: Deep Crimson, for 3DS.
The hyper-sexualised Senran Karuga series is somewhat of a controversial one, with its creator Kenichiro Takaki having fully admitted in the past that his aim has always been to titillate; hell, he even came out with one of my favourite quotes of all time; “Tits are life. Ass is hometown.” Now, I’m a massive fan of the female form, but even I find that a little creepy. Luckily, the series has evolved past its humble beginnings as just a 3D boob simulator. A cult sensation over in Japan, this title was originally released last year, but is now reaching our shores thanks to a Marvellous Crowdfunding effort.
Senran Karuga 2 is, first and foremost, a 2.5D side-scrolling fighting game about buxom female ninjas, or Shinobi. Concentrating on two opposing Shinobi schools; the “Good” Hanzō and the “Evil” Hebijo, it follows Asuka, Homura and their 8 friends as they fight demons and discover the true meaning of friendship. Surprisingly, the main characters themselves, who could have easily ended up as just eye-candy for the player have a wonderful amount of depth. Agreed, we aren’t talking about the same level of rich relationship development that you might see in a single-protagonist game like The Witcher 3, but each and every one of the 10 playable characters develop through their own arcs throughout the 13-ish hour main campaign. Whilst most have similar themes, it’s good so see such strong characterisations in a game so thoroughly obsessed with tits and upskirts.
As an example, my favourite character is Yomi, a girl from a lower-class background with a hatred of the bourgeois. At the start her personality is an interesting mixture of narrow minded, self-righteous fury and whimsical joy, which contrasts well with her Hanzō foil. Whilst she is an Evil Shinobi, she is ironically the typical underdog in a tough world, who fits into her school purely due to circumstances beyond her control. She’s a flawed character, and her inherent prejudices make her much more than just a problematic underdog. And each character has a similar level of depth, including the none-playable ones. Yes, they’re hyper-sexualised, but they are strong enough characters in their own right that they become more than just sex objects; if anything having sexual agency in themselves. Whilst the main storyline itself is somewhat predictable, this depth makes up for any shortcomings.
Moving on to the actual gameplay, levels usually involve moving throughout short areas defeating waves of enemies and a boss Shinobi, which is often another playable character. These usually take somewhere between 2 and 6 minutes, making them perfect for mobile play. Each Shinobi has access to a light attack, a heavy attack, a variety of combos and three shinobi arts. More combos are unlocked as each character levels up and grows in power, and usually flow well from one to another with ease. It’s a well-flowing, smooth system which balances juggles with beautifully satisfying combos and arts, and whilst certain characters feel better than others, (…Mirai and her erect mini-gun…) they are varied and interesting, whilst being similar enough that you don’t mind switching between them throughout the story. Using your Shinobi arts usually involves a transformation from their everyday outfits to their Shinobi outfits, which also completely refills health, so strategic restraint is incredibly important throughout fights. Shout out to the transformations themselves, in which characters scan a scroll between their breasts, magically strip off and magically dress again, with the expected boob jiggle and upskirt taking centre stage. To be honest, I haven’t really enjoyed a game of this style since I played Jackie Chan Adventures on GBA, but I loved every minute of the challenging, varied combat.
There is also a huge variety of enemies to fight, from big training robots to snake-women and flying, biting peas. However, most creatures, regardless of how obscure they are, have giant, wobbling breasts. This is hilarious when fighting bosses; especially when they are literally just a pair of boobs, but the sheer amount of them quickly gets tiring.
In terms of other features, alongside the three difficulties of main missions are a range of challenges which unlock “Shinobi Stones”; basically power-ups, and different weapon skins for the playable characters. I enjoyed dipping into the Yoma’s Nest for new weapons, but the power-up challenges felt far too rewarding compared to their actual difficulty. There is also an extensive co-op multiplayer mode, but due to playing it pre-release I was unable to test this functionality properly.
There’s also a Dressing Room mode, which allows you to completely customise each character’s clothing and hairstyle, and then finally have AR photoshoots. Yes, it’s as fan-service-y as it sounds. Yes, there are bunny outfits, a French maid outfit and a variety of other “clothing.” Yes, it’s possible to attach discarded underwear half-way down their leg. It’s cringe-worthy, but the ability to modify characters is pretty compelling, even if some of the available outfits are stereotypically exploitative.
Graphically, it’s all very impressive, from the shine on the jiggling mounds to the overall art style. It stinks of quality and works brilliantly with the subject material. Senran Karuga 2 even makes excellent use of the 3D functionality of the console, surprisingly for more than just breasts. The sound design is even more impressive, with a huge amount of original music, and each track sounding distinct from the others. It would have been nice to have had English voice acting included, but that’s a minor gripe.
Realistically, I absolutely love everything about this game, with one (or perhaps two) glaring exceptions. It’s an incredibly fun experience, but whilst the huge number of breasts are initially amusing, they quickly become an unwelcome distraction. I dare say I would enjoy this more if it was just toned down a little. Maybe include some more male enemies who won’t inevitably end up naked and jiggly. Maybe include a boss WITHOUT boobs; just some sort of change from the barrage of massive mammories.
In conclusion, Senran Karuga 2: Deep Crimson emerges triumphant from under the heavy, bouncing load it carries. Yes, it’s weighed down heavily by an over-abundance of ample bosoms, but the excellent gameplay and well-thought-out characters shine through, to make it easily my favourite 3DS release of 2015.
Senran Karuga 2: Deep Crimson will be released on 3DS both physically and in the Nintendo eShop on August 27th 2015 in Europe and on September 15th 2015 in North America.
The writer was provided with a digital pre-release copy of the game for review purposes.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.