Butt, rear, backside, hind-quarters, posterior, heinie, derriere, rump, caboose, tail, tail-feather, tail-bone, tail-end, applebottom, arse, badonkadonk, booty, tush, ass, seat, moon, full moon, haunch, fanny, ham, dumper, shitter, cheeks, buns, bum, heister, duff, can, trunk, gluteus maximus, booty-us maximum, pooper, patootie, fudge-factory, wazoo, backdoor, bop, money-maker, bumper, juicy double, back, salt shaker, moneymaker, milkshake, dookie-maker and junk.
Last august, I started a review with nearly 40 different terms for the female chest, from tits to Bristols. This was for the last Senran Kagura game I played; Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson on 3DS, which I gave a 4.5/5 due to it’s exciting and interesting gameplay. I did however criticise the over-abundance of boobs, as I found them to be more distracting than compelling.
Now I’ve had a chance to play with the ample beauties of Senran Kagura: Estival Versus for PS4, I felt the need to restate my previous sentiments. After all, as series creator Kenichiro Takaki says, “Tits are life, Ass is hometown,” hence the changed focus of my outburst.
Yes, there are more boobs in this one. And more bums. And more general nudity. And I HATE that.
Senran Kagura: Estival Versus is a 3D fighting game about big-boobed female ninjas, or Shinobi, killing literally hundreds of enemies. In this world, Shinobi are split into “good” and “evil” groups, with separate schools being available dependant on a trainee’s preference. Whilst the previously mentioned game focused on the two schools of Hanzō and Hebijo, with the members of the former leaving to create the “Crimson Squad”, this one adds to the roster another group of “good” Shinobi from Gessen Girl’s academy, and brings back the new recruits to the Hebijo academy, who previously appeared in Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus for the PS Vita. The story revolves around the girls from the four schools being mysteriously teleported to a beautiful island to take part in a strange Shinobi Festival. With their deceased friends and family also appearing on the island, they are forced to fight for reasons they don’t quite understand, whilst fighting the constant urge to strip off and touch each other up.
Again, the characters all seem to have a decent amount of depth for a game so thoroughly obsessed with breasts. There isn’t a huge amount of development over the course of the game, but overall the characters do have small arcs of their own, even if the sheer number of playable characters makes keeping them individualised pretty difficult. It’s good to see however that each character has a pretty distinct personality, with my favourite of the Playstation exclusive characters being Shiki; a rich “valley girl” with long, blonde hair who is pretty much the Grim Reaper with boobs. Without spoiling her story, she has an interesting outlook on life which doesn’t really reflect her attire, but the combination of her fast, AoE gameplay and her look make her a really fun character to play.
I would however argue that much to the character development seen in previous games is stripped away in order to engage in extreme levels of fan-service. I mean, within the first few hours the girls engage in groping, stripping and butt-splitting competitions. The story really isn’t anything special, and is at best a framework in order to allow for various interesting, if repetitive fights using various characters from the game’s big roster.
The gameplay itself is again, really, really fun. Most involve fighting off a few waves of enemies before beating a boss; usually another playable character. The fights take up to about 10 minutes, with some allowing for exploration of a wider level to find and destroy collectables, though honestly these bigger missions have big issues regarding the movement controls and clarity regarding which areas are actually accessible. Each character has a light attack, a heavy attack, a huge number of combos using both and (eventually) three shinobi arts, accessible after they transform (change clothes) into their shinobi form. More and more combos and powers are unlocked as they level up and grow, with tactically levelling actually being pretty important in earlier missions. Whilst in Deep Crimson the combos flowed well for most characters, in Estival Versus I feel somewhat less impressed, with many characters feeling incredibly clunky and unresponsive, though a minority do still flow well with smooth attack animations. Juggling is even more important in this one, with new mechanics added in team battles to help keep enemies in the air. The variety of characters is amazing, which each and every one playing differently, though again, like with Deep Crimson there are definitely a few absolute failures who are just simply tedious to play as when you hit them in the story mode.
Enemy variety is a little disappointing so far, from what I have played, with most boiling down to buxom teenage girls in masks. The Shinobi transformations have also been “upgraded” with the better hardware and the lack of Nintendo restrictions. Rather than slight nudity, with characters always being in at least their undies, the girls now all completely strip off with only lens flare to cover their lack of dignity. Again, it was interesting for the first few times, and I’ll admit, I’m always amused by where a shinobi can hide their transformation scrolls, (HOW DID IT FIT THERE?!) but after a while I just found myself skipping them, as they took up too much time and slowed down the overall feel of the game.
I’ll briefly address the dressing room mode; a mode which I only ever touch once in order to review it, and frankly it has gotten to the point of no return. Yes, now as well as arranging, dressing and snapping photos of characters in skimpy outfits, you can now grope and slap them around. I’ll admit, I spent a minute just seeing how far the boob physics went, (they spin?) but the whole idea just makes me feel gross. This mode feels like it’s crossed a line, and I’m disappointed.
Graphically, Estival Versus is a true step up. I’ve never seen such wonderfully rendered anime-style breasts! The game as a whole looks fantastic for an experience with this aesthetic, even if it feels wasted on visual-novel style perversity and (admittedly amazing, if gravity-defying) boob physics. The soundtrack is also really good, though I would have liked English voice acting as an option at least.
In conclusion, again, I’m torn by Senran Kagura. Yes, I still enjoy the basic combat. It’s still really fun to beat up waves and waves of enemies and interact with some funny, aesthetically well designed and interesting characters, even if the actual fighting does seem a little more clunky. However, the fan service has been taken past the point of being an extra gimmick in an otherwise great fighter, and is actively getting in the way of the game as a whole. Don’t get me wrong, I could really enjoy some good fan-service if the game already stood up without it, but the fact is that Senran Kagura: Estival Versus is close to being nothing BUT fan service, with very little else to back it up.
If you enjoy Senran Kagura purely for the fan service, then get this, but honestly I’d prefer less groping and smoother gameplay.