Ryu’s Musings: Senran Kagura – Estival Versus (PC)

Language: Audio: Japanese, Subs: English
Developer: Tamsoft
Publisher: Marvelous Entertainment Inc.
Format: PC
Type: Action Brawler
Demo Box: PC
Synopsis: Thrust into a parallel dimension, our buxom shinobi prepare for a new kind of beach-side battle. Can the islands’ hosts be trusted? Will the other schools play fair? Will there be time to enjoy the beach before the fighting starts? Will anyone manage to keep their clothes intact?

Senran Kagura really needs no introduction, it’s a pretty well known guilty pleasure for a lot of guys. Though admittedly I’m not one of them, I’ve never played any of the game in this series before. So I went into this game a little worried, expecting a game of nothing but tits and arse.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all up for fan-service, so long as it’s not over the top and ruining the game. So colour me surprised when I found a competent brawler, which I instantly sucked at ( I suck at at all brawlers) but was fun to play.

The fan-service is there, and there’s a lot of it, both the covert and overt stuff. Yet, I honestly found myself not able to put the game down, and no not ‘cause of the tits and arse, but because I found the game fun to play.

So, lets get into my thoughts!

Firstly lets talk about the start up and settings, odd place to start I know, but it’s for a reason. When the game launches it plays an unskippable cut scene. Why is that an issue you ask? Because of how loud it is. I wear headphones when I’m gaming, and this is the first game thats ever almost blown my ear drums on start up. Not a big issue, just go into setting is what I thought, only something is missing from the settings menu:

main settings

As you can see this settings menu is missing a hell of a lot, including the all important sound settings! Only way to get to the full settings menu is to get into the actual game, which means yet another overly loud cut scene. However once you get past that you do gain access to the full settings menu:

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Once your there you can turn things down and let your ears recover! It would have been nice to have these from the menu, or atleast the sound options. That said this is one of the best settings menus i’ve seen. Also, while the option IS there to play with keyboard and mouse, I wouldn’t reccomend it. I tried it and it just doesn’t flow well. Controller is the way to go, as it is with most brawllers.

Graphically the game is pretty good looking, sort of. While it’s by no means the best looking game on the PC, or even the PS4 and Vita, it’s not bad. The 3D anime styled graphics of this game have always looked a bit jank in games, no matter who does it. Forgiving them for the odd jank is a given, but if you genuinely look at the character designs they’re pretty darn good.

The game splits it’s game play with anime cut scenes, which are, again, pretty damn good. Though I don’t think they’re full HD (1080), to me they look and feel like upscaled 720. But, I have to admit when it comes to anime, and being played on a monitor thats not a huge issue. But I’d like to see them move forward there next time.

Another thing about this game is it’s wardrobe simulator! Once you’ve decided on your waifu from the 25 available characters (more as paid DLC) you then get to dress her up as much (or as little) as you’d like. Apparently the previous games had a lot of limitations on outfits, restricting them for specific character, that seems to have mostly been been removed.

Oh, before I go on, have to mention the one bad thing about the graphics, reused assets. Apparently some of the scenes are HD remasters of the previous game settings. Which would be great, but I always seemed to end up on the exact same damn beach setting. After a while this got frustrating, as there were no walls for me to run up or jump off.

As an action brawler graphics are secondary, the big question is how it is to smack stuff around! Honestly I’m not sure how it compares to previous Senran games, as I’ve not played them, so bare this in mind.

For me the combat felt a bit sluggish at first, even the light attacks felt a bit slow. As I played through the game though I did get used to it, which doesn’t take long, I was in the second mission when it finally clicked. Though missions can take around 10-15mins.

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Once you get used to the way the combat handles it’s a lot of fun, especially if you’re in a place where you can wall run for escapes or using them to combo attacks. Boss fights do seem to come thick and fast, more so than I’m used to with other games of this style, I’m not sure how I feel about this. Since on the one hand battling grunts all the time is dull, but the bosses do seem to be a tad to frequent.

Bosses are going to trounce you, especially if your like me and new to the series. That’s due to them being a pain in the arse to fight. You’re going to learn how to parry fast, or you’ll end up getting frustrated with the fights. Because of how fast the bosses can come, it does feel at times to be more of a parry simulator at times, which for me, was not a lot of fun. So you’re going to get your arse kicked a few times, but thats what you want right (wink wink) since you’ll get to see you’re fave character semi nude after she gets beaten!

That said don’t expect any nudity in this game. While it is there, technically, it’s a japanese game, so as a result it’s censored with all revealing bits covered in some form or another. That said when you’re character does transform, she whips out a scroll, and no mount of censorship can hide where it comes from >.>

Some of the characters don’t feel quite right though, Hanabi was one I wanted to try because I loved the name, but I found her a bit odd to play and in the end gave up. But with 25+ characters to choose from, you’re certainly not lacking in choice!

Sadly, this I do feel not playing the previous games has hampered me a bit, as I’ve no idea about the history and previous game stories. Since this is (apparently) a direct sequel to Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus, I did find myself wondering over some plot points. I may actually pick up the previous game and see if it helps.

The story seems to revolve around the Kagura Millennium Festival, where the girls are whisked off to a tropical paradise. Here they get to play at the beech, swim in the ocean, rub suntan oil on each other, oh and meet ressurected shinobi, including family members. Then they have to decide on whether they’ll stay in this paradise together, or go their own ways, the dead being resurrected (I guess) and the girls returning to the real world to carry on their training. The story isn’t the best, but it does seem to fit well with the game itself. Though there’s not much emphasis on the story, it’s almost there as a just a way to break up the jiggling and fighting.

What I will say is that the story, and characters, are frankly hilarious. The characters run the range of personalities like you wouldn’t believe. One of the first ones you meet actually gets off on being abused and called a bitch…and another…well I wont spoil that bit of funny for you!

There’s four modes in the game, Story, Online, Challenge and Diorama. The story mode is one huge ass tutorial really. It introduces the characters, teaches you how to parry, dodge, air dash etc etc, as well as the characters individual move sets.

game modes

Online, is well, what you’d expect. You versus up to 10 other peeps trying to strip each other by kicking the crap out of each other, typical brawler style!

Challenge mode is for when you think you and your waifu are in synch together and can dominate the world. The challengee mode lets you prove it

Diorama mode is for taking photos of you’re girls in different outfits and locations. Personally I found this one a little odd, it doesn’t work the way I was expecting it to. Or maybe I just missed something, I dunno. But this was the least interesting mode of the game, but you aren’t really gonna spend a lot of time there are you

After all that, here’s my final thoughts on the game.

As a brawler its a good game. it’s not as graphically good as say Dead or Alive, but it’s also not as serious as DoA. Also it makes DoA look tame when it comes to it’s ecchi content. It’s a fun game, one I’ve enjoyed. So long as you’re open to the style of content the game has, I think it’s well worth investing it.

Author: Ryu Sheng