We are going to conduct a quick test; no worries, it is nothing that you needed to study for. The first question is: do you like anime? Next I would like to know how you feel about ninja; kunoichi in particular. Moving on, tell me in as few words as possible how you feel about fan service. The final question is whether or not you have an aversion to breast physics in video games. Let's see how you did. Oh wow! You love anime ninja girls with jiggly boobs? This is fantastic and you have come to the right place! We are about to delve into the world of Senran Kagura Estival Versus and this game has all of that, and a wrinkly old woman! Nevermind that last part, the *ahem* creative minds at Tamsoft bring you their latest entry in this buxom brawler series. To give you an idea of what you are getting into, think Dynasty Warriors meets Akiba's Trip. The closest thing I can give you to an English translation for Senran Kagura Estival Versus would be “Festival War to become the Greatest Ninja,” with “versus” thrown in for good measure. Enough with the background info, let's get to the actual game.
THE OBLIGATORY BEACH EPISODE Hebijo Girls' Academy, Hanzō National Academy, Gessen Girls' Academy and Homura's Crimson Squad (all formerly of Hebijo). Each of these squads is comprised of five elite kunoichi. I am not going to list all of their na,mes but you can hit up the characters section of the website for their info. Our story begins as twins Ryōbi and Ryōna (of Hebijo) go to pay their respects to their deceased sister Ryōki, who died on a mission. They happen upon an old woman performing a ritual and see their older sister, apparently alive and well. As they approach, the old woman and Ryōki disappear and they find themselves drawn into a strange light. Similar instances of a bright light also happen to the rest of the Hebijo girls along with the other three squads and they all find themselves on a mysterious beach. The old woman turns out to be an ex-kagura named Sayuri and is Asuka's (of Hanzo Academy) grandmother. She explains that she has brought them all there for the Kagura Millenium Festival. The purpose is sending off the souls of ninja who have died in vain. The girls are given twofold incentive to participate: the team that wins will not only unlock the secrets of becoming kagura, they will be able to send their loved ones to the afterlife.
Now I just tried to make that as simple as possible to understand because the game explains all of this in great detail through a lot of dialogue. The tutorial portion of the game can take upwards of an hour just because of all the talking. If you watch a fair amount of anime, the story will blow over you like a mild breeze. If you are not used to ridiculous explanations from a lot of dialogue heavy series, the story will come crashing down on you like a tidal wave. I definitely have to give some credit to the writers for putting that much effort into the story, regardless of it making not a whole lot of sense. I have seen plenty of similar games where the explanation pretty much amounts to “Hey look, BOOBIES!” Otaku generally are more comfortable when there is a way to explain all of the jiggling on their screen.
BATTLE OF THE BIKINI Senran Kagura Estival Versus requires that you suspend a bit of disbelief before playing. First of all, it is definitely not for the bible-thumpers. Between the dialogue and the action, if you let your children play this, that is on you. With the warnings out of the way, let's examine how this game actually plays. I mentioned earlier that this game is kind of a fusion between Akiba's Trip and Dynasty Warriors. Essentially your character will face off against scores of enemies that range from foot soldier to more of a general class up to bosses. Your combo meter will literally shoot into the thousands as I pulled off nearly 3300 hits on the very first level. Controls are simple; square for light attacks and triangle for the heavy attacks. When I say “controls are simple,” I mean that if you have no idea what you are doing, you can get away with those two buttons. Playing proficiently involves dashing/dodging (circle), wall running, air attacks, projectiles and blocking/parrying. Oh, but that is not even their final form! During battle, once you fill your ninja art gauge, your character can perform their ninja transformation (cover the eyes of minors!). The transformation itself does not make you any stronger, but it does restore your health and unlocks your more powerful attacks. Secret and ultimate secret ninja arts unleash damage on large crowds of enemies at once. It is not uncommon for one of these attacks to land in excess of 700 hits on a group of enemies. Filling the gourds at the bottom of your screen shows just what attacks you can access. Standard arts require one gourd and deal light to medium damage. These are activated by holding R1 and pressing square. The second level attacks require two gourds and are activated with R1 and triangle. You can usually chain a few of these since they inflict so much damage that they are likely to refill your gourds. Ultimate secret ninja arts are not available at the start since you only get three gourds and need five to perform this move. Once you have reached that level, R1 + circle will unleash true hell on your foes. Some of the more troublesome enemies can be weakened with projectiles which temporarily burn, freeze or poison, but the goal is always the same: to quite literally beat the pants off of your opponent. Creative Finishes are something you should always strive for. They are accomplished by beating your opponent in the vicinity of certain objects marked by a “!” sign. Reminiscent of humiliation moves from the original Killer Instinct, a creative finisher leaves a boss character naked and left in a pose that makes it even more embarrassing. All perverted stuff aside, the game is fun to play, even if it is a bit repetitive. Repetition is expected in any game that even begins to look like a musou title. Regardless, there is some depth in the gameplay; just being able to experience all of the different attacks takes some doing with over twenty-five different characters to choose from.
UNDER WHERE? NO, UNDERWEAR! I am not a video game programmer and I am far from anything that could be called an artist in the drawing sense. For these reasons, I tend to be a bit lenient on graphics unless they are absolutely terrible. Fortunately, the visuals of Senran Kagura Estival Versus are far from terrible. The design of the game's characters comes directly from the manga and is faithful to such. The in-game character designs will please fans, and not only due to “dimensional density.” The animation and movement within the game's levels again is akin to Dynasty Warrior games and so fans of that series will probably enjoy this game as long as they are not averse to the major boobage. The backdrops are very vibrant and colorful; there is not a whole to of contrast for things like lighting effects to stand out. The graphics themselves look like high resolution PS3 models. This is not terrible considering that the game is effectively priced as a budget title. Even though the graphics technically could be better, they accomplish their goal of providing excellent fan service. Despite looking a little dated, the game performs extremely well. Whether playing offline or online, the framerate is very smooth. Even when playing with nine others online the action proceeds without slowdown or freezing unless your internet stinks. My only wish would be if the in-game visuals could be as spectacular as the cutscenes, which even put the anime to shame. Dressing Room and Library modes provide plenty of eye candy and plenty of fun for those that like to mix and match costumes for enhanced enjoyment of the game. With the addition of a 2-disc soundtrack, trading cards and an artbook, there is plenty for you to enjoy on and off screen.
CAPTURE THE WHAT? Depending upon which platform you choose for this game, your multiplayer experience will vary. PS Vita offers ad-hoc and online play for up to four people while the PS4 offers up to ten person multiplayer options. On both systems there are three modes of play should you venture into the online arena. There is the standard deathmatch where you simply need to “undress” more ninja than the other team. If that is a little too vanilla for you, there is the Understorm battle where your team must capture a set amount of underwear before the opposing team. Yes, you read that correctly, understorm is basically a panty raid where you take the panties from their wearers. We already know that some people over there in Japan have a thing for used panties so this should not be shocking at all. Capture the Bra is exactly what it sounds like. Once you have your team, you want to be the team with the “flag” when time runs out. In any of the online modes, you will have all slots filled, even if there are not enough people. Live players are substituted with CPU players when need be. On the PS4, things can get pretty insane in modes like capture the bra because along with the ten main opponents there are many foot soldier ninja mixed in. You may lose track of what is going on at times, but as mentioned earlier, it is not due to poor technical performance of the game. I was happily surprised at that because a title like this often has modes (online or off) that simply feel thrown in. As long as you and your online partners have decent internet, the multiplayer matches should always go off without a hitch.
I personally love titles like this. Yes, I do enjoy watching scantily-clad females bounce up and down (literally) at the beach, but that is not primarily what I am referring to. Games like this and Akiba's Trip (another XSEED game)are full of silly moments and wrap an abundance of gameplay up in mild sexiness. Back on the PS2 and later on the Xbox 360, there was a title called Rumble Roses and Rumble Roses XX (respectively). You could just say that its fanbase were a bunch of perverts wanting to watch attractive women grab and grind on each other. The game actually has a lot of that. Underneath that, there was actually a very solid and technical wrestling game. It provided a fair amount of challenge and, for Xbox achievement whores, it was probably one of the hardest games to achieve a perfect gamerscore on. Senran Kagura Estival Versus is a solid brawler with controls that are easy to pick up and gameplay that is fun to master. It just so happens that girls magically get naked when they perform their ninja transformations, ninja scrolls pop up from their cleavage or between their thighs and they literally beat the clothing off of one another. This is why it is rated mature and you do not need to have your children playing this. This is a good game and it is not overly vulgar; the language can be a bit harsh in places but who am I to judge with my sailor vocabulary. The game has tons of replayability if you want to complete it and there are even some cool Easter eggs like Mirai wearing a Star Platinum t-shirt (JoJo's Bizarre Adventure reference). For a budget title, you cannot go wrong with this game. You might ask how is a $60 game a budget title? I call it such because the Endless Summer Edition is the standard edition of the game and usually with all the physical extras included a company would charge $70-80 for a game. If you enjoy anime with fan service, or if you like musou games but want some variation, check out Senran Kagura Estival Versus. This game will have you “bouncing” with excitement!