Senran Kagura is back. This time with a remake of the game that started the whole series. And you know what that means: more uncannily large boobs bouncing around the screen.
I could probably end this review right here for fans of the series. The fact that it has boobs that defy the laws of physics is probably enough to make it an insta-buy for them. Well, that alongside the fact that you can also play dress-up with any of the playable female Ninjas in the game. You can’t get touchy-feely with them in “Intimacy Mode” this time though, at least in the PS4 version, anyway. You can thank Sony for that. If you need more than mammoth mammaries that move at the hint of a slight breeze to sell you on a game, however, read on.
Originally released for Nintendo 3DS in Japan way back in 2011, Senran Kagura: Skirting Shadows started the cheeky series as a side-scrolling beat ’em up. A year later, a director’s cut of the game was released, which eventually became available worldwide. Its name was Senran Kagura Burst. And now here we are with Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal, a game which borrows from the old but is essentially its own thing. For a start, no longer is it a side-scrolling beat ’em up. Instead, its gameplay is much more in line with that of Senran Kagura: Estival Versus‘.
There are no multiplayer features to be found in Seran Kagura Burst Re:Newal. It’s a strictly single-player affair, though quite a lengthy one. The main story can be experienced from two angles: the girls of the Hanzō Academy who are portrayed as heroes, or the girls of the Hebijo Clandentine Girls Academy who are portrayed as villains. Each academy has 41 missions for you to complete to bring its story to an end, and you’re not tied into completing everything one academy has to offer before you take a stab at the other. Every time you choose to go back to your Ninja Classroom between missions, you can change your academy without any fuss.
Honestly though, I couldn’t really muster the enthusiasm to care about Senran Kagura Burst: Re:Newal‘s story whether I was playing as the Hanzō or Hebijo Academy’s girls. It’s the usual affair of Ninjas wanting to become strong so that they can fulfil their duty. And also friendship, with the girls frequently going out of their way to help each other out. There’s also quite a lot of groping involved, and eating Futomaki in suggestive ways. The only time that Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal‘s story becomes remotely interesting is when it challenges the notion of good vs. evil. With their goals ultimately being the same, are the girls of the Hanzō and Hebijo academies really that different from one another?
Like pretty much all Senran Kagura games, it doesn’t help that the story is once again told in such a boring manner. You could say that Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal is part action game, part visual novel – but with no options to make during the story sections or enough hooks to get you truly invested, it’s a pretty poor visual novel at that. Eventually, I found myself trying to get though the reams of text as fast as possible so I could just get back to what the game does best – letting you kick ass with Ninja skills.
The actual gameplay of Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal is fun but rather shallow. Each mission drops you into what is essentially an arena, and while some fights are one-on-one, you’ll mostly find yourself fighting ten or so similar enemies at a time. You have standard attacks that can be performed one after another to form short combos, and strong attacks which can be worked into them as finishers. You can also block, perform parries, and dash. Dashing has two uses: getting out of harm’s way when you’re in range of an imminent attack, and also following enemies you’ve catapulted into the air to continue beating on them.
Adding more combat options are a range of more advanced features. When a meter’s full you can entered a powered-up state, for instance, which ends with a powerful special attack. Another meter allows you to transform into your character’s Shinobi mode, also increasing your power and granting you access to two new special attacks. Combine them both and you’ll become very powerful indeed. At the start of each mission you also have the choice whether or not to enter it in “Frantic Mode”. If you do, you’ll find yourself fighting in your underwear with your defence dramatically reduced. Your attack power is raised accordingly though, and you can perform standard attacks continuously.
While each of the 12 playable characters has their own unique attacks and animations, and gain a range of perks as they level up, the combat begins to feel samey very fast. There’s just no real depth to it. The usual fodder that you go up against can largely be overcome by just mashing buttons like a maniac; only when fighting stronger enemies do you need to deploy any real skill, and in those cases, it’s just a case of avoiding, blocking or parrying their telegraphed attacks while trying to land some hits yourself. Also, the camera sometimes goes crazy when you’re fighting in a corner, and the lock-on system is a pain, targeting enemies of its own free will after you’ve sent them reeling.
Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal is one of those games that’s not bad, but not particularly good, either. It’s flawed in multiple ways, but it’s still somewhat fun to play, albeit in short bursts. Those who do find themselves enjoying it will be happy that it offers quite a lengthy experience, what with it essentially having two campaigns and plenty of unlockables, but it’s unlikely to bring the series new fans. With its shallow combat and uninteresting story, there’s nothing here that will impress the average gamer who isn’t wowed by wobbling mounds of flesh.