Senran Kagura: Estival Versus (PS4 review)

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The world’ sexiest and scantily clad shinobi have finally made their way to home consoles this time in Senran Kagura Estival Versus on the PS4. Previous Senran Kagura games were usually exclusive to handhelds here in the West, but developer Tamsoft and publishers XSeed and Marvelous have decided that it’s time for the girls to take a trip to the beach and do so on the big screen where their uh… eccentricities can be enjoyed in full. For the unacquainted, Senran Kagura games are 3rd-person hack-and-slash action games that focus on flashy combos to mow down hordes of enemies and even more so on the fan service features to please its fans.

Story

The 25+ cast of shinobi start out in their own worlds with their respective clans when suddenly they are transported by a blinding light to a beach in an unfamiliar world. Shortly after arriving they are informed that they have been summoned for the Kagura Millennium Festival. They are eventually all confronted by one another as well as the Mikagura sisters who are overseers of the festival. Each of the clans begins to clash for various reasons ranging from serious to just plain ridiculous, like the desire to stay in the alternate world as long as possible or a competition of Strip and Rip which is as salacious as the title implies. The Kagura Millennium Festival lasts a total of 8 days and will follow each of the clans to their resolution with a few extra surprises along the way. While completing the story, you may find festival platforms that when destroyed will unlock 5 side missions for each of the 25+ characters that focus more on the characters personality rather than the story arc. If that isn’t enough then there are extra missions added via free DLC that have been consistently released since launch.

senran story mode

Gameplay

Senran Kagura plays like its predecessors that were originally only available for handheld systems. They essentially evoke the hack-and-slash mechanics of Dynasty Warrior games; however, they have replaced all the warriors of legend with voluptuous women that quickly lose all their clothes as they take damage. The combo system is also very typical of hack-and-slash games. Your attacks will include a combination of light attacks, heavy attacks, as well as special moves that can be used by expending ninja scrolls. These attacks come in three strengths each with their own cost of scrolls and usually involve devastatingly powerful screen-clearing combos. A new attack move added into the franchise are aerial raves that can be unleashed by pressing the touch pad after launching enemies into the air. These attacks are chainable for tons of bonus damage and even more if you have nearby teammates that can join in on the fun.

Multiplayer is a welcome addition, allowing up to 10 players to battle it up across 7 different gameplay modes ranging from simple modes you’d expect like Shinobi deathmatch and Survival. There are some more unique modes such as Capture the bra and Understorm to add Senran’s unique stamp on multiplayer battles. Multiplayer works great on the server side and takes little to no time to find a match. This will be the ultimate place to test out what you’ve learned through the 15-20 hour campaign.

Extras

If there is one thing that Senran Kagura does best, it is the fan service. The longer the battle, the less clothing each character ends up wearing. This is true from your character to the common enemies, and especially the main bosses for each stage. Now while this is a core component of Senran Kagura, you can purchase costume pieces for each of the girls with the money you’ve earned. There are hundreds of options to unlock and purchase as you progress, and it will range from accessories like cute cat ears to the lingerie your character will be wearing once your main costume has been destroyed. After playing dress up with your favorite characters, you can then setup a variety of backgrounds with special effects and pose them to your heart’s content. It also can be noted that utilizing the gyrometer in the controller, you can cause the shop’s clerk to react as if you are attempting to touch or grab her biggest assets.

The shop also allows you to buy pictures and videos from the campaign as well as creative finishers that you have seen while playing through the story. There are over 1,500 different items that can be viewed in the library. Library also stores other great info such as usage rankings, terminology for subjects new players to the series may be unfamiliar with, and the traditional music and voice collection also make an appearance.

senran dressing room

Final Reaction

Beneath the thick layer of fan service, there is a wealth of content that people may overlook due to the nature of the game’s fan service. Once players put in a few hours, they will find more than just fluff beneath the game’s surface. Its practiced style of game mechanics, wealth of content and its interesting narrative will easily find its way into the hearts of fans; however, those unfamiliar with the series may allow the game’s quality to be overshadowed by the game’s fan service quality. This isn’t a bad thing at all since fan service in games is just that – it’s for the fans and developers should be catering to their fans. That’s why they spend their money for something that they want. Even though my only prior experience in the franchise were demos at various conventions, I thoroughly enjoyed my 15-20 hours with the game. The online is fun to revisit from time to time to show off my flashy combos, and the constant flow of extra DLC has given me more reasons to revisit the game. If you’re a fan of the previous games or hack and slash games akin to Dynasty Warriors, then this is one steamy investment that will be well worth your money.

Rating: 4/5 Atoms

Senran Kagura Estival Versus is currently available in both physical and digital forms on PS4 and Vita.

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