As far as UK 3DS releases go Senran Kagura Burst is a bit of an oddity. The game is so distinctly Japanese that I was surprised to see it get localised, much less find it available to buy from retail stores when bigger markets (like North America) only have it purchasable digitally. You can even search online to find a couple of hilarious TV adverts that were made to promote the product over here. By the looks of things the marketing team at Marvelous AQL decided to embrace the title’s pervy aspects. One of the commercials compares Senran Kagura to porn, featuring a distraught mother who kicks her son out of the house after finding a copy of the game hidden under his bed.
Senran Kagura Burst is the second title in the Senran Kagura series, whose games have appeared on the Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita and other mobile devices. Burst contains the original game (Senran Kagura: Shojo-tachi no Shinei) in addition to its sequel Guren no Shojo-tachi. Its tale, which is told via lengthy visual novel style sequences, revolves around the teenage ninjas of Hanzo Academy who train in martial arts in addition to squaring off against their rivals The Crimson Girls. As you may expect from a game that focuses on eye candy and action, Senran Kagura’s plot is as wafer thin as an ecchi anime… which is rather ironic given that the franchise has since been adapted into both a manga and cartoon.
As alluded to in the earlier paragraphs, Senran Kagura’s visual style strongly emphasizes fan service. The plethora of skin on display will have prudes blushing and by comparison makes titles like Dragon’s Crown or Dead or Alive seem wholesome. The back of the box is lacking in text aside from a huge blurb that proclaims “two good reasons to turn your 3D on.” Well I don’t know about that. However much the 3D enhances the cast’s double Ds, I’m not sure anything warrants tolerating the eyesore caused by turning up the 3DS’ slider. Much as it pains me, I guess I will have to enjoy the title for its game play alone.
So how does it handle? At its core Senran Kagura Burst is a brawler. You advance through levels and use your ninjitsu skills to kick arse. Normally getting hit in beat-em-ups is something to be discouraged, but I suspect many a male player will court an ass whooping given that Senran Kagura’s cast are dressed in destructible clothing. Should your bouncy ninja sustain too much damage she will find herself scrapping in nothing more than her undies, which titillating as it may sound suffers from the drawback of reduced defence. To even up the odds once your power meter is filled you can activate Shinobi mode, which enhances your combatant’s strength… in addition to replacing their default outfit with a skimpy costume. Gripes, I feel like such a lecherous old man typing this.
My rating for Senran Kagura Burst is a low three stars. My inner sleaze ball wants to love this title, but as a game critic it is hard to ignore the shallow combat on show. Unlike Double Dragon, which has varied enemies that require different strategies to best, the opponents you come across in this game are nothing more than fodder (akin to what you would find in Dynasty Warriors.) Decimating waves of attackers with flashy moves is stimulating at first, but gets monotonous once the novelty of disintegrating attire is replaced with repeating the same combos over and over.
On the plus side the game features a roster of ten playable characters that can be developed via a simplistic RPG like level up system. For those of you who want to play dress up, each of the girls can have their appearance tweaked using a bevy of unlockable outfits and accessories. That said I suspect your average Joe will forego the customization options in favour of having their characters jump around in bikinis. Although I don’t dislike Senran Kagura, if the franchise continues one can only hope that more depth and variation is added to proceedings. As it stands there’s not much going for it beyond its sex appeal… and if that’s all your interested in you could get more bang for your buck investing the price of a 3DS cart on hentai instead.