The high school ninjas of the Senran Kagura franchise are back, but this time instead of competing in martial arts the all female cast are squaring off in a cooking contest! Whoever emerges victorious, as the culinary champion, shall be awarded a mystical Ninjutsu scroll that can grant its owner any wish that they desire. Perhaps the teenage warriors should use the prize to summon more resilient garments, as Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit is packed with the flesh exposing fan service the series is infamous for. I’m sure that Master Hanzo who is judging the tournament will approve (like many other anime karate masters he is a complete pervert.)
Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit is a rhythm game masquerading as a cooking title. Instead of managing ingredients, the kitchen-based duels are decided by a player’s finger dexterity (I imagine that anyone who can top Bon Appetit’s high score charts would make a good surgeon or at the very least is very popular with the ladies.) Each match is determined by how accurately you input the button presses that flash across the screen. Tapping the relevant button when its icon reaches the end of the Vita display will earn you points, which ultimately determine the outcome of a match. Performing well will advance your chosen character into the next round of the tournament whilst flubbing the quick time events will result in elimination from the contest.
Gameplay wise, Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit is rather basic when compared to other rhythm games in the market. On easy difficulty the game is a complete cake-walk (and I’m not referring to the desserts you are asked to bake.) The normal and hard settings do however pose more of a challenge by raising the rate at which icons scroll across the screen and demanding that you tap multiple buttons in unison. With the mechanics being rather shallow it falls to the franchise’s charm to pick up the slack. Thankfully the story is humorous providing that you have a tolerance for puerile gags. Those seeking eye candy will not leave disappointed, as you can humiliate defeated opponents by stripping them naked. Only some well sprinkled chocolate sauce and frosting preserves the vanquished chef’s modesty.
Overall, Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit is a decent albeit unspectacular musical time waster for Sony’s handheld. Visually it’s a good-looking title, although that’s something you may overlook during the matches, as your attention will be diverted to the foot of the screen where the button prompts appear. The game’s biggest failing is a serious lack of content in addition to the developers lazily reusing graphical assets from the last Senran Kagura Vita game. The regular download only gives you access to a paltry library of ten tracks. That’s rather pathetic when you consider that other “dance” games offer substantially more. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call for example boasts over two hundred songs.
My final rating for Senran Kagura: Bon Appeti is a low three stars. I had fun during my brief time with the game, but the whole package feels like a bit of a swindle. The opening animation, which plays out when the game boots up, showcases a roster of twenty plus girls strutting their stuff. Going to the character selection screen however reveals that only ten of the girls are playable. To unlock the rest of the cast you’ll have to purchase a downloadable expansion, which is priced at the same value as the main game. It’s pretty obvious that the missing characters were originally intended to be in the game, but were later removed so the developer could nickel and dime the Senran Kagura fan base. That leaves a bad taste in the mouth… just like when I sample my own cooking.