What’s this? A new game for the PlayStation Vita? I thought the Internet told me that Sony’s handheld died years ago. Let that be a lesson to us all. You can’t believe everything you read online… except when I proclaim to have the physique of Chris Hemsworth. That statement is entirely true and not a fictitious delusion. Anyway, the point is that the Vita is alive and well if you happen to like niche games from Japan. Before 2016 concludes I intend to add six upcoming Vita titles to my collection, funds permitting. Sorry family, I may not be able to afford Xmas gifts for you this December. The latest Vita game I bought was Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni, which is produced by the maker of Senran Kagura. You know what that means. Lots of hack n slash fun and lots of busty ladies.
Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni takes place in a world that is suffering from a VR virus epidemic. Said disease, which only seems to target buxom teenage girls, causes sufferers to transform into weapons such as swords, bows and oversized gauntlets. Gripes, that illness sounds almost as bad as man flu! Anyone afflicted with the condition is whisked off to Bhikkuni Island for treatment, which involves vigorous physical exercise. Patients are expected to follow a strict martial arts regime and periodically participate in duels against fellow students plus their tutors… who happen to be robots. Sounds ridiculous I know, but let’s be honest here. Back in our youth haven’t we all had teachers who possessed the charisma of an emotionless automaton?
Gameplay wise Valkyrie Drive is reminiscent of Senran Kagura. Levels involve dashing to the exit and smacking anyone who gets in your way, be they female fighters or mechanical guards. Square and triangle are used to dish out combos, which gradually fill up your Drive meter. In each stage you must select a Liberator who fights and an Exter companion. When the Drive bar is sufficiently filled Liberators can order their partner to morph into a weapon, which awards a damage boost and permits her to execute special moves. Clearing a zone will reward players with bounty points that can be spent at the store. The shop sells useless stuff like health potions and invaluable items such as lingerie. Don’t get too attached to the skimpy garments you buy though, because clothing has a nasty habit of ripping off in the midst of battle.
My rating for Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni is four stars. It’s a fun third person brawler that will appeal to fans of the Senran Kagura series. Aside from some minor combat system tweaks and the inclusion of gigantic bosses, both games are virtually identical. Out of the two I slightly prefer Senran Kagura, as it has a larger roster of playable characters. Valkyrie Drive has a measly seven heroines to control, unless you opt to pay extra for DLC. I’ll pass because I don’t see the point of spending coinage on digital women, when I could spend those savings at the strip club instead. Senran Kagura also trumps Valkyrie Drive in terms of story. Bhikkhuni’s plot drags at times, especially when the lengthy cut scenes are regularly interrupted with loading delays. Thankfully the narrative gets more interesting in the later chapters, courtesy of an unexpected twist.
At the time of writing I have sunk nineteen hours into Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni. That playtime has allowed me to get the normal and true endings, which only amounts for forty percent of the game’s trophies. With many secret areas to unearth and survival/challenge modes to tackle, I expect to be entertained for many more hours to come. As was the case with Gal*Gun, the folks at PQube have done a stellar job localizing a potentially controversial title for Western markets. From what I can tell the game has not been subjected to needless censorship, which is always a bugbear for me. Some typos seem to have sneaked past their QA checks, but I will overlook that transgression. With so much cleavage on display I can somewhat understand why the translators may have been distracted when typing up the English language script.