Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus has finally made its way outside of Japan, making PlayStation Vita owners (and now PlayStation TV owners) very happy. If you played any of the previous titles, Shinovi Versus should be familiar to you.
While we’re at it, let’s point out the obvious and be honest: although it offers a decent story as well as gameplay, most of us are getting the game for the female characters and the exposure of their feminine beauties, because let me tell you, there’s lots of it.
The game takes you through the story of three different schools: The Hanzo Academy, Gessen Academy, and the Hebijo Academy. Most of the story revolves around the Shinobi Battle Royale, an ancient tradition amongst numerous Shinobi schools whereby every 50 years, the five elite students of each school will do battle. The winners of the event will be allowed to remain their training to be a legendary shinobi, whereas the losers will have to give up being a Shinobi. Additionally, the winners will have the opportunity to burn down the loser’s school.
Overall, the story is decent, but some of the dialogue can get boring. It shares similarities to your generic action Anime series (it even has it’s own manga and anime adaptations), so if you’re a fan of the genre, then you can possibly enjoy the story.
There’s the standard main story mode and in addition you can also witness the hardship from each individual student from each school, as well as their preparation for this ancient tradition,. From the three schools, you will be able to choose among five characters and go through their individual story. I recommend playing through their individual stories first. Although it may have a small correlation with the main story, it informs you more on the characters’ personality. Most of it is satire, but is definitely worth playing through. Additionally, your characters will be well leveled-up and ready to breeze through the main story.
Aside from Story Mode, players may almost battle it out with three friends online or through the system’s ad-hoc feature. This mode is called “Dojo” which offers three different types of games, or six if you include their “Team” variation. There’s Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Strip Battle, Team Strip Battle, Understorm and Team Understorm.
In Deathmatch, you will battle it out with your opponent for the most points. To win, you must attack your opponents to reach the set amount of points per match, or at least acquire the most points by the end of the match. Your points can decrease as well when getting attacked or dying. Random enemies will be wandering around as well, which can help stack some extra points.
Strip Battle is just like its name suggest. While the concept is very similar to Deathmatch, it has its own little twist. Depending on how much clothing you destroy, the number of points you acquire will vary. The more you destroy, the greater the number of points you’ll get.
Understorm , however, is quite different than the other two. In this mode, players need to collect as many pairs of “Skimpy Undies” as possible as they rain down from above. Additionally, you can mug other players for their lingerie they collected thus far. Overall, I had a lot of fun playing these modes with friends, as well as the AI oppenents. The concept of each mode may not be too original but it does bring a lot of action-packed fun into the table.
Gameplay-wise the game shares similarities to the Musou genre, which consists of beating multiple enemies on the field and leveling up your character while doing it. Granted, Shinovi Versus is NOT a Musou game and in fact has its own identity. You’ll have two attack buttons, normal and strong attacks, which can be used to execute powerful combos as you level up. You can also block and parry attacks when blocking timely. While there might be a feeling of repetitiveness, the game does a really good job at making you feel like a badass, especially with a powerful and completely leveled up character (especially if they are wielding a cool weapon).
Just like many beat-em-up games, this title has a lock-on feature you can use to connect all your attacks, although it does has its downsides. Locking on really limits your camera control and leaves you open to easily get hit by an enemy you weren’t expecting. If you’re playing with the PlayStation TV, you’re in a bigger disadvantage as locking in on a specific opponent is more annoying.
Sadly, the game suffers from awful camera angles sometimes. There’s a few instances when multiple enemies will gang up on you in addition to the main boss you’re fighting on the level. The camera will switch to a strange first-person like view, putting your own character out of view and leaving you vulnerable. Occasionally, the camera will switch to other awkward angles as well. Luckily, this doesn’t happen too much so it won’t disturb you from enjoying the game most of the time.
For a PS Vita game it really looks good, especially with its anime-styled graphics. However, one of my gripes is that the game sadly suffers from some frame drops every now and then, especially when there’s a horde of enemies on screen. Additionally, there’s parts where there might not be too many enemies around or you’re simply walking around school but there are still moments of needless slow down, but it’s barely noticeable. Fortunately, even with the frame drops (which shouldn’t happen, anyway) it doesn’t disturb you from having a good time with this game.
Players will be able to use two transformations, a Shinobi Transformation and a Frantic Transformation, both coming with its benefits. During Shinobi Transformation, you can perform continuous attacks by pressing the various action buttons repeatedly. In addition, both your attack and defense will be increased. In Frantic Mode, you can execute Weak Attacks and chain them together infinitely. In addition, you will also receive a huge boost to your attack power but your defense drops drastically. You will also be able to perform two Secret Ninja Techniques, which deals a lot of damage to the opponent.
To use your Shinobi Transformation, you merely press the L and the R buttons; using Frantic Mode requires a bit more. Your Secret Ninja gauge will need be full first, then you press R and Triangle. That will later prompt you with a close-up of the character’s breast on the touch screen, which you must slide outwards. Granted that’s an easy task on a regular Vita, but playing it on a PlayStation TV requires more work to execute, which leaves you vulnerable to attack.
When you take damage, not only will your lose health but your outfit will rip and tear. If you take enough damage, your clothes will fly completely apart. Outfit damage goes through three different stages: Costume Break, Lingerie and Naked. If you want to fully strip an opponent, you will have to bring her down to “Lingerie” and execute a Secret Ninja Art as a finishing blow. Normal attacks will destroy their lower body’s clothing while Strong Attacks will destroy the top part of their clothing.
As expected from Senran Kagura, it has its shares of perverted moments. The game allows customize of your characters’ apparel, including their normal attire and their Shinobi and Frantic Mode attire. Additionally, you can equip extra accessories such as tails, glasses, gloves and more. A lot of the clothing options are exotic and really bring out the character’s outer beauty. However, the customization menu also allows you to fully view the character models from multiple angles, and it includes a “perverted” mini game, if that’s what you can call it. Using the PlayStation Vita’s features such as its touch screen, back screen, microphone, and gyro sensors, you can harass the character in multiple ways.
Using the touch screen, you can touch multiple parts of her body, and even play around the characters breast which she will response by backing away covering the part you just touched. Additionally, you can shake her boobs by shaking the PS Vita, peek and her panties by holding O and tilting the PS Vita or you can even blow through the Vita’s mic which will lift her skirt. Lastly, rubbing both the front screen and the rear touch pad in together the same place allows you to break her clothes. Sadly, you can’t take full advantage of this “mode” with the PlayStation TV as the DualShock 3 or DualShock 4 doesn’t share the same features as the handheld itself. For trophy hunters, doing so rewards you with a shiny Bronze trophy.
Honestly, like every niche Japanese video game, Senran Kagura is aimed to a selective audience, but that obviously doesn’t make it a bad game. The game offers a simplistic but yet fun gameplay alongside good multiplayer modes that add replay value to the game. The game has a galore breast and panty shots shown during gameplay in the most comedic way, but beneath all that, it’s fun title that fans of niche Japanese games or Anime-style games should get. So if you’re a PS Vita owner or recently got a PlayStation TV, then you should pick up the game. I say however that the game is best experienced in an actual Vita, but that’s to be expected from most games.