The latest title in the popular Japanese Senran Kagura series to grace our shores is Senran Kagura Burst 2: Deep Crimson.
Like series entries before it, Deep Crimson is an action game with a unique focus on fan service and its lovely and (mostly) well-endowed cast of female playable characters.
The story of Deep Crimson revolves simultaneously around the girls of the Hanzo and Hebijo ninja academies as well as Kagura, an endlessly reincarnating entity responsible for the disposal of the mass amounts of yoma or demon that have appeared in Japan.
Recurring villain Dōgen also appears with a tyrannical plot for world domination, adding volume to the overall story. The whole thing plays out like an extended episode of a shonen anime.
Gameplay is broken down into a few distinct segments. The story is told using a visual novel style — all dialogue scenes and sharp artwork. Speaking of dialogue, there is quite a bit and it is all fully voiced with the original Japanese voice acting intact.
The fighting is fast and frenetic, although ultimately I found that it lacked depth. As you fight battles and progress through the story, you’ll unlock various accessories and costumes with which to customize the appearance of the heroines.
The campaign consists of five chapters, which themselves are strings of battles with various scenes in between. As I mentioned early, the game is of course very fan service heavy. If you love boobs, this game is right up your alley.
You will find gigantic jiggling tits everywhere from the anime opening, to the character portraits, to the event artwork, to the character models and even enemy designs. The developers have just laid them all out like some sort of glittering oppai buffet. This is a virtual ode to the female chest.
Some of the girls have amazing proportions and the physics are quite a treat. So too is the clothes ripping mechanic, which slowly strips a girl down to her unmentionables as you perform big combo chains on her.
This game has a character that continually tries to grope the other girls, one of the greatest hot springs scenes to come out of Japan and far more dialogue about breasts than most other games you’ve played.
Unfortunately, I felt that the game being present on the Nintendo 3DS made it more tame than it would have otherwise been, especially compared to the PS Vita exclusive Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus which I find to be a superior game in every way, but more on that later.
Much of the dialogue is lighthearted and comical, but there are some meaningful messages peppered throughout, such as how people from starkly contrasting backgrounds and upbringings can still become close friends. In the end you may find more narrative substance here than you went in expecting.
The graphics are pretty slick here. Nothing groundbreaking or jaw-dropping, but the girls are definitely very pretty and there’s a nice variety of locations, enemies and artwork to see.
It should be noted that although the game supports the 3D feature, using the 3D causes the framerate to plummet making it less responsive, uglier and just less fun in general.
The combat system is simplistic but effective. You mix fast weak and slow strong attacks into combos to build up a meter and when it’s full you get a wonderful magical girl transformation scene as your character changes into a more powerful shinobi form, enhancing her combat abilities. Once you’ve transformed you have access to a variety of special attacks.
There are a small handful of branching combo paths, but in general the characters don’t have many unique techniques and the combat quickly starts to feel rather bare bones in its simplicity. This isn’t too different from what you’ll find in a Dynasty Warriors title.
The camera can be kind of annoying sometimes and will snap behind or beneath characters sporadically, making it difficult to see at times.
The action is not wonderfully defined either, as big battles often degrade into blurred colorful flashes permeating the screen and obscuring details. It sometimes feels as if the action is just too much for the handheld’s screen.
Most of the enemies are pushovers, but at a certain point their attacks start dealing huge amounts of damage. One issue I had with the game was not leveling up enough times during the campaign to continue straight through it. This means that you’ll hit walls on certain missions, forcing you to level grind.
To this end there’s a Yoma’s Nest mode in which you can defeat wave after wave of enemies that become gradually more powerful. This mode is also the only way you’ll unlock weapons to further customize the appearance of the characters.
In addition to the main campaign and Yoma’s Nest, there is a small handful of challenge type missions, in which you must defeat enemies in certain ways. I didn’t find these to be all that rewarding, so one might only tackle them for completion reasons. I didn’t aim to unlock all the weapons, but I was able to clear the campaign, most of the Yoma’s Nest and the special missions in roughly 12 hours.
Customizing the characters is a lot of fun, even if I feel it could have been implemented a bit better. It’s a blast to completely change the look of a character by dressing her up in different hairstyles and accessories. There are also quite a few different pieces to equip, so you can get pretty creative here.
You can also take pictures of the girls in the photo mode and use the consoles gyroscope to take shots of the girls in various poses from many angles.
The game also features on online co-op mode in which you can team up with other players to defeat most of the enemies that appear in the game’s campaign. This is potentially fun if you can find a good connection to another player, but my matches were horribly laggy.
Although the lag was obviously a turn off, the lack of depth in the combat made me feel like I wasn’t missing too much. The online seems most useful for checking out the creative ways that other players have dressed the girls.
While taken on its own Deep Crimson is only average; it seems much poorer when compared to Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus. Although they are different games and for different platforms, they are in the same series and from the same developers so the disparity just seems shocking.
Sure Shinovi Versus being a much stronger game graphically probably couldn’t be helped, but it also has more many more playable characters, more sophisticated combat, more naughty bits (or at least naughtier bits), better controls, more unlockables, splendid use of the touch screens and much more single player content to enjoy.
Despite being newer, Deep Crimson feels like a massive downgrade from Shinovi Versus in practically every way.
Still, Senran Kagura Burst 2: Deep Crimson is the trademark mix of adorable anime ninja girls with gorgeous bouncing breasts, lightning fast weapon based combat, dress up and fan service and it’s still as irresistible as it sounds.
It’s so refreshing to a see a game not shy away from the tabooed reality that sex sells and instead grab it by the bullhorns. Give her a huge chest and a sword, rip her clothes off and douse her in the clear, sticky ooze of demon blood. Take my money and close the door behind you.