Originally Published on the Official Blast Away the Game Review Facebook Page
Written by Dustin Murphy
-Character customization’s are a unique and funny
-Multiple storylines offer each character a very unique twist
-Very well done short missions offer a rather fun and unique spin
-Humorous body physics that can make anyone laugh.
-Enemy difficulty does not seem to scale no matter difficulty choices
-Enemy shinobi tend to tumble player characters
-Bleak multiplayer lobbies
Ever wanted a game where skimpy outfits, female shinobi, and excessive jokes are actually amusing? Then ‘Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus’ is the game that will seek to fill your appetite. Developed and published by Marvelous AQL, Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus enters the series as the second game title to hit the North American shores. With this title having entered the scene, it has more than confirmed something that seems to be a sure reality now; the PlayStation Vita is a unique and powerful home for some of the greatest games out of Japan. This title enters the franchise as the second game in the series, but also the newest entry in the franchise thanks to its predecessor’s known as Senran Kagura Burst and its fellow anime Senran Kagura: Ninja Flash. Lets not also forget the iOS social game in Japan as well as the one volume manga.
In Shinovi Versus we get to once more take a look at the obvious; rather large breasted cel-shaded beauties who seek to do one thing; fight each other and end up almost undressed. When initially looking at Senran Kagura you would be right to assume the game is about over sexualised females who have rather over-the-top breast physics. This attention to detail on the breast physics could literally put Dead or Alive to shame and not even think twice about having done so, but that is what gives the game some of its rather funny moments.
Shinovi Versus even without the physics mentioned, is a game that seeks to amuse, and give a rather enjoyable anime-like experience, which it does quite well. Taking place immediately after Senran Kagura Burst, Shinovi Versus changes the gameplay style from side-scrolling to a 3rd person fighting game. Not much has changed in the essence that the game is still very much a hack and slack brawler with a few tricks up its sleeve. The game relies heavily upon its focus of the Hanzō National Academy and their sworn enemies from Hebijo Clandestine Girls’ Academy, with Hebijo having gone underground and formed a mercenary strike squad known as the Homura Crimson Squad. This time they aren’t alone; a new group only known as the Gessen Academy has entered the scene and seeks to be known as the academy that purifies all evil and those who decide to be tied to evil in any way.
With the pretense of the story wrapped up, lets take a look at the games mechanics first and foremost is the actual gameplay itself. Focusing on a mixed blend of combos, bursts, and shifting into shinobi form to use specials. Some of the specials can range from ground breaking multi-strike abilities to crowd clearing dashes that can easily dispatch rooms full of enemies that seek to cause some form of discord. The other? A frenzy like form that allows users to place their thumbs, index fingers, or whatever button suits them, and force their characters to bare it all by swiping their characters breasts (yes you read that correctly) towards the outsides of their Vita’s screen. Both of these forms, whichever you decide to use, will require energy built up in the shape of scrolls. The type of attack does also depend on the buttons used. One varies from using the shinobi form and using triangle or square to send out a massive blow in order to send a wide array of damage. In turn the going frenzy option tends to be the one to lean towards. This form leaves your character in their undergarments and recklessly smashing through crowds of enemies using beyond devastating specials when possible.
Much like the regular forms, damage seems to be common between the two forms, which leaves chaining combos and using dashes to keep enemies close is a rather viable option sense enemies can easily be taken out one by one. This leaves each character to show their own fighting styles, some of them featuring close range quick attacks while others seem to be more viable at medium range thanks to different weapon types. Some of these weapons will vary from fists, swords, dual wield swords, parasols, and well many more things. When it comes to the combat as stated, combo’s are something that is very deep in the games importance, but so is the capability of fighting in the air. Much like how smooth the combat is, the response time between buttons, thumbsticks, and bumper inputs; the game is very fluid like. This could easily take a nod from other musuo style games that feature this type of fluid combat and button usage. The only thing that would be frowned upon? The horrible lock-on system that causes beyond frustrating moments when trying to fight enemies at a close range.
Just like the fast pace combat, so is the repetition that can try to mount up, thankfully this changes rather quickly due to multiple characters having their variations in fighting styles. This alone gives the game a respectable bit of depth that tears away at the boredom that may begin to gnaw at some players. Unlike some games, this one does not offer enemies that will always be the ones that can be pushed over like a wooden plank that’s partially tilted over already. Instead some of the enemies will seek you out, tear you apart, and attack in numbers using flanks to weaken you. Even as you level up, so do enemies, and this does provide a bit of a tough-spot to try and overcome. The tougher part? While those ladies are whittling your health down to a stump no matter your level, the real fight hasn’t even begun; an opponent from another academy or the same academy (depending if you are doing story or side-quests) still may have yet to appear just to give you a head spin. Unfortunately, there is something that occurs with the whittled down health and the time it takes to clear the mission; the mission score.
Like any good game, each mission does carry a score that is weighed upon by completion time as well as the amount of damage taken. This is something players will need to take into account when attempting to hammer out the high scores. These do manage to go across the missions for the academy, but also each character’s personal missions, which have a variety of story backgrounds that allow for hours of entertainment.
Like it was mentioned before, Shinovi Versus at its heart is the equivalent of an anime-like fighter, which offers up a high amount of energy for fans to feed upon. The story does not change from that in any form of manner. The story is told in the perspective of each academy, but this also changes whose perspective that the story is told from. Much like any game of this sort, the story has very well scripted dialogue, challenges to each mission, and even as mentioned before; side story missions. Through doing all of these missions, you can seek out to purchase new uniforms by visiting the shop, this also will allow you to enter the in-game ‘lottery’. The lottery will allow players to obtain new undergarments as well as outfits to let their characters wear, and trust me when I tell you this, some of them are rather hilarious and almost obscenely revealing.
Unfortunately, the online is something that’s a bit of a pain to to find a lobby for. Even with the great four-player sauree’s, the game features rather untenanted servers. This leaves the game to be dialed out when it comes to the multiplayer, but as it picks up, this could be something that will be worth tending to and partaking in a good brawl.
With a rather well done soundtrack, animations, bizarre moments, and entertaining special attacks; Shinovi Versus is a place where hours, upon hours, upon more hours can be found as very heavily entertaining. Even with unnatural breast physics, skimpy clothing, and silly characters, the game fills the need for that heavily entertaining visual novel style that we’ve become so familiar with leaking out of Japan. The game fills the need that many will have for a visual novel fighter that seems to take a spin and life of its own through the Japanese only voice acting with the rather well done English subtitles. Even with a game this long the only thing that can come down as a problem aside from the annoying target lock-on is the inability to enjoy the games load times, which unfortunately, they are plentiful.
Even with the game being as it is in such a rather high-school anime-like way, Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is a game that is highly amusing to anyone who wants a graphic-novel like brawler experience. Even with the unfairly judged by many critics ecchi-like character appearance for all the girls and the clothes shedding, the game is one that should be owned by any fan of the series or PS Vita owner that is looking for a fun filled time.
So what do the girls of each of the academies manage to fight their way to as a score? A solid 8 out of 10.
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, MMO’s, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable and can’t be softened by even the biggest names in the gaming industry. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. To follow Dustin, hit him up on Twitter over at @GamingAnomaly, find him on his Google+. Wanna game with him? You can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.