Review: Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit – Cooking Up the Rhythm

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Written by Dustin Murphy

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Pros:
-Easy for newcomers to beat rhythm games
-Strong “visuals” for fans of the Senran Kagura titles
-Unlocks and extended content that give the game quite a bit of replay value
-Rather hilariously written storylines that make the game admirably hilarious

Cons:
-For people who aren’t used to this games target audience will find it disturbing
-The transition from slow to fast paced songs will leave amateurs feeling defeated
-A roadblock of DLC that prevents players from experiencing Gessen x Hebijo

“Story driven, but funnier than even Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus”

There’s no hidden fact that Senran Kagura is a series that is rather hysterical and even jaw dropping at times. There is no stone that Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit won’t turn in order to be hilarious and it works out well. The game is based on one simple idea – food. In tying in a mix of food based cooking games, but also beat rhythm, and the fusion creates what I call hilarity at its finest thanks to the results when Hanzō comes into play.

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For those that have an extremely odd taste in flavoring, Senran Kagura games are up your alley, but for those who can’t look past boob jokes and animated nudity that covers all the proper parts; this game isn’t up your alley. For those that can take jokes and silliness will find the game itself has an interesting story and that some of the characters truly push the comedy to the edge of what can be tolerated or can’t. Regardless, to some this means the game is tasteless due to the characters having over-sized boobs and constantly getting looked upon because of clothing that may or may not cover them up completely, but instead leave suggestive ideas. This is something that Senran Kagura as a franchise does and it’s what partially gives the game its comedic value outside of well designed characters who each have overwhelmingly different personalities.

Looking onward, Bon Appétit! is a game that wants you to enjoy it and almost become addicted to it. The game sets up the entire Senran Kagura cast (only half of them are in each pack; Homura x Crimson is out currently with Hebijo x Gessen to follow on 11/25 for 14.99 USD), and they are once more set to battle it out against each other, but this time in a cooking competition that is set to award the winner a single wish that will fulfill their wildest dream. Though one thing is for sure; rivalries that never existed now do. This is mostly in part because of a very – seemingly lost relative of Master Roshi of Dragon Ball Z (pun is intended and there is no relation between the two) – has decided to set these girls up mostly so he can see them run around in their underwear if not nude (not that you’ll get to see that portion).

“This included some hilarious, dumbfounding, and even sexual jokes”

His first victim for the choosing within the games, Story Mode, was me choosing my favorite of the characters, Hikage. As the game started it once more demonstrated the well known visual novel-esque tradition that most of these games carry on with. This included some hilarious, dumbfounding, and even sexual jokes that some may not even get if it hit them upside the forehead, but they all pretty much target one thing some people can relate to; boobs as well as other sexual innuendos that can make any high school kid turn red in the face from laughing. Once past the jokes it was time to get past the sexually charged jokes and prepare my fingers for the beating they’d receive from moving across my Vita’s buttons.

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As the game has taken on it was time to hit the buttons that ranged across two bars. The top red, bottom blue, and both rate you final score based on how well you hit them; familiar with beat rhythm games? Good. Some of the songs seemed easy, even on normal, which lead to a bit of a cringe when it was time to prepare for new songs that got even harder, some of them being Asuka’s, Hikage’s, and even the infamous Daidouji (her and Rin are locked behind the upcoming Hebijo x Gessen DLC) songs that almost made me wonder how hard this game was really going to get based upon their song difficulties, which could easily be compared to the games “Hard Mode”. Let me tell you, that one is hard, but the difficulty makes you want to come back for more, just to show you got what it takes.

As each button is pressed at the correct time, players are given the chance to get a perfect, good, flee or well miss depending on your range of “correct time” is. As you hit the notes, these determine just how well your character prepares her meal, and this ultimate decides whether the infamous Hanzō himself likes them or not. There are moments when players will cringe while they hold one button and take on multiple others, but fear not; they’re never on the same side of your Vita – that’d just be cruel.

“Completing the stage just right could make a teenage anime characters nose bleed”

Once the music is cleared in sections to distribute a certain piece of the meal, players are able to greet Hanzō giving them a rating. This rating is the determining factor on how far you get the clothing on yourself knocked off or your enemy. Doing this perfectly and not missing but a “few” beats allows for players to knock their opponents clothing off to the point they are cooking in just their bra and panties. Completing the stage just right probably could make a teenage anime characters nose bleed as the character has been fully disrobed (covered by the head of one of the games main characters) and a bright golden beam that covers the characters crotch. Not that the idea of covering up nipples and a crotch isn’t scandalous to some, but this is hilarious, and where I found myself unable to resist laughing. Though note, this made the game complete, and utterly NSFW (Not Suitable For Work), but we know a few of you out there could care less.

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The part that really kicked off the party was having defeated Daidouji in a perfect manner, this lead to her being represented on one of the many possible desserts in the game and well… Covered in chocolate syrup, and cool whip in JUST the right places. I’m not sure if the teenager in my got a kick out of this or not; I was laughing. Once the mature side of me had returned and regained the composure needed, it was time to head on to see the items that had been unlocked, and much to my surprised; quite a bit.

“Though this to me is where the game stopped becoming a glimmering gem”

Like the past entries for Senran Kagura, customization returns, and this time with a lot more options based upon past-purchased DLC for the last title (Shinovi Versus – Our review can be found here), I was able to carry my DLC over once more and enjoy it in this newest entry. This is something I can tip my hat off to the developer for doing since it’s a generous nod to their fan-base. Though this to me is where the game stopped becoming a glimmering gem that I could fully enjoy.

When it comes down to it all, there are only so many things that can keep this game going, and with it being a beat rhythm the primary one is a dead given – the music. With songs that closely resemble a wedding ceremony anthem, anime pop-songs, holiday knock-off’s and even a few other things out there, it’s hard to call the music great. The ones that are? Are sung by the games cast, which makes them unique, and even refreshing. I was capable of enjoying them at least and continuing on with the games story even with each of the songs appearing in each portion of it. With that being put aside, the game does feature a unique twist on beat rhythm and offers something the Vita desperately needed. The only thing that would have topped this off more would be to have seen a physical version get a release within North America and Europe.

After having spent enough time to clear everything I could imagine within the Story Mode I was able to continue the game in Arcade and Free Play, but unfortunately that has nothing to unlock. Though this is where I really took to enjoying my customizations for those characters. At times it was almost impossible not to bust out laughing seeing a character dressed as a french maid with a pacifier, cat ears, dog tail, and even a cat paw on. These design type options made it so that at times I couldn’t breath, which is something that this game offers plenty of. The gut splitting moments never ended, which left me at times sore when not trying to shake my head at some of the JRPG-esque stage songs.

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Even with that being said, this game is going to receive a lot of flak in unjust manners due to their “fan-service” targeted more towards male audiences, which is something that works out well for this game, and provides an entertaining experience; just don’t get caught playing this in public. That’d actually be embarrassing.

So what kind of score does the game manage to whip up? A toothsome 7 out of 10.


Notice: Our review is based on a final retail version provided to us by the publisher and the content available upon its release for review.


About the Writer:

Dustin_BATGRDustin 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.

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