Senran Kagura is one of those series that’s easy to write off as another fanservice title with little character or substance. But when Burst hit the eshop back in 2013, I found a charming, if not ludicrously perverse, brawler that I actually began to enjoy. Since then, I’ve played through the Vita sequel, Shinovi Versus, which really took the original game and improved upon it in every way (except for Bon Appétit. That game was nothing but fanservice. Glorious, glorious fanservice.). With Shinovi setting the bar higher, I was looking forward to trying out Deep Crimson for the 3DS and seeing what improvements a more experienced team could produce.
Before I go any further though, I’d like to let everyone who played Burst know that the frame rate issues from the first game are almost non-existent. Aside from a few instances that will be covered later in the review, the game runs at a steady clip even on original 3DS hardware. Deep Crimson starts during the final events of Burst, with the girls from Hanzo Academy storming Hebijo in order to prevent Dogen from summoning a Yoma. As I jumped into the tutorial stage, the first thing I noticed was the level design. Rather than keeping the camera fixed above the stage like other Beat- ’em-Up titles such as Double Dragon; Deep Crimson has opted for a hybrid of Burst and Shinovi, with levels falling into two types: Open Arenas and Corridor Runner. The camera is still fixed but the angle gives it more of a 2.5D game, and it can be slightly manipulated if you have a CPP or N3DS, but thankfully the control scheme works well enough that neither is required. Within each stage, you’ll run between sectioned off areas where you’ll need to defeat enemies to continue on to the boss.
Like Burst and Shinovi, combat has the potential for real depth with impressive combos that can be pulled off with practice and timing as button mashing will only get you so far before bosses begin to roll your fighters. One of the interesting new mechanics introduced in Deep Crimson is the partner combat system, where you’ll have control over two fighters. By pressing the A button, your characters will switch places, giving you the ability to daisy chain several powerful attacks, leaving your enemies in a perpetually stunned state. When you add in stat boosting Shinobi Stones that enhance healing and damage dealing stats, the potential to abuse this new system becomes apparent. But between bouts of combat is what I think is the best part of the game, the writing.
To be clear, the story thus far hasn’t been anything spectacular, but it’s the character interactions that are the real jewel with plenty of hilarious, tongue-in-cheek moments. On more than one occasion, I found myself actually laughing at the dialog. Of note, the language is a tad more colorful than I remember from the previous entries. I never played the original Japanese version, so I couldn’t tell you if Mirai had a sailor’s mouth, but seeing her drop f-bombs does have a certain shock factor. Perhaps it is because this is a Nintendo system that I’m just not as accustomed to seeing salty language, but the cursing feels out of place. In many ways, I feel like I’m watching a fansub where the translator used curse words just for the sake of cursing.
The further I get into this game, the more I begin to feel that there’s real potential in this series. Sure, the premise of Senran Kagura has always been sexy ninjas with destructible clothing, but with a third game finished and a fourth one due out for PSV/PS4 next year, the series has laid down its foundation and begun to fill in the lore necessary for future games to continue on with a cohesive storyline and universe. Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson is now available in stores and on the Nintendo eshop. Life and Hometown forever.
About the Writer:
Greg F. is an RPG enthusiast whom absolutely enjoys the niche titles that come across from the East. When it comes to beat-’em-up brawlers such as Senran Kagura, Greg knows the titles just about as good as anyone else, but his passion not-so-secretly sits with his love for retro games from the NES and Sega period. In his free time Greg contributes to B.A.T.G.R. with his knowledge of such feedback.