+Hilarious dialog that truly brings the game to life
+A rather decently enjoyable soundtrack
+Higher frame rate than its predecessors
+Better quality character models
+Smoother combat and gameplay
–Short game without DLC to expand on the title
–Character side stories removed
–Lack of actual clothing variety to keep things unique and changed up
-Predictable plot, pointless camera controls
–Cooperative play is unlocked through the progressing in the main campaign
Breasts, bazongas, hooters, jugs, tits, etc: When it comes to Senran Kagura, this pretty much sums up its reputation among the gaming community. However, for those willing to give the series a shot, they’ll discover a competent brawler with decent visuals and delightful characters. The latest entry in the series, Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson, looks to expand upon the success of its predecessors but some shortcomings may prevent this title from truly standing out on its own.
Following the lead of the previous two entries, Deep Crimson is a story about Good, Evil, and Friendship. Taking place during the ending events of Burst, we join Hanzo Academy’s shinobi group led by Asuka as they storm Hebijo Academy’s castle to prevent one of Hebijo’s sponsors, Dogen, from summoning Orochi. Waiting for them is Hebijo’s own elite squad led by Homura. Both groups clash, eventually earning mutual respect and in the end, it’s up to Asuka and Homura to finish off Dogen. This is where Deep Crimson’s own story starts, and begins to fill in the events between Burst and Shinovi Versus.
Plot wise, the story breaks down into Homura’s group coming to terms with becoming Renegades and Asuka’s group struggling with orders that leave them questioning what it means to be Good Shinobi. The first two chapters act as a recap and tutorial, allowing the player to become acclimated to the combat system. It isn’t until the third act that the plot begins to pick up, with an invasion of Yoma in Japan and the introduction of two new characters, Kagura, a reincarnated god-like being and her bodyguard, Naraku. In order to restore Kagura’s dormant powers, the duo harvests Red Orbs from the slain corpses of the Yoma Generals. Once Kagura has absorbed enough of these orbs, she’ll have enough power to wipe out the Yoma, which will result in massive devastation to the surrounding area and the loss of her life until she is reincarnated after another 100 years. If Kyoto is to be saved, Asuka and Homura must team up to stop Kagura.
Obviously, this isn’t the strongest plot out there and much of the story becomes predictable, with battles dragging on as they’re used to string along the plot in between bouts of dialog. I went into Deep Crimson knowing the story would be barebones but I was still disappointed with just how lackluster it was. Unlike previous entries, Deep Crimson lacks the extra side stories for each girl, which was useful for expanding backstory and explaining their motivations. Even with missions and the Yoma’s Den, the game can be completed in about fifth teen to twenty hours, barring how challenging you find replaying the game on higher difficulty levels.
The saving grace of Deep Crimson is the writing and character interactions. Many times throughout my play through, I found myself audibly laughing at the various hijinks and shenanigans. My favorite sequence takes place at the beginning of chapter three, where Homura misplaces the bullet train tickets and her group has to stowaway on the train’s roof. Homura, being the leader she is, insists that they continue training which results in Yomi and Mirai’s clothing being blown away, causing them to go temporarily insane. Sadly, not all the writing is up to par. As I mentioned in the first impression, some of Mirai’s dialog is rather salty.
It only occurs a few times but when she does drop an F-bomb, it is a little bit jarring. It still feels out of place even if this is an M rated game.
Visually speaking, Deep Crimson is a step up from its predecessor. In-game models seem to be split between player controlled, low polygon count models and higher quality models used for special attacks and in-engine cut scenes. The transition between the two during combat segments is fairly smooth, with beautifully choreographed partner animations. Special attacks are colorful and vibrant making them stand out from the usually bland backgrounds. Speaking of character animations, the rumors are indeed true as breast physics are now approaching Dead or Alive levels of absurdity. Clothing destruction also received an upgrade as far as shredding fabric, but the ability to fully strip your target did not transition over from Shinovi Versus.
Of course, you can’t discuss a Senran Kagura title without mentioning the Dressing Room. As with Burst and Shinovi Versus, the Dressing Room allows players to customize their favorite characters with various clothing and accessories. I was disappointed that the costume selection is only marginally better than Burst. Much of the selection is simply a palette swap of the same design, with each girl having four colors available for their attire. The worst offender is the selection of “swimsuits” available. Every pair of the 390+ (not including streetpass) available swimsuits consist of the same bottom and occasionally different top. This is minor in the grand scheme of things but is still a letdown when compared to everything offered in Shinovi Versus. Whether this is due to censorship on a Nintendo platform, hardware limitations, or simply a design choice is up for debate but the hope is additional DLC will correct this.
Another new feature to the dressing room are AR photos. Using the Question Block AR card included with the purchase of your 3DS, you can project your favorite characters into the real world. The use of AR is always intriguing but as neither the 3DS nor Vita have a high resolution camera, the blend of game assets and real world backgrounds is usually underwhelming.
One thing Deep Crimson has in its favor is the music. The sound track really runs the gambit, with fast paced battle anthems, bubbly and cheerful mood music only to follow up with some of its more somber tracks for the occasional serious moment. For the most part, the collection is average but there are several tracks I found myself humming later on. Of note, “Pride of a Good Shinobi,” and “A Sharp, Quiet Mind,” by Mutsumi Ishimura are worth a listen. The voice acting is top notch as usual, with the Japanese cast nailing their roles. You can really hear each characters own personality come through, even if you can’t understand the language.
When looking at Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson, combat is the name of the game and this game does an admirable job in delivering that aspect. The core gameplay is still that of a button masher, utilizing Light and Heavy attacks in various combinations. If you’re not opposed to mindlessly power leveling, you can mash your way through the majority of the fights, however, later battles will become much more challenging, requiring the use of Ninja Arts. These powerful attacks are broken into three categories that target different sections of your enemy: top, bottom, and both. By pressing the Left shoulder plus X, Y, or B, your character jumps into a flashy animation, usually dealing high levels of damage to single or multiple enemies.
Deep Crimson also introduces the new partner mechanic. In a nutshell, you’ll have two characters to manage on screen but control only one at a time. By tapping A, your other character teleports next to your current position and you gain control over them. The more you use the characters, the higher their affection level grows. Mastery of this tag system is key towards the end of the game, where you’ll need to balance the damage you’re dealing with the damage you’re receiving. As with solo missions, your two characters can perform new Secret Stacked Ninja Arts, where both attack in tandem. The higher the aforementioned affection level is, the more devastating these attacks become. Depending on the character level and their partner’s affection level, it wasn’t uncommon that I would take out nearly a third or sometimes half of a bosses health bar.
Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson – Nintendo 3DS [Reviewed]
Publisher: XSEED Games
Price: 39.99 USD
Released: Available now exclusively on Nintendo 3DS
Over the last two weeks, I’ve had time to reflect on Deep Crimson. The game was fun, being at its best when played in short bursts, but in the end, Senran Kagura 2 is a flawed title. While the presentation and gameplay received improvements, the lack of costume variety, loss of character side stories, and short single player campaign, makes the game feel more like an expansion rather than a sequel. The series in general has a decent foundation thanks to Burst and Shinovi Versus, but without the additional narrative, the game simply falls apart. And in an age where anything could be found online, focusing on fanservice will only work for so long. Hopefully Estival Versus will return the series to a proper balance of Plot and “Plot”.
Our review is based upon a pre-release of the final version that was given to us by the games publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 6 out of 10
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.