+Amazingly well done combat mechanics
+All-star cast offering different views to similar stories
+Tons of customizations ranging from weapons, clothing, and ability cards
+DLC is moderately priced and completely optional. The addition of new outfits and characters is welcomed.
-Grope simulator 2017 is a minor drawback, but can be ignored
-Higher difficulties are locked behind progression based upgrades
-Modes don’t vary outside of deathmatch or king of the hill
Six years ago, I was first introduced to the ladies of Marvelous’ Senran Kagura seies. A lackluster beat ‘up title that sold itself on its cookie cutter fan service in order to help move copies. The series itself wasn’t well inspired or even designed at the time of release. Just as anything else, things can sometimes get better or worse with time. For Senran Kagura things have gotten a little weird. Why did it get weird? Because the series has actually gotten better. Even it’s six years of main-entry titles and a spin-off’s have done the series a bit of justice.
With titles such as Shinovi Versus and Estival Versus, the levels became better designed, the story became sillier, but funnier. It’s a series that decided to embrace its unique design, including its fan service level of maturity. Over the course of the past few games, Senran Kagura has become a series I’m not ashamed to say that I enjoy or even love, except for that really weird beat rhythm game. I’m still unsure of it.
In all the titles its main theme has stayed true: the schools are still against each other. The girls are still having cat fights. The games silk smooth swordplay, sleaze fest moments, and offsetting humour are its go-to elements, and ones that shouldn’t ever really go away. While the series seems it could easily debase and over sexualize women, it can’t go without saying that I’ve actually met ladies who enjoy the series, and even share a few laughs when discussing it.
The best part of it all? The girls are in on the joke. The characters are fully aware of what is going on and they could actually care less of what people think of them. That’s the best part of it all: They don’t care. But how does this dumb, fan-serviced filled fun serve any purpose to this newest title? Because Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash takes this nonsense to an all new level. So-much-so that I’m highly anticipating a video by Anita Sarkeesian denouncing the series as a whole, but that’s a discussion for another time.
Our story for Peach Beach Splash takes place shortly after the events of Estival Versus. The girls of the four schools have been taking their time off to enjoy an unseasonably warm winter. One that’s hot enough that the girls are still strutting around in their school uniforms. While their reveling in the weather could be called enjoyable, it unfortunately comes to a rather quick end once they are yanked down a mysterious rainbow slide, only to wind up on a mysteriously deserted island. Here they are forced to take part in a competition known as “Peach Beach Splash” or PBS in its abbreviated form (why didn’t they take the opportunity for a massive boob-related?).
Here they are asked to partake in the event, but also taking on their school rivals, all while their event is streamed on a You-Tube like service. Though hesitant about starting, there’s no doubt that the idea of a prize hanging over their head would give them the bravery needed in order to participate, but not without a bit of a push from external sources. But the real reason behind the event is still there. There’s both internal and external conflicts that arise and an overarching storyline plot that has yet come to light.
Luckily, the overarching plot remains silly, clever, and just the right amount of Senran Kagura to get the ball rolling. For existing fans, the plot is just right, but seemingly becomes a bit familiar from past titles. Even though it seemed slightly familiar, I was able to still come across the game with sheer enjoyment. Bosses and their minions could prove to be a challenge to some extent, even with the story playing off to some extent, similar to previous titles.
Unfortunately, the challenge doesn’t come from these larger bosses in ways they should, not until higher difficulties. The change in difficulty comes out due to games choice to elevate the difficulty based upon your preference, but also the amount of time spent to level up your loadout “cards” in order to ensure victory.
Unlike the previous titles, Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash is strictly a third person shooter. As suggested, you will be loaded into an arena of your choice. Your characters will only be equipped with their water gun and the selected “abilities” you choose. These will be activated when ready by meeting their usage requirements. Unfortunately, as the mechanics are top notch, it does feel the game was adequately developed for an online experience, a daunting experience as the game is quite enjoyable. Weapons such as the ‘rocket’ launcher, ‘grenade’ launcher, and double water guns are extremely fun and enjoyable. they also offer variation in your role within the combat arena.
Especially since each of the ladies is equipped with their own jet packs in order to zip across the field in a water-filled blaze (can we even use that in this situation?) of glory while hosing down their opponents. Others can fly in order to get a much needed vantage point in order to knock their opponents out of the arena. The most interesting aspect is the fact the skill cards can include pets. Some of these can add in unique bursts of damage in order to lean combat into the players favor. Others can nullify damage while others will offset this by dealing widespread damage and paralyzing opponents.
To culminate a great power, players have to level up using cards to infuse into their already existing cards. Doing this allows them to help progress through the campaign, but to obtain them, players do need to complete missions in order to earn in-game currency. Just like the entire game, different weapons do come more readily usable depending on the maps they are on. Some maps do allow for different weapons to excel while others falter. Weapons such as the futomaki bazooka are more usable within enclosed maps, allowing for you to take full advantage of the splash inducing power of your weapon of choice.
The best part is? The online modes take full advantage of the games entire systems as well as your invested time spent into leveling up your favorite shinobi gal. My first few times in Online Play had been considered exercise and readjustment to the games various mechanics. This pushes players to fully explore the games campaign as well as the Paradise Episodes in order to gather up the needed power levels to compete against online opponents.
While focusing upon Peach Beach Splash itself, some my find this justifiably fun title, but some may find it hard to focus upon the games sexual overtones that make the franchise unique. While this appeal to some could be detrimental, don’t mistake this game for being a “sexually” themed title. It’s not. It actually finds itself as an above-average team shooter that fans of shooter themed guys should actually play in today’s Call of Duty filled market of knock-offs.
Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the games publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 7.5 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, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. 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. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.