Review: Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal – Bursting at the seams

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Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal is a remastering of the Nintendo 3DS title and serves as a directors cut of its original version. Now with the game out in the wild, it’s time to see just what kind of trouble the ladies of Hanzo Academy and Hebijo Academy can get themselves into.

Pros:
+Extremely solid combat mechanics
+Excellent character development
+High amounts of customization
+Plenty of character development

Cons:
-The fan service can distract fans from the depth of the series
-Hebijo characters can’t be customized
-Missed a chance at empowering those with self-acceptance problems


Since Senran Kagura originally released on the Nintendo 3DS, there’s been a long demand for a game such as it to get a transition from its side-scrolling endeavors to a fully developed 3D title. Now, with a PC and PlayStation 4 release, Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal is just that, taking on a 3D twist, allowing it to become a fully-focused 3D title and become something more than just a mere port of its former self.

It’s clear in the fact that the game has been built from the ground up that Tamsoft put a lot of love and care into this complete remaster of the 3DS brawler. Character models, locations, and even an overhaul to how the game itself functions at its very core. Performance ratios, graphics, character model detail, all of it has been heavily improved upon and allow every fight, every flash, every bunch, and every particle to look just as good as it did in the initial release.

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First up, let’s talk visuals and performance

As part of their initiative to keep their games looking as they can and improve what that they did before. Just like titles such as Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus and the most recent Peach Beach Splash – our latest adventure also utilizes the same engine and gameplay mechanics allowing it to feel better, faster, and more responsive than ever before.

Along with the fact that the game itself has been improved across the board, Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal features smoother framerates, a 3D action approach like its sister titles, and it even comes off like a flashy and beautiful anime-like experience. Whether it’s punching, kicking, transitioning to your shinobi form, or even using any special you might possess in your arsenal; the performance and visuals never degrade at any given point.

It really feels like a breath of fresh air for the 3DS classic and makes it feel even more enjoyable than it was before. But you might be wondering, is the fan service still as bad as ever before?

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Yup. There are boobs. There are lots and lots of boobs.

Well… Before I get too far, I need to explain something. I have friends that think this game is the tits. I don’t mean that in the sense of boobs. I also know you may not like what I’m about to say when I get into this section of the review, but to some of you, it may be what turns you away from this game.

The series is known for its fan service. The adoring fans absolutely love it. To review the series would be a minor, well very minor, fail to mention this bit in the review. The series isn’t ashamed of the fact it has boobs and a lot of them. It’s a piece of the fandom its very self, which to some, might a bit disappointing.

However, that’s where the comedic value in Senran Kagura has always kicked in some weird way. Not that there aren’t others, but it’s the go-to punchline for the series. It’s even to the point that Mirai even makes a few laugh-worthy jokes about the matter. But for some, that may be the tipping point when it comes to the realization that almost the entire cast is underage.

But if this is something teenage women joke about and I’m unaware of, please, feel free to enlighten me. This is also a perfect place where Senran Kagura as a whole could have had a chance to empower women with such insecurities further in-depth than what Senran Kagura had. Why? Because it’s something that young women face. They don’t often see such insecurities fully explored nor do they even get the chance to have one such empowering moment. Sadly, Senran Kagura doesn’t take this narrative possibility and run with it if they could.

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There was a chance to empower people with the idea of being comfortable with their bodies

They instantly drop the ball as Mirai herself doesn’t learn to accept the body that she has, but instead seeks to make it better, and even learn to find a way to make her boobs even bigger. A shame really, even though I’m not a female, it’d been nice to see one subject touched upon the way they could’ve.

If you’re one that is upset with what I have to say? I can’t apologize. I love the series, I do. It’s quirky, it’s funny, but why not have a few serious moments that can honestly help provide a powerful moment in a game and make it so that the people who do play the game can have that character they admire for that very reason?

For example, the clothes removal so they can shift into their shinobi form? Is it all that necessary to have it there? Don’t get me wrong. I can find the fan service funny, even hysterical, but only if it’s done properly. Sony, in ways, was right for removing the idea of intimately smacking these girls on the rear or whatever way they prefer you to do so.

I just wish Senran Kagura would find a way to empower the younger fans or people that are insecure with who they are – get that kind of support from a series.

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There is a light in the darkness

If you’re one that can skip past the amount of fan service the game has, the cringe-worthy and rather… Suggestive innuendo’s – then you can quite possibly find the real fun to be had in Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal. Underneath the humor, the sexual innuendo’s, and the missed chances to add in some truly empowering moments; Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal is an extremely well-rounded brawler with rather hard mechanics to truly master.

Underneath it all, there’s also a rather good overall story about the so-called “Evil Shinobi” versus the “Good Shinobi”. Two schools that are constantly slamming heads against one another, pushing against one another just to show who is the better school than the other while an even greater evil looms just over the horizon. That’s where the game gets its depth, from both the truer story hidden deep within it and how the combat scenarios feed off that very essence.

But you might be surprised to learn that this game isn’t just about Good vs Evil or Right vs Wrong. The characters themselves have a lot of depth to them outside of all the sexual innuendos and boob jokes you’ll see on the surface. In the story, you find that Hibari is constantly evolving as a young lady who isn’t used to those around her being genuinely nice to her despite the fact that she’s constantly messing something up. At the end of the day, she is liked by them because of who she is, they genuinely enjoy her person because of who she is, not because of where she came from or the power her family has.

Then there’s someone like Yomi who is learning to put aside her hate and distaste towards those more privileged than her or even more wealthy than she. You actually get to watch her grow, become more understanding of these facts, and even that she’s slowly becoming adjusted to these circumstances and that not everyone has it as easy as it looks. You get to see these characters at both their best and their worst no matter the causation of that situation.

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There is depth to the ladies

Essentially, it’s a game that has a lot of merit in the character development department once you peel back the surface. Sadly, it does get hard to overlook all the boob jokes and the likes when Mirai is around. She’s obsessed with them. But again, this is a game that has a core element to it and the core element is its combat which is some of the best that there is. It’s a game that wants you to learn it, to master it, and to use it to the best of your ability.

Even as you master each of the ten readily available ladies, two hidden bringing it to twelve, there’s a lot going on since no one lady fights the same. Homura, for example, is fast, quick, delivering quick blows that allow her to engage in combat against swarms of enemies and eliminate them without even breaking a sweat or tearing a seam on her uniform.

However, that’s not the same for Haruka who depends on her robotic companion to dish out the damage or Mirai who fights at a range with her range-based rifle-turned-umbrella or the massive amount of firepower she keeps under her dress (I’m still confused on how she has a ton of machine guns under it).

But at the end of the day, it’s the amount of variety that is the spice of life in Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal and helps bring everything together in the scheme of things. Unfortunately, it also is what is partially wrong with the game as missions have little to no variety and don’t do much outside of boss-rush like moments or a “clear this stage” fiasco.

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Conclusion

There’s plenty I want to say. Like how I’m irked that Sony forced XSEED Games and Marvelous! USA to censor the game the way they did or the fact that it seemed Sony made a power play to censor something just to show they could. Sadly, even though it happened, I’m not hitting the game for that.

Under the fan service and the hard-to-ignore boob jokes, Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal is an amazingly fun and catchy title that is one that offers the “pick up and go” experience you might expect. The only downside, the fan service could very well hurt it for many fans who prefer not to play one that has as much fan service like this one has.

Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal
Platforms: 
PC and PlayStation 4
Version Reviewed:
PlayStation 4
Developer:
Tamsoft
Publisher: 
XSEED Games
Release Date: 
Available Now
Cost:
 $29.99

However, if you are one that can look past the fan service itself, Senrak Kagura Burst Re:Newal is a brawler filled to the brim with confidence and the ability to deliver some of the best experiences and even some of the best character growth in the series yet.


Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game. For information about our ethics policy please click here.


Final Score: 7.5 out of 10


About the Writer(s):

dustin_batgr_prof

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.

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