The ladies of Senran Kagura are back and this time, they are up to something a bit more ambitious, and insanely fun, it’s a shame the PlayStation 4 couldn’t enjoy this kind of Pinball infused madness.
+Insanely fun pinball mechanics that make achieving goals something worth doing
+An exceedingly funny story even if it is a rather odd one
+Absolutely stunning visuals
+Extremely easy to learn controls
-Two tables that change very little outside of daytime cycles
-Gets a bit tedious after the four-hour mark in a single session
When I had heard that Kenichiro Takaki was leaving the Senran Kagura team at Marvelous!; I felt a piece of my heart fall to the floor as a single tear began to well up in my eyes. Not just because of how well received the series has been, but the fact I’ve grown fond of its lunacy and fanservice-based demeanor. Especially after Sony and their recent stance on censorship.
Among those many titles that have opted out of the PlayStation 4 comes one that brings all the Senran Kagura silliness with it, but exclusively for the Nintendo Switch, which isn’t forcing developers to cover up their characters, shy away from silly antics, or even stop their fanservice-themed designs.
However, despite what has happened, it comes out that Honey∞Parade Games isn’t exactly shy of delivering an eye-popping fan serviced pinball game to the Nintendo Switch, which let’s be real, is a perfect jab at Sony’s ribs. So let’s talk about Senran Kagura Peach Ball.
Following up on the momentum from Senran Kagura Reflexions comes Peach Ball, another silly spin-off
When it comes to Senran Kagura, I’ve come to believe that the more ridiculous the game, the better they actually get, and it’s without any shame that I admit: I don’t mind them testing uncharted waters outside the core entries of the series. They’re fun, they’re quirky, but they also give you more of a behind-the-scenes look with the ladies of the three schools themselves.
The story unfolds when players begin to visit Haruka, the lady who puls the strings over at Hebijo Academy, who also just happens to work at the Honey Arcade. Unfortunately for her, it’s a place that’s always hustling, bustling, and keep the poor girls busy. Anyone that nows dear-little Haruka, knows she isn’t exactly one to do one such job as she loves the art of science itself.
Her latest experiment? A concoction called Beastall. Anyone that touches the liquid or an item that contains it, gets turned into, well, an anthropomorphic version of themselves, which leads Haruka to where her experiment goes awry. How did it go awry? A video game tournament where Ryona mistakingly grabs the serum and mistaking it for soap. This little incident ultimately turning herself in a canine version of herself. Cute fluffy ears, tail, and all.
Nothing changes with her personality (sort of), regardless, as she’s already super touchy and feely, and this, well, this just makes it all the more normal for her. She’d already probably be pouncing on her colleagues, licking them, and even irritating them if she could. The bigger problem here? She’s not alone. Murasaki, Yumi, Yomi, and Asuka all fall victim to the Beastall potion. Now, it’s up to her and her Peach Ball to stop the effects of her potion.
Now, you might be wondering, what the Hell is a Peach Ball anyways?
That’s where it all becomes a pinball style game, one where players use the Peach Ball in order to return your friends to their normal state. Just like any pinball game, Senran Kagura Peach Ball does a lot of it right by adding bumpers, flippers, primary objectives, secondary objectives, and even little minigames into the mix.
Except, this is where things get a bit… Cornballish and for those opting for a less sexual experience, this is definitely not the place to go, but if you don’t mind that kind of content, then get ready for one of the most solid experiences to date, despite there only being two tables to enjoy, they still offer a decent amount of fun for what it’s worth, especially if you play this as only a pick-up-and-go title.
Unfortunately, you will eventually feel both tables- Peach Land and Spooky Shinobi – begin to overstay there welcome, even in the five-to-ten hour campaign. Sadly, the tables sound rather monotonous after spending as much time as I did over the course of a weekend with the game.
Even with two tables, there are dozens upon dozens of challenges to complete
Surprisingly enough, there’s a lot to do and both tables have minor gimmicks that will keep you playing. One general design is the mini-games and the second is the mini-goals you can complete. Each of these goals can include things as small as spelling the word peach or completing specific tasks each board is capable of (which is mostly the same thing).
Unfortunately, while there are all of these challenges to complete, the tables don’t do much to variate themselves from one another aside from their uniquely designed mini-games, which are sadly all much-the-same as one another. Their challenges, however, do differentiate slightly, adding to some form of the game’s replayability.
Just don’t forget, Peach Ball wants you to shake the table by moving the Joy-Con’s around or even the thumbsticks themselves.
There’s a lot of room for improvement and growth
One of the things I have to say quite a bit about the overall experience is this: There’s a lot of room for growth and seriousness to be found. I’d love to actually see a DLC where pinball becomes a major factor of the game, one where the not-so-scantily clad ladies of Senran Kagura can take us on a daring adventure, one that’s fun, unique, and stands out from the rest while also offering the more fanservice-esque experience to those that want it.
While the fun itself is all a tongue-in-cheek experience, I still felt myself needing to play something a bit more serious, something closer to the likes of the core experience itself, where I don’t feel near as dirty for having played one such title, one I can’t even recommend playing in public just due to how risque it actually is.
That is, however, where the intimacy mode comes in, which can make even the strongest of minds feel a little ashamed of themselves are dirtied as you house down the girls in… Compromising positions (we had to remove the pictures from our review due to some issues regarding our site). Needless to say, it’s one that… Well… Lets you touch the girls all over, which to me, was a bit too much for my liking.
I’d have loved to see more tables versus having this mode. I’d love to have seen seven or eight make the cut, each one offering fun and unique challenges, as well as variating play styles between one another. Even while unlocks do exist and character customization remains a key component of the game, I just felt that the game was missing something more, something that could REALLY make it stand out as a silly-yet-serious experience.
It feels like a budget title versus something that could have actually been amazingly fun
One of the issues I have with the spin-off games as of late, namely Senran Kagura Reflexions and SENRAN KAGURA Peach Ball, is that they feel like budget titles, but that’s quite possibly because they actually are, however, to say it again: I really wish we’d gotten more pinball tables and actual noteworthy experiences than what we were given.
Sure, there are plenty on the market, but this brilliant, brilliant, chance to captivate the fans came short due to execution, which is curtailed by a lack of tables, diverse mechanics, and reason to keep on playing outside of collecting every purchasable item (with in-game credit), before putting it away to collect dust on a shelf.
I hope this happens with a DLC as I would be more than willing to give the game another whirl if it just felt like something bigger than what we were given actually happens.
The Conclusion – All in a weekend’s worth the work
At the end of the day Senran Kagura: Peach Ball is what you would expect from the well-established series: It’s lewd, it’s comical, and it does anything it can not to take itself a little too seriously. Luckily for fans, it works, and it works rather well.
The only downside to the game should be clear: It’s a budget title. It’s one that’s meant to be a pick-up-and-go experience. It shows with only two tables, a handful of customizations, and a somewhat uninspired story. However, it’s hard not to admit, the game feels right at home on the Switch and it goes to show, perhaps, this is the best place to play a Senran Kagura game.
SENRAN KAGURA Peach Ball
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Platform Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Honey∞Parade Games
Publisher: XSEED Games
Release Date: Available Now
Let’s just hope that DLC delivers a lot more tables, some different mini-games, and a whole lot more fun to be had.
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.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders 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.