Kandagawa Jet Girls from Honey∞Parade Games seeks to take the silly and goofy antics of Senran Kagura to an entirely new franchise with Kandagawa Jet Girls. Enter the jet ski based racing turned shooter, which in ways, delivers in many ways, but stumbles in others.
+Each character is an absolute delight
+Tons of content that can take 20+ hours to complete
+Online play is a bonus when people are online
+Cheerful, fun, and beautifully designed story
-Performance is absolutely problematic on current-gen consoles
-Racing mechanics come off as moderately simple and seemingly slow
Now, let me be honest, I have been interested in Kandagawa Jet Girls, since it was announced earlier this year. It’s a game that has caught my attention as I have a thing for cheeky, quirky, and somehow, lively Japanese games that set themselves out as a sort of “spice of life” experience.
I have a thing for jet ski focused games as well. I have ever since my dad brought home a copy of Waverace 64. Now, the idea of Kandagawa Jet Girls mixing together everything I love about storytelling from Senran Kagura to that of a jet ski game had grabbed my attention. It seems fun, it seems quirky, and honestly, it seems like it’s a title that would be adrenaline inducingly fast, which, is a bit misleading on the latter half.
Ladies! Ready, steady, splash!
Those unsure what Kandagawa Jet Girls is, don’t feel bad, most wouldn’t as it’s from a small, but somehow seemingly fun anime of the same-exact name, over in Japan. The entire series takes place in a futuristic Tokyo where teams of two young ladies get together in order to become the next big name in the Kandagawa circuit itself.
One girl drives, one shoots their water weapons to disable the other team, and well, that’s pretty much it. The game itself focuses on several different groups, each one having their own theme, their own story, and well, their own personalities, which adds more life to a game than one would expect.
The game pretty much is what you would expect: Coming of age, coming to terms with poverty or life style habits, and even the realiziation that just because you are the best at a sport doesn’t make you the best at life – oh, yes, the theme of every petty rivalry in any series. So, that’s it, everyone wants to be the best in the league, but, their humanity shows through each of their overaching narratives.
Water rockets, handling, and that’s a wall!
Now, I don’t want to touch a bunch on the story, mostly for the fact that we tend to avoid the spoiler bits so you can enjoy the story for yourselves. Let’s just say more-or-less, the story is probably one of the best parts of this game, which is a shame as the racing has so much going for it, if it just went a little faster.
Before we do talk about the good though, let’s talk about the bad, which you may think there’s a lot of – to an extent – there is. One of the major issues comes down to performance itself. The game, often times, even on our new LG Nanocell85 48′ TV, feels like an issue.
We had chalked it up to the TV itself, opting to try it on a HP Omen 25′ Gaming Monitor (144hz) and another LG TV. Issue is? The game itself is hindered by this, often afflicted by framerates tanking down and screentearing becoming a common occurance. It comes out, it’s even an issue on PC, something about optimization of the game was second thought during development.
Perhaps it’s the water effects? Who knows. While it is an issue, it also makes the idea of the game being any faster-paced an even bigger issue, which can include upping the difficulty significantly more an issue due to the constant sluggishness of the overall experience. The challenge and pacing just isn’t there.
With a patch and targeting of performance, AI mentality, and difficulty, the game could have a lot going for it, but even with the few that have been done, it’s still not enough and the game feels like it runs at sub-30 FPS on a PS4 Pro with and without an SSD in the console.
Even with the performance hiccups, it is worth noting that the sound design, graphics, and even the voice acting, are spot on and as beautiful as you would hope from a game from the studio.
Splashdown! Let’s talk about the good bits.
Now, you might be wondering: How is there anything good to talk about when there’s so many issues in the performance and AI areas? Well, there’s more to it than that, which is a redeeming quality about the game. First, the online multiplayer when it is active, is a blast, and that’s when the real challenge begins to show.
Players themselves are equally as hard, especially once they master the controls and get things sorted out. You’ll want to practice the tutorials a bit, trust me, there’s no shame in it. The online is a bit more challenging as you do go up against experienced racers who are significantly harder than the A.I. you’ll become acquainted with.
That aside, the game is actually quite fun despite how easy it actually is. Each race will come with its own unique challenges from completing “x amount of tricks” during a race to attacking fellow Jet Girls so many times over the course of a match or not crashing into a wall.
This means you’ll need to adjust to the controller scheme, which can take a bit. It can be slightly difficult due to the amount of controlling there is to learn, clear down to how to do tricks, aim, and how to lean your jet ski in order to get the most of its performance and upgrades.
There are plenty of customization options from characters and vehicle
Now, one question you might have given the history of Honey∞Parade Games is in regards to unlockables, customizations, and content that is delivered. Let me make this very clear: There’s a ton. There’s enough that you may actually spend days, if not weeks, unlocking content including customization options.
Every one of the girls, your vehicles, all have unlockables that can be earned through simply playing the game and completing each chapters challenges, which actually increase the games difficulty. Now, it is worth noting, that some do have to be purchased with in-game credit, which is obtained through winning, completing with high rankings, and of course, finding it during a race.
Now, if you are worried about over-the-top and pushing the term “ecchi” content, don’t worry about that here. Kandagawa Jet Girls is quite a bit more mellow than that of SENRA KAGURA by a long shot. You won’t see tearing outfits, constantly bordering “ecchi” style content, or anything of the sort.
While it seems that there’s a lot holding Kandagawa Jet Girls back, let me make this clear: There isn’t outside of the AI and performance issues. Both of these shortcomings can easily be fixed over time and luckily, XSEED Games as the publisher and Honey∞Parade Games as the developer have already pushed quite a few patches out. They don’t seem to be slowing down either.
Kandagawa Jet Girls
Platforms: PC and PlayStation 4
Platform Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Developer: Honey∞Parade Games
Publisher: XSEED Games
Release Date: Available Now
If you are looking for a game that’s fun, quirky, offers a deep sense of humor, but also a small spice-of-life experience, then Kandagawa Jet Girls will be right up your alley, but it is worth noting, the game isn’t as fast paced as their previous entries. It’s still humerous, fun, and honestly, laid back as they come.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game provided to us by the publisher for the review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native video game 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. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook today.