Game Review: Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus (PC)
05/06/2016 Leave a comment
Over the past year the Steam (PC) platform has steadily been expanding it’s selection of games by offering a wide-variety of more popular Japanese franchises; be it the JPRG sensation of the HyperDimension Neptunia or the explosive action-packed adventure found within One Piece, and recently that trend continues with the Steam (PC) release of Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus.
Originally released onto the PS Vita in 2014 this Steam (PC) release of the game has been updated with 1080p visuals, 60 frames-per-second and additional gameplay tweaks to offer that authentic shinobi experience you’ve been waiting for. It’s an interesting title to port to the PC but is it any good? Well let’s find out!
|Title:||Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus|
|Publisher:||Marvelous / XSEED Games|
|Resolution:||1920 X 1080
Developed by Tamsoft and published by Marvelous / XSEED Games Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is the first Senran Kagura title to be released onto the PC and is a High Definition remake of the previously released PS Vita game of the same name. It’s a franchise that originally debuted in Japan back in 2011 and over the past few years has spawned numerous sequels, a spin-off title and an anime series with the games themselves being released onto the PS4, PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS.
Potential history lesson aside Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus is a 3D fighting game that sees three different ninja academies battle against each other in an event known as the Shinobi Battle Royale. The Shinobi Battle Royale is an ancient tradition amongst numerous Shinobi schools whereby every 50 years members of each School will do battle; with the winners of the event being allowed to remain open and train shinobi, whereas the losers will have to give-up their way of the Shinobi lifestyle.
It’s an interesting story and it’s one that sees the three shinobi schools fighting against each other in order to keep their Shinobi heritage alive. These schools are of course Hanzo academy, who are considered the ‘lead’ school within the Senran Kagura franchise, Gessen Academy, who want to ultimately destroy the members of Hanzo Academy, and Hebijo Academy, a group who wish to re-build their School’s shinobi heritage after years of silence. Whichever school you choose each one will present around five playable characters (so thats around fifteen characters in total) with each one having their own personality, skills and missions alongside their specifically tailored storyline.
While each school has a storyline that’s tailored to them they all still revolve around the Shinobi Battle Royale; for instance within the Hanzo storyline players are treated to several practice matches in preparation for upcoming exams whereas in the Gessen storyline it’s a ‘test of strength’ styled fight for the upcoming Shinobi Battle Royale. Don’t worry Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is (pretty much) a fighting game; it just happens to have a fair amount of dialogue and progressive story-telling around it; which is not something we usually see in fighting games but as fans of Senran Kagura we’ve all but become too familiar with it.
These fights, or missions if you prefer, are separated into Story Missions, known as Battle Records, and Personal Missions, known as Girl’s Heart. Both types of missions feature an extensive amount of dialogue which upon ending will see the battle commence and then more dialogue taking place after it. The battles, or fights, are in similar style to Dynasty Warriors, whereby you will have full control over your character within a small area and an onslaught of enemies will constantly attack you. Depending on the scenario however some fights will have multiple enemies while others will be simple one-one-one fights, but until the fight begins you won’t exactly know which-one it will be and even then the rules of battle may change.
The gameplay controls are pretty much on par with what they were on the PS Vita and operate in a similar fashion to your traditional hack-and-slash game; whereby players have light attack (X button) heavy attack (Y button), dash (B button), jump (Abutton) and block (RB button). In addition to regular attacks players can also use special attacks; for instance Secret Ninja Art, which is achieved by pressing the LB Button and an attack button together, will see a powerful attack take place. These special ‘Ninja Art’ attacks consume Ninja Scrolls, scrolls which are obtained by defeating other opponents. The controls are relatively simplistic and easy to pick-up, especially if you are using an Xbox 360 controller like me; but you can also use a keyboard and mouse if you prefer.
By now everyone should be familiar with Senran Kagura’s main selling point – the fan service – and as such each character can have their clothes ripped off during combat. That’s not all either; as by activating the shinobi transformation feature, which will see a sailor moon type transformation whereby the clothes magically disappear and a new set appears, the character will become much stronger and have a fully replenished health bar. Another ‘clothe-changing’ ability is known as Frantic, whereby all clothes (except underwear) are removed and the attack damage is exceedingly increased; so my advice would be to use it as a last ditch effort of attack.
Of course these aren’t the only way for clothes to be removed either; as depending on the amount of damaged received (or dealt to your opponent) the characters clothes will be torn off. In total ‘three’ different levels of clothe shredding appears during combat, with the final time leaving the characters in just their underwear. Amusingly if you defeat an opponent with a Ninja Art attack (as your final attack) any remaining clothes will be torn off and ‘selective areas’ will be replaced with mild censorship. As you can tell the fan-service is blatantly obvious within this game; but that’s what makes it unique and by now we have become fully used to it.
There is more on offer than just fighting and clothes stripping; as the game also features quite an in-depth character customisation and level-up system. Upon completion of each mission money and experience will be awarded; money can be used in the in-game shop to purchase additional outfits and hairstyles whereas experienced earned will make your character stronger. What this means is that Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is technically an RPG-styled Fighter, as experience is earned and the character can be customised, but more importantly it means that everyone can personalise their gameplay experience. Money can also be used to purchase additional rewards, such as bonus countrack, artist imagery and movies – all of which can then be viewed in the gallery once purchased.
Ironically enough it’s not just an offline story-driven-experience as also built-into the game is a multiplayer segment designed for up to four people. In total three different multiplayer elements are on offer; namely classic Death Match, which sees you battle against other opponents, Strip Battle, a race to see who can be undressed first through combat, and Understorm, a race to grab the most falling undergarments from the sky. These gameplay modes can be considered bonkers but they further add value to a game that’s already about having fun than enjoying a proper progressive story.
All of the content that made the PS Vita version such an amusing, but entertaining experience, is retained in this Steam (PC) port of the game with the only difference being improved HD Visuals and 60FPS support amongst the usual inclusions of Steam features, such as cloud saving, trading cards and achievements. It’s amusing that a PS Vita came can be ported to this level of quality and actually be better than the original release, as frame-rate drops and slow loading times are no-where to be found.
The only disappointment Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus may present, which was also apparent in the PS Vita version, is that some story related missions are drawn-out over several fights and can seem long winded. For instance some fights might see you up against grunts, more gunts and then the boss fight, but if you die at any point during the mission you will have to start the entire mission again as opposed to starting at a nearby checkpoint. At first this isn’t a problem but as the difficulty increases it can become increasingly annoying to a point that you eventually rage quit. Of course this all depend on how good you are, because if you are ‘extremely’ good at the game then you won’t find any of the mentioned issues a problem.
From a gerenal stand-point Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is a solid title and an exceptional port that deserves a spot in your steam collection; sure it’s a bit pervy but that’s part of its charm and when you get right down to it it’s a fun game that’s hard to put down and contains a lot of gameplay content – which is all you can really ask for in a game.
Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is now available for the PC through Steam and is also available for the PS Vita as a digital download from the Playstation Network Store.