It’s getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes.
I’ve played my fair share of games that made me cringe, both in execution and in content. Japan knows how to make me cringe the best. They also know how to make great playing games. This is the reason why I’m torn. You see, I played Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus on my PC, and had an absolute blast playing it. At the same time, playing this game is an embarrassing thing. If you look at a few screenshots of the game, you’ll see why.
Shinovi Versus is a brawler game where players control high school girls as they beat the crap out of random enemies and a boss that is also a high school girl. I can’t really tell you about the story because I honestly skipped most of the dialog because of the content that is here, which is bad for me because the content that is in the actual game play is even worse. At the same time though, that game play is really well done.
Platforms: PC, Vita
Price I’d pay: $20
Think of Senran Kagura as a Dynasty Warriors lite. Instead of a ton of enemies on screen with a large map to traverse, there are only a few enemies on screen and the map plays out much more like a standard level. I make the Dynasty Warriors comparison due to the actual combat. Attacks come in weak and heavy depending on the button pressed. New combos can be used depending on the timing and alteration of button presses, each character levels up that then makes them both stronger and learn new combos, there are powerful super attacks the require a gauge to be filled that will do major damage, and much more that make the game feel like a DW game while being its own thing.
What really makes this game strange and questionable at times is the mechanics of transforming into powerful forms. During a battle, players and the AI will initiate a transformation that makes their characters’ attack and defense skyrocket as well as fully heal them. Doing so means the player is treated to a quick cut scene where, in Sailor Moon fashion, the girls magically strip down to nothing then equip a more powerful costume. On top of that, when taking damage or giving damage out to others, the characters’ clothes begin to rip apart until they are down to pretty much underwear/nothing. All this is done while the physics for the girls’ body parts are bouncing in every direction. Yeah, it’s, well, uncomfortable.
The thing is, I actually really like this game. It plays great. The combo system mixed with the fast-paced action with air dashes, super moves, and endless combos is really fun to pull off. Sure, the camera feels a bit too close for the fast-paced action, but overall this is a blast to actually play. The controls feel tight and responsive and really helps balance the action.
On top of all this, there are tons of things to unlock- new costumes to show off the girls’ assets (god, I just made that joke), new moves to try out, a gallery, and much more. The customization options are actually really vast. Oh, and many of these risqué cut scenes can be turned off in the menus. Of course, it doesn’t stop the jiggling physics in the game, but it actually helps with the flow of combat when turning off those mid-game cut scenes.
While I played most of the missions on normal difficulty, it wasn’t a cake walk every time. It seems like there were some missions that were just more difficult for some reason. It doesn’t help matters when while I can stun-lock an enemy until they’re dead, the AI can do the very same thing to me. Multiple times while playing, I got decimated and wasn’t even able to pull off a transformation to regain my health and composure. The bust counter can help with this stun-locking issue, but not always.
Is this game strange? Yes. Is it overly sexualized? Absolutely. Did it make me not want anyone to see me playing it? You bet. The most important thing, though- is it fun to play? It sure is. The action is something that I enjoyed far more than a Warriors game, and the combo system was both fun to execute as well as flashy enough to enjoy watching unfold. The controls help matters with its fluid style and tight movement. Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is a game that is difficult to recommend to people due to its content, but if you’re not fazed by that, you’re going to get a fun action game that rivals them all. If only they had a version of this game that didn’t feature jiggly breasts and constant unclothing schoolgirls.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.