Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus Review
Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is one of the most hilarious games I’ve ever played. It’s definitely made for a niche audience, and just by looking at a few screenshots you’ll get an idea of what you’re getting yourself into. With gameplay revolving around buxom teenage ninja females beating the clothes off of each other, it’s certainly not made for everybody. But if you have an open mind and can look past its crude exterior, you may find yourself really enjoying the addictive hack-and-slash gameplay and killer soundtrack.
The story of Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus features shinobi ninja who train at rival schools, one of which you’ll choose at the outset of the game. There are three schools, each with a host of main missions to complete, as well as side missions for the 20 playable characters. You’ll complete these missions by beating the tar out of the (100% female) opposition, until they are stripped down to their underwear and you are declared the victor. The characters and situations are so over-sexualized that it becomes quite comical, and the game’s dialogue can be quite humorous as well. This is crucial, as it keeps the tone lighthearted and fun rather than having the thing turn into a creepy peep show.
The combat in Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is pretty solid, with plenty of moveset variations between the 20 playable characters. There are strong and light attacks, as well as “Secret Ninja Art” special moves that can only be accessed after going into “Shinobi Transformation” mode. The action is fast and furious, with combos often entering the 500+ range – there’s a trophy for hitting over 7,000. There’s dashing, air-based attacks, parrying, and more to add depth to the simplistic combat system and keep it from feeling too repetitive. There are basically three “forms” for every character – normal, Shinobi Transformation, and Frantic, where your character sheds everything but her skimpy underwear, gaining physical strength but taking a serious hit to the defense department. The main idea is to take down as many enemies as you can in the normal mode, using Shinobi Transformation as a last resort for a refreshed health bar. During battles, you’ll rack up points, which can be spent on clothing, lingerie, and accessories to customize all of the characters’ outfits. You can also buy photos and music which can be listened to at the academy.
The story of Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus can be a bit hard to follow, but it mostly revolves around the concept of “Good” and “Evil” shinobi. The main missions, Shinobi Girl’s Code, had me a bit lost, and I found the more personal stories of Shinobi Girl’s Heart mode to be more interesting. These side missions reveal much more depth to the girls – my favorite story was Katsuragi’s. While Katsuragi is played up as mostly comic relief, always spouting out lewd comments and offering to grope the woman at her academy, her side story offers a deeper understanding of her character. It turns out that her parents were also shinobi, who were branded as renegades when they showed mercy on a target they were ordered to assassinate. Katsuragi vows to become the top shinobi in her class to reclaim her family’s honor, and have the lives of her parents spared.
The load times in Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus could definitely use some work. Not only are the load screens inexplicably long, but they are frequent, often popping up multiple times in a mission.
Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is no doubt a great-looking game. The cel-shaded character models are well-animated, and together with the environments sell the illusion of watching an anime flick. While there is no English dub, the Japanese voice actors do a very good job with the material they are given, and it’s clear that they’re having fun with it. Which is reflected in the game itself – it definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is important.
If you’re a fan of the series or games like Dynasty Warriors, you’ll probably enjoy Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus. The graphics are great, the humor is spot-on, and the gameplay is polished and addictive. There’s a solid amount of content here, with a lot of missions and 20 characters to play with, not to mention a ton of unlockable material. This is a charming game with personality to spare, and with the drought of decent titles for the Vita, I strongly recommend picking it up.