Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit Review
Last month’s Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus was one of the most hilarious games I’ve ever played. The series’ latest spinoff, Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit ($14.99, PSN), is similarly made for a mature 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 tearing the clothes off of each other, it’s certainly not made for everybody. But if you have the right sense of humor and can look past some indecent exposure, you may find yourself enjoying the challenging rhythm-based gameplay.
Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit brings the cast back together for a cooking competition, set up by a horny old man who is offering a wish-granting scroll as reward for besting all other entrants in the culinary battle. With such a legendary prize on the line, the girls bring their A-game to the event, looking to strip and humiliate their opponents through the power of music… or cooking, I guess.
The bulk of the content in Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit is in the game’s Story Mode, which includes most of the fan-beloved main characters, with more available via DLC. Ikaruga, Katsuragi, Hibari, Yomi, Hikage, and Asuka are all present and accounted for, and so is the series’ trademark over-the-top sexual content and hilarious wordplay. If you can make it through Katsuragi’s ridiculous, outlandish story without cracking a smile, then this franchise is simply not for you. A good amount of the dialogue in this game had me in stitches, and I have to say I’m kind of impressed by how far the developer managed to push the envelope here.
I haven’t played a rhythm game in forever, but I found the gameplay of Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit to be simultaneously challenging and easy to grasp. If you’ve ever played PaRappa The Rapper, you’ll know what to expect – “notes” scroll from right to left, and it’s up to the player to hit them perfectly on time, matching the button prompt. The faster the song, the higher the difficulty, and I found it quite hard to survive on anything above normal.
There are three stages to each battle, and each round is judged by the creepy-yet-entertaining old guy (Asuka’s grandfather Hanzo). The better you do, the larger your dish will be, and the better it will taste. If you build up your combo meter enough, you can unleash a special move, which will net you larger points. If you master the first two rounds, a heart will appear in the third round which gives the player an up-close and personal view of their opponent, whose at this point is hanging onto what remains of their clothing for dear life. This happens mid-battle, by the way – which can be quite the distraction…
If the player manages to ace all three rounds, they’ll be rewarded by their opponent being humiliated – served up on a sundae with only some whipped cream to cover their naughty bits, and just about nothing left to the imagination. This “extra” can also be unlocked by completing that girl’s story mode. Also, if you impress the old man enough, you’ll be treated to a humorous sequence of him enjoying the food — riding a giant oyster in the middle of the ocean, riding a giant crab, standing atop a gigantic cake… you get the picture.
While the songs in Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit are fun and certainly serviceable, they leave something to be desired. None of them are particularly bad, but nothing is all that memorable either, and some feel outright odd and out of place -like the wedding march or the Christmas song. Still, the gameplay is interesting enough and the unlockable content will have most players coming back for more of a challenge on the higher difficulty levels. Unlockable costumes, songs, artwork and more can be viewed on the main menu. The Dressing Room returns from the previous release, where players can dress up the characters however they like and poke and prod them to their heart’s desire. In any other game, this all might be a bit weird… but the lighthearted tone and fun gameplay keep it from turning into a creepy peep show.
While some might be turned off by the racy content in Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit, I see the over-the-top sexuality as refreshing and quite comical. With all of the dark, violent titles releasing on a regular basis nowadays, there’s no harm in some partial nudity in a bright, cheery, enjoyable rhythm game such as this. Fans of the series as well as the genre should check it out and see if it’s their cup of tea – you might be pleasantly surprised.