When I decided to review Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus, I thought I was going to play a fun action title featuring female shinobi trying to save the world or freeing a country from a tyrannical rule. Oh boy, was I wrong on so many levels.
Don't get me wrong, I did get to play as female shinobi in a fun action game, what I was wrong about was pretty much everything else. Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is one of those titles that players will look at and shake their heads saying, "Only in Japan." But gamers shouldn’t be discouraged by what they see. Sure, the female shinobi are overly sexualized with their large breast sizes and skimpy outfits, and even the game’s dialogue is borderline erotic at times, but those who can look past these issues will find a surprisingly fun action game with some humorous dialogue and interesting multiplayer.
The game tells the story of three shinobi schools who become entangled in an old battle ritual called the "Shinobi Battle Royal." The school’s students that lose in this battle will never be allowed to practice the art of the ninja and will bring shame to their families. Players pick from three different schools and control up to five distinct characters with their own skills and abilities from that one specific school. This allowed me to experience the story from the perspective of my rivals and their schools. Although the game offers the perspective of each school, the overall story isn't anything special.
The longer I played the less it seemed to be about the battle royal itself and more about friendship and being kind to the people around you. Even the twist towards the end of the story didn't add much as it just randomly pops up without any sort of indication; it's as if the writers just threw it in to add some flair. It also doesn't help that a lot of the story is presented with text across a static background, with the worst part being that it's hard to figure out who is talking in these conversations.
Although the overall story isn't that good, players can participate in each character's personal stories. Not only were these stories humorous to read, they showcased each character’s personalities perfectly. My favorite was "Katsuragi," who sets out on a quest to find and squeeze the perfect breasts as she’s gotten bored with squeezing her own teammates’ breasts. It's absolutely bonkers, but very entertaining to read.
Gameplay, on the other hand, doesn't disappoint. The combat’s fast and furious with plenty of challenge and a lot of disrobement--a LOT of disrobement. The game acts as more of an arena battle; players are either thrown into a battle with another student in the spirit of the Naruto Shippuden games or they’ve got to fight through waves of enemies to reach the boss fight.
As a third-person action game, players are able to string combos together, launch their enemies into the air, and pull off special attacks. Players will be able to use three different fighting styles as they play: Flash, Yang, and Yin. Each battle starts with Flash, and at any time with a tap of the L button, players can activate their Yang mode which is followed by a Sailor Moon-like transformation. Yang instantly restores a player's health, increases their attack damage and defense, and allows you to use that character’s secret ninja arts. These moves come with a nifty animation, and some are just completely insane; at one point, I was scratching my head, thinking, "Did that girl just pull a massive cannon out of her lady parts?”