The Senran Kagura series returns to its roots with a remake of its first game, now titled Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal. But is it a welcome re-release or a bit limp and lifeless.
Yes, the dirty joke was intentional because if you didn’t know, the Senran Kagura series tells the tale of High School Girls who happen to be Naruto-like Ninjas with large breasts and a fondness for skimpy clothes. Imagine a lads mag but re-imagined as an anime and that’s Senran Kagura.
The series overall has been going for half a decade and Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal is a remake of the handheld first title which originally came out on the 3DS.
Off the bat, it feels like an A4 poster printed on A3paper as it just doesn’t fill the upscaled resolution of a modern TV this means you’ll probably walk away feeling like you’ve not got much bang for your buck. Adding to this, the cutscenes consist of tedious visual novels that are left to tell most of what seems to be an interesting if not a little bit of a cliche story about insecure girls dealing with life and being deadly assassins.
Outside of that, you’ve got limp cutscenes where characters stand at the opposite sides of a generic Japanese city spouting passively aggressive flirts or by-the-numbers trash talk which is a real kicker since the animation and graphics look great but overall not much is done with the graphics at all really.
If you’re wondering where the breasts and skimpy costumes come in, I guess you can compare it to someone eating a slice of strawberry cheesecake and someone plonks a bar of chocolate on top, yeah you’re adding two awesome things, but it’s just unnecessary as it doesn’t really make it better, it’s just too much. Just in the fact that it doesn’t add much, but then again it’s an XSEED/Marvelous game so attractive ladies behaving like confused Burlesque dancers is the norm.
When it comes to gameplay in Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal you get two standard campaigns and a DLC. The on-disc campaigns follow both the good school and bad school of ninjas switching between the two and their students throughout the campaign. It’s so uneven however some characters with more interesting move sets get underused like the character with metal battle boots.
The roster suffers from the Transformers flaw with the baddies getting cool gimmicks or powers whilst the good guys get very little. I mean one of the evil Ninjas fights with a robot and another has gun gauntlets. The only interesting or fresh weapon set for the good guys is a set of metal boots. The enemies seem to have much cooler character designs, too, and it’s a shame that the same flair of design isn’t used for the main characters.
Combat in the game is as simple as it gets with your standard light attack, heavy attack, hone in, and transform mode where the characters get briefly naked and change into a dull outfit. You can change the power up outfit, if you so wish, and buy new ones for your characters but these range from dream girl fantasy, to just plain dull.
As for the story campaign, it’s just too long with far too many chapters featuring battles ranging from the pushover easy and short frustrating one-on-one battles. Though the pushover missions do have their fun bits, as with most beat ’em ups it’s therapeutic to whack the living marmalade out of many enemies at once, but they don’t put up much of a fight and these stages are over so quickly with little challenge.
The real gameplay challenge in Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal comes from the boss battles where you’re pit against a character from the rival school. They may be the hardest of the two level types, but it does become very predictable with a very rigid format that becomes tedious and overused. During these battles, you’ll begin by dominating over your opponent until their health gets about halfway, then they do their super duper power up, rinse and repeat, you have to do it all over again.
Yes, you need some strategy but doing it again and again and again gets tedious very quickly.
If your lucky, or unlucky depending on how you see it, and you beat your opponent with real flair and efficiency, all their clothes will fall off and they’ll do an awkward pose that is meant to be arousing, I guess, but made me glad that I played the game when no one else was home.
I guess this, for some, may make up for the boring chicken and plain rice level design of a grey urban city or a grey urban park or a boring ancient Japanese location, all of which can be found in the textbook for boring level design for beginners.
To round-off the review, the game’s last boss is so painful it seems the only reason it’s there is to pad out of the gameplay despite the game being about 20 chapters too long. Just because, in terms of story, it comes out of the fog and knees you in the gonads and forces you to grind to unlock the upgrade the makes the levels easier to do since the battle throws stuff at you won’t have seen up until this point.
The DLC that’s bundled in this re-release should get a brief mention too as it’s pretty easy and offers around half an afternoons time. It tells the tale of a clan of ninjas dealing with loss, which may sound interesting but instead, it’s a bunch of weak boss fights, and more anime boobs.
If you get bored of the gameplay, you can use the diorama mode to play dress up with your favorite characters… anything else you use it for is up to you and I get it guys and gals, you like to keep that internet history clean.
Comparing this to other entries in the series, it’s a little tame, especially next to Peach Beach Splash with the raunchy naughty humor being fairly tame and fairly isolated.
Getting down to it, it feels the story and game was directed by a sensible person who had a story in mind about a bunch of girl ninjas, but someone thought it was a little too cliche (it is when you get down to it) so they hired a teenage boy who randomly tips some erotic nonsense in, like how the real-time damage leaves your character naked with their assets on display.
If they leaned into the zany ninja stuff that you’ve seen in Naruto and Power Rangers Ninja Storm you may have something quite special but instead, the games could be seen as a tie-in to sell Japanese Love Pillows.