Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus Review

Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus is part of the ongoing Senran Kagura series, a bunch of initially hand-held fighters that centre on several schools of female ninjas-in-training. It’s clear that this game can easily be thought of as a ‘quintessentially’ Japanese game, and we rarely see the style coming from anywhere other than Japan, if at all. The story of this instalment features students from three rival ninja schools and their battles against each other in a secret ninja battle royale to prove the superiority of the winning school. Over the course of the game you play as each student from each of the three schools and win their fights against their opponents until one ninja is crowned the victor. Sounds simple? It is, but I am inclined to say hold your horses, because there’s something slightly more to it than that.

There is one thing that you absolutely need to know about this game before you play it: This game has a clothes destruction system, and all of the fighters are scantily clad girls, and at least one of them seems to be veeeeery young…yeah, it’s one of those kinds of games.

The game is almost half ninja fighting game and half visual novel, with all of the story being told to us in the form of text with a Japanese voice over that occasionally has images to illustrate what it’s talking about, although some of the cut scenes between main story missions are done in 3D with an almost puppet theatre vibe going on.

All of the mechanics basically serve as a way to get the girls naked, but there is at least a vaguely interesting progression and combat system, even if the random and needless undressing does get in the way a little. Unlike in games like Akiba’s Trip, there is no flimsy pretense as to why your enemies should losing their clothes from a fight, and also in this game the clothes go down further than just underwear albeit with comedic sensor bars over the rudest areas.

There seems to be plenty to do at least, and the combat system is pretty rich and deep if you can get past the wrapping. The combat operates on a simple system of quick attack, heavy attack, and dashing, as well as unique specials for each character, and you actually unlock new combos to use as you progress, although this is hardly different from the multitudes of other fighting games that have included RPG elements over the decades.

The graphics are very bright and colourful, and they’re usually very well animated and designed. Having said that, the jiggle psychics are…insane. I’m pretty sure that skin doesn’t behave like that on the moon let alone when someone’s barely turning around. The attacks are also pretty interesting, and I found myself interested in exploring the different characters styles and seeing all of their special attacks. The transformation sequences were less interesting to see, mainly just being all the same and all ripped off from Sailor Moon.

An instant indication of what sort of game we have here is the inclusion of a rather in-depth clothing system. You can choose what your fighter is wearing from their school uniform, to their ninja outfits, and even down to their underwear. It seems strange to have such an extensive system when the clothing is just going to get ripped off in combat anyway, but if that’s what you’re into, I suppose it’s a worthwhile addition.

There’s the token online mode included in the game, which is basic as hell and seemed to be basically barren when I was playing it. Although this is possibly due to the game’s niche appeal, it was disappointing to see another element of the game that could have dragged it out of the gutter (maybe, a little) fall flat on its face instead.

The scope of the missions available are pretty stunning. You have main story mode style quests that advance the overarching plot of the series, and there are missions that are personal for each girl you play as. These personal missions tend to be more varied than the story missions, although none of them actually stray far from ‘beat up a bunch of dudes or one scantily clad female ninja’, but their story lines can get sillier. For instance, there is a set of missions aimed at finding special ingredients for a sushi roll for your grandfather’s restaurant, and another where you are on a quest to grope other students who will scream because your current victims have gotten used to your molestation’s…seriously though, what?

The characters’ story arcs almost always end in something perverse, and in the few cases where they don’t they end with something strange or funny happening. At times it is difficult to discern if this whole thing is supposed to be taken seriously, I mean there are literally scenes where the characters are eating cream filled sushi rolls and the cream spurts out all over the group…seriously. Not to mention multiple penis innuendos and several completely perverted characters.

I will never let it be said that I’ve not given something a fair chance, but I sort of find the pure level of sexualization here distracting. This game is basically porn, and now that the PC market has its hands on it, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it become literal porn before the year is out. I will say that there’s nothing wrong with porn, but if you come to this looking for a game to actually play without feeling dirty, then you might want to give it a miss.

I mean it is a massive shame that the game is so built on the idea of selling the sex of the characters in more ways than any other game I’ve seen, because it’s not like the story behind it or the actual fighting are bad. There’s a lot on offer for those looking for this sort of game, but to most people who are just enthusiastic about fighting games, you’re going to find games with better combat and less obstructive titillation attempts.

Developer: Tamsoft

Publisher: XSEED Games, Marvelous AQL (US)

Platforms: PS Vita, PC

Release Date: 1st June 2016

Score: 55%