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Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus (Vita) artwork

Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus (Vita) review

"I went into Shinovi Versus as an established fan of the Senran Kagura license. For outsiders, the game may look like nothing more than egregious fanservice, but I can promise you that thereís a great hack-n-slash game underneath the risque surface."

An old defense of Playboy Magazine had fans saying they read it for the articles. While it may have very well been true, it was hard for anybody to take them seriously with nude women on the cover.

Being a fan of Senran Kagura feels very much the same. No matter how much you defend the franchise, detractors will disregard everything you have to say and point out the absurd amounts of fanservice as the only reason anybody would play it. It may be hard to believe, but the latest game in the series - Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus - is more than just butts, boobs and underwear.

Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus (Vita) image

Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus picks up a few months after Senran Kagura Burst on the 3DS ended. All the girls of the first game are back alongside a number of new girls bringing the total playable character count up to 20.

Much like the first game, Shinovi Versus has a ridiculous story that takes cues from ninja archetypes and moe anime. When theyíre not fighting, the girls are enjoying snacks, taking baths together, groping each other and every other anime trope you can think of. While the main story focuses mostly on the shinobi school competitions, each character has a side plot that is filled to the brim with late night anime tropes.

The presentation is similar to the first game, but the actual gameplay got a much needed shot in the arm. The first game was a sidescroller similar to Streets of Rage, but the sequel plays more like a Dynasty Warriors title. In other words, you will be doing combat in large open fields against hundreds of enemies.

Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus (Vita) image

Unlike Dynasty Warriors, you wonít have to worry about any other secondary objectives. There are no keeps to defend or allies to defend. Itís all about the combat and thatís where the game shines. No two characters out of the 20 available play alike as they each have their own weapon and combat style. While some characters brandish weapons you would expect from ninja, other characters are a little more eccentric. For example, one character has a rifle with a hatchet on the buttstock while another has a chainsaw-wielding robot do all the fighting for her.

Itís this variety that keeps the game from getting too stale as you plow through hundreds of enemies. That being said, the game will start to feel a little samey after pressing Square for 10 hours. Thatís where the boss fights come in.

Every boss fight is a challenging encounter that will put your skills to the test as the opposing shinobi has access to the variety of skills afforded to playable characters. During my time with the game, these fights in particular never got old as I was always finding new tactics to counter the abilities of each boss even after fighting them multiple times.

Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus (Vita) image

With all that being said, the combat is dragged down by the very fanservice that the game so proudly displays. After dealing enough damage to a boss, the game cuts in with a close up of the girls clothes being torn to shreds. It often happens during the middle of a combo and it can sometimes outright cancel it if youíre arenít careful. Thereís also the Frenzy mode which strips your character of her clothes and defense in favor of an increased attack stat. Activating this mode takes your hands off the controls as the camera zooms in on the girlís chest and you have to physically tear her clothes off with your fingers. Thankfully, you can activate this mode with a simple button press, but it still kills momentum.

Outside of the fanservice interruptions, the game also suffers from incredibly long and frequent load times. Not only does the game have 20-second or longer load times before a mission, but the game also stops in the middle of missions to load in the boss fight.

Despite all of this, I still find the combat to be some of the best that the genre has to offer. Itís no Hyrule Warriors, but itís certainly entertaining enough. It also has the benefit of not being held back by the slowdown that hurt its predecessor.

Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus (Vita) image

Outside of combat, thereís not much else to do. You can purchase clothing and play dress up with all the characters down to their lingerie. Thereís even a lingerie lottery that has you spending either in-game money or real money to obtain one out of 98 pieces of unique lingerie.

If you find yourself growing tired of the main story, thereís also an online multi-player mode for two to four players. As you might expect, thereís a standard deathmatch mode as well as a mode that challenges players to strip the other players first. Thereís even a race mode that has players running through levels collecting more panties than their rivals. None of the modes are particularly thrilling, but they can provide a nice diversion when needed.

I went into Shinovi Versus as an established fan of the Senran Kagura license. For outsiders, the game may look like nothing more than egregious fanservice, but I can promise you that thereís a great hack-n-slash game underneath the risque surface.


Phazonmasher's avatar
Freelance review by Zachary Walton (October 20, 2014)

Zach Walton likes JRPGs, visual novels, horror games and anything that gives him an excuse to drink.

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