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Senran Kagura: Peach Ball (Switch) artwork

Senran Kagura: Peach Ball (Switch) review

"Senran Kagura: Peach Ball practically worships enormous anime bosoms, but the pinball could use a little padding."

When Julie Andrews sang about a few of her favorite things in the 1965 film "The Sound of Music," her list included raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens and warm woolen mittens. 54 years later, in 2019, my own list prominently features boobs, ninja warriors, video games and pinball. Maria and I clearly have different interests. That's one of many reasons I'm reviewing Senran Kagura: Peach Ball on Nintendo Switch and cinema's famous governess isn't.

An interest in boobs typically wouldn't be a key qualification in order to write a review for a video game, but I feel like it might be in this particular case because the title in question is unquestionably built for the specific (and not insignificant) demographic that is united by its interest in the female breast. If your reaction to boobs is that you can take them or leave them, that effectively tosses your best reason to play Peach Ball right out the window. It is, after all, a game about buxom ninja girls who have been exposed to a magic potion that turned them most of the way into furry animal mascots. Your job is to restore their humanity by tricking them into sitting on a pinball machine (this happens in cheesy visual novel sequences that you just watch) and then to complete objectives and attain a high score so they are sprayed with a special mist that causes them to return to their senses.

Senran Kagura: Peach Ball (Switch) image

Let's take a moment to consider what an absurd premise that is for a video game.

Okay, moment taken. One potential next question you might have is whether the writers make that ludicrous premise work. And I suppose they do... sort of. To see the game's true final credits scene, you have to play through the campaign 5 times, to view events from the perspective of each victim: Yumi, Asuka, Ryona, Murasaki and Yomi. The dialogue and events differ slightly different each time through, but those differences aren't significant enough to obscure the repetition you'll endure. You can also press the 'B' button to remove the subtitles if you like, while the girls converse energetically in Japanese. Doing so makes it easier to watch their breasts sway as they get excited talking about tanuki leaves and carrots and bean sprouts and slums and such. By the time I got to the end, I didn't even care how silly it all was. The writers wore me down through sheer force of will.

I can't imagine that anyone is really, truly expected to take the visual novel sequences all that seriously. They're filler that doesn't last very long. Then when a segment concludes, you can get down to business and play some actual pinball.

Senran Kagura: Peach Ball (Switch) image

You start by choosing a themed ball to launch along a corridor. It emerges on the table, and from there you knock it around with the flipper paddles to send it hurtling along various chutes or slam it into targets. The most obvious of those targets is the girl resting near the top center of the table, who will assume various poses you can influence by completing timed challenges that appear on the side of the screen. For instance, you must bash teacups a set number of times, or direct the ball to a windmill's opening. Once you clear enough objectives, regardless of the score you acquire in the process, you can activate a mini-game referred to as a "Sexy Challenge." Complete two such mini-games and the third time you encounter one, it will have been promoted to a "Super Sexy Challenge." Clear that one also and you will finally cause the girl on the table to remember who she really is. Mist works wonders!

There are only two distinct tables, really, which means repetition sets in well before you have vanquished all 25 stages. That's especially true if you have to repeat some of them, which is a possibility if you're playing without "assist" turned on, as I did. The further into each individual series of five stages you progress, the more challenges you must conquer in order to access the mini-game diversions. At least the ball doesn't often go down the center of the table between your paddles, the way it might in some more irritating pinball games. I didn't commonly fail for that reason, though it did happen a time or two. Generally, I had the satisfaction of knowing that if I didn't beat a stage, it was entirely my fault.

Senran Kagura: Peach Ball (Switch) image

One advantage of having to learn only two definitely unique tables is that it becomes easier to get a feel for what strategies will work. There are definitely some best practices. I learned early on how to make the best use of the left and right sides of both tables, which eliminated most of the work and allowed me to start taking in the scenery. And that scenery consists mostly of--you guessed it--boobs.

No matter which girl you save, you're going to see her naked. But if you're a horny teenager reading this review and that statement has just made you very excited, maybe dial your enthusiasm back a notch. For starters, there's nary a nipple in sight. Even when you get the "best" ending, cherry blossom petals obscure the "partial nudity" the ESRB warned you about. When I was a kid, there were PG-rated films that showed as much skin, and more artfully. I guess the fact these buxom ninja girls are in their birthday suits will inflame some passions, but honestly, voyeurs will likely have better luck spending a day at the mall.

Senran Kagura: Peach Ball (Switch) image

The girls in Peach Ball are fictional, of course. They exist almost entirely to titillate. And the artists responsible for bringing them to life no doubt spent many long hours learning how to manipulate polygons so they sway and bounce and swell upon command. I would say those hours of effort were rewarded. As long as you like boobs enough that you're interested in artistic representation of them, you'll probably find something to like here. About the only complaint I can see a bosom admirer voicing in this case concerns the lack of variety in cup size. But if you were expecting a proper range, I figure you haven't been following the Senran Kagura franchise since its inception. The creative team clearly subscribes to the theory that less is not more. Bigger is better. Always.

In any case, I won't pretend to know how attractive you will find the girls. Me, I thought they looked pretty good. I also don't know how aroused you will or won't be by the sight of those animated characters dressed up like cosplay models and spouting inane lines of dialogue that almost always sound at least a little bit perverted. For me personally, the proceedings lost some of their charm because a lot of the assets were too similar. The developers took shortcuts that are hard to completely overlook when the core game is so limited.

Senran Kagura: Peach Ball (Switch) image

Fortunately, there are a few extra options to keep players coming back for more. As you play, you'll earn virtual currency you can spend unlocking pictures, costume accessories and the like. Then you can pose the girls and swap out costume pieces, or you can become "intimate" with them by groping their breasts and buttocks or spraying them with water pistols. They will fall quickly in love with you, because frankly, how could they possibly resist you?

Even if you like boobs, ninja girls, Senran Kagura in general, pinball and groping mini-games, Peach Ball is unlikely to become one of your favorite things due to its repetitive gameplay and the relative lack of unique assets. It's still capable of providing a relaxing, light-hearted, not especially mature M-rated experience that will last around 8 or 10 hours for those who want such a thing, but overall it feels underwhelming. My advice is to wait for a sale (or skip buying it entirely) unless you're a huge fan of the franchise and its characters or you absolutely adore video pinball.


honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (July 16, 2019)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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Masters posted July 18, 2019:

That intro is one of the best I've read in awhile. From you, from anyone. I liked it a lot. You've really allowed your pervy side to shine shamelessly here, Venter. What a courageous turn!

Anyway, great review.

One line you might want to look at:

"The dialogue and events differ slightly different each time through, but those differences aren't significant enough to obscure the repetition you'll endure."

Is the word "obscure," your favourite choice there? Just some food for thought. If it is, so be it.

Finally, a word on the nudity (asking for a friend): the girls are nude but their privates are covered (in)conveniently by leaves and such? Thought I'd confirm. For no reason at all.
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honestgamer posted July 18, 2019:

You can periodically see partial butt crack (about as much as you might see on a beach if a bikini bottom is riding low), and there's plenty of cleavage that stops short of ever showing the parts skimpy bikini tops cover. As you clear each stage, the large girls on the table are effectively naked and they cover their sensitive areas with their flipper-like hands or arms. So there are plenty of naked girls in the game but they don't suffer the indignity of the game's audience seeing it.

Some of the screenshots in the gallery you can access from the game profile page on this site show what's typical. I took all but the first six of them during my own sessions with the game. I didn't post the most risque images, in order to avoid spoilers and because I didn't want things to get too NSFW, but they should still give your friend a general idea of the game's approach to risque content.

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