Racking Up Points:
I’ve been a quiet fan of Senran Kagura for a while now. When I first played the series I was sure I wouldn’t like it – it’s blunt and unashamed focus on the female form made me think that the game itself would just be an excuse for this ogling. Whilst I wasn’t entirely wrong, I’m happy to admit that Senran Kagura is more than meets the eye. Each title I’ve played in the series has been a seriously enjoyable brawler – with a generous helping of fanservice thrust in your face throughout. With Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson this is increasingly accurate. Making its home on the 3DS, developer Tamsoft have been able to make the SK girls more ‘in your face’ than ever, and their hack ‘n’ slash system is on top form too.
Despite the T&A on display at all times in Senran Kagura 2, the story behind all the boob punching is actually really great, and picks up directly where the original SK on the 3DS left off. Set in modern Japan, Senran Kagura explores the rivalries of four rival ninja schools, with the main two – Hanzō and Hebijo academies – owning the spotlight in Deep Crimson. This story plays out much like a Japanese ecchi anime would – and has in fact spawned its own series – filled with interesting and likeable characters.
The title sometimes falls prey to an overabundance of fanservice, with throwaway titillation getting in the way of a surprisingly engaging and interesting story, but more often than not Tamsoft have honed a keen eye with its pacing and narrative. There’s a whole load of character development amongst all the ninja duels, with plenty of played-for-laughs silliness in between.
When it comes to gameplay, SK2 is likely to surprise you. Senran Kagura titles are deceptively deep brawlers, and Deep Crimson is no exception. Once you’ve made it through a given chapters opening cutscenes and visual-novel dialogue you’re dumped on a battlefield with specific objectives. Most likely this will be to mash your way through a crowd of enemies or to simply defeat a rival schoolgirl. It’s here that Deep Crimson could have devolved into frantic button mashing simply to get to the next gravure scene, luckily SK2 offers a lot more than that.
Button mashing will get you far in Deep Crimson – hammering light attacks are usually enough to make your way through most enemy ground troops (all schoolgirls, of course) but a healthy amount of combos for each of the girls that alternate between light and heavy will net you much better results. These combos grow and unlock as you level up each individual shinobi, and learning a new characters nuances is great fun. There’s also plenty of advanced skills you can utilize in an effort to get an A or S rank at the end of the mission, including using ninja scrolls to dish out seriously punishing special attacks.
As you lose health the franchise’s iconic mechanic kicks in: your character’s clothes are ripped from them, leaving them in tattered schoolgirl outfits or skimpy lingerie. When you’re up against rival shinobi those same rules apply, and this race to undress is a handy little way of visually representing who is winning in any given battle. That probably wasn’t the main reason this design choice was implemented, though.
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