Senran Kagura: Burst on the surface sounds like it has all the ingredients to succeed. It’s a beat them up game in a similar vein to all those arcade classics of the 80s and 90s like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Simpsons Arcade game, Golden Axe, Double Dragon, Streets of Rage. Lately they’ve been making a comeback, such as last year’s gorgeous and sublime Dragon’s Crown and Blizzard’s high quality gem Diablo 3. Senran Kagura’s selling point is its voluptuous sized girls, oh and also school uniforms, swimsuits, catsuits and other attire more suitable for older audiences. Is that enough to make it a decent game? Unfortunately the verdict is probably a no.
Watching videos of this game on youtube, this game comes off as fast and exciting to play. The combos are plentiful and there’s a variety of flashy attacks to show off. You can even do launchers and follow up with multi combo air attacks. However digging underneath this facade, the underlying gameplay and the game itself is a bit shallow.The game is just boring a lot of the time.
The game is about two schools of ninjas, the Hanzo (the good ninjas) and the Hebijo (the evil ninjas). There are five playable characters on each side and the game recommends the player to play the Hanzo for the first time, so the player can follow the story before experimenting further with the characters. There are 70 stages split into 5 chapters with story being told through a mix of NPC and player dialogue and also text heavy segments. It would have been nice to get some cutscenes maybe at the end of the chapters but I’m not fussy.
Each stage the player is asked to square off against waves and waves of incoming enemies. In the early chapters where the difficulty is not very high, the enemies barely touch the player and presented merely as punching bags. The only way the player can really die would be if he left and made a sandwich. It gets a little more difficult later on, but I honestly didn’t have much trouble the entire way through. I’m not saying I’m a good player, but merely the AI doesn’t even attempt to hit the player. Add to that the player character is simply too powerful and too fast. While 1000 hit combos looks nice and pretty, this pretty much amounts to what is wrong with the game, that you can hit the enemy 1000 times without even getting served a little bit of your own medicine. Another issue is that the game mechanics desperately lacks much needed depth, there’s a weak and strong attack, a dash which basically makes you invinvicible for a small amount of time and a jump button that is on the whole largely unnecessary. The weak and strong attacks combine to create a few combos but not enough to offer any sort of variety required for a game that amounts to about 12-14 hours on the first run through. Most of the time I wound up launching the enemy into the air, following it up with a dash, hit the enemy again in the air, before diving back down and hitting enemies on the ground. Rinse and repeat ad nauseum for the rest of the game. Even end bosses when they were present utilise the same strategy. The gameplay here is minimal and its pretty disappointing.
Other issues include a real lack of bosses, hardly any unless you count the Hebijo girls, disappointing stages that doesn’t show any creativity or innovation and a general lack of presentation in the game overall. Many of the stages end abruptly without any climax at all. They kind of just end The 70 stages also represent too much of the same content. Now I’m not one to criticise for putting more content in the game, but in this case someone probably should have left some stuff in the editing room.
In the end the best thing about the game is the slick animation and all the characters moves look unique and as good at the end as they did in the first hour of the game. This game just isn’t for everyone and its probably a more niche experience than I anticipated. The people who are going to pick this up and enjoy it are those who love the show and want something light.
Score: 4 school girls out of 10