It’s not unusual for certain game franchises to step out of their comfort zone and launch well-received spin-offs. Sometimes, such titles gain more popularity than original releases. To this day, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is one of my favorite entries from the series. And now I got my hands on SENRAN KAGURA Peach Beach Splash. It replaces the familiar setting of ninja girls fighting each other with katanas & shurikens to fighting each other with…..water guns in scantily dressed bikinis. Oh, should I also mention that the game has a separate mode when you can grope the girls as much as you want? Soakable outfits that reveal more as you spray girls with more water? Yep, welcome to the Senran Kagura games. Take a seat and you might want to read the rest of this review in incognito mode.
The story focuses on the Peach Beach Splash water gun tournament, which female ninjas from various factions are invited to, and where the winning team gets any reward they want. You assume the role of any of the four ninja schools (Crimson, Gessen, Hanzo, and Hebijo) and enter the water soaking tournament. Defeat various opponents by soaking them up with water guns and maybe the grand tournament prize will be yours. There are four singleplayer campaigns in the game for each of the factions. Each campaign contains 10 missions and honestly, there’s nothing interesting about them. Most of them boil down to defeating waves of opponents and progressing onto the next chapter. The missions are there merely as connecting pieces to the story cutscenes. In fact, you’ll have more fun paying attention to the cutscenes and what’s happening to the girls instead of pushing through the generic story missions.
Another thing I have to note is that there are huge gaps in game difficulty. This being my first entry in Senran Kagura series, I opted in for the easy difficulty in the first few missions. Boy, was that a mistake. The enemy AI would just mindlessly run around focusing on my AI team and only sometimes trying to attack me. Switching up to the normal and hard difficulties balanced things out and provided a decent challenge. While the game leaves a lot to be desired on the front of singleplayer, it makes up for it with other game modes and tons of bonus content. I managed to jump into a few online 3 vs 3 matches and the fun factor went up sky high. Human opponents were a different story, providing an intense challenge and making each water splashing battle unpredictable till the last few seconds. Now let’s talk more about that bonus content. Your arsenal is huge ranging from water pistols, water gatling guns, water assault rifles (beginning to see a pattern here), skill cards with various defensive abilities and companion pets providing some help in the battle. After every match, you win a card pack containing the random character or skills cards and a handful of coins. Duplicate cards can be refined into experience points for your character or a weapon or a skill to level up. There is a huge choice of skill cards and weapons allowing for almost infinite experiments until you find a perfect skill deck and a weapon combo. On the other hand, coins can be used to purchase various costumes, hair ornaments and…….wet see-thru clothes. But wait, the weirdness doesn’t stop there! There is also a special “Intimacy” option in the menu that takes you to a screen where you can splash water on the girl of your choice, fondle her boobs or slap her butt until she is happy enough to reward you with a kiss. Yeah. Either way, the game teases you well with a “carrot on the stick” method since it takes a whole lot of in-game dosh to unlock every piece of art, clothing, and various hairstyles. Next, we have a diorama mode where you can set girls in different poses, choose a fitting background and marvel at your scantily dressed pieces of art. These things might not be to everyone’s liking, but they provide a nice intermission when you feel like taking a break from a story campaign or a tournament.
SENRAN KAGURA Peach Beach Splash is presented in cell-shading style and it works rather well….once you crank up every setting on high. Luckily, the game is well optimized so it won’t have too much strain on your GPU. Anything other than high will result in some rather low-quality textures, jagged edges, and blurry backgrounds. There is an impressive level of detail in tournament arenas and some story levels. Although, the game often gets too intense and hectic to notice most of them (unless you’re playing on easy difficulty).
The voice acting is well done and after a short while, you can tell a certain girl by voice alone. Considering how most of the girls in the game are eerily similar, aside from hairstyles, it’s nice that at least characteristic voices can give them some personality. When it comes to background music, nothing here that particularly stands out. Most tunes are generic as they come, made out of frantic instrumental pop and serving only to shift focus to something else other than girls commentary and water splashing noises.
SENRAN KAGURA Peach Beach Splash is a strange one. While it succeeds in providing a piece of originality in this spinoff, it also comes with a rather uninspiring singleplayer campaign(s). However, the unpredictability and intensity of multiplayer are what saves it from ending up in mediocrity. I honestly hope this release ends up with a strong and dedicated multiplayer community cause it is a great party game. The tons of unlockable content and customization is sure to keep you glued to the screen for many hours. There are games that give you the opportunity to beat up your friends, run them over, blow them up but how many of them offer you a chance to soak them up with your water gun until all of their clothes is see-thru. SENRAN KAGURA Peach Beach Splash is there to take care of that.
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