PS4/Steam Review: Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal

Go back to where it all started and experience the first adventure of the buxom Ninjas of Senran Kagura

2018 was a big year the Senran Kagura franchise.  The series saw the PC release of Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash, an all-new anime subtitled Shinovi Masters and a remake of the very first game, Senran Kagura Burst Renewal.  Of course, its popularity in the West allowed for plans of a English version that was to be simultaneously released for PS4 and PC .  Due to policy changes at Sony, however, certain content has to be removed for the west and the game was delayed for a few months.  But, in January 2019, it was released with the PS4 having some bits cut and the PC having the compete version.  We will review both the PS4 and the PC version through Steam.

Asuka’s back…side

Like Shinovi Versus and Estival Versus, Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal is a third person hack-and-slash game developed by Honey Parade Games and Tamsoft and published by XSEED Games.  It is a remake of the first game in the series. Senran Kagura Burst which was released for the Nintendo 3DS as a 2.5D side scroller.  The game is updated to the Estival Versus engine and contains some material not found in the first game , mostly through DLC.

The Hanzo girls are all here

The story follows the girls from Hanzo Academy and their first encounter Homura and her fellow Hejibo teammates.  when Hejibo launches a plan to steal the Super Secret Ninja Art Scroll from Hanzo academy, it us up to Asuka and her friends to recover it.  They have their hands full, however with Homura and her team and have to push their limit to over come them.

Gameplay will be familiar to fans for Estival Versus
The Crimson Squad story introduces us to characters such and the emotionless Hikage.

The gameplay is pretty much the same as Estival Versus and Shinovi Versus before it.  You can play either the Hanzo girls’ story or the Crimson Squad one.  The battlefield is open, with the environment determining how much room you have.  You have light and strong attacks and can run and block.  Using you ninja art scroll, you can change into your battle costume, regaining any lost health.  In this form, you can use special attacks that can clear out enemies and deliver a large amount of damage.  These attacks get more powerful as you level up.  You can also go into frantic mode at the start of the level, in which your character defense goes down for more powerful attacks and access to your special attacks right away.  You are also in your underwear.

Start in Frantic mode, and you will become more powerful, at the expense of your defence and dignity.

The only thing different from the last entries is the inclusion of a burst meter.  By building the meter up and pressing L2 (LT on Xbox controller on PC) your attack power increases and, either by pressing L2.LT again of letting the meter go down, you can do a powerful Burst Attack.  It is very effecting against larger groups and can strip you enemy if you defeat one of the girls one on one.

Burst Mode is a new mechanic that supercharges your attacks and ends in a burst of power.

Yes, the destructible outfit are back, a mainstay of the SK series in all forms.  It works the same as in the Versus series, which you able to strip them down to their underwear, and even those can be removed, with lights covering up their naughty bits.  It is to be noted that the original 3DS version, which having the stripping mechanics, did not have the underwear removable too.  Also, which the clothing damage is shown in cut scenes, the underwear is restored if you got your opponent naked.

The lights are back to keeps things M rated
The underwear is restored in the cut scenes, though.

The levels are all mostly recycled from the Versus series.  Hanzo academy, Hejibo rooftop, the hot springs and other are all the same as the last games. There are a few newer areas but there is a lot of reuse.  Again, since the schools are the same having the same areas makes sense, story wise.

You can customize the costumes
Take pictures in diorama mode

The ability to customize the girls is back.  The main hub for each of the schools (each being their common room) allows you to look at unlocked scenes and pictures, switch schools adjust setting, replay levels and customize the girls in the dressing room.  Outfits are unlock by  purchasing at the sop with in game currency with more available as paid DLC.  Note that any DLC you have for Estival Versus works with Burst Re:Newal, at least for the PS4 version.  You can also go into diorama mode and take screen shots of the girls in various costumes.

Intimacy (and those wandering hands) are only available in the PC version.
Go for a kiss!

Now, the part that was cut from the PS4 version in the West was the Intimacy more.  Remember in Estival Versus and PBS how you could poke slap and grope the girls until they liked you and go for a kiss? Or furiously mas buttons/shake the controller until they clothes tear off?  Not in the PS4 version.  It is intact in the PC version on Steam, though.  I doesn’t really change the game, though, with the typical Senran Kagura combination of compelling story with moments of lewdness and fan service is still present in the game.

The Yumi DLC lets you play as my favorite ice queen.  Yozakura appears as well.

In addition to the main story, there is DLC available for both Yumi (my personal favourite) from Gessen and Miyabi from New Hejibo.  their stories are spread over ten levels and tell events that happened before they first appeared in Shinovi Versus  A few character not yet playable in the game show up in these levels, like Yozakura, Imu, Ryobi, Ryona and Ryoki).  Both Yumi and Miyabi have a hub like the Hanzo and the Crimson girls, with the other girls in their faction making an appearance in them.  There is a little confusion with the Yumi story, with them saying Kurokage is dead when he was alive, but sick and dying, in Shinovi Versus.

Miyabi also have her own arc via paid DLC.

Other DLC down the line will allow you to replay levels as the Gessen or New Hejibo factions, with Naraku, Kagura, and Ryoki arriving soon after.  There will be additional clothing sets as well.  There doesn’t see to be any guest characters this time.

Some, if not all DLC form Estival Versus works with Re:Newal

Overall, it is a new Senran Kagura game and I like them.  I have the original version of Burst on my 3DS and I’ve always like the 3d game play from the PS Vita/PS4 games better.  The story is good and it has it’s moments in which you go WTF, but that is what makes thius series what it is.  sure the scenery is familiar, but with a remake, familiarity, is good as long as it updates the game and adds something new.

Gratuitous Yumi pic!

3/5

Kat…Kat never changes…

Senran Kagura: Burst Re:Newal is out now for PS4 and PC.  The “At the Seams” edition is available physically and digitally and includes extra costumes, diorama poses and the Yumi DLC pack (also available separately).  The Miyabi DLC is available for download through the PlayStation Store or the Steam store.

This Review is for entertainment purposes only.  I have not received anything from Honey Parade Games, XSEED Games, Sony, Valve, or any other corporation or entity for this review.  This game and any additional content was bought by me using my own funds.  All opinions are mine and any screenshot used were taken by me and are for Review purposes only.

Anime Review: Keijo!!!!!!!!

It’s been a while, but I couldn’t be bothered to write a review.  I’m ready, now and  it’s time once again to look at an anime that I am currently watching.  I will give a brief synopsis of the series, my thoughts on the plot, animation and voice acting/dubbing, as well as any content of the anime that might get a WTF! moment.  Boy, this one has some.  Let s take a look at KEIJO!!!!!!!!

KEIJO!!!!!!!! (yes, that is a lot of exclamation points), which means “competitive girl”, is an anime based on a Japanese sports manga of the same name.  Also called “Hip Whip Girl”,  it was made by XEBEC and licensed in North America by Crunchyroll, with Funimation producing a dubbed version.  This review is of the Funimation dub.

L to R Kazane Aoba, Sayaka Miyato, Nozumi Kaminashi, and Non Toyoguchi

In the fictional all-women sport of Keijo, competitors must  force their opponents off of floating platforms into the water.  The catch is, this must be done using only their breasts and butts.  Former gymnast Nozumi Kaminashi joins the sport in hopes of becoming rich, helping her family escape the poverty she’s known all her life.  Despite this, she easily gets along with her friend, Sayaka Miyata and their two roommates, Kazane Aoba and Non Toyoguchi.  Despite a less that spectacular start, she attracts the attention of the instructors and Elite students alike  with her skill, determination and quick mastery of the dreaded “Vacuum Butt Cannon.”  Just… just let that sink in.  Nozumi and her friends soon find themselves among the elite and training to take part of the East-West Challenge against a rival  Keijo school

The character of Nozumi is a likable main character.  Sure, her motivation is money, but it is help her family.  She is very friendly and open to the other girls on her team. She can be a bit ditzy and a little too forward, but she means well and is very determined.  Her friend Sayaka is more serious, having left a promising career in judo to take up Keijo.  This created a rift between her and her family, but she is determined to make it and be successful.  She is also self-conscious of her bust size as compared to Nozumi and the others.  Their two roommates, Non and Kazane are an unlikely pair.  Non is very clumsy but nice and tries to hide her country accent.  Kazane is quiet and shy, but she is very knowledgeable about Keijo and even has an ability to read her opponent’s weaknesses.

Keijo trainees learn to use their boobs and butts.

The girls find themselves at odds with members of the elite class at first.  Girls such as Hanabe and Mio take a liking to Nozumi, with Mio making some unwanted sexual advances (because what’s an anime without a predatory lesbian, right?).  They eventually warm up to the Nozumi’s friends, accepting them when they move up to the Elite Squad.

Mio being friendly with Nozumi.

Now, what’s a fighting anime without special attacks, right?  The world of Keijo has that, as hinted at with Nozumi’s Vacuum Butt Cannon.  Yes, somehow her ass is able to create a vacuum to propel her butt attack, with the added bonus of shedding their bathing suits.  Other moves have names such as Heat Seeking Butt Missile, Butt Gatling, and Titty Hypnosis.  All these have flashy effects and shows this anime does not take itself seriously.

KAME-HINEY-HA!! Or something…

The Funimation dub I’ve watched is good.  The voices seem to fit the characters and synchs up well with what is on-screen.  The only nitpick would be how they portray Non’s country accent.  They give her a Southern twang in the dub.  I guess it would be hard to convey what the Japanese would consider a “country bumpkin” accent in a another language.  I guess a southern drawl would be better than, say, a North Dakota dialect (you betcha!)

Here’s what you all came for…

THE WTF FACTOR- Medium.  Which the premise of being a sport in which you attack with boobs and butts, you know KEIJO!!!!!!!! would raise a few eyebrows.  Close-ups of the girls’ breasts and butts are common, especially when they are competing.  Some of the girls (Mio) get handsy with the other girls, as is common in  anime fanservice.  Surprisingly, though, there is only partial nudity.  The girls go from one piece bathing suits to bikinis as the series progresses and of course, there are changing room scenes, shower and bath scenes and of course wardrobe malfunctions due to special attacks, but all the naughty bits are covered up.  I was surprised there wasn’t an occasional topless scene of fan service-y peek in the shower, as there was in a similar girl sports anime, Wanna Be the Strongest in the World (women’s wrestling, BTW).  It wouldn’t have been unwelcome, to be honest.  All the girls are adults in the anime (have to be 18 to be in Keijo) and none of them skewed young.  I wouldn’t watch this in mixed company as it is and a little T&A wouldn’t have mattered.

Nozumi prepares to use the Vacuum Butt Cannon

KEIJO!!!!!!!! is a solid, if different, anime series.  It is one that you come for the fan service, but stay for the characters and story.  I am sad to hear that there will not be a season 2 and that the manga has stopped in Japan, but hopefully international interest may revive the series.  The series is streaming on both Crunchyroll (subtitled) and Funimation (dubbed) with all the episodes available.

Anime Review: A Certain Magical Index (Series)

Hello.  Once again I dive into a topic that I like, but I really have little knowledge about:  anime.  I look into various series that I have watched, either recently or a while ago, and give my take on them.  I will also look into aspect that arise from cultural differences from Japan and the West, as well as any “WTF” content that may be in the anime.

A Certain Magical Index is a series based on a Japanese light novel of the same name.  The anime was produced by J.C. Staff and released by NBC/Universal Japan (formerly Genon.)  There are two seasons of 24 episodes each along with a movie continuation.  It is licensed in North America by Funimation is available subtitled on Cruncyroll and dubbed on Funimation Now streaming services.

The story is set in a fiction Japanese city called Academy City.  It is a place were students with special powers (called ESPers) go to live, go to school and learn how to best use their power.  In this universe, special abilities like, telepathy, teleportation and electromagnetism are real and scientifically explainable.  Students are tested to see if they have the potential to be an ESPer.  If they do, Academy city trains them and assigns them levels, with the highest being Level 5.  Some, however, have the potential but never tap into those powers.  They are Level 0.  Our protagonist, Touma Kamijo, is one of them.

Touma
Touma is well, meaning, likeable but just can’t catch a break.

Touma Kamijo is a typical anime high schooler, in the regards that bad and embarrassing things tend to happen to him.  Constantly late, forgetting his homework or embarrassing himself in front of the opposite sex, you’d almost think that bad luck was his super power.  Despite being labeled as a Level 0, Touma actually has a powerful ability; with his right hand, he can cancel out any super power.  Whether it touching someone using an ability, touching an object, or cancelling out an attack, he can disrupt the powers of other ESPers.  Unfortunately it cannot cancel out his own dumb luck, and that’s how he runs into Index.

Index
Index may be mean to Touma from time to time, but she is helpful and she likes him very much.

 

Index is a young nun from the English Puritan Church.  In her head she has 103,000 magical tomes, called the Index Liborium Prohibitorum, giving her access to all sorts of magical abilities.  When she mets Touma, she is on the run from fellow wizards from the Church.  Touma finds out that magic is real, that Academy City is at odds with the various magical Churches, and that his right hand can disrupt magic as it does the “scientific” ESPer abilities.  Touma takes Index in, reluctantly becoming her guardian and becoming more involved in the intrigue between the magic community and Academy City.

Throughout both seasons, Touma deals with the various churches. Caught in a war between the English Church and the Roman Orthodox Church, he fights off bloodthirsty nuns and various magical agents.  He also prevents various magical attacks against Academy City.  That’s not to say Academy City does not have its dark side.  In one story arc, he finds himself caught up in an experiment using one Level 5 ESPer, Accelerator, killing off clones of another Level 5 to reach the next level.  With the help of the girl who was cloned, Mikoto Misaka, they try to stop the experiment and save the clones, who are not the hollow, emotionless dolls that the experimenters believe them to be.  It is definitely an actioned-packed anime.

ACMI
Mikoto Misaka is a Level 5 “Railgun” and is one of the more interesting supporting character. Think she’ll get a spin-off?

The subtitled and dubbed version are equally good.  The translated subtitles are easy to follow and won’t leave you confused.  The dub is well done too, with the voice actors portraying the characters well.  There is no time in which you think the voice doesn’t sound right.  I think that the Crunchyroll version is a bit censored, which is often the case on that service.

As it is an anime set in Japan, it follows that the setting would reflect normal Japanese life as much as possible.  While the city is a bit futuristic and the buildings look like more modern cities,  there are still some uniquely Japanese aspects.  Bath houses (not seedy ones), vending machine serving hot drinks in a can and Japanese  shrines are all present.  The school runs 5 and a half days like in Japan and they go to school until the end of July.  None of this is jarring as you know it’s a Japanese show.

In this anime, however, the Western churches are sued as adversarial, in not downright evil organizations.  Given the setting of the anime having magic and super science, the Churches are  placed on the magic side.  They have different, yet similar names to their real world counterparts .  Although the English church is called the Puritan Church, they have nuns, which the real Puritan do not have (or magic for that matter, but, I’m sure you got that) so it is more similar to the Anglican Church, in that respect.  The Roman Orthodox Church is based on the Roman Catholic Church, an organization with its own secrets.  I am not sure if the changes to the name were done for the anime proper, or just the subtitled and dubbed versions.  In any case, some with religious sensitivities may be offended.

The WTF factor: Low-Medium As I said before, Toma has bad like, and that sometimes translates into getting in embarrassing moments with the opposite sex.  Whether it’s bursting in on Index changing, running face first into the boson of a Busty villain or inadvertently getting a peak up the skirt of a Misaka clone, these are fan service-y moments that you find in anime.  Add to that is the fact all the girls he runs into seem to develop a crush on him.  This includes Index, who, although her age is 15, looks younger.  There is some partial nudity, however and such scenes are short and played for humour.

bewbs
This is as fan servicey as it gets.

A Certain Magical Index was one of those animes that I hear of but never really looked into it.  I had a passing knowledge of its spin-off, “A Certain Scientific Railgun,” but only due to some merchandise that I saw.  Overall, I am glad I gave this one a chance. All 48 episodes and the movie are available on anime streaming services Crunchyroll and Funimation Now.

This Review is for entertainment purposes only.  I have not received any payment for this review. All opinions are mine and any pictures taken are for review purposes only.

 

 

 

Anime Review: Space Battleship Yamato 2199 (aka Star Blazers 2199)

Note:  Hi.  I am trying something new to increase my number of posts and get more practice writing.  With a lot of streaming services out there offering anime, I have been watching quite a bit of it.  I seen shows that I haven’t seen in years, ones that I’ve heard of but never got around to watch and some that are new to me.  So, I will feature some of the ones I have watched and do a review going over the art style, storyline, dub (if it is dubbed) and overall feel.  I will also look at what I call the WTF factor; aspect of the anime that may raise and eyebrow or cause you to ask “WTF did I just watch?”  Our first subject is a remake of an anime that I have known about for years.

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Space Battleship Yamato 2199 (or Star Blazers: Space Battleship Yamato 2199) is an 2012 Sci-Fi anime series by AIC and Xebec studios.  It is based on the original 1974 T.V. anime series Space Battleship Yamato, which was dubbed and edited for the West and renamed Star Blazers.  The series is 26 episodes long.  The series is dubbed by Funimation and is currently being serialized on their streaming service, Funimation Now, which new episodes being released on Thursday.  It is also on Crunchyroll with in Japanese with English Subtitles, with the series being released at the same rate as Funimation.

The series takes place in the year 2199.  The Earth is at war with a and advanced militaristic race called the Gamilons.  They had destroyed all of Earth defences and, using radioactive planet bombs, destroyed the surface of the earth, driving the survivors underground.  But not all is lost.  A message from the distant planet Iscandar offers help to restore the planet to life.  Included in the message was the plans for a ship that can traverse the great distance between the planets and fight off the Gamilons.  But the UN could only build one ship in time and, for reasons, build it to resemble and ancient Japanese battleship from World War 2, the Yamato.

With the ship build, its crew set out on the perilous journey through intergalactic space.  The crew includes Captain Okita, a man who puts his mission first before his own health; Tactical Officer Susumu Kodai,  a brash young pilot whose brother served under Okita and in whose memory he joins the mission; and  radio and sensor operator Yuki Mori, a woman missing her past.  Together with te rest of the crew they set out on the perilous journey to Iscandar.  Time is not on their side as they have to travel 168, 000 light years to Iscandar and back in only one year, or else the Earth will die.

Star Blazers (as the English dubbed is called, like with the original series) is a space opera, science fiction anime, similar to series like Robotech and the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise.  The series has a serious tone, with the threat of war and it’s consequences being a central theme.  The ship gets damaged, machine fail, space fighters run out of ammo and not everyone makes it back alive (though mostly faceless extras.)  The Yamato does have its all-powerful McGuffin plot device, the wave motion engine, which powers the ship and gives her the ability to fend of waves on Gamilon ships and make the long journey through space.

8-niimi-yamato-2199
Lt Kaoru Niimi is one of the female crew members added to the series.

The art style is excellent.  It looks modern, but is still harken back to the original anime’s designs.  The original series was directed by manga artist Leiji Matsumoto, famous for the Space Pirate Captain Harlock series, so you can see how the ship design for the Yamato (a WW2 battleship) influenced the ship design in Harlock (17th century pirate ship…in space!)  The remake keeps that design, updating so that the ship is larger and only made to look like the Yamato as camouflaged for before it was launched.  The crew of the Yamato is more varied than the original, with a third of the crew being female (Yuki was the only female crew member in the original) with most with speaking roles being all new characters, with only the character of Akira Yamamoto  being gender-bent into a woman in this version.  The Gamilons, the Nazi-esque enemies in the series also were updated, with only those with blue skin being the “pure , true Gamilons, with the others of different skin tones and features, bring races subservient to the Gamilons but still as loyal.

nubles-space-battleship-yamato-2199-2012-episode-8-720p-10-bit-aac-mkv_snapshot_03-49_2013-05-28_23-51-04
Pure Gamilons are blue-skinned.

The writing also gives us a better look at the Gamilons.  There are more scenes showing their leader Dessler, interacting with his subordinates.  While most of them are arrogant and looking to please Lord Dessler to advance their own careers, we see some of them in a more sympathetic light.  Some are fathers and husbands, some make the hard choice between duty and family.  Some even express their understanding on why the Earth and Gamilons are at war, causing some of the Yamato crew to realize Earth is not without blood on their hands.  But over all, the Gamilons are still a conquering race, driven by their own self-importance to consider the cost of their actions.

Still there are a lot of similarities’ with the original series.  In fact, there are episodes that are pretty much retellings of ones from the original series.  The fourth episode, “Grave Marker on an Icefield” follows a similar plot to the original series’ “Space Destroyer Yukikaze Sleeps in the Ice Field” or ‘Paladin Rest in a vast icefield” in the Starblazers version.  The major differences are the inclusion of the female medic, Makoto Harada on the mission (the original only had Kodai, Mori and the robot Analyzer) and the introduction of the robot Gamilon troops (one of which plays a big part in a later, orignal episode.  Truthfully, it has been over 35 years since I’ve seen an episode of the original Starblazers, so this is all new to me again, but is seems there is a good balance between honouring the original and telling a new story.

Yamato Girls_ jpg
The uniforms for the female crew members tend to flatter their form. Apparently, in the Medical wing, pants are optional.

WTF Factor: Low.  Now, with cartoons imported from Japan, there will be some cultural differences.  Different aspect of their culture, like holidays and beliefs will pop up and that is to be expected.  Space battleship Yamato 2199 doesn’t really have this issue (at least not with what I’ve seen so far as of episode 14).  Despite the addition of more females to the cast there has not been much of a romantic sub, those both Yamamoto and Mori showing interest in Kodai.  And there hasn’t been much in the way of fan service in this version (the original had a plot of Analyzer being in love with Yuki Mor, flipping her skirt and even confessing his love (this was cut from the Star Blazers version).  While there is a scene with Yamamoto and Yuki Mori in the communal bath (again, a common thing in Japanese culture), any nudity is avoided and the most salacious thing we get is a bit of lower side boob from Yuki.  If anything can be called fan service, it is that all the female characters wear body suits.  While the male uniforms have tunics and pants, the women are all in tight, form-fitting body suits with the only exceptions being Makoto’s nurse uniform with a skirt (or is it a long tunic?) and stockings and Yamamoto’s bomber jacket and flight suit.  Still this is not played up for fan service, with the only exception I can think of is a shot of Yuki descending a ladder behind Kodai in episode 14 (and I think she was flirting with him.)

Yuki's Ass
Ass shot!

Space Battleship Yamato 2199 is a great science fiction anime that hold up well for a Western audience.  Older folks like me who watch the series will get a kic out of this new version.  For those new to the series, I think you will find it an intriguing anime with a memorable storyline.  The series is done in Japan, but there is already a sequel retelling the second season of the original being streamed in Japan.  Here is hoping we see that sometime in the near future.

Star Blazers: Space Battleship Yamato 2199 is currently on the Funimation and Crunchyroll streaming services with 14 episodes released and new ones released every Thursday.

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Yet the front side being open is okay?

PS4 Review: Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash

Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash is a third person action shooter developed by Tamsoft (through Honey Parade Games) and published by Marvelous and XSEED Games.  It is a PS4 exclusive and the second Senran Kagura game on that system.  It follows the events in last years Senran Kagura: Estival Versus but is more of a spin-off than part of the Versus series.  It is rated M for Mature.

Senran Kagura PEACH BEACH SPLASH_20170927192403
The not-so-mysterious Miss R and Mister K

 

Peach Beach Splash finds the girls of the Senran Kagura series transported to a mysterious island.  There, they are greeted by two familiar-looking hosts, Ms R and Mister K (Hebijo/Crimson Squad master Rin and Hanzo instructor Kiriya in disguise).  They tell the girls they are to participate in an ancient Shinobi tradition:  a water gun tournament called Peach Beach Splash, or PBS.  The winners will receive whatever they wish for.  All four groups agree to participate to find out the real purpose of PBS, and why Rin and Kiriya are wearing those ridiculous outfits.

Senran Kagura PEACH BEACH SPLASH_20170927193408
Ninja girls having water fights in bathing suits?  Why not?

 

The roster for the game is robust.  It includes all the girls from the four schools (Hanzo, Gessen, Hebijo, and Homura’s Crimson Squad.  Ayame, the shop girl playable as DLC in the last game, also joins the Hanzo Squad.  Rin can be unlocked as well as Daidoji, along with the Mikagura sisters, Ryoki, and Jasmine from Estival Versus.  Former DLC characters Naraku and Kagura are also unlockable in the main game.  Also include right off the bat are characters from the Japan-only mobile phone game, Senran Kagura :New Wave:  Souji, Leo and Yuyaki.

Senran Kagura PEACH BEACH SPLASH_20170928200532
Yuyaki from New Wave G Burst.

 

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Enemies come in various forms.

 

The gameplay is pretty straight forward.  You control a character a group of up to six girls and battle groups of grunts, robots and other teams using water guns.  The water guns come in a variety of styles, such as pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, gatling guns,water bazookas, water grenade launchers and  shower heads.  Each weapon has its strength and drawbacks, like range, strength, clip size and reload times.

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You equip these cards for special attacks or bonuses.  Some of the artwork is…intersting.

 

Unlike the Versus series and the 3DS Senran Kagura games, there is no shinobi transformation or magic.  Instead, you get special abilities from cards you collect by winning battles.  You equip the cards in your character and activate them in battle using the D-Pad  These cards can affect your character’s stats, such as health, accuracy and clip size.  They can also activate a special attack, like flames, lightning or poison that will affect you enemy.  Other cards that can be earned are weapons.  Each Faction has their own effect cards with their girls on them.  Sometimes you will get higher ranking cards, depending on how well you did, the level you played or the difficulty.  You only need one type of each card however and you will get a lot of doubles.

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The doubles have a purpose, however.  You can trade them in for points to level up you cards, weapons of you characters.  Each card gives you a certain amount of experience points, depending on the rarity of the card (From Common to Ultra Rare).  You can use the points to upgrade your favourite girl to give her an edge in battle.

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Humiliate and disrobe opponents in Splash Mode

 

As you beat the other girls in the game, you get an opportunity to initiate  the Splash Mode.  Using a rubber duck squirt gun you target the fallen girl’s head chest or butt to humiliate them.  Score enough before the time runs out and her top or bottom will pop off.  Of course, lights protect their modesty.  Note that, no matter the outfit the character was wearing, they revert to the default white bikini for this mode.

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The strategic lighst keeps things rated M

 

The single player mode have three options.  You have the main story, Single Splash, which follows the PBS storyline: Paradise Episodes, which you unlock through playing the main game, featuring one or multiple characters in a five level arc; and the V-Road Challenge, which you battle different teams to win the tournament.  There is multiplayer, which has Co-Op survival, , Ranked matches for the online ranking system and free matches in which the host can set the rules.

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Each group has their own story.

 

Like the other Senran Kagura games, you have a shop and a dressing rooms to explore.  The Shop have various hairstyles, outfits and card packs, amongst other things, for you to buy.  New items are unlocked by playing through the various modes of the game.  The Dressing room is where you can customize the girls’ outfits.  All the default costumes are white, two piece swim suits but you can change it to their individual swimsuits from Estival Versus.  You can also dress them in their school uniforms and shinobi outfits along with outfits that you buy.  These outfits get shredded as you take damage in the game, like in the regular games.  There are also outfits that become transparent as you get them wet.  The default one is a t-shirt over a bikini and other one can be bought at the store.  There are also accessories as in the other games to be used or bought.  No balloons, though that may be DLC.

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Have fun in Diorama mode!

 

Of course, the popular Diorama mode comes back, with various settings and poses available to create your perfect scene.  Outfits can be set to be ripped or wet, depending on the outfit.  You can also adjust the characters head position and even their size.  The pervy mode is back too, now in a separate section called Intimate Mode.  You can look at, rotate and zoom in on your chosen girl.  You can also grab them, poke them and do really…unacceptable-in-polite-society things to them, which, for some reason, increases their Like meter and enables you to go in for a kiss.  You can also get a good look at the wet cloth physics by spraying the girls with water to get wet drenched.  You can even change the colour of the water by buying different  duck guns in the store.  I didn’t see a yellow colour, thank God…

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Those wandering hands are back.  Again THIS IS NOT HOW TO GO ABOUT MAKING GIRLS LIKE YOU IN REAL LIFE!!!!

 

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Get her wet…with water!  Get you mind out of the gutter!

 

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Some outfits become transparent when wet.

 

There is actually a story in all of this, but it is not as deep as Estival Versus.  During the story for each faction, the girls deal with a conflict with in the group such as Ikaruga realizing graduation will mean leaving her friends and Murasaki getting jealous when her sister, Imu, pays more attention to Miyabi.  The story is fine, but not deep enough to balance out Katsuragi’s groping obsession and Ryona and Ryobi’s…interesting family dynamic.  But, it is what you would expect from a Senran Kagura game.

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The last Hejibo mission has you fight a giant Ryona, echoing the battle in the Estical Versus OVA.

 

The thing you expect is fan service and PBS has that in spades.  In fact, the game is built around the wet cloths physics that was created for Estival Versus.  The outfits combined with either the ripping or the see-thru when wet mechanics is definitely front and center.  I will state that I like this series because it is a little naughty.  My complaint that I have with the other Senran Kagura games still stands with this one:  some of the girls look too young.  Mirai is the one I most have a problem with, though her default bathing suit is modest.  But, with the Splash mode, she is on a two piece like the other girls.  At least the girls are not hacking each other and fighting with swords, knifes and guns.  Well, they do use water guns , but at leat they aren’t trying to kill each other.

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Packs like these will contain a least on rare card

 

There is a lot of DLC coming out for this game.  This comes in the form of new outfits, weapons, accessories and cards.  In fact, the FIrst Week DLC bundle cost over $73 Canadian.  The DLC most are interested in though, are the guest characters.  In Japan, they got Ayane, Honoka and Marie Rose from Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, Ikki Tousen, with Sonsaku, Kan’u, Ryofu and, my favourite, Ryomu, and Super Sonico, the busty, pink-haired girl from the anime, Super Sonico and the game Communication With Sonico.  No North American Release datehas been confirmed, but if the Ikki Tousen girls come over, they will probably have their Chinese names.  Super Sonico may have an issue depending on the publishing rights Nitro+ has with JAST USA.

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Ayame joins the main cast for Hanzo.

 

Overall, this is a fun game.  It is nice to see a new game in the series come out so soon after the last one and even better that the localization was fast enough to have a worldwide release within six month of the Japanese release.  With a remake of Senran Kagura Burst coming for the PS4 in 2018, Peach Beach Splash will tide us over until the eventual English release.  It is good to see the series thriving after six years.  It might be a few more years until the next chapter in theses girls’ story, but it will be interesting to see what direction they will take.

3/5

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Soapy!

 

 

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Naraku is one of my favourites

 

 

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Oh, Kat.  Never change…

 

 

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Movie Review: Ghost in the Shell (2017)

gits_trailerThere has been quite a few good science fiction animes to come out from Japan.  Ghost in the Shell was one of them.  Starting out as a manga, the anime adapted the source material and went in its own direction.  Using elements from cyber punk like cyborgs and brain hacking, it  became a instant classic around the world.  It is not surprise that someone would want to do a live action adaptation.  It is also not surprising that, even though it is an international collaboration, a Hollywood actress was chosen to star in it.

Ghost in the Shell is an 2017 science fiction movie starring Scarlett Johanssen,  Takeshi Kitano, Michel Pitt, Pilou Asbaek, Chin Han and Juliette Binoche.  It is directed by Rupert Sanders.  It is based on the Ghost in the Shell multimedia franchise, pulling it’s inspiration from the various version, but with an original story.  It is released by Paramount Pictures.

Set in the not so distant future in a culturally diverse city that could be future Tokyo (on not;  they do not specify), it focuses on a woman given the name Mira Killian (Johannsen).  Involved in a terrorist attack which killed her parents and severely maimed her body, she is saved by a company called Hanka Robotics.  She becomes the first fully augmented human, with a robotic body and a human brain.   Employed by a government agency called Section 9, she obtains the Rank of MAjor and leads a squad of mostly cybernectically enhanced personnel.  When a mysterious hacker called Kuze, starts to target and kill employees of Hanka, the Major and her team-mate, Batou, try to track him down.  But, the Major discovered that she as a connection to Kuze, somewhere in the past that she barely remembers.  As she goes deeper into this mystery, she starts to question her memories, even her own name as she discovers a secret at Hanka that they will to anything to keep hidden.

Ghost in the Shell is a fast paced movie that does not forget it’s anime roots.  In fact, there are several shots and action secrets that were based on scenes from the 1995 movie, from the building of the Major’s body to the fight sequence in the water..  The visual are very futuristic, with the city skyline dominated by holographic signs and billboards.   It looks very futuristic but still very much in the realm of probability.

The storyline is good.  There is nothing too out of the ordinary, given the source material.  There are a lot of movies with heroes with a mysterious past with benefactors that are hiding secrets.  The Major is pretty somber but as she questions her past, more of her emotions show.  The rest of Section 9 is used sparingly, save for Batou who acts like he did in the original anime.  They even show how he got his cybernetic eyes.

Now, the major complaint about the movie is the “white washing” of the Major.  They could have easily cast an Japanese woman I the role, but with Hollywood, they would like a marque actress to star in such a project.  ScarJo is pretty popular right now and has international recognition.  The creator of the manga even says he didn’t mind th casting (but that could be the money talking.).  The movie does explain her name change and it will be up to each viewer to decide if they accept it.  But, there is no reason to thing that a future Japan could be more heterogeneous place.  Western films like Blade Runner had a future America where Japanese was spoken widely.  Putting aside the guilt of past colonial aspirations, what is the difference from that setting to the one here, if it is set in future Japan?  Anyone familiar with Ghost in the Shell knows that each iteration is different for each other.  The manga is different from the film.  The film is different from the T.V series.  Even Arise differed from Stand Alone Complex.  This is just a different version of the Ghost in the Shell story.

Ghost in the Shell is not perfect, but it is a decent science fiction movie.  If one can get past comparing it to the anime, it is an entertaining movie.  Scarlett Johannsem is a decent actress, but one cannot argue that she looks good in tight outfits, which she wears plenty in this film.  The call out to the original are well done and Aramaki is pretty badass for an old guy.

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Ghost in the Shell opened 31 March 2017.  It is rated 14-A in Ontario.

PS Vita/PS4 Review: Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star

Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star is a third person hack-and-slash action game developed by Marvelous and published in North America by XSeed Games. It is a spin-off of the popular Fate multimedia franchise by Type Moon that started with the Visual Novel Fate/stay night(originally an eroge that was toned down for a general audience) that spun off into anime, manga and video games.  Fate/Extella is an indirect sequel to the spin-off game Fate/Codes (still available on PSN as of this writing.) and Fate/Codes CCC (Japan only).  This game is available for the PS Vita and the PS4 with cross save and cross download features.  It is playable on the PlayStation TV micro console.

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Start Screen on PS4

The Fate franchises has an underlying theme to all of its versions:  The is a mystical artifact called the Holy Grail (what it is can vary) and a war is fought over it.  The Grail chooses several people to become Masters.  Masters usually have some sort of magical aptitude, but their level can vary from person to person.  All of them, however. are able to summon a Servant.  A servant is a Heroic Spirit that become a legend in the past, present or even future.  They come from history, legends, myths or even from times not yet past.  These Heroic Spirits are not necessary good, but they have all made their mark on history in some way.  But the ultimate goal is to defeat all of the others and win the Holy Grail, which will grant them what they desire most.

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Servants are broken down into several classes.  There are Sabers (sword wielders), Casters (magic users), Riders (fast moving, sometimes with a mount), Archers (projectiles, not necessarily arrows), Berserkers (great strength and endurance), Lancers (lances and pole arms), and Rulers (able to command other Servants)

Fate/EXTELLA varies a bit from the core Fate storyline.  For one, it takes place not in our world, but in a virtual reality.  The Holy Grail is the Moon Cell Automaton, an ancient computer build by non-human hands and hidden on the Moon.  It generates a virtual world called SE.RA.PH.  Masters, called wizards, project their consciousness into this world and they bond with their Servants, who the Moon Cell Automaton pulls from the Earth’s history.

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Nero Cladius is one of the Heroic Spirits in Fate/EXTELLA

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Medusa is another servant that exists in SE.RA.PH

The second difference is  that the Holy Grail War is already won.  Set after the events of Fate/Codes,  EXTELLA sees the player takes the role of the Master who had won the Grail War and now rules over the virtual world of SE.RA.PH alongside the Servant, Nero Claudius.  A Saber class servant, Nero is very loyal to the protagonist.  She (yes, she)  gathered four other Servants (now existing independently in SE.RA.PH.) to help rule the new lands.  She has a ring, the Regalia that symbolizes her dominion over SE.RA.PH.  But things are not as simple as it seems.  Another servant appears with her own Regalia.  A Caster, Tamamo no Mae has claimed that she won the Holy Grail War along side her master, who appears to be the player character as well.

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Both Nero and Tamamo (the fox girl) claim to have won the Holy Grail War.

A servant sent as a System Administrator,  Archimedes explains that the player character was attacked in the real world by servants of Velber, the Umbral Star, a sentient planet that destroys every civilization it encounters.  It has returned to Earth after 14 000 years to lay waste to the planet and its Moon.  It split the player’s avatar into three parts, Body, Mind and Spirit.  Nero has Mind, Tamamo has spirit, and the body is in the hands of Velber’s servant, Altera.  The player has to help the servants reunite the three parts and hopefully stop the Umbral Star from destroying the virtual and the real world.

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Archimedes (standing in front) seems to have all the answers…

 

The main story is split into three parts, one for Nero, Tamamo, and Altera.  Each part has you fight in battles as you try to win by taking over sections of the battlefield and defeating the enemies within.  Each time to takeover a sector, you gain keys called Regime Matrices.  Collect 15 keys and you take over the area.  Lose 15 and the enemy takes over instead and you lose.  One you have 15, the Boss servant appears and you have to beat them to complete the level.  this is similar to the gameplay of Koei Tecmo games such as Dynasty Warriors.

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Tamamo has her own copy ofr the winning Master.

 

You create the Master of the game, but the customization is limited.  You can create the name and choose their sex, but that is all you can customize.  Other than you name and what sex you choose, the game plays the same with your servant expressing their admiration and love for you no matter your sex.  You are skill referred to as King or Master or Husband, depending on the character, though sometimes the female player character is referred to as Lady.

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Male or female, Tamamo is a loving wife to her Master

Each of the servant characters have the standard light and heavy attacks (Square and Triangle, respectively) that can be chained for combos.  As the character levels up you gain the ability to do longer combos as they are unlocked.  The Circle button activates the Extella Maneuver; as the little blue bars beneath your health fill up, you are able to launch an attack that hits all the opponents around you.  The more bars you have build up, the longer you can string the attacks..  Finally, X is jump.

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End result of a Extella Maneuver

 

There are also two special attacks.  First is the Moon Crux (L2 on PS4, L and X on the Vita)for the three main heroines in with they temporarily transform into a more powerful version of themselves and gains special effects like flames or ice with their attacks.  The other servants don’t transform, but become more powerful until the bar  above their health empties.  The other special attack is the characters’ Noble Phantom.  Throughout each level, there are Red crystals with a circuit part that fills a graphic  next to the character’s health.  Once you get three of them and complete the circuit, you can press R2 (or the circuit symbol with the Vita’s touch screen) to activate the attack.  Each characters attack is different and they tie into that character’s legend or backstory.

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Nero transformed during the Moon Crux

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Nero begins her Noble Phantasm

Besides the main story, you have two other modes.  The side quest allows you to play as any of the other servants you have unlocked in story mode.  There is also a Free Mode, in which you can replay any of the missions you have beat with any character that you have unlocked.  Missions may even have side missions give by other servants that will increase you affinity with them.  There is also a gallery, which you can watch any of the cut scenes you unlocked, look at character models or read up on terms in the Fate Extella setting.

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Each servant besides the main three have a side story.

There are alternate costumes available as paid DLC for the game, with more coming in the weeks to come.  You can change the costume between missions and the character’s looks will reflect the costume in most cut scenes.  Even the character art in the dialogue will reflect the costume you are wearing, which is a nice touch.

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First Week DLC features swimsuits for the girls and two of the guys.

 

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Even the art reflects the costume (Shackled Bride outfit shown)

This is a pretty fun game.  Fans of Dynasty/Samurai/Hyrule Warriors will enjoy the same hack and slash gameplay in this title.  The three storylines and the ability to replay levels  adds some value to the game.  The characters are all interesting, once you get over some of the interesting changes to some historical figures.  Nero being  a woman is not that surprising; in the original Fate anime, the Sabrer in that series, Artoria (who is a hidden character in this game), was the legendary King Arthur.  Iskandar, the King of Conquerors, is large and imposing, but historically, Alexander the Great (who is  based on) wasn’t that tall though his exploites were larger than like.  The most interesting interpretation was Elizabeth Bathory.  A Hungarian countess distantly related to the (historical) Vlad Dracula , she was accused of murdering young girls to bath in their blood to remain young.  In the Fate world, she returns looking like a teenage girl with dragon wings and tails and a desire to become a pop idol.

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Saber from Fate/stay night (Artoria Pendragon) is a hidden character in Fate/EXTELLA

 

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Elizabeth Bathory bathed in blood to stay young.  Bet she didn’t want to look this young!

Both the PS 4 and the PS Vita versions play the same.  Of course, the Vita version cannot show as may enemies on screen as the PS 4.  In fact I find the Vita version a bit easier because of that.  Both versions have an option to upload your same so you can transfer it to the other system.  Gameplay on the PlayStation TV version lets you use the controller like in the PS4 version.  All of the DLC the is or will be available for this game will get you both the Vita and PS4 version

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The PS4 version can have more enemies on screen

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Artoria in her swinsuit

 

Fate/EXTELLA: the Umbral Star is available now  both in a physical release or digitally on the PSN.  The Digital version will give you a theme for the system you bought it for and either the Shackle Bride outfit for Nero (PS4) or the Cold Blooded Warden outfit for Gilgamesh (PS Vita).  Both the physical version comes in the Noble Phantasm edition, which I will review separately.

4/5

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Fate Extella_20170118203521

 

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Fate Extella_20170118161445

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