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.

PS Vita Review: Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni

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This got your attention?

 

Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni is a third person action game developed by Meteorise and published by Marvelous Inc. through PQube. It is part of the Valkyrie Drive media franchise created by Marvelous Inc, (Senran Kagura series), which includes this game, an anime and an iOS game exclusive to Japan. This game is exclusive to the PS Vita system. The game is PlayStation TV Compatible.

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Sisters Rinka and Ranka arrive on the island

The overall plot of the Valkyrie Drive series is this: Sometime in the near future, a virus starts to infect teenage girls and young women. The virus is called the Armed Virus and can affect a girl in two ways: Some gain the ability to turn in weapons and some gain the ability to wield those weapons, if the girls are compatible enough. The ones that turn into weapons are called Extars and the one who can wield them are Liberators. Some Extars don’t turn into weapons: some turn into a vehicle or some just grown giant (as seen in the anime.) Some even have both the abilities of an Extar and a Liberator.  The governments of the world have decided to remove these girls and put them on artificial islands where they can learn to control their powers or be cured from the virus.

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Extars have one thing in common, though. In order to transform, they must be compatible with their Liberator in order to initiate the transformation. To initiate the transformation, the Liberator has to bring their Extar to a state of “euphoria.” If you’ve read my review of Gal *Gun: Double Peace, you know that’s code for giving them an orgasm. Yes, an orgasm. The higher compatibility between the girls, the easier the transformation and the more powerful the Extar gets. In the anime, it is shown that some girls effortlessly shift between human and Extar form if they have the right partner. It even showed that an Extar could involuntarily turn into a weapon if the sight of an attractive Liberator turns them on. But that is enough of the back story.

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Their Love is a Weapon

Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni is set on the artificial island of Bhikkhuni (hence the title). It mainly follows two sisters, Rinka and Ranka, who have been sent there in order to be cured from their virus. Everyone on that island have a variation of the Armed Virus called the V Virus, which makes them both Extar and Liberator. Here they are put though various combat exercises in order to refine their powers as they are told the way to cure the virus is to master it. The sisters encounter others on the island like the mysterious Momo, the ambitious Mana, arrogant Viola, always hungry Manpukumaru and the serious Koharu. They all progress under the watchful eyes of the Four Pillar Gods, massive mechanical Valkyries that serve as teachers and opponents. Of course the girls pair up and strengthen the bond with their partners through touching groping and kissing. Yes, even the sisters because, Japan.

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The Four Pillar Gods

The game play is similar to what was in the Senran Kagura games for the Vita. You go through the map, fighting off hordes of mostly female enemies, with the occasional robot dog, scorpion or some other mechanical contraption. You attack with the square button for light and triangle for heavy attacks. Circle launches the enemy into the air and X is jump for light presses or a dash towards locked on enemies if you hold it. You can explore the maps to find hidden items and areas (guarded by a robot keeper that recognizes the girls by touching their breasts), and to collect pieces of lingerie tokens, which unlocks underwear if you collect all the pieces in the level. Like Senran Kagura, there is clothing damage that stays through the end level cut scenes. Usually at the end, you face off against another pairs of girls. After each level, you are given a score, a ranking and experience points to split between the Liberator and the Exter.

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Clothing damage stays through the end battle cut scenes

While leveling up the Liberator improves their speed, endurance and power, leveling the Exter improves the weapon’s power and unlocks the Valkyrie Drive. You build up you drive meter as you fight and defeat enemies, with combos yielding more power. Once the meter is full, you can initiate the Drive. There are four levels of the driver. First Drive is when the Exter turns into a weapon. Unlike the anime where the girl has to orgasm to turn into a weapon, in the game the girls just touch hands and one turns into the weapon. In fact, at the lower level, you don’t even start off in First Drive (even though you have a weapon), but you do as you get the Exter higher in the levels. You can activate the Drive 3 more times if you unlock the abilities for your Exter. Each stage of Drive is accompanied by a scene depicting you two characters: Second Drive has the Liberator touch the other girl’s breast; Third Drive the Liberator hugs the Exter from behind and nuzzles her neck; and Final Drive, the girls kiss (yes, even the sisters). In Second and Third Drive, the Exter loses a piece of clothing until by the final Drive, they are in their underwear. In the Final Drive, the underwear goes, replace by shining light to cover them up (like in Senran Kagura Estival Versus) and the girls launches into the air in ecstasy. You can also use the meter to do special attacks by holding L and pressing square.

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First Drive

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Second Drive. Yes they are sisters…and very close.

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Third Drive

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Final Drive begins with a Kiss, then her panties come off and she blasts into space!

The game has other modes as well. There is a hub you can go to change costumes, buy outfits and items at the store (including Lingerie) or look at unlocked art and scenes. You can also talk to the other girls here. Occasionally there will be hearts that you can collect for each girl which improves their affection level. Occasionally this will unlock a text and voice scene where the girls interact with each other. These could be about the girls challenging each other while training, day dreaming about an opponent’s boobs or directly asking Viola if the carpet matches the drapes, if you get what I’m saying. If you max out the affection level, you unlock a picture of the girls together. It doesn’t have much to do with the story, but is just fan service I guess.

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Momo is getting a little too friendly with Viola.

Like Senran Kagura, you can customize the look of the girls. You can either buy items from the shop, unlock items buy playing the main game, or by buying DLC. Each girl only have one outfit, but you can swap them for a different colour version of the main one for any that you have unlock or bought. You can also add accessories like Senran Kagura and adjust their position on their bodies to create unique looks. There is even a DLC pack that includes many of the items available for Senran Kagura. If you’ve played Estival Versus and checked out the Miss Shinobi Contest, you know the things that can be done. As in Senran Kagura, you can interact with the girls in the dressing room in what is called communication mode. You can press the Square and X buttons to cause battle damage to their outfits or you can play the touching mini-game as you build up levels by touching various areas of her body, with the girl all the while calling you a pervert (as if you didn’t feel that way already.) There are 7 ranks broken down into various levels, from “Girl”, the lowest, to Valkyrie, the highest. Reaching level 20 (Lady) unlocks the heart catch mini-game, in which you tap on screen hearts as they fill up and before they disappear as the girl you’ve been…tapping is shown in the background in her underwear, quipping lines like “Oooh,” Ahhh,” and “That was the best massage ever!” Doing this unlocks various pictures, lingerie and outfits for that character. Other modes in the game include a survival mode and a challenge mode.

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You can swap outfits.

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As mentioned, there is tons of DLC out for this game, including the swimsuit DLC included in Japanese special editions. There is also DLC with adds Liberator Mirei and her Exter Mamori from the anime. Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid. These two characters can only be used together, much like in the anime.  They do not show up in the main story mode, but can be used to replay beaten levels

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Mirei is a special DLC character from the anime.

Graphically, the game is on par with Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus, meaning they are fine, but not as smooth as the later Senran Kagura game. The areas in game are fairly large and the load time between areas is not that long. The game does look good on a larger TV through a PlayStation TV and most of the touch controls can be done through the face buttons.

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Mana (L) and Momo

 

Now content-wise, this game is a little more risqué than the Senran Kagura games. By risqué, I mean that the lesbian or yuri (as it is called in Japan) elements of the girls touching and kissing. While the Senran Kagura series has girls touching girls and there is some blatantly obvious attraction between some of the girls, it is not central to the plot. In Valkyrie Drive it is right there in the middle of all of it. But the game is not as explicit as the anime series. Watch an episode and you’ll be surprised that his was on a cable network (ATX, an anime cable channel) and not some OVA sold behind a counter. It is like an anime Game of Thrones, but with less violence, even less plot and much more lesbians. The game handles the transformation mechanics differently than the anime, but it have some risky elements with the two sisters being partners and all. Whether that’s so hot or super creepy is up to the player. Either way, XSeed (Marvelous Inc’s western arm) decided not to port this game so PQube had to step in.   They also aged up the girls, having the virus affect young women (meaning over 18) to appeal to Western sensitivity.  None of the girls look too jail-baity, unlike in Senran Kagura. Besides that, there are no other instances of censorship.

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Sisters give each other massages all the time, right?

Another difference is that no matter who your Exter is, you still use the same weapon. In the game, each Exter changes into a certain weapon. Ranka turns into Rinka’s sword and Rinka becomes Ranka’s hell gauntlets. But if you have Ranka as Mana’s Exter, she is her bow. I understand it is to make the game less complicated, but I would have been nice if who you choose as your partner determined what weapon you get. It could even be a challenging game mechanic to force you to use a weapon you are not used to. But it was all about the girl on girl action, right?

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Manpukumaru is always hungry

 

All in all, Valkyrie Drive is a good game that could have been better. It relies on the whole “weaponized lesbians” angle to pull in players but the story can be weak in places and the battles slightly repetitive. Not having who you choose as your Exter change your weapon is a loss for me, as I was hoping that was the case when I got it. I’m sure it was just to simplify the programming, but it was a wasted opportunity. I wonder if developer Meteorize just borrowed the SK engine to make the game since it looks so similar. Maybe if Tamsoft was involved, we would have gotten Estival Versus level graphics and unique weapons forms for each Exter, no matter who the Liberator is.

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Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni is out now. Physical copies can be bought online through Video Games Plus or Rice Digital. Rice Digital had the deluxe edition with an art book, which may or may not be still available. The game can also be bought through PSN.

 

3/5

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PS Vita Review: Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors

Criminal Girls 2:Party Favors is a Japanese Role Playing Game developed by Nippon Ichi Software and published by NIS America  it is a sequel to Criminal Girls: Invite Only, also for the PS Vita (and reviewed here)It was released physically on 20 September, 16 and on PSN on 11 October, 2016 in North America.  The game is PlayStation TV compatible.

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Meet your new charges

As in the first game, you are a Reformation Instructor in Hell.  Your job is to guide the souls of delinquents, girls who have yet to commit a crime punishable by damnation, but are close enough to need guidance to reform.  Unfortunately you have lost your memory and suddenly fin yourself with seven delinquents to guide through hell.  Each are headstrong and resistant in their own way but you have to get them to work together to ascend the Spire.  The only issue is, you find out there should only be six girls…

 

Criminal Girls 2 plays exactly like the previous game, with you moving your 2d  characters through the mazes of hell.  Monster encounters random, except for boss fights and when it is needed to move the story along. The story is told though Japanese voice acting with English subtitles with 2D images of the characters with limited animation.  You explore the levels, only saving at camps at various locations.

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Yurine is ditzy, but she seems to mean well.

The girls that you guide  pretty much follow the typical anime tropes as the first game.  You have the regular sized girls (Shinoa and Lily), the well endowed women (Yurine and Tsukyasa) and the uncomfortably jailbait-like ones (Kuroe, Mizuki and Sui).  Of course the girls are old enough to no get NIS in trouble.  Each character has their own personality as well. Shinoa is caring and trusting; Lilly comes off as a rich snob but does have a soft spot; Yurine is a bit ditzy but wants to help, Sui is sarcastic and analytical, Tsukasa is a bit of a tease, Kuroe is shy and talks through her donkey doll, Baron; and, Mizuki who is a clumsy girl who’s child-like nature makes motivating her creepy.

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Mizuki skews young, doesn’t she…?

Combat is turned base and when you go into a encounter, the screen changes and you see four of your girls , two on either side of the screen and the monster(s) in the middle.  As the Instructor, you do not attack, you only choose which character to take battle advice.  That action will be take that round then the monsters go (if they didn’t attack first.  Some action have two characters attack at once.  You can also heal your girls with items or switch a girl out for another character.  These actions do not count towards the turn.  You can also use skill as spells that the character has learned.  After  the battle, the characters get experience to level up their hit points and CM points with can go towards items in the shop or to towards the motivation mini games.

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Yes , the Motivation system is back.  In order to get the girls to fight, you must motivate them with various punishments. There are five Motivational mini-games:  Scrubby Scrub, which you scrub soap off the girls; Spanking X, which is spanking two girls at a time; Slimeshot, which you spray your goo, er slime on the girls (that’s not suggestive…); and Shocking bondage, in which you shock the girls when they are all tied up.  As their Motivation level goes up, you unlock more attacks, magic or stat bonuses for that character.  You will have two types of skills, S Skills and M skills.  They can affect your character when you coach them in battle, enabling them to deal more damage (S) or reduce damage take (M).

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Motivation makes use of the Vita’s touch controls.

 

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Scrub their sins away.  This is the least creepy of the Motivations

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As you progress in the motivation, you can unlock new abilities

The gameplay is like a typical JRPG.  There will be a lot of grinding to get up levels and to unlock abilities.  You can go up to 30 second without having a random encounter and when you start out with only one girl fighting, some enemies will be tough.  Getting enough CM points to motivate the girls will be your priority as your attacks will improve.  All characters get XP after battles so don’t worry if you tend to stick with your favourite four.

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You get some XP.  You get some XP.  Everyone gets some XP!!!

 

Graphic-wise, it looks the same as the first game.  The dungeons change a bit from level to level but it can become a bit repetitive.  The monsters still look like they did in the first game, with some of them not resembling the creature the game says they are.  But, hey, you’re in Hell, scrubbing and spanking girls to redeem them.  Nothing has to make sense.

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The art was redrawn to be less explicit

Now, it has to be obvious that his game must have been somewhat censored to be brought out west.  Japan has some different sensibilities that may not fly in the west.  So the girls have been aged up (or, more accurately, all traces of age have been removed and it is assumed that they are old enough to drink in Alberta at the very least.).  Some changes NIS admitted were redrawn art for the motivation mini-games, removing elements that might have been considered explicit, removing the yelps and moans from the mini-games ,and even changing the name of the Motivation system (originally it  was called Punishment.)  Compared to the pink mist obscuring the Motivation mini-game in Criminal Girls: Invite Only, this is acceptable.

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Mizuki looks like a kid so Tsukasa treats her like one.

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…That ain’t helping to change anyone’s mind.

Overall, this is a okay game for those who do not mind the tediousness of a grindy JRPG.  You definitely have to be in the mood for it if you want to get far in this game.  Looking back, I think I judged the first one a bit harshly, mostly because of the annoying censorship and the battle mechanics.  But I seethe strategy in the system now and the censorship is not as prominent in this game,.  But it is not a overly pretty game, save for the characters themselves.  It is a long, dark bland game, but then again, it is set in Hell.

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Hell is other people.

Criminal Girls 2: Party Favours is available through online retailers, such as Video Games Plus and Rice Digital on online on the PlayStation Store.  There was a Collector’s Edition available as well as a standard copy.   Prices may vary by your country .

3.5 out of 5

 

 

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PS Vita Review: Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Venus Collector’s Edition [IMPORT]

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Since the first game came out in 1996, the Dead or Alive series had been about fan service. The original game is known as much for Kasumi’s ample polygons and high kicks as it is for its throwing mechanics and fast 3D game play. This fact was not lost on the developer as in the next two installments, more female characters were added with sexy costumes. In 2003, Team Ninja decided to base a game around the girls and have an excuse to show them in sexy swimwear. That’s when Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball for the original XBox came out. Not only were you able to play beach volleyball with the girls and dress them into bikinis, you could also watch them frolicking in the sand or relaxing by the pool. Another one came out, called Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 (XBox 360), which added more bikinis, more games (like pool hopping and beach flags) and more girls. Now, after a remake of the second game on the PSP (Dead or Alive Paradise), New Zach Island has reopened and we have new game in the series.

 

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You might want to sit down for this.

Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 (DOAX3) is a beach volleyball/beach game/ girl watching simulator developed by Team Ninja and published in Asia and Japan by Koei Tecmo. There are two version of the game: DOAX3:Fortune, for the PlayStation 4, and DOAX3: Venus, for the PlayStation Vita. This review is for the PS Vita version. This game is NOT scheduled to come out in North America/Europe at this time. The copy reviewed is for the Asia region (Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan) and was part of the Collector’s Edition. This version is multi lingual and the text will be in English if your Vita is set to that language. The game is PlayStation TV compatible and works on North American systems.

(Note: This Review is my opinion only.  I have no affiliation with Koei Tecmo, Play Asia or Sony.  All pictures were taken by me with my camera, or through the game.)

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The girls play beach volley ball

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The plot is pretty much the same as the last DOAX games: Zack has reopened his resort on New Zack Island and has left you (the player) in charge of the island. He has invited 9 of the girls from the latest Dead or Alive game (DOA5:LR) to enjoy a 14 day vacation and partake in the various activities. There are two modes to play: Girl Mode or Owner Mode. In Girl mode , the player, as the girl he chose at the start, can partner up with one another to play 2 on 2 beach volleyball games. The player will have to try to increase their relationship with her partner though winning volleyball games and giving them presents that they like, ranging from swimsuits, food, drinks or items. If the relationship is low enough, the girls’ partner will leave, and the player will have to find another partner. Volleyball is the place when the player can earn the most currency to buy new items. but other activities pay out as well. At night, you can play casino games like blackjack, poker and roulette.

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Increase your funds through gambling at the casino

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The shops contain swim suits that are specifically for your girl, though some might over lap with the other’s preference. Only Honoka would dig this cow pattern.

In Owner Mode, the player steps back as the owner, still choosing what event to do but not playing as the girl. You can watch them do the various activities, even taking pictures of the events. You also have to try to improve your relationship with your chosen girl through giving them gifts that they like. If you give them a swimsuit that they like they will even change into it on the spot. You have to keep your eyes closed. If you peek (press the circle button) they will get upset (obviously) and it will negatively affect the relationship. You can also give gifts to the other girls and your relationship level carries over to subsequent play throughs. You can switch between the modes at any time when not in an activity.

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Rock Climbing is a new activity

There are missions, goals from either Zack (for the Owner) or from the girl to achieve. It might range from buying a girl a swim suit to winning a hand of poker with two pairs. When you complete the missions you get a reward of Zack dollars for the Owner. Missions given by the girl can increase her satisfaction level and you want that as high as possible by the end of the vacation. Any Zack dollars earned in Owner Mode is kept by the owner and the girl and owner have separate funds. If the mission is too had, or you do not have enough funds to do it, you can always cancel it.

 

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Momoji is also here

The game features only 9 of the female fighters from Dead or Alive 5: Last Round: Kasumi, Helena, Ayane, Hitomi, Kokoro, Momoji, Nyotengu, Honoka and Marie Rose. Now the choice of which girls were in this game was apparently voted on through download of themes of the girls for the PS4 and Vita. in Japan. Unfortunately, my favourite girl, Mila, didn’t make the cut, but all time favourites Kasumi and Ayane did. It was a bit surprising that new comers like Honoka and Nyotengu won out over old favorites like Lei Fang and Tina, but it is not surprising and a little sad that little Marie Rose got the most votes. But it is all okay, because canonically, all the girls are over 18 in the game (Marie Rose included). It even says their age in the selection menu, so ogle who you want to. The oldest is Nyotengu, who is 1,018 years old (and doesn’t look a day over 25.)

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Marie Rose: Upgraded from Jail Bait to Barely Legal

The graphic are good on the PS Vita. The game use a modified version of the graphic engine used in the PS4/XBOne versions of Dead or Alive 5: Last Round (Soft Engine 2.0). Called the Soft Engine light, it helps to render realistic skin tones and effects like clothing wetness. It also helps advance the breast physics, giving them a more realistic, albeit slightly exaggerated bounce and the girls move. It also boast an advanced “booty physics,” meaning their butts are getting as much attention as their breasts. Though not as detailed as the PS4 version, the graphics run smoothly with the latest update with no slow down of glitches.

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Behold the advanced Booty Physics!

The controls have not changed much from the previous versions. the volley ball and other mini-games control like they did in the PSP version with touch controls used to poke and prod the girls in gravure mode. IT not as creepy as in Senran Kagura Estival Versus, though. The second thumb stick allows you to manipulate the camera and in volleyball, move your partner around to better receive the ball. Note that, since this is an Asian version (and it is the same in the Japanese one),in the controls in the menu, Circle is used to select and X is used to cancel, which is the opposite of most Western release games. People who import this game should be aware of this.

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Everything on the box is still mostly in Japanese, even the Asian edition. The game does include English menus and subtitles

 

Both the PS4 and PS Vita versions come in either a stand edition of a Collector’s edition. The collector’s edition for each version comes with different items. The PS Vita version, the Venus Edition comes with the game on a Vita card, of course. It also has a set of playing cards featuring images of Honoka on Diamonds, Kasumi on Hearts, Kokoro on Clubs and Nyotengu on Spades, with the Jokers being Zack. It also comes with a hard cover art book, Venus edition, featuring images of all 9 girls from the game (the text is in Japanese, though). There is also a Honkoa mouse pad, the type on which you rest your wrists in her ample bosom. There is also two download codes for DLC. The first is a bonus for early buyers of the game, featuring (for the PS Vita) and angel-themed swim suit for Honoka. The second is the Extreme Sexy Costume V set, featuring a new swim suit for all 9 grils that resemble leaves, vines and flowers. Now the PS4 version has different DLC (Costume set F and a Devil swim suit for Marie Rose) as well as a Marie Rose mouse pad, a different playing card set, different art book and, of course, the game for PS4. Note that the DLC codes will only work in a PlayStation Network Account for the Asia region (Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan), but entitles you to be able to download it for both PS4 and PS Vita.

 

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The swag you get with the Venus Collectors edition

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The PS Vita DOAX3 Venus Collector’s edition comes with this angel swim suit for Honoka

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The Sexy Costume V Set DLC consists of these leafy bikinis for the girls

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There is some variation in each of the girls’ V costumes

Now, because Koei Tecmo believes that it would not be received well in the West, due to recent events like Gamer Gate and immature boys posting derogatory things at women who are in the industry and ones that play video games, it is not receiving a Western release. I do not think that preventing this game from releasing in the west would change a damn thing, especially because online store like Play Asia has had record orders from people importing this game. Now, I have said it in the last two posts: I do not agree with censorship because a game has partial nudity (i.e. in bathing suits) and fan service. The only this that will change attitudes about sex and nudity is if we stop demonizing it. Look, I like Senran Kagura, but why is a game that allows you to fight and strip opponents (with other females) release out here when what is a pretty much a beach vacation simulator is deemed too racy? Why is DOA5:LR, which has scantily clad females (with more racy DLC costumes coming monthly) punching and kicking other fighters of both sex allowed when a game with some of the same girls playing sports and buying each other bathing suits is not? Our priorities are weird, if you think about it. Gun and violence are okay, but show a bit of skin and everyone freaks out. Might as well release DLC that has them all in burkhas.

 

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And miss out on this?

Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 will not win any awards. It is pretty much the same game form 2003 with a altered cast , and better graphics and some new modes. But it is not a terrible game nor is it a morally reprehensible game. Sure, it has the women of DOA in some racy swim wear, but you’d see that at a resort in real life. They are not fighting, or plotting to kill each other. The worse this they can to is reject your offer to team up. It is not deep, but it is fun to see the ladies of DOA have some down time and not fight some evil plot to created bio-engineered ninja to sell as a weapon.  Just enjoy the virtual scenery and get some good picture of the girls while you are at it.

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Pool Hopping plays like it did in DOA Paradise

Dead Or Alive Xtreme 3 for the PS Vita can be bought online through Play Asia.  Make sure you get the Asian copy, not the Japanese one if you want it in English.  Check their site for pricing and availability.

3.5/5

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I can see all the hard work that went into “booty physics.”

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Yup, high quality.

 

PS Vita/PS4 Review: Senran Kagura: Estival Versus

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Senran Kagura: Estival Versus is a third person hack-and-slash game developed by Tamsoft and published in North America by XSEED/Marvelous USA. The game is available for both the PlayStation Vita handheld and the PlayStation 4 home console. It is the third Senran Kagura game on the PS Vita and a direct sequel to Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus. It is the first game in the series on the PS4. The PS Vita version is compatible with the PlayStation TV micro-console. This review covers both the PS Vita and the PS4 versions.

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Ryona (L) and Ryobi (R) chase after the ghost of their dead sister and kick off this adventure

 

Estival Versus features all four factions from the previous game. After Ryobi and Ryona (from Hebijo Clandestine Girls’ Academy) encounter their long dead sister at a strange ceremony in the woods, they are transported to a tropical paradise dimension. Soon the other Hebijo Girls find themselves drawn into a bright light into this dimension, as are the other groups; Asuka and her friends from Hanzo, Yumi and her Gessen classmates as well as Homura and the rest of the Crimson Squad. Each group are set upon by mysterious ninja, the same group that had attacked them before at the hot springs (as shown in the Senran Kagura: Estival Versus Original Video Animation, not included but you can find it online). The girls fight their way through and all of them meet up and encounter their mysterious host.

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Sayuri and Ryoki

The host is an old woman named Sayuri, a former Kagura or demon hunter. She is also Asuka’s maternal grandmother. She tells the girls that they are now part of the Kagura Millennial Festival, a 8 day celebration to honour those ninja who died in vain in order to give their spirits peace. The celebration includes a contest called the Shinobi Bon Dance, with each team competing against each other to see who can destroy the most shinobi platforms. Assisting Sayuri are Ryoki, the sister of Ryona and Ryobi who was killed by a yoma (demon) on a mission against Miyabi, and the Mikagura sisters, three shrine maidens with their own ninja arts and agenda. Sayuri should not be underestimated either because she holds power inside her.

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The Mikagura Sisters

The game plays pretty much the same as Shinovi versus, with some levels requiring you to defeat a group of enemies to be able to move on to your next objective within a large area or just a large battlefield where you fight until you win. Most of the time (not always) you will face off against up to three or the other characters and have to defeat them.  You still have tricks like Aerial Rave, where you launch you opponent and chase after and attack them in the air. You still have the three mode to fight in; Flash, where you fight in your normal form with no access to you ninja arts; Yang, where you use your shinobi transformation and have access to your ninja art attacks with increased strength; and Yin or Frantic, where you strip down to your underwear, increasing you speed, strength and power, but at the cost of your defence.

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Gameplay from PS4 shown

 

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Yumi at the start of her Shinobi Transformation…

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..and at the end.

New to the game is being able to fight in missions along a partner. Unlike Deep Crimson for the 3DS, this partner is totally Ai controlled and shifts between modes when you do. However, you can do an Fusion Aerial Rave, where if you touch the screen (or touchpad for PS4) when you or your partner initiated and Aerial Rave, both of you will attack the launched target no matter where you were. There are also new power-ups in the form of bombs. Besides the standard exploding bomb, there are bombs that inflict status ailments on you opponents like fire, ice or poison. There are even bombs that render you invisible for ten seconds . And there are context-specific finishers in most (if not all) levels. If you defeat an opponent near certain objects, the final blow will send them into that object for an comical, embarrassing cut scene, in which, of course, there are rendered naked.

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Miyabi and Imu do a Fusion Aerial Rave

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Yumi befriends an octopus in the one of the beach stages cut scene finishers

Here’s the Senran Kagura series’ main draw. Yes, the destructible clothing system is still intact. Each characters outfits can be torn away with enough damage. Powerful attacks will trigger a cut scene showing the character reacting. Unlike Shinovi Versus, the area you damage is not dependant on which type of attack you use (weak vs. strong). Outfits can be torn two times before the character is reduced to her lingerie and scraps of clothing. If enough of the costume was torn away and a powerful finishing blow was landed (or cut scene triggered) the character is stripped completely naked, with bright stars protecting their modesty.
The Shinobi transformation scenes are pretty much the same, too. There girls are naked once the transformation sequence starts, which is a magic girl trope from Japan since at least Sailor Moon (censored in the West) and the shinobi arts scroll appears, sometimes between their boobs, below their cleavage, behind their backs or appearing in…other areas. .We also get a close up of their outfits appearing onto their bodies with shots of their rear and chest. All the time any naughty bits are obscured either by a body part of by those glowing stars. Because, Lord knows, the world would lose its shit if they showed a nipple, animated or otherwise.

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You should see where she hid that scroll.

Customization is also a big thing in the Senran Kagura games and Estival Versus is no exception. You can customize your characters in the dressing room changing both their normal and post transformation outfits. Outfit and accessories can be bought with currency earned for completing missions. There is diorama mode in the dressing room in which you can pose up to three characters in the PS Vita or five on the PS4 and take a screenshot of them. There is also the touching mini-game in the dressing room. Using the touch screen on the Vita or on screen hands on the PS4, you, erm, well grope them until they like you (THIS IS NOT HOW IT WORKS IN REAL LIFE! DON’T DO THIS!!!) after which, if you touch their hands, you can “give” them a “kiss.” You can also tear off their clothing (DON”T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!!!) by rubbing them on the PS Vita’s touch screen with the handheld vertical, which I cannot get to work, or, on the PS4, where, with the grope hands activated, you turn the DualShock 4 vertical and… shake it up and down (think about it…) Subtle, this game isn’t.

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In the dressing room you can change the girls outfits like this pirate outfit

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Use those hands to touch the girls in this pervy mini-game. The full heart means she likes it.

There are also DLC available at launch, with four free outfits that are cross-buy (buy for PS Vita, get it for PS4 as well.  Additional characters are also coming with Naraku and Kagura from Seran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson and a special guest character in the form of Ayane from Dead or Alive, reciprocating the Senran Kagura costume DLC for Dead or alive 5: Last Round.  I’m sure there will be more outfits and accessories in the near future.

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Pose any girl and take their picture in the Diorama mode. You can have up to 3 girls on the Ps Vita…

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…or up to 5 on the PS4.

Despite all the fan service this game offers (and uses as a selling point) the story of this game is pretty good (yes there is a story!) Ryona and Ryobi’s relationship with their dead sister Ryoki is one of the main beats of the story. While Ryona is thrilled to have her older sister back, Ryobi is not, still feeling guilty for telling Ryoki that she hopes she dies before the battle that claimed her life. Of course all this character development is undercut with Ryobi verbally abusing Ryona and Ryona loving it and demanding to be abused more. Seriously, Google search Ryona (BUT NOT IMAGE SEARCH, for your sanity’s sake) to see what fetish her name can refer to. Feel free to GIS Ryobi. All you get are pictures of power tools, which I don’t think has anything to do with the character.

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Ryona knows how to ruin a moment.

There are other serious storylines for the other girls. Yumi and the Gessen girls have a part in which they encounter Kurokage, Yumi’s grandfather and teacher to all of the Gessen students. Miyabi also has a part in which she looks for the soul of her dead mother, who was killed by a Yoma when she was very young. Asuka also has her part to play, trying to figure out why her grandmother really brought them here and what her true motives are. But before you start to think you were getting some serious and deep storyline, it reminds you this is a Senran Kagura game with Katsuragi groping the other girls, Imu lusting after Miyabi and Haruka making up events like a panty-eating contest.

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Katsuragi’s lust for boobs knows no bounds.

Now it is time for a bit of a rant. Now, I am not a big believer in censorship. I think it is stupid that we are afraid of showing nudity more than violence. Now there is violence in this game but it is not graphic and the nudity is fan service, but very cheesecake and all the naughty bits are censored for our protection. Some have objection with how the girls are portrayed.. They are just drawing, not real people and there is enough plausible deniability they the school as post-secondary and all the girls are of age (why would they release this if they were not?). I personally avoid using characters like Ryobi and Mirai because the whole jailbait look is not for me. So, if a game like this gets released in the West, why isn’t Dead or Alive Xtreme 3? It is much less violent, nobody gets stripped (those there might be a few near wardrobe malfunction scenes) and the swimsuits aren’t that far off of what you see in a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit video or, at worse, A Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show! Why doesn’t Koei Tecmo release it here? Marie Rose? Mirai is much worse and the official trailer for DOAX3 says Marie’s age is 18. How else would she travel to a tropical paradise alone? My only guess would be the Relationship System with the faux lesbian undertones. But I’ve gotten off track…

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A window pane preserves Asuka’s modesty, if not dignity.

Senran Kagura is a game that you must know what you are getting to enjoy. Like all the games in this series, it is Rated M and should not be played by anyone younger than 17. It is good clean dirty fun that is best enjoyed with a bit of irony and a whole lot of “oh, Japan…” It is a worthy sequel to Shinovi Versus and helps to expand the Senran Kagura universe. The physical release is the special Endless Summer edition which includes the game (either PS4 or PS Vita, art book, one of four sets of cards featuring the girls of each faction and a 2-disc soundtrack. The game is available as a digital download for each system for a cheaper price (I paid $79.99 for the Endless Summer pack for PS Vita and $49.99 for the PS4 game as a download on PSN.
Senran Kagura: Estival Versus was released on 15 Mar 16 and is available on PSN or on online sellers such as Amazon. Some video game stores may have it in stock or can order it for you. Check your local retailer for details and pricing.

4/5

 

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You can do a lot with the diorama mode. It’s all implied, though

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Your thoughts have a lot to do with it.

 

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THE END!

 

Nintendo 3DS review: Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson

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Kagura shows her ample assets

 

Senran Kaugra 2: Deep Crimson is a side-scrolling hack-and-slash game developed by Tamsoft and published in North America by XSEED Games (now Marvelous USA).  It is the third Senran Kagura game on the 3DS, with the first game being Japan-Only and the second. Senran Kagura Burst, being a re-release with an additional storyline.  It was released physically and as a download on 15 Sept 2015.

Asuka and Homura team up!

The game starts with a reprise of the end of the first game, with the Hanzon Academy girls (Asuka, Ikaruga, Katsuragi, Yagyu, and Hibari) facing off against, and eventually teaming up with the Hebjio Acaemdy students (Homura, Yomi, Hikage, Mirai and Harkura) to take down their sensei, Dougen.  They prevail in the end, but while the Hanzo students returned to their school, Homura and her friends find themselves as renegades from Hebijo,

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The Cast of Senran Kagura 2

Now calling themselves the Crimson Squad, Homura and the rest continue to train while working the odd job to survive.  They find themselves face to face with Asuka and her friends once again as a vacation turns into a mission.  Demons called Yoma have started to appear which put the Good Ninja Leadership on alert.  Somehow tied to the Yoma is a mysterious woman named Naraku and a little girl who when she absorbs enough “red orbs” from the Yoma, she ages up and becomes the legendary demon hunter, Kagura!.  Now, with the Hanzo girls ordered to slay Kagura and the Crimson Squad sensing a kindred spriit, are they two sides able to come to terms and find a way to both stop the Yoma and save Kagura from her fate?

Like there previous games for the 3DS, Senran Kagura 2 is mostly a side scrolling game.  Most of the time you move forward until you a blocked by enemies, and are only able to proceed once you defeat all of them.  Boss battles are in a large open area where you can move freely around the area.  Stages vary from city streets to crater and to a hot spring resort, just to name a few.  You can fight in both normal modes (school uniforms and street clothes) or transform into Shinobi mode where you can access you secret ninja arts for more damage.  Anyone who has played a Senran Kagura game would have no issue playing this one.

New to the series is the abilities to play as two girls at a time.  Some levels have you play as two of the girls, whom you can switch between by pressing A. In these battles you lose if both girls are defeated.  If one is knocked out, if your remaining character survives long enough your other character will revive with a small bit of health. You can also play local and online co-op play through WiFi.

Of course it would not be a Senran Kagura game without the stripping!  All the ladies of Senran Kagura games have destructible outfits and can be stripped to their underwear in battle. Some of the generic troops feature clothing damage but only when you fight one of the 10 main girls,, or Daidoji, Rin, Naraku or Kagura (in her adult form, of course!) do you get a close up of the action.  You character can be stripped too and any damaged is reset between rounds, except in the Yoma’s Nest mode, which I’ll get into next.

Besiudes the main game, there are other modes like a challenge mode, whenre you win under certain conditions, for which you get a Shinboi Stone to power up you character in the game.  The Yoma’s Nest mode is an endurance mode in which you fight match after match, facing increasingly stronger opponents, which regaining little to no health between matches.  There are also training missions and additional content can be bought from the Nintendo eShop.

You can also customize the girls, too.  Entering the dressing room you can change the characters look in her normal or shinobi modes.  Hair styles and colors can be adjusted and accessories added.  Even their bathing suits (what the game calls underwear) can be adjusted.  New costumes and accessories are unlocked as you play the game or when you download certain DLC packs.  You can also take phots or the girls, alone in in pairs, in various poses and save it to your SD card.

You can add accessories like eye patches, which for Mirai, is redundant
You can add accessories like eye patches, which for Mirai, is redundant

 

I like the Senran Kagura games and this one does improve on the last one for the 3DS.  However I do prefer the PS Vita version of this series ( Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus) and I can’t wait to play the new one in that series (Estival Versus, which I’ll review soon!).  As I said in my review for Shinovi Versus, this is the sort of game that we used to rarely see out here due to cultural differences and attitudes towards showing a little skin.  Though this game series is toned down compared to the anime and, to an extent, the PS Vita versions, I am still surprised that this is on a Nintendo platform.  A game like this wouldn’t have bee allowed twenty years ago or ten years ago, or, at least not released in the West five years ago.  Still, this is a game that the M rating was made for.  It is definitely not for kids. Still, it is strange when you think that society would rather show violence than show a nipple.

Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson is available as a digital download or as a physical release.  The physical release, tactfully called the Double D Edition, comes with a two disc soundtrack featuring the music from the game.  It is available through online retailers such as Amazon and may be available in shop at EB Games.  Check online for details.