Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal Review

I seem to be part of Senran Kagura’s target audience. I like a good anime titty and I don’t know how to talk to girls I like. I didn’t pick it up sooner because I was living at home where we had one television – and Senran Kagura is NOT the type of game you play in the living room while your mom works on her laptop. Now that I’m out on my own, I can indulge in Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal and I am filled with regret on not biting the bullet on this franchise sooner.

Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal is an updated version of the original 3DS title for PlayStation 4 and PC that takes it from 2.5D side-scroller to a fully fledged 3D game and a retelling of the origin of the series. There are two playable story modes; one focusing on the girls of  Hanzo National Academy: Asuka, Katsuragi, Hibari, Yagyuu and Ikaruga as they train in secret away from the rest of the school to become noble Shinobi. The second story mode focuses on Hebijo Clandenstine Girl’s Academy with Homura, Yomi, Hikage, Mirai and Haruka filling out the roster on their quest to gain the ultimate Ninja Scrolls! It’s not always battle after battle – the major plot points are fleshed out with “slice of life” style scenes that I really enjoyed as they helped flesh out the girls and their motivations for wanting to become shinobi. Often times games that are overtly sexual tend to neglect a female’s agency and while Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal is full of fan-servicey panty shots and poses, none of them are influenced by a male character in the game but rather their own motivations or actions.  There are some interactions that I didn’t particularly care for during the story, such as Katsuragi being handsy with an often unwilling Asuka but overall it was a great balance of character motivated plot movement and sexy humor, and I appreciate the work that went it to telling a story beyond “girls naked fighting.”

Bountiful Beauties Bring The Battles!

Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal focuses on single player only – you won’t get to go online or have a friend over to enjoy tearing each others clothes to shreds (which I only found out after inviting my friend over to play it with me.) You’ll choose between which story mode you want to play, but you won’t be able to play the other until you finish the first one you selected. Each story has 41 episodes to go through, with a fairly standard theme to them: beat up the enemies to move on. While there are special 1 V 1 battles, a better portion of the game is spent on 1 v Mob fights, which reminded me a lot of Dynasty Warriors-type games and it’s so satisfying to round up as many enemies as possible and lay down a flurry of blows to knock as many out as once.  On that topic – some characters are much more fun to play than others. Controls are nice and easy – you’ll be using square and triangle heavily, and L1 and L2 for your specials. Combos aren’t complicated – honestly, this is a button-smashing-until-everyone-is-dead type of game. I did find the enemy lock-on not super great, because while it does lock on, your camera doesn’t, so it’s really just a target instead of a true lock on. I found characters who use distance attacks a little bit harder to use and preferred to just tank enemies with a character like Katsuragi, who has a sick down aerial kick special that I just can’t get enough of.

Speaking of the girls, they all generally fill some sort of anime trope, and if you’re familiar with any slice-of-life anime, you’ll be able to pick out those tropes right away. I could go into them, but we’d be here forever. As with almost every other aspect of the game, the girls are all pretty over the top in these tropes, but still quite endearing. They did a good job with the voice acting for the most part, although I found Katsuragi’s voice not quite what I expected for her personality type. It was easy for me to find my best girl (Yagyu!!) but I didn’t find one girl I didn’t outright not like.

Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal

As I previously mentioned, this is a single player experience with two storylines. On the surface that doesn’t sound like much, but each schools “Ninja Room” acts as a main hub between missions. It offers standard fare such as your settings and missions menu, but also the Dressing Room and Store. You have to play the tutorial mission before you can access the Ninja Room, but you can bet that the very first thing I did once I had access was head right to the dressing room. Character customization is one of my favourite features in a game. You can change each girls hair colour and style, and pre and post-transformation uniforms as well as adding additional accessories. None of this has any bearing on your abilities, just how much skin you bare.  Once you’re happy with your outfits, you can also pose the girls in the Diorama Picture mode. I didn’t play with that option too much, to be honest, but it is there. If you don’t like the abundance of outfits offered right out of the gate, you can also head into the shop and purchase additional outfits with the currency you’ve been gaining after missions, as well as the CG images and music unlocks to jam too. Still not enough? There is a small offering in the PlayStation Store as well, for real cash money. Removed from the PS4 version was the “Intimacy Mode” – where you can well, get intimate with your best girl. The removal was Sony’s decision, so its intact on the PC release. 

Now, after I played dress up, I jumped right back in to take in the rest of the game. I’m not going to hide it here – this game is not shy with it’s jiggle physics. On more modestly endowed characters, I dare to say the bouncing actually looks pretty natural, but on more busty characters it’s like two over-filled water balloons. As the owner of a pair of boobs, let me tell you all I could think of was how much pain those girls would be in – but in the over the top world we’re working with here, it all feels right. If you can look past your best girl, the world is well animated and lit, with each stage having the right feel when you’re in it – a field feels wide and free, whereas the city feels more tight and claustrophobic.

In the end, I am still enjoying Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal as I continue to play through it. It’s a fun, vapid and over the top action game that doesn’t shy away from what it is – a game about sexy ninja girls.  Sometimes I don’t need a game to be deep or hit me with the feels, sometimes I just need to relax and undress my opponents, and really, is that such a bad thing to ask?

PS4 Key Provided by Publisher

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