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Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus Review

Since the release of Senran Kagura Burst on the 3DS, the series has gathered a sizable fan base, despite what some mainstream critics and gamers have to say about the content. Yes the girls in the game are highly proportioned, but for those who have taken time to play through the game and learn about them, they are more than just T&A. These girls, though they are based on stereotypical anime tropes, have character and personality. Not to mention that they are highly trained assassins. So when the series made the jump to the Vita with Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus, many were excited yet on guard. Since the Vita is marketed to an older audience, developers could get away with more. Did the developers spend more time on Shinovi Versus gameplay or did they just bump up the fan service and nothing else?

Go Ninja, Go Ninja Go

Interesting story told from multiple perspectives- If you can get past the fact that the female characters have exaggerated proportions (ie T&A), there is a pretty interesting story underneath. What makes Shinovi Versus’ story so interesting is that the player experiences it through several perspectives within the four factions: Hanzo National Academy, Homura’s Crimson Squad, Hebijo Clandestine Girls’ Academy and Genssen Girls’ Academy. Each faction has six girls, so you get to see the story unfold from each of their perspectives. As for the plot of the whole thing, its been six months since the Hanzo girls and the former members of Hebijo, who are now the rogue group Crimson Squad, burned down the Hebijo campus. As two of the members of the Hanzo Academy are getting ready for finals, the Genssen Academy, who also happens to be a school for “good” ninjas, challenge the Hanzo girls. While the conflict between Hanzo and Genssen is going on, a new squad has taken over Hebijo and devises a revenge plan against Hanzo and the former Hebijo students of the Crimson Squad. As for the Crimson Squad, they are on the run from Hebijo, all the while training for an eventual rematch against Hanzo. It may be confusing at first, since you are able to choose to whichever faction you want to play as first (though with the Crimson Squad you have to play through the first three factions to unlock them), but as you play through each of the factions it comes together. I suggest playing the game in this order to get the most out of the story: Hanzo, Gessen, Hebijo and then Crimson.

Each girl has a unique personality- It’s no secret as to how the origins of Senran Kaguran came to be. The creator of the franchise was thinking long and hard about what would gamers would like to see in 3D when the 3DS first came out. His answer: boobs, breasts, hooters, knockers, etc. Safe to say that not many people really shared his vision of 3D breasts and were firmly against the game. But as development started to get farther along, which also included a brief gender swap, the girls personalities and characteristics started to get fleshed out. Sure the cheesecake/fan service was still top heavy and coated with stereotypical anime tropes, but they had developed their own personalities, identities and back stories that make you identify and feel for them. This crosses over to Shinovi Versus and extends to the new factions as well. Each of the girls in the factions has their own back story with problems they had in the past, their worries in the present and the road yet not traveled of the future. These girls are more than just T&A and if anyone says otherwise, now that’s sexist.

 

Fun individual fighting styles- Just as each girl has their different personalities from each other, they also have different fighting /combat styles. In addition to their own individual styles of combat, they also have their own combo system so that sets them apart. Include three levels of ninja arts and you’ll have a pretty fun time in trying out each girl.

 

Character side stories- In addition to the main story, each girl in the four factions has their own side story. These side missions were designed to have the player get to know the girls a bit more as they go through their daily lives. These stories have no effect in the main story however player can earn experience that carries over to the main story and multiplayer modes. Plus its something extra to extend gameplay time, which is always a good thing.

Fan service is an after thought- There is a ton of fan service in Shinovi Versus, as you can tell from the above videos. In addition to the girls clothes coming off when damaged enough, you can even dress them up in different outfits that you can spend the in game currency money on. But after a couple of hours of playing the fan service just fades into the back of my mind. Yes they are still sexy looking but it’s not really effecting the gameplay or the story in any way. In fact the way fan service is handled in the game feel more like an extra bonus mode than a part of the core game.

 

Ninja baka

Wonky camera controls- When the developers decided to switch from a 2.5D plane for Senran Kagura Burst for the 3DS to a 3D plane for Shinovi Versus for the Vita, there were several adjustments made for the game, one of which was the addition of a controllable 360° camera. Now players had a whole 360° view of the stage and were able to fight in all directions. While this provides a better view of the action, sometimes the camera would get stuck on corners and faces the wrong way during combat. The camera isn’t broken per se, just avoid having to fight near the borders of the stage and the corners and everything will be fine for the most part.

 

Repetitive enemy types- Like most typical beat em’ ups and hack n’ slash games, in Shinovi Versus you are fighting a horde of enemies in waves until you reach the boss stage. And just like most of those games, Shinovi Versus will start to recycle enemy types to the point that pallet swaps of the same enemy will start to appear on the same stage as the original it was copied from. This isn’t really game’s fault but the fault of decades of hack n’ slash and beat em up game design.

 

Useless lock on- In most 3D beat em ups/hack n’ slash games, lock on is pretty useful to hone in on a particular enemy or to keep track of an enemy’s movements from a safe distance. Since most of the minions chase after you there isn’t really a need for a lock on. The same goes for bosses during a boss battle. Most of the time the boss is constantly chasing you which causes the camera to go wonky as it tries to adjust your field of vision towards the boss.

 

Is Shinovi Versus nothing but a sexist game that sexualize and demeans women?  No. Shinovi Versus may have tons of fan service and the girls are top heavy, but in no way are they defined by their apportions. They may follow stereotypical anime tropes but they have their own personalities and back stories. The gameplay is action pack, with each girl sporting different fighting styles and combos. But like most beat em’ ups, the camera can be kind of wonky at times and lock on isn’t that useful when the objective calls for the defeat of all the enemies. Enemy minions can become a bit repetitive and after a while the original and a pallet swapped version of the minion will start to spawn at the same time. This game is clearly not for everyone one, but if you are into some solid combat, a story that is told from different perspectives and don’t mind some fan service, then give Shinovi Versus a shot.

 

7.5/10

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