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Senran Kagura Estival Versus review - Console ecchi gaming at its bounciest

Senran Kagura Estival Versus's gameplay is definitely more solid than the boobs, but the boobs are a huge plus.

Whether you've paid attention to the Senran Kagura series is almost directly tied to whether or not you're into ecchi (risque) anime and games. It's cool if you're not, but if you are and haven't dipped into the series yet Senran Kagura Estival Versus is a great place to start.

So what even is this gameboin?

Let's touch on this first since people who haven't given the series a shot don't really see the gameplay. It's kind of hard to see it in the wild when everyone just goes crazy over all those shinobi boobs and butts. Which is honestly understandable.

Pressed between the shinobi girls' generally massive "assets" is a fairly respectable 3D beat'em up/brawler. And that's what Senran Kagura Estival Versus is: an action game. But it's an action game with a lot of jiggle, and that itself is what has put the series on the map.

The fanservice is first and foremost, even if the gameplay itself is solid. That's something anyone wandering into Senran Kagura for the first time needs to bear in mind -- the series as a whole is not for anyone not keen on constant copious amounts of pretty extreme fanservice.

So if you don't like something comparatively tame like this..

.. you probably won't want to pick this up.

Presentaboin

Did you play any strange and risque Japanese games back in the day? You know, the ones with random, nonsensical plots that simply served to keep the game going? That's what you've got going on in Senran Kagura Estival Versus.

The story doesn't matter much, but it's hard not to watch the dialogue between each mission. The girls' interactions with one another are bizarre to say the least, and more often than not they're simply a vehicle for innuendo and an excuse for some (lots of) bouncing boobs.

The absurdity is hard to look away from, especially during segments like the boob and butt touching contests.

Dialogue and storytelling styles rotate between moving character models with visual novel-style dialogue, static fanservice CGs, sound novel-style text display, and animated scenes. If you're familiar with those things, you'll feel right at home. If not, well.. probably not.

Boinplay

The gameplay here is pretty standard, especially if you're used to more mindless 3D beat'em ups/brawlers like Dynasty Warriors or other similar titles. Press square a bunch, sometimes triangle, use special moves when you can, win (hopefully).

Each girl can transform mid-battle, giving a magical girl-style transformation sequence with more boin than you can shake a banana at.

Transformation heals you to full health and lets you use high damage abilities called Secret Ninja Arts. Further still is Frantic mode, which significantly boosts your damage at the cost of defense -- and your character's clothes.

Don't expect any kind of deep combat with Senran Kagura Estival Versus. Like previous entries to the series, Estival Versus totes a simple but fun combat system. Some aspects, like dash cancelling and deciding when to transform or go into Frantic, can be tricky. But if you can make good use of each character's moves, you'll be fine. It's not like the AI is anything amazing.

Combat is frequently interrupted by short ecchi bits, spanning from Secret Ninja Art scenes and the girls clothes being ripped to particularly racy (nude but censored) Creative Finishers.

I'll be the first to admit combat can be repetitive, but that's to be expected from non-technical brawlers. It's repetitive but it's a ton of fun, and a bit part of that fun is in fact the ecchi. The two go together like peanut butter and jelly and it's a welcome change from how serious so many games take themselves these days.

Longeviboin

Surprisingly enough, Estival Versus has a number of online multiplayer modes and they're all fun. Some, like Shinobi Deathmatch, are simply duking it out with other players; while others like Capture the Bra are more gimmicky player versus player modes.

If it weren't for the multiplayer modes and sheer amount of cosmetics, funsies items to unlock, and character missions, the game would be far shorter. The Kagura Millennium Festival, Girl's Heart, and Special Missions have a fair amount of content on their own but the real meat lies in completionism, PvP, and -- let's be honest -- dressing up the girls.

The look, the boin, the.. life and hometown!

Let's not pretend the main draw to Senran Kagura Estival Versus isn't the fanservice. It's definitely the fanservice, and the game is completely aware. That's part of what makes it so fun -- you're never totally sure where or when it's going to ramp up, but you can bet that it will.

The game's anime-style visuals look great on the PlayStation 4, more so than the Vita, but it feels like the budget for this series primarily goes into voice acting. Now that Senran Kagura is on the PlayStation 4 I'd hoped there would be more models for the girls, but they're disappointingly same-y.

Pictured: My SK waifu. Also pictured: The same tits you see on almost everybody else.

Despite the girls canonically having varying sizes of breasts, there's a disappointing lack of variety of sizes in-game: flat, large, and extra large. And they have no gravity! It might just be me, but I definitely would prefer more obvious variations in breast and booty sizes and shapes. Where the slopes at, Tamsoft?

The copious amounts of jiggling and variety of girl archetypes almost makes up for the lack of actual variety in bodies, but it's hard to get over when you see them stripped down to nothing (with shining light to cover the naught bits) so often. It's also a bit irksome while playing around in the dressing room.

That said, the fanservice does all still look great. While I can lament over the lack of variety all day, the girls' assets as they stand do get the job done. They could just get it done better.

Down to the boin-line

Senran Kagura Estival Versus isn't perfect and it definitely is not for everyone. T&A haters need not apply -- but if you're hungry for some jiggly bits and some mindless fun, Estival Versus is pretty much the best game in the series to start with.

The game is certainly flawed, particularly in terms of the simple combat and lack of variety in breasts; but it fills its niche almost perfectly and the actual combat plus the multiplayer modes more than make up for the short and relatively easy missions.

It's good for what it is but it could certainly be better. Hopefully the next entry to the series does the official art justice and adds some new character models. In the meantime, Senran Kagura Estival Versus is still a fun dive into ecchi action gaming you rarely see in the West today and it certainly is worth it if you're comfortable with the fanservice out of Warriors/Musou-style games.

Props to XSeed for continuing to localize this niche series in North America. Senran Kagura isn't necessarily the cream of the crop in terms of console/handheld ecchi gaming in Japan, but it's what we've got here and it definitely does the job.

Full disclosure: Writer was provided a copy of the game for review.

Our Rating
7
Senran Kagura Estival Versus's gameplay is definitely more solid than the boobs, but the boobs are a huge plus.
Reviewed On: Playstation 4
Published Mar. 15th 2016

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