Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash: Wetter and Better Than Ever
After a long wait, Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash is making its way to the West. The newest addition to the SK series, this game changes the formula by being a water gun based shooter instead of a beat 'em up. However, this change in gameplay is welcome, as Marvelous lives up to its name by doing a marvelous job with this concept.
Long-time fans of the series will be delighted to see more of their favorite characters, and new fans will enjoy this game either for the copious amounts of fanservice or for its surprisingly enjoyable gameplay.
This Game is Not For Everyone
As you can tell by the screenshots, this game is full of over-the-top fan service, and it definitely deserves its M-rating. The shooter mechanics are incredibly fun -- but if you're not cool with being bombarded with scantily clad anime characters nonstop, you won't be able to enjoy it at all. It's completely understandable why a lot of people would object to this game.
That being said, if that sounds like more of a positive than a negative for you (or at least something you can look past), you'll have a blast with this game as it's one of the most original shooters I've played in a while.
The first thing anyone notices about the Senran Kagura series is its lack of restraint when it comes to delivering breast and buttock aplenty. Series creator Kenichiro Takaki has a pretty infamous quote that describes his philosophy behind his creations: "Tits are life, ass is hometown." While he's remained cryptic as to whether or not elbows are the bus depot of the body, the team behind SK lives by this, and they put a lot of effort into ensuring you get the most life and hometown possible in your game.
The characters themselves look great as usual. They're stylized and full of that "life" Takaki is so fond of. Each character has their own aesthetic with something about them that makes them visually unique from the rest of the cast. They even changed up some of the classic designs by redoing their hair.
Although the characters all start off in one of the two initial bikini types, you can, from the very start of the game, go into the dressing room and customize their outfits to your liking. You can keep them scantily clad or cover them from head-to-toe if you'd like your Senran Kagura experience to be a bit more wholesome.
There are a ton of cards with different pictures of the characters to collect. You can even collect pet cards that aid you in combat. The pets are pretty dang cute in an anime mascot kind of way. My favorite is a little bear that turns you invisible. Aw. Almost makes you forget how ludicrously lewd the rest of the game is.
Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash continues the tradition of having great voice acting, a fun soundtrack, and overall solid sound design. The voice actresses (some big names and some lesser known ones) in the game do a fantastic job of giving each girl her own unique personality. Ikaruga, the upper crust, ojousama type, is voiced by the same actress as Kurisu from Steins;Gate -- and Hikage, the emotionless snake girl, is done by Asuka from Tekken.
Peach Beach Splash has a great soundtrack. While I'm not a fan of the idol singing style opening, I love the rest of the OST. It's filled with lots of quirky, upbeat tunes. Some of them sound like they'd be right at home in Snowboard Kids for the Nintendo 64. It's the perfect background music for sliding around and shooting water in your friends' faces.
The rest of Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash's sound design is nice as well. The water guns splish and sploosh, the menu navigation sounds have satisfying beeps and boops, and overall it sounds like a video game should.
Most anime tiddy games are just that: all gams and no game. This series, however, stands out in this department as it's not just meaningless fan service; it's meaningless fan service and good gameplay wrapped up in one package. Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash is no exception. While it's neither the 2D-ish beat 'em up style of the 3DS titles or the Dynasty Warriors-esque 3D combat style of the other PlayStation titles, the water gun gameplay is incredibly solid -- especially as it's the first time this series has ventured into this genre.
This game is all about player choice. You get to choose your girl, your gun, your pets, and your special abilities. The cast in this game is huge with all four of the main schools represented -- the Mikagura sisters from Estival Versus, Naraku and Kagura from SK2 and EV, and some new additions from the New Wave mobile card game. Whether your type is the spunky, fight-to-improve squad leader, the MMO playing shut-in, the female Jotaro Kujo, or the mildly sadistic mad scientist, you'll find a favorite character in no time.
Unlike the main titles in the series, your character choice isn't the biggest determining factor of your gameplay style in the game. Instead, your playstyle is dictated by your gun choice. There are ten guns to choose from, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. You can choose 1-2 pistols, an assault rifle, a grenade launcher, a sniper rifle, a mini-gun, and a few others.
All guns give you the ability to slide around in exchange for some of your water tank. Some allow you to spend water to fly for a short while, whereas others just allow you to hop long distances. If you get hit enough, your Soaking Wet mode can be activated which allows your character to have an unlimited supply of water. This grants you incredible mobility as you can slide, fly, and jump all you want while spamming your attacks. Certain guns increase the rate at which this fills up and benefit from this mode more than others.
The pets and skill cards add another layer of strategy to the game. Pet cards offer you a choice of different pets, most pre-existing from established pets belonging to characters in the series (like Jasmine's elephant and Murasaki's Bebeby) that attack your enemies in a style similar to one of the water guns, heal you, provide you with a shield, turn you invisible, etc. The skill cards are similar -- they can buff your character or team, debuff the enemy team, heal you, provide you with a shield, or give you a special ninja attack to kill your enemies with.
The game plays incredibly well. The slides and jumps work really well, the guns give you lots of variety in playstyle, and the cards enhance that variety. You can play as a tanky, mini-gunner that uses a giant robot occasionally or a pistol-wielding, Soaking Wet mode fiend that is impossibly agile and never runs out of ammo.
Fan Service in Every Sense of the Word
Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash is full of fan service. Just like any other game in the SK series, the fan service is two-fold: lots and lots of skin as well as lots and lots of unlockables and customization.
The creators of Senran Kagura do their best to please their fans. They give you tons of different costumes, characters, voice packs, stickers, etc. to collect. There are more than 800 skill cards alone! It'll be a long time before you run out of things to collect.
One of my favorite aspects of this is that you can customize the shop keeper and your voice menu to the character of your choosing. It's a really minor detail, but it's something that very few games give you the choice of and I think more should.
The only downside to this game is that they reuse a lot of the same assets from Senran Kagura: Estival Versus. Furthermore, the images on the cards are largely taken from the New Wave card game so if you play that, you'll see a lot of other recycled assets.
If the concept of this game doesn't bother you and you're looking for a fun shooter that's a bit reminiscent of Splatoon, this game is for you. If you're looking for something you and your weeaboo friends can laugh at and play a drinking game to, this game is for you. If you're a Senran Kagura series fan and are cool with it deviating from the beat 'em up style, this is perfect for you. If the fan service bothers you or you're looking for a game that's more like the 3DS titles, this game probably isn't for you.
Peach Beach Splash is an awesome game covered in about five tons of anime bosoms. It's filled with tons of single and multiplayer content, lots of customization and unlockables, and surprisingly solid gameplay. It's definitely not for everyone, but you'll have fun with it if you're into life and/or hometown. The only real drawbacks for me were the recycled assets. I give it a 9/10.
[Note: XSEED Games provided a copy of Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash for the purpose of this review.]