Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson is a button mashing side-scroller game released on 3DS in North America, Europe and Australia almost a year after initial release in Japan. It is the latest installation in the Senran Kagura franchise, one that has spawned an anime series, several manga and several games ranging from hack and slash side scrollers to cooking games.
The game boasts an updated physics engine mostly notable for the rather eccentric breast physics, and improvements on the clothing destruction. That’s right – it’s gonna be one of those games your mum wouldn’t let you buy when you were younger. Sex appeal in games is as big in Japan as violence is here in the West, not that that will stop the publishers from using some more unique incentives to buy the games. There’s the ‘Happy Boobs’ edition with two audio CDs, poster and certificate, and the ‘Shinobi Edition’ which comes with an ‘oppai’ (Google it, or don’t) mouse pad with 3D breasts, and decorative wall scroll.
The gameplay is as bland and generic as side scrolling hack and slash can get. The combos are, depending on character, 5 or more presses of the Y button to do an attack or the X button to do a heavy move. Attacks can be carried out in a ground combo or in the air after jumping or double jumping with B. After long combos you fill up your frenzy meter in order to unleash the character’s power. In this state, the attacks do more damage and less damage is taken – but how are they more powerful? They have less clothes on, of course. There are also Shinobi scrolls; these you can collect to allow for a special combo helpful in the defeat of stronger foes. Press L to activate and watch the clothing fly off as you rack, er, tally up combos of over 100 with relative ease.
The story is somewhat unremarkable – hardly surprising given that it’s hardly the main focus. Two opposing schools are destined to fight each other, and proceed to do so. Hanzō Academy, a prestigious ninja school, was founded by and named after protagonist Asuka’s grandfather Hanzō. Their main rival, Hebijo Clandestine Girls’ Academy, is an evil ninja school to counteract Hanzō’s aura of good. The reason for this conflict is that one of the girls lost the sacred Shinobi scroll – now, instead of all getting together to muck in and help look, all the students must fight to get it back and redeem the honour of their school. Along the way the varied characters range from dark and brooding with boobs, to clumsy fighter with boobs to extremely perverted and lustful with boobs (Bit of a trend). Later, the schools are forced to band together as the dastardly tycoon behind the Hebijo Academy tries to take over the whole of Japan, which introduces playing as two characters at the same time. Swapping characters is a more memorable moment of the game as the characters leap into the air, high five (for lack of better phrase) via their buttocks and keep fighting the same repetitive enemies for the remaining chapters.
There are three sets of downloadable content so far. The first, ‘Deep Waist’ also adds 11 new playable characters (chibi versions of the cast) and is an epilogue for the main game. The second is titled ‘Hipster’, an unremarkable side scrolling shooter, but fine if you want more content. The final one ‘Burst’ adds a boss rush mode and allows the modification of the girls’ breasts through the dressing room in the main menu after the completion of the boss rush, just in case you were crying out for that feature in the first playthrough of the missions.
The point was never to be anything but a vaguely titillating brawler, and that Senran Kagura achieves, but if what you’re after is something that innovates within the genre or breaks out of it and tries something different, you’re better off looking elsewhere.