Oh, Japan. You are the source of Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and a slew of other JRPGs that for many are the greatest joys of their gaming. But you are not without your quirks.
Because so long as there are ninjas, there will be lady ninjas. So long as there are lady ninjas, there will be sexy lady ninjas. And as long as there are sexy lady ninjas there will be all-female-cast fighting games starring absurdly beautiful women with very bouncy boobs who, in the process of beating the snot out of each other, tear clothes off. Enter: Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus.
Senran Kagura is a fairly new franchise, starting in 2011 with a sidescroller Shoujo-tachi no Shinei. This third game in the series, Shinovi Versus, is set as a 3D arena fighting game with a fairly large cast of characters. The loosely framed narrative pits two warring schools of “good” and “evil” shinobi against each other in a tournament.
Shinovi Versus is not here to break ground with its story. Designed by Kenichiro Takaki of Half-Minute Hero fame, gameplay is definitely the key here. However, one important fact must remain in mind: when Takaki himself conceived of the series, he thought of what people wanted to see in 3D:
“It was boobs.” – Kenichiro Takaki, game designer.
Sticking with this theme all the way to the PlayStation Vita, the well-endowed-ness continues though the Vita is incapable of “popping” visuals like the 3DS. What Shinovi Versus lacks in narrative strength and character depth is compensated by strong gameplay.
Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus gives the player the ability to freely switch control amongst several schools of shinobi across 15 different fighters. Each fighter is developed as a character individually with their own skill set, special techniques, and fighting style.
Techniques and skills are unlocked as the character levels, which thankfully happens quickly. Split between ground attacks, aerial attacks, aerial pursuits and specials, each character only possesses a few combo strings each. Where complexity comes in is the ability to cancel combos by dashing or jumping, parries and guards, and by the transformations.
Each character comes with two transformations. The first, Shinobi Mode, switches over to a different move set and replenishes health. The second, Frantic Mode, ups all stats but lowers defense. Both unlock special techniques. Oh, and Frantic mode strips your character down to their lingerie. And you’re supposed to do it by swiping the screen i.e. “tearing their clothes off.”