It’s finally time. That bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy fun time. Because the day you’ve all been waiting for is finally here. Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit has finally been released. Set aside your Destiny and your Shadow of Mordor, the game you’ve been waiting for for all of 2014 is out.
I jest, of course. It’s hard to even imagine a game featuring an over-endowed cast of ladies that are supposed to be ninjas engaging not in fistfights, but in cooking battles. Even moreso when the cooking battles are fought via a rhythm game.
So Senran Kagura does the imagining for us. And Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit is a surprisingly fun rhythm game. Whether the spice of bouncy boobies and the ability to dress up the ladies as your pleasure dictates ruins or enhances the experience is, ultimately, up to the player.
At least the game is honest. Right up front, the intro cutscene proclaims:
“Don’t take this story seriously. None of that crap here! I just wanna raise some hell, that’s all.”
And indeed, the story is rife with nothing but humor and lighthearted “conflict.” The master ninja Hanzo sets up a cooking competition with a wish granting scroll as the prize. This ultimately devolves into a strip cooking fight conducted as a rhythm game.
The player chooses a character for either Story, Arcade, or Free mode and then descends into battle. Each battle takes place over three rounds. The goal is to perform as perfectly as possible for each of the three rounds, with victory decided in the third round.
…wait, what? Yes, unlike most rhythm games, Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit determines victory solely on performance in the final round. Difficulty is irrelevant; you could put the PSVita down and grab a drink, come back, contemplate life, then pick up the game in the third round and claim victory just the same as if you’d aced all three rounds.
Which is both good and bad. Bad because what’s the incentive to succeed? Good because the game’s goal is indeed fun. And it shows; Easy and Normal difficulty modes are pretty dang simple. Even newcomers to rhythm games won’t find themselves hard-pressed to ace battles.
But Hard mode must’ve been included for the die-hard rhythm game players. Despite the whimsical feel to the game, despite the abundance of boobs and fanservice, Hard mode is reserved for the truly skilled. Select it at your own risk.
But beyond willingly subjecting oneself to pain, Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit is a fun game. Unfortunately, it loses lots of points for key rhythm game qualities that it lacks. One of those is good songs. Even if the tunes were JPop-y techno trance-y it would be okay. But Bon Appetit puts out the weirdest grooves. The rhythms aren’t too hard to handle, but they’re weird and aren’t always fun to listen to while jamming.
Another major quality is distracting the player from the groove. Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit has a selling point, and that point is major boobage. Doing well in the battles leads to more and more nakedness (losing does the same to your own character), and performing perfectly leads to absurd camera angles and gravure shots. Do just well enough, and the game will treat the player to a semi-interactive…arrangement. Of a girl. On a cake. With the whipped cream, and…well, just see it for yourself.
Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit can pretty much be summed up by this image. No matter how good of a rhythm game it might be, there is a Dressing Room mode to put the characters in various costumes (and to view these images for each). Player skill is rewarded not only with points and high grades, but also with naked ladies. And half the characters in the game are behind a DLC paywall equalling the cost of the game.
This is a conflicting game. Take it for what it is – a purely entertainment-driven sexual rhythm game – and you’re still left with something of a disappointing taste in the mouth. If the music were as hot as the ladies, perhaps this would be more of a hit even amongst the fans. As it stands, Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit is a largely forgettable rhythm game that stands out only for its enjoyability and its…bouncy-wouncy-ness.