Title: Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson
Developer/Publisher: Tamsoft/Marvelous USA, XSEED
Release Date: September 15th, 2015
Fanservice is such a touchy topic now, especially in video games, that any game which lays it on as thick as the Senran Kagura series immediately has myriad gamers express their disregard for it – now there’s an oxymoron for you. Why is it called fanservice then? No idea; most games like this aren’t even given a chance. Read on to find out if Deep Crimson deserves one.
Starring the good ninja girls of Hanzo Academy and their equally top-heavy rival evil shinobi from Hebijo Academy, Deep Crimson has five chapters comprising two story arcs that intertwine in the final chapter. The first part has Dogen, one of the few male characters in the game, plotting to use first the girls of Hebijo Academy and then Yoma – demons born when shinobi make each other bleed – for his rise to world domination. The second, and by far more interesting arc, has a young girl being escorted by a bodyguard to Yoma-infested places to eat Yomas’ hearts out – you’ll find out why. These events force the rival shinobi to fight alongside each other and find out how much they have in common. The story starts out really simple, but gets better as it progresses. It’s a very anime story, which is likely to work for anyone who looks into playing this game, and the character development – especially for the alexithymic Hikage – was good. The humour was a surprise – contrary to popular belief, it’s only seventy percent obscene and thirty percent silly, compared to the hundred percent obscene everyone told me it would be.
Deep Crimson is a pretty straightforward ‘busty brawler,’ as the game’s press release puts it. You have light and heavy attacks which you can make combos out of, and there’s a pinch of Devil May Cry in using the R button to home in on enemies quickly. Unfortunately, there’s no way to defend, and since bosses don’t hold back any more than you do, you’re better off going all-out on enemies.
A gauge fills up below your health bar as you battle, and you get a Shinobi Scroll when it’s full. Once you have a Shinobi Scroll, the L button lets you use Shinobi Transformation, which lasts for the whole mission after activating it: your character gets her health restored, can use special attacks which also cost Shinobi Scrolls, and changes into a cooler outfit. Speaking of outfits, they don’t last long for any character. Most attacks – and special attacks in particular – tear through characters’ clothes until they’re down to their underwear. There’s an option to turn this feature off if it disturbs you … but who would? The game even tallies up how many strippings you did in the mission – usually they’re just as many as the enemies you took down.
One of the new features that makes Senran Kagura 2 superior to its predecessor is pair battles. For most missions, you have a partner alongside you as you battle, and you can switch between these two shinobi. You can revive your downed partner with a full or (if it’s not the first time you’ve revived her) almost-full health bar using a Shinobi Scroll, so constantly reviving your ally is a sneaky way to stay in the game during the later boss battles, which are difficult. The bosses are difficulty spikes throughout the game, but a couple of the last few ones were downright unforgiving. The game is enjoyable for the most part, but it could have done with a more balanced difficulty ramp. The current one is jagged.
The game assigns you grades from A through D (or F if you failed) for each mission. Getting an A isn’t easy – I averaged a B throughout the game. The missions are pretty short – the longest one would take around eight minutes. Characters also earn experience to level up, and levelling up in the middle of a boss fight is a blessing as it fills up your character’s Shinobi Scrolls.
Thanks to the dual shinobi feature, Deep Crimson has both local and online multiplayer. The online community isn’t exactly thriving – at most you’d find two matches online – but online multiplayer is pretty smooth and even supports 3D. The 3D effect in the game as a whole is pretty good.
A single playthrough of the game’s story mode takes ten to eleven hours, but there’s lots of extra features that come with it. There are special missions that impose handicaps on you – beating the mission without using a certain type of attack, for example. There’s also the returning Dressing Room feature, which has plenty of outfits for your shinobi to wear in missions – or wear while you have them make the many suggestive poses the Photoshoot Mode has. This time around you can have two girls present in the dressing room at a time; they really were thorough with the ‘dual shinobi’ concept.
The coolest extra mode is Yoma’s Nest, which has you rip through wave after wave of increasingly powerful enemies. If you survive through this ordeal the rewards will be great, but if you die or quit you’ll only get a tiny bit of EXP, so you can’t quit while you’re ahead. It’s great fun in online multiplayer, though.
The characters look good, and I mean from a technical standpoint as well as, well… they-look-good-wise. The enemies have somewhat hilarious designs, as even five-headed Hydra-like monsters and oversized spider mutant thingamabobs have breasts. The levels, though, aren’t that detailed, are pretty small to begin with, and are often recycled. The fight music is excellent, and the music database has comments by the composer on each track. The menus are a breeze to navigate through on the touch screen and the whole ninja-ishness of it all is pretty good. On the other hand, the load times could have stood to be more ninja.
Deep Crimson is a really easy game to decide on. If an anime game that dishes out fanservice and straightforward beat ’em up gameplay in spades appeals to you, don’t hesitate. If that’s not your thing, don’t worry that you’ll miss out on the game of the year. More detailed level designs and a balanced difficulty curve would have done a lot for it, but this game here does provide a good time for those who give it a chance.
Overal Score: 7/10