I’ve been a longtime fan of Kenichiro Takaki’s Senran Kagura series, so much so that I own every game released to date. While the mainline series and most of its spinoffs have involved some kind of action gameplay with big-breasted female ninjas fighting, there have been a few spinoffs that have thrown that out of the window. Both Senran Kagura Bon Appétit! and Senran Kagura: Reflexions introduced completely new gameplay for the series, and now we have the next fresh spinoff – pinball! I’ve got to admit, from the moment I first saw it, Senran Kagura: Peach Ball was an instant sell for me. The absurd, cute, and sexy Senran Kagura style, but thrown into one of my favorite genres, pinball?! Where can I sign up? But how does the final game stand up to the series, and other pinball games? Read on to find out!
Senran Kagura: Peach Ball
Publisher: XSEED Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), Windows PC
Release Date: July 9th, 2019
Players: 1 Player
Senran Kagura: Peach Ball arrives bouncing and bursting forth onto the Nintendo Switch in pretty fantastical visuals, as per the series’ pedigree. While Senran Kagura has been known for colorful and fun anime visuals, the addition of pinball craziness really turns things up a notch.
Between the overall layout of the pinball tables to the various effects, doodads, and of course – the girls themselves, Peach Ball is a cavalcade of optical delights. While I usually prefer a realism approach with digital pinball tables, Peach Ball is so crazy and fun to watch I simply enjoyed the ride.
Performance overall is rock solid, and regardless of how many balls or effects were going on, the game ran great. I also saw no hit to performance in docked or handheld mode. Despite some lack of content (more on that later), the game looks and feels like a full blown Senran Kagura spinoff.
Senran Kagura: Peach Ball plays like a really fun and honest take on the pinball genre, all through those buxom anime ladies and their wacky personalities. Gameplay within the tables is fast, frantic, and definitely quite a lot of fun. One thing, though, is the physics don’t really feel accurate.
I’ve played a lot of real life pinball and digital pinball games, and I definitely feel like Peach Ball is a little too easy in terms of its physics. The game certainly isn’t a pushover, but it does feel like the physics and mechanics are designed around the player – not the player adapting to them.
Currently, are technically only two tables available in the game, Peach Land and Spooky Shinobi Park, but they have lots of thematic changes in both time of day and even seasons. The former has day, evening, and night, while the latter has spring, fall, and winter. This is honestly my biggest gripe.
Most digital pinball games have a good number of tables each with their own quirks, unless they have issues with licensing. I really wish there were more tables in the game, and more girls from the absurd number of shinobi the series now includes. It feels like a budget title in this regard.
My favorite table is definitely Peach Land, which has quite a lot more bells and whistles over the mini-game focused Spooky Shinobi Park. Between the Ferris Wheel, the teacup bumpers, the dolphin silliness, and others, there’s a lot of awesome stuff going on.
Shinobi Park feels more muted and similar in comparison, but the mini-games can be fun, when you do pull them off. Regardless, the main goal is to keep shooting at the girl in the middle of the table, with more points awarded to shots on their boobs or butts.
There are series mainstays like the dressing room where you can throw new costumes on the girls, put them into diorama poses, and the intimacy mode that lets you touch the girls everywhere. You can unlock a lot of clothes, hairstyles, Peach Ball designs, music, artwork, and more.
One of my favorite bits is the Sexy Challenge, which puts you into a mini-game where you have to hit various things to get the girl into a compromised pose. Examples include hitting an ice cream truck to get them sticky, rubber ducks to get them wet, and slapping their butt with the flippers (my personal favorite).
Music in Senran Kagura: Peach Ball is more of what the series is known for, and that’s mostly exaggerated and party-like jazz and instrumental tracks, with Jpop vocal-laden tracks sprinkled in between. Overall, it just oozes Senran Kagura, and is extremely cute. It’s just irresistible to be honest. Voice acting by the Japanese actresses is fantastic, as usual.
The sound effects, as this is a pinball game, are definitely great. From the frequent bouncing noises to the various sound bites on the tables to the girls yelping every chance they get, you’re in for a real audio treat in this game. I’d say headphones are probably your best friend, too.
The story in Senran Kagura: Peach Ball is, as expected, silly and follows the tragic outcome of Haruka’s chemistry experiment gone wrong. While on the clock at the Honey Arcade, Ryona stumbles into the bathroom, where Haruka stored the “Beastall” liquid, which turns anyone into an animal.
Once partially transformed into a fuzzy dog, Ryona begins to assault the other female ninjas, turning them all into part animals too. When in this new state, they slowly forget their humanity, and need to be returned to normal with the “Peach Ball,” which eventually releases a mist, curing them.
From there you have to rescue all five girls by shooting balls at them in a pinball table, after triggering some kind of memory from when they were human, of course. Murasaki, Asuka, Yumi, Yomi, and Ryona are all affected, and they all must have things shot at them to be saved.
Playing through the story mode will take you around 4-5 hours or so, and in doing this – yep, you’re playing those same two tables, albeit with slightly different styles and backgrounds, pending the season or time. There are fun dialogue bits in between, and they definitely help keep things fun.
Despite the lack of real-world physics, the want for more tables, and more girls, I had a lot of fun playing through Senran Kagura: Peach Ball. I’d say folks on the fence with this one should consider it, but know that it can feel like a budget title with the aforementioned core content.
Senran Kagura: Peach Ball is a fun and exciting take on the pinball genre, but within the big-breasted ninja girl series Marvelous is known for. There’s a lot of fun to be had in this game, as it really captures the silliness and sexiness the series has garnered a fanbase on. I’m hoping for more tables!
Senran Kagura: Peach Ball was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a review copy provided by XSEED Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.