Senran Kagura is a series looked at by its fans in a positive light and its detractors as being sexist or some other kind of nonsense. I was first introduced to the series via the anime back in 2013 and while I found it rather amusing, I could always see the reactions over the horizon as the series gained more notoriety. Niche Gamer EIC Brandon Orselli is also a die hard fan of the series, while I have just been OK with it since it was introduced to me, never picking up the games. This makes Peach Beach Splash my first introduction to the series in video game form and man was my mind blown away.
Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash
Publisher: Marvelous, XSEED Games
Platform: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed)
Release Date: September 26th, 2017
Players: Single Player and Online Multiplayer
We need to get this out of the way first: the game looks like you are playing an anime. The technique implemented by the animators, artists, and designers has really shined through here. I have played many games that tried to pull off this type of graphical technique and failed.
So, as you might imagine, it is extremely refreshing to see a game actually pull this off using 3D models while somehow avoiding insane model pixelization or clipping. This care and attention also extends to the wide variety of costume unlocks players can earn while playing the game.
The trade off here, which seems to make this all possible, is that the arenas you play in are rather boxy in design but do follow typical anime aesthetics. This is not a bad thing per se, as this ties directly into gameplay mechanics, but the characters do pop from the background: which at times can look slightly off.
When it comes to just pure art work, Peach Beach Splash is chock full of it. If you are a real fan of the series, or just appreciate the art style, this point alone might sell you on the game. PBS uses a system of cards for everything you use in combat, with every said card sporting some really well done drawings for players to appreciate.
The visuals, when it comes to water mechanics, are a coin toss of static design and fluidity. You will not see persistent water effects from combat, though there are many instances of water throughout the maps which are really well done. That is not to say that the general mechanics of the water shot from the various weapons look bad, but it’s more static.
The character roster in the game is massive, presented with body animations and movements you would expect the characters to have. You can even customize all the characters to have a persistent look throughout the story missions.
Though some customization items do cause massive clipping in cutscenes, it seems to be caused by them not being standard to that character. Other than this issue it’s still a nice mechanic, if you want to customize your roster while going through the game on harder difficulties.
Peach Beach Splash also sports robust gameplay with a lot to do. There are many different modes players can engage with including: four standard story modes (consisting of 10 missions and one unique boss), 12 sets of Paradise Episodes (with 5 missions each with a variety of characters and side stories), V- Road Challenge (which is set up like mini tournaments for prizes), Co Op Survival mode and finally Free and Ranked Match modes.
The matches center around some basic third-person shooter mechanics, with a couple of twists that make the game stand out. Players will find that they are able to use water in multiple different ways: form movement, dodges, as well as weapon ammunition.
Each weapon type has a different apparatus for vertical movement, including a high double jump or jet pack, while horizontal movement is fairly standard: using jet like speed boosts that can send you sliding across the floor at or away from your opponent. Refilling requires players to be strategic and take cover as you “pump” water by holding down Square.
There are also secondary skills and pets that are available to the player. These can really turn the tide of battle and can range from healing effects to protective barriers, homing elemental attacks and more. All these items are made available from the gacha like card packs earned throughout the game’s story mode, challenges, and so on.
There are about 1000 cards in total, featuring different art and varying ranges of skills and attacks. You also get started with a good selection of skills in the beginning – so you do not need to worry about getting a slight unlucky streak, the game has got you covered for that. Also, duplicate cards are used to power up your existing cards and your favorite ninjas.
While the game is effectively a third-person shooter, it has quite a few lock on and homing techniques, making gameplay more about movability and taking cover. Players also get a chance to recover when their life goes below 50%, allowing smart players to run and reposition themselves for a counter attack.
Once you KO an opponent, they have a small window for their team mates to come and revive them. The way you prevent them from succeeding is by using the Peep Peep Gun (a small water gun shaped like a rubber ducky) to quite literally shoot off the clothes of your opponent. This is kinda like next level Tea Bagging that will most likely cause the regular crowds to bitch and moan, but fits in the context of the series: so pay those groups no mind.
Overall the gameplay is quite fun and always feels like you are progressing forward, even when you lose in online multiplayer.
The story mode and missions help you build an understanding of the game and what tactics you can use online, with the added bonus of getting more cards to use on your favorite characters.
When diving into sound and music, you have some amazing voice acting that really helps give every character personality. The voice cast is just superb and almost everything is acted or played with VO on text.
There are a total of 42 voiced characters with distinct personalities, voiced by 40 different professional voice actors, which is one hell of a feat and shows the time they put into the game.
The game also sports quite a few music tracks with an upbeat and catchy tempo that really works well with the gameplay. It’s actually quite cathartic and satisfying, especially when you are playing a competitive game like this.
It almost fully defuses the rage you would normally get when you lose or see a teammate who is performing poorly. The feeling is almost hard to explain but once you play the game, you will quickly understand.
Overall sound effects are the weakest of the three and could use more impact. It is hard to tell if you are getting solid hits in and how many exactly, which is typically done in shooters with a visceral sound effect of the attack connecting. Instead this leaves you relying on a health bar, which when you are trying to stay mobile, is a bit of a pain.
The story of Peach Beach Splash is campy and over the top, balancing innocence and leering perversion. You know what you are getting into before you even put the disc in your console.
With that in mind, the game is gloriously self aware; poking fun at prudishness, YouTube, vloggers, themselves, and the player. The translations may be slightly less impactful to the humor on screen, but it still comes across well enough.
They do play up some of the ninja themes of the series in some storylines, though that most certainly is not the norm for the game, which chooses humor and lightheartedness over the combat side of the series.
If you are looking for some kind of “depth” in this game, stick to the gameplay and art. If you want to have a laugh and just generally enjoy yourself, then the story should be right up your alley.
Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash kind of blew my mind. It’s a fun and fast paced third-person shooter with beautiful art, fun characters, great voice acting, and an eye for humor.
The mechanics are interesting and there is always a sense that you are achieving something through gameplay. It truly is the game we need but don’t deserve. So kick up your feet, grab a beer and unwind with Peach Beach Splash. You will thank me later.
Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a review copy received from XSEED Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 9.5
- Fun gameplay on or offline.
- Great artwork.
- A wide range of talented voice actors.
- Humorous and fun character exposition.
- Great character customization.
- Oppai for everyone!
- Some minor clipping issues when customizing.
- Water effects could be a bit more polished.