Editor’s Note: This is a review for an imported copy of the Japanese version of Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus. We will have a review for the localized copy of the game, released later this year by XSEED Games.
Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is a PS Vita game with sweet action, breakneck speed, and some great clothes ripping. The game itself is reminiscent of Dynasty Warriors-style battles, but they go much deeper and get more complex. You’re playing as ninjas, after all—of course the combos would be badass looking, and probably just a tad over-the-top.
The backbone of the game is the action, so I’ll delve into that first. The game’s combat system shines most when you hit what are essentially boss battles. That is, when you’re up against another main character. However, that isn’t to say basic enemies aren’t possibly dangerous—sometimes they can rough you up quite a bit. They just aren’t as fun to fight.
Instead, going up against another ninja girl is the best part of the game. Combos can go on for a while if you know your stuff, and many of the game’s systems act like a fighting game. For example, a basic skill that you’ll need to compete is knowing how to begin combos on the ground and end them with a launcher. You’ll launch the enemy into the air and then, fighting game style, hit a button to chase them down and continue your beating in the air.
The combat system itself operates similar to the Warriors franchise. The square button is your normal attack while triangle operates as strong attacks. Each character also has three supers called “Ninpo”, similar to ‘musou’ attacks. The differences in the system, however, add to the ninja-style combat.
Dashes and air dashes are incredibly useful to keep your movement going, and guarding in this game is far more useful than in Warriors games. In addition to that, you also have the ability to let out an energy burst to get people off of you and interrupt combos, as well as lock on, and transforming.
And, now that I’ve mentioned transforming, let’s talk about dress-breaking, stripping, and fan-service. This game? It’s full of all three. As you play and damage your opponent (assuming it’s one of the main cast and not a goon, of course) their clothes will break.
This happens in two ways. First, through normal damage. However, it is very unlikely that a weak attack will break clothing, leaving strong attacks that tend to finish combos to do the dirty work. Which piece of clothing breaks (top or bottom) is basically random here on out.
Second is by using Ninpo. A first level Ninpo will break the enemies top, second level Ninpo will break the bottoms, and a third level Ninpo will break both top and bottoms. There are also layers of clothes damage, of which Ninpos take one level each.
Generally, it takes two round of damage to destroy clothing entirely (there is basically a ‘damaged’ level and a ‘destroyed’ level). You can also strip them out of their clothing entirely, although it is rather difficult to do. So, of course, as you’re fighting an enemy ninja girl, there will be clothes being ripped apart throughout the fight. The same will happen to you—the fights are not that easy, surprisingly enough.
There’s also one more important facet to combat. Each character has access to three “Elemental Paths” that give different bonuses and various effects. The three Paths are Flash (Standard Outfit), Light (Ninja Outfit), and Shadow (Underwear). Each character starts in the Flash state every battle. The Flash path is the standard school uniform that each character has, and the associated fighting style is more balanced.
The second Path, Light, is the character’s ninja outfit. Each character has a specific outfit that is just theirs, as opposed to the school uniform which is shared among school-mates. The Light path tends to favor a defensive style of play, and would favor those that like longer, drawn out battles. During a fight, the character can transform into their ninja outfit by pressing L1.
The third Path, Shadow, is more attack focused. The player holds R1, and then, starting with their fingers in the middle of the screen, swipe quickly outwards. The character will then burst out of her clothes, and have energy glowing around her hands and feet. This puts the character in whatever underwear she is set to wear.
Which brings us to the next section of the game—customization. There is tons of it in the game, ranging from clothes to underwear to accessories. Any character can wear any of the school uniforms as her default, not needing to actually attend that school (There are four schools).
Each character has access to her ninja outfit with any added accessories and a few other outfits for that slot. And finally, we come to underwear. There are more than 100 different underwear styles in the game, generally collected through the use of a coin-run lottery type game. And each girl can be put in whatever underwear you like best—and some can get pretty raunchy.
Accessories and other outfits (Like bunny girls, kimonos, costumes, etc.) can also be bought at the store where you use the coins to get underwear. There is plenty to collect and buy with the game’s currency, so if you like to 100% games, this one will take you a while—especially since you’re not guaranteed a new underwear every time you try to lottery. Repeats will happen. And, the customization options for accessories are pretty vast and extensive.
And did I mention that it goes online too?! Yes, you can play competitive battles online against other players, which means that your customization can be seen by other players, so you can show off your creative accessory placement and costumes and such. In addition, there are several one player modes, from two story mode styles (Centered on a school team or individual characters) and training. There’s lots to do in the game.
And now that I think I’ve covered just about everything, here’s my verdict on the game. Personally, I loved it. It has some flaws, and it’s not a very impressive, or ground breaking game. But it’s fun. I like Dynasty Warriors too—bad games, really, but you can’t not like shredding through thousands of enemies in a senseless beat ‘em up.
Taking that one step further, Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus, adds difficult and intense boss-like battles into the mix, making the game simply more fun. And the deeper combat system and quicker paced battles just add to the excitement.
Of course, the fan-service is always a welcome addition. It’s a little over the top at times, but it’s never in poor taste. It’s just fan-service, plain and simple.
The game never takes itself too seriously or pretends to be something it’s not. It portrays itself honestly—a fan-service filled romp that’s full of fun, action, and girls. And let’s be honest. What guy wouldn’t enjoy that?
Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus was reviewed using a retail copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.