Mini Review: Senran Kagura Burst, Nintendo 3DS (NSFW…ish)

Press Start for Ninja Boobs!
Press Start for Ninja Boobs!

Reviews aren’t my forte but here goes. Today, I’ll do a mini review with the first western-released game of the Senran Kagura games on the 3DS. Screenshots were taken from my own hardware, and the use of them falls under “Fair Use”. Due to the questionable nature of the screenshots, viewer discretion is advised.

WARNING: The following review contains screenshots that may contain boobs, panties and/or other body parts that may trigger or offend other people. If you get triggered or offended easily, then this review is not for you.

Senran Kagura Burst is actually a remake/improved version of the first Japanese title, “Senran Kagura: Shoujotachi no Shinei” which is developed by Tamsoft Corporation and published by Marvelous! (yes, their company name includes the exclamation mark). That said game had some minor flaws, but overall got a decent recognition.

Burst was released in 2013 with English language dialogue by Marvelous! USA (formally XSEED Games, although they still use the XSEED Games brand, I think…). It contained a second story-line from the other schools’ point of view, bug fixes and other miscellaneous additions, changes, etc.

XSEED Games/Marvelous! USA have done a good job translating it and keeping it as faithful to the original as possible, unlike how all that “Fire Emblem Fates” crap is going down in the USA – I’ll say no more about that.

Originally, I thought the game was just be 2D sprites and static backgrounds, kinda in the sense like retro beat-em-ups. I was wrong. And I’ll explain why – keep reading below!

Game Core (Performance)

Overall, the game runs at a good speed on the 3DS. My hardware is the New 3DS Variant, which has a Quad-Core CPU compared to the original, which was Dual-Core. The New 3DS also has extra RAM for additional room for games and apps to move around in. Unfortunately, there was a few times when the game would lock up and I had to force a reboot of the console, as the Home button wouldn’t do squat.

There could have been more optimization done but in general, the game will boot and operate at a comfortable rate. No excessive loading times to report.

Graphics

In this screenshot, I'm playing as Yagyuu. There's also Asuka and Katsuyagi.
In this screenshot, I’m playing as Yagyuu. There’s also Asuka and Kat – her full name I can’t spell off the top of my head!

To be honest, I personally think this is one title that the 3DS shows off how much bacon it has under the bonnet. While the graphics of the 3DS may not match something like, say, the PS Vita graphics, let’s not compare the two different consoles.

The 3D environment has a lot of detail, and it’s not just “oh put a stock generic house building there and slap a boring 16×16 stretched texture”. Of course, the texture resolution is small so the 3DS doesn’t run out of System Memory and/or GPU VRAM, and you can see some stretching, but this is understandable and only noticeable on the ground – an example is “Silent Wasteland”.

An example on the detailed graphics.
An example on the detailed graphics. Looks 2D, but it’s actually 3D.

The 3D models used for the characters, at least for the playable ones, have a fairly good amount of polygons. You can see some polygon crunching in some of the close-up scenes and the hair does clip through the head and clothes (a common issue with games) but I can understand that you’d make the poor console struggle if you asked it to render a model that was more complex than what it needs to be. The cell shading also looks great on the 3DS.

Nice cleavage you got there.
Nice cleavage you got there.

However, while the graphics look great, there’s something that makes the game lag. In any of the transformation sequences, the game will start chugging. I’m not going to give the game a big slap in the face because of this, but some of the transformations like Asuka’s make the frame rate drop to below 10 to 15 FPS.

As a hobby game developer, I think it’s the particle/visual effects that drag the game down. There’s also inconsistent frame rates when a lot of 2D sprites are going on the screen – an example is Hibari’s classic “swing my arms around” attack which makes stars shoot out of her fist when her fist collides with the enemy – when they spawn, the game chugs, but as soon as they go away, the frame rate returns to acceptable levels. Speaking of dragging down the game – what’s with the Ninja Room causing really horrible frame rates? A simple room like that makes the game run at like 10 FPS and I can’t figure out why.

In short – frame rate pain, but enough eye candy to make up for it. The 3D effect also adds extra enjoyment, and who can forget the series staple, jiggly ninja boobs – they’ll wobble and jiggle around when your Shinobi is getting punched up or she’s pulling off a combo.

I hate to admit it, but I had to use HANS (a homebrew application to enhance 3DS games) to overclock my New 3DS from the standard CPU clock to the 864Mhz clock, which is usually used for New 3DS-only titles. Once overclocked, the game ran without major frame rate pain. Still, to the average person, they may get frustrated when the game decides to chug randomly.

Bewbs.
Actually, I do like Yagyuu in a Miko (Shrine Maiden) outfit.

Audio

Without going in much detail, the music sets the mood nicely. The female moans, groans and other sounds do get repetitive over time, and I had a case were I cleaned out one section of a mission that had the same moan playing every time I defeated a enemy shinobi. There’s simply not enough variation.

Some of the battle one-liners that the girls say do also get old fast, including Miari’s “You’re getting my dress scuffed up” in which she sounds bratty. Other ones are just asking for it with their sexually suggestiveness including Haruka’s “I want more!”.

I haven’t tested the quality of the audio with headphones plugged into the 3DS, but from what I hear out of the built-in speakers, it isn’t crap quality.

EDIT: Forgot to mention, there is no English dubs to ruin the audio. I perfer English subtitles with Japanese audio, and dubs ruin the experience for me. This gives the game bonus points.

Controls

Pretty standard 2D brawler controls, although you’re moving on a 2D plane when attacking, so you need to line up your character or some attacks will not hit the enemy.

Circle Pad moves, X and Y attacks, A does mostly squat and B is jump. L is transform in which you can then use L + X and L + Y to unleash specials. R is emergency “buy me some time” button that saps 10% of your health and can’t be used when critically low on health.

If you play it on the new 3DS, the ZL and ZR buttons do nothing. Sorry to disappoint.

Replay Value

The game is forgiving, and if you fail a mission, you’ll be given the option of retrying. There is no “Game Over” or if you die using one heroine she dies for the remainder of the game, and this is what kept me playing it over and over. No matter how hard the boss shinobi is, with enough retries you’ll be able to pass the boss. Some may think it’s too easy this way, but I personally think it levels the difficulty out nicely. Speaking of difficulty, did I mention the AI adapts to your character’s level? The higher you are, the trickier the AI becomes.

Replay value is high and if you’re a completionist, you’ll be glad to know that if you beat the game while Frantic, the game will reward you with something special. I don’t know what it is, though! I can say you can unlock special characters if you do it right.

Honest Opinion (aka Summing it up)

She's happy I purchased the game, and I'm happy too.
She’s happy I purchased the game, and I’m happy too.

In the words of Kenichiro Taka, one of the lead artists for the series characters: “Tits are life, ass is hometown.” (Source Tweet)

I’d recommend it to anyone who wants lovable characters, a good challenge, and plenty of replay value.

I’m already playing the sequel on the 3DS – Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson. The game has its angst, sorrow and other emotions and I personally think that the game is one of the best in the 3DS showcase. The characters are quirky and I especially like Yagyuu, but the cast all have their fun traits.

You’ll have to buy it online since there’s limited stock in the retail stores (at least NONE here in Australian retail shops due to a limited run and the stupid “Australia Tax”). I got mine from PlayAsia, shrink-wrapped and 100% genuine. I might sound like a sales pitch for the company, but well, they have great service.

Do give it a shot if you like a button masher. It’ll give both your 3DS and your hands a workout and reward you with happy boobs in the process. Or else, Miari might have to convice you.

What you see... is what you get. WYSIWYG.
What you see… is what you get. WYSIWYG.

Fin.

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