Nitpicking Senran Kagura Estival Versus (PS4 Version)

Excellent PS4 game loading splash screen. 10/10

Before I start, this post is not to bash the developers of the Senran Kagura series. It is more so a post just showing the flaws of the game that a lot of gamers would just oversee. When you start game development, you get to a point where you need to tell your brain to not pick apart games you play.

For me, I find that hard to do sometimes where the errors just stick out like a sore thumb. Then I ask myself the question “how the hell did that pass QA checks?”. Some days I force my brain to operate in a “gamer” mode when playing games rather than attempting to pull apart games to see what makes them tick.

Estival Versus is not a serious game. As my friend puts it – it’s literally dripping with fan-service, and it excels in that field. The “Creative Finishers” are fun to watch even for the 100th time and it’s great to just be able to smash some buttons and unleash a few hundred-hit combos.

Let’s begin nitpicking with the most annoying thing in the Single Player Mode.

The AI.
It’s awful. It’s too simple for its own good. Now, before you grab the pitchforks to grill me alive, the AI’s path finding has a LOT of things to be desired. The main gripe is that the AI path finding is basically crap. Both enemies and other allied NPCs will get stuck on corners of the level geometry (and jitter until you push them away by running into them) and also get stuck behind walls.

Try to picture this. You’re at a park and in the middle is a tree with a square fence around it. Now, on the east side of the fence is unable to be navigated through as it has a deep trench, but the west side of the fence is able to be navigated through. I’ve done a crude MS Paint drawing to help visualize this as so:

MS Paint of how bad Senran Kagura AI is

In the above example, the AI seems to have a simple “seek the player and if within range, attack, else pause, then restart seeking” routine where the game makes the AI rotate towards the player character and move to their position followed by an attack.

That works for a majority of the time… but as you can see, Enemy A and B cannot move towards the player, so they’ll basically just be continuously walking into the wall, hugging along the wall if their collision mesh allows until they stop hugging the wall and have a clear path to the player.

In our example, the trench cannot be jumped over but you can see what’s on the other side as there’s no camera-blocking walls. So as a result, you’ll see the 2 enemies walking on the spot like they have 999 ping in Call of Duty. Then what’s even funnier to watch is a whole group of them get stuck and they start trying to jump over the object they are behind. Of course, they fail, and instead just land back in the same spot they started from. Clever.

Enemy C may go straight down and find the player or get stuck on corner of the tree area as depends on how the player is moving but the other enemies will be able to navigate properly. When the game is about swiftly chopping down numbers of enemies to get to the boss, crappy AI causes frustration as you have to waste time running around the map, trying to find that said boss that is somehow jittering… on the corner of a lamp post. Trust me, I’ve seen that many times.

AI-controlled enemy that's apparently stuck on... wait for it... a blade of grass.
AI-controlled enemy that’s apparently stuck on… wait for it… a blade of grass.

The allied AI always will try to follow you, but it also suffers from path finding errors as well. And it is more passive than actually aggressive. I can take a lot of damage before the AI controlled partner will react and deem I need support. Unlike the “Switch to Partner” feature in Senran Kagura 2, you can’t help the poor AI get out of its predicament and you’ll have to abandon them until they teleport to you.

What I’m trying to say is that AI has much to be improved on. Heck, the 3DS Senran Kagura titles had better path finding than the PS4 Estival Versus title. I personally believe they went with the sloppy approach just because they, Tamsoft Corporation, to the best of my knowledge, use a custom in-house engine.

In their defense, maybe the simple approach was the less taxing on the console and given you can have up to 100 enemies or more on the field, you don’t want complicated, heavy AI running every CPU cycle. This argument is somewhat thwarted if you use a engine that already includes competent AI functionality, then most of these silly errors are avoided, unless you have no clue to AI pathfinding. But I guess that’s just what happens when you’re using your own home-grown 3D game engine.

tl;dr summary: The AI is too basic and for someone like me, it’s cringe-worthy. While the AI can do some major damage if they gang up on you, most of the time you can predict what they’ll do. Oh, and the Ninja Art spam is unreal.

Movable Objects in the map cause massive amounts of damage.
This one seems to be an oversight. There’s a map where you’re inside a Gym and there’s some basketballs where you can attack them to make them fly around the map. If you’re lucky, the basketballs can deal damage to the enemy or if you’re not so lucky, damage yourself.

The problem here is that you can also damage yourself unintentionally if you walk into a object, get stuck on it walking on the spot, and since you’re applying force to the object, it will take a good chunk of HP away from you before the object goes shooting away.

The game engine must check to see if the object is moving, but instead of just forward, it checks behind it as well. Unfortunately for you, you’re pushing it, so it does a damage multiplication and if you are using Frantic Mode, you can literally get killed by a basketball just because you moved it and the game thought you were in front of it. Same thing applies to boulders – get pinned between a wall and a boulder and be prepared to take your shinobi back to the infirmary.

Poor Rin here got crushed by the said boulder. True story.
Poor Rin here got crushed by the said boulder. True story.

This is possibly the same issue with Crysis 1, how you can die quite easily in that game pushing a barrel from behind. In fact, I’m almost be certain this bug exists in Crysis.

tl;dr summary: Game incorrectly applies environmental damage – if you’re pushing a object, you can get damaged instead of damaging your opponents.

Let me turn off that annoying announcer in multiplayer.
While not as annoying as that stupid baby cry in a certain Yoshi’s Island game, the announcer more than annoying – it’s just her old crabby voice that annoys me. I honestly prefer a more softer voice like Yumi or something cheerful like Asuka or Hibari’s voices, but that’s just me. I guess it’s the same lines getting old very quickly, but I rather play my battles without announcing everything that’s going on.

I don’t mind the in-game announcer announcing the time remaining in the match and that I’m waiting to respawn, but don’t comment on how the game is playing out – that really annoys me. By that, I mean I’m fine with “5 minutes left” or “Just wait a little bit, you’ll respawn soon” but when you get prompts like “You’re taking a beating” and “This doesn’t look good”, then it’s really annoying.

tl;dr summary: Announcer in multiplayer mode needs to shut up.

Side note: Speaking of voices, Yagyuu’s menu voices just seem to be 90% sneezes while 10% is actual one-liners.

To be honest, that’s pretty much it.

Those were the most annoying things that I have to mention. There may be some more things that are annoying but I’ll most likely address them in another blog post as this is over 1300 words long and I think I did enough writing for now. Until then, keep your female ninjas safe and happy.

No caption necessary.
No caption necessary. (I think?)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments Protected by WP-SpamShield for WordPress