Platforms: PC (Steam)
Developer: Marvelous Inc, Tamsoft
Senran Kagura: Estival Versus is a fast-paced Beat-em-up. It’s part of a series called Senran Kagura that plays similarly to games like Dynasty Warriors or Devil May Cry with a few key differences. The most obvious difference is that the game consists of only beautiful female anime characters. Let’s just get this out of the way now:
This game is FILLED with fan service. If one were to look up the word Ecchi, this series would be pictured.
Also, for those wondering, yes. The fan service portion of the game is great. Every girl has their own unique flare of “Hottie Shinobi Girl with Nice Boobs”.
Now that that’s out of the way, the real questions are asked: Is the sexy nature of the game just a disguise for a crappy game? No. Senran Kagura: Estival Versus is actually a fun game to play.
Senran Kagura: Estival Versus takes place right after the events of the previous game, Shinovi Versus. For those who haven’t played, knowledge of previous games seems mostly optional, except sometimes conversations between characters may leave new players in the dust, which can be a bit frustrating, but even then, the developers seem to be in on the joke because the game will literally suggest you stop playing and go watch the Estival Versus OVA. Well, I suppose that’s better than pushing DLC on us…
The girls from each shinobi school are teleported to a mysterious tropical island where they must participate in the Kagura Millennium Festival. Of course, it happens on an island. How else would you get them running around in bikinis?
Prepare for silly antic, awkward situations and perverted scenarios.
That’s a bit reductive, though, as sometimes the story takes a serious turn. Senran Kagura: Estival Versus isn’t afraid to tell a serious story in their sexy island fantasy™. For instance, two of the girl’s are at a grave, praying for their dead older sister who was also a shinobi and lost her life. It turns out, the festival they’re partaking in allows the dead to return for just the tournament to redeem themselves. One sister is overjoyed to see her big sister again, while the other is ever hesitant to rejoice.
In terms of storytelling, the game really presents itself like an anime. There are a lot of girls to play as and each one has their own story. The main plotline is the festival itself, but most of the girls are more interested in going home or just relaxing at the beach (They’re cute anime girls, what do you expect?) What’s funny is that both the characters and the game itself don’t seem too interested in the festival and would rather focus on relationships between characters with some sexy camera angles between fighting, but this is entirely on purpose.
The game really doesn’t take itself too serious, even with the occasional heavy story.
The combat system is fun, though a tad repetitive.
Once you master a girl’s move set, the best thing to do is repeat those few moves repeatedly. The difference in this game is a break mechanic. This mechanic makes it so a Shinobi can push away their attackers mid-combo. It takes a small sliver of health to perform, but other than that, it breaks combos instantly. Enemy Shinobi love doing this, and while the initial thought would be to strategize around it, you can’t. It really just interrupts otherwise satisfying combos. This really only gets in the way of Shinobi (boss) fights, however.
As far as the other mechanics are concerned, Senran Kagura: Estival Versus controls a lot like Dynasty Warriors except it’s only you (and sometimes a partner) facing waves of grunts and the occasional Shinobi. There’s a weak attack and a strong attack and different girls have different combos. Each girl can level up and unlock more combos as well, giving a sense of progression.
They’re not the most solid fighting mechanics, but they’re definitely fun to pull off. Some girls have large swords, others have fans and even giant metal boots. Their play style is really where the diversity kicks in. Every girl, there are 27 of them, also has a magic girl-style Shinobi transformation where they, ahem, disrobe and their new Shinobi costume (different for each girl) magically attaches to them in a very… satisfying cutscene. It’s all playfully shot, however, and teeters on the fence as far as nudity goes.
Once transformed, the Shinobi can now perform special moves and has enhanced capabilities. The strategy for the game is basically to fight in normal clothes, then transform when your health gets low, as it restores health and boosts performance.
There are also some challenges outside of story mode that really test your mastery of each character. There’s also a diorama mode. What kind of pervy anime game would it be without a mode where you can dress your favorite girl in one of the dozens upon dozens of costumes, accessories and yes, underwear, then have her pose? Hey, I’m not judging, for what this mode was, it was feature filled and admittedly, fun to cycle through.
As far as the PC aspects go, Senran Kagura: Estival Versus runs great, and this really is a quality port. Using a Steam controller was a cinch and controls didn’t seem to miss a beat. Not every Japanese console port fairs well on PC, but Estival Versus soars here.
Senran Kagura: Estival Versus is pretty good for what you’re getting. Knowing what you’re getting into and mixing that with the price tag of $39.99, this game is worth that price. These types of games definitely aren’t for everybody, but the ecchi fan service doesn’t come to the stage alone, it brings actual quality gameplay that’s actually fun to learn and master.
Estival Versus is a short game in terms of the main story but has high replayability with the 27 characters to choose from, some of which must be unlocked throughout the game. Some of the challenges are difficult as well, requiring time and practice to truly beat the game, which is something some games are missing today. If you’re a fan of fast-paced anime action and cutie anime girls (It’s okay, I won’t tell) then this game is definitely worth picking up.