Games based on anime or styled like anime isn’t an uncommon thing. However, when the topic is brought up you might think of animes such as Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, or One Piece, each one an action-oriented series (I’m assuming for One Piece anyway, I’ve only seen a few episodes sadly). Each of those should make for a great video game adaptation, whether it turns out that way or not. Then you have your animes that are more oriented to being eye-candy for the male viewing audience. While Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson isn’t based on any specific anime that I’m aware of, it does seem to cater somewhat towards that audience, but the question is if the game is any good beyond that.
The story of the game is about two rival Shinobi academies, the Hebijo and Hanzo academies, which basically represent the notions of good vs. evil. However, when a greater threat begins to take shape, the two academies must now put their differences aside and work together. To be honest, the story isn’t too shabby. Yes, it does sound like your typical good vs. evil, but it then becomes good and evil vs. greater evil, something not seen a lot in games.
While in the game’s main hub (called the Ninja Room) you can wander around and talk to the other characters, change characters and equipment, and take on the missions of the game. The missions are broken down into three sections: Story Missions, Yoma’s Nest, and Special Missions. The story missions go through the storyline mentioned above and each mission uses a specific character, so the character you’re using while in the Ninja Room has no bearing here from what I can tell. Each chapter has several stages and each stage typically has a boss at the end of it. Some stages just have a boss and that’s it.
Special Missions allow you to complete missions for Shinobi Stones which can do things such as increasing attack speed. Each character can have up to three Shinobi Stones. You only have a few missions to start with but additional missions can be purchased online. Then there’s Yoma’s Nest which consists of fourteen floors and after each stage you get to choose which of the adjacent stages on the next floor to challenge. The further you make it, the more experience you’ll earn. However, you don’t heal between stages (though it appears you do if you level up during a stage) and if you are defeated, you’ll lose most of the experience you gained, though you can back out between stages if you wish.
The gameplay style is pretty much a hack-and-slash where you use Y and X to perform multiple types of combos, including while in the air. On the touch screen you’ll see a chart or two for each character showing what kinds of combos they can perform. These combos change depending on the character you use and I’ve found that sometimes you can easily dispatch most enemies by just hitting Y over and over again. Since each stage has you use a different character you’ll definitely be able to get used to everyone and how they operate without needing to go into training.
If things just happen to get too overwhelming, you also can store up to three power attacks. At the bottom of the screen under your blue health meter is another meter that will fill up as you damage enemies. When that fills up a yellow icon will appear right below the meter. If you have at least one of those icons lit up you can hold L and press either X, Y, or A for a more powerful attack. This will deal a good amount of damage to anything on the screen but there’s a catch, and that catch leads me into an issue I have with the game; aiming and attacking.
When you’re fighting enemies you have to make sure you are facing what you want to attack and it can be difficult to stop a combo or change directions once you’ve started one. The enemy you’re “targeting” does have a circle around it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your attacks will hit it as you can still control the direction of your attacks. Bosses can be difficult as they tend to attack you even while you’re hitting them with a combo. If you can successfully land a power attack it’ll usually stun them long enough for you to get in almost enough damage for another power attack. However, if the boss moves as you’re pulling off the attack (and the bosses almost never stop moving), your power attack can miss entirely. Basically bosses can be either really easy or your worst nightmare.
If you’ve played the game before or have seen screenshots and trailers, you might notice that there’s quite a bit of “eye candy” so to speak in the game. Not only when it comes to the breast physics but also in a couple of other moments, such as the characters’ clothes ripping off when they take damage and a Sailor Moon-style transformation sequence before you can use your power attacks. Honestly it’s not that bad if you’re into anime as I’m sure it’s nothing new. For me it just seemed like they concentrated a little more on that as opposed to the combat mechanics. This is an area where it’s either up your alley or it’s not. If you’re not too comfortable with it, you can at least turn off the clothes ripping in the options.
Eye candy aside, I’m not saying that Senran Kagura 2 is a terrible game; it just takes a while to get used to, but at the same time I was becoming more frustrated and bored as I played it. The game can go from easy to tedious in the blink of an eye, pressing Y to do longer combos can get boring really quickly, and the combat system itself can use a bit of work. I’m not saying this game doesn’t have its audience, nor that the audience wouldn’t like it. It just feels like more of the focus should have gone to the gameplay as opposed to the girls. I’ve never played the original Senran Kagura so if you liked that game you might like this one, especially if it’s more of the same. However, I will fully admit that this game does have its target audience and I’m definitely not part of it, though if you are, you’ll likely enjoy this one.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.