The latest game in Marvellous' unapologetically pervy ninja brawling series hits PS4 and Vita this Friday, March 18. As someone completely unfazed by fanservice-y Japanese games I have to wonder, at what point does Senran Kagura: Estival Versus make you uncomfortable? Before we get started, know that we're going to be getting into NSFW territory here relatively quickly. Nothing horrible I'd say, but then I'm not the best judge here.
The Senran Kagura series is all about massive ninja battles starring young women who get progressively more undressed as the fighting continues. There's a bit of a Dynasty Warriors feel to the battles, only with hysterical characters instead of historical ones. Also, breasts.
It doesn't bother me. What some see as sexual and offensive, I see as goofy humour. No one looks like these characters. I've known people who act like these characters, but never in a serious manner.
But I totally understand that other folks don't share the same attitude. Some of our readers do, but many others were put off by the GIF atop this article and have already left. I miss them.
If you're still with us, I'm going to go through the first 30 minutes or so of gameplay, and you tell me at which point you'd be out.
First off we have the game case. Figure I'd start from the very beginning. The outside cover is just four ninja hanging out, nothing too racy there. The inside gets a bit chesty, and the disc itself has a sort of wet t-shirt vibe going.
The cover is reversible, so you can put the inside on the outside.
Good so far? Let's move on. Going to assume we hit start immediately, skipping the opening credits for now. We'll not worry about the Dressing Room option, which lets players dress up and shoot photos of the game's characters. Just know there's a pretty sweet achievement lurking in there.
The story begins with story narrated by an older Japanese woman. If older Japanese women talking for several minutes makes you uncomfortable, your journey is over.
That does seem worse.
Once the older woman stops talking we launch into an animated sequence. A pair of students from the Hebijo Clandestine Girls' Academy, Ryobi and Ryona, pray at the grave of their dead sister, Ryoki. It is a somber, reverential moment.
I don't know what you were worried about.
The two hear a noise coming from deeper in the woods and creep off to investigate.
Oh yeah, this is probably what you were worried about.For the record, time to panty shot, five minutes.
Kind of an abrupt mood shift there. I'm guessing we lost a couple of people after that image.
And now a couple more. Did I mention these are sisters?
The sisters discover an elderly woman in a clearing performing some sort of ritual. She summons forth the spirits of several dead ninja, including their older sister. The old woman guides their sister into a standing coffin, and the two ninja leap into action. They pry at the lid of the coffin, triggering a massive explosion that sends them flying.
Ryona, described in the character book accompanying the special edition of the game as "a hardcore masochist", is overjoyed.
OK, maybe I'm a little uncomfortable here.
So that happens. Who's still here?
Since Ryona is a masochist, it stands to reason in stupid anime sex humour land that her twin sister (did I mention they are twins?) has a sadistic streak. Reacting to her sibling's... we're going to go with enthusiasm here, Ryoki tells her sister to stop being stupid.
"Don't call me stupid!" Ryona cries.
"Then what am I supposed to call you?" her sister asks in response.
Did we really have to open the game with these two?
It's OK to tap out at this point. I almost did, and I have a high tolerance for this sort of thing. You can tell by the blush that Ryona is excited by the notion, but still.
It suits Ryoki just fine. "Bitch" is one of her favourite words. She says it before battle.
Well she did ask.
She also says it during battle with the female shinobi with black bags over their heads in the sequence that follows.
The whole world is her bitch.
You may notice Ryoki looks different in that last screen. That's because each character in the game possesses the power of ninja transformation. Here comes the most NSFW bit.
It bears noting to those of you remaining that the scroll Ryoki pulls from between her legs is generally pulled from between the characters' breasts, but since her normal form is flat-chested design compromises had to be made.
That is a sentence I just wrote. Yes it is.
Congratulations! You've made it all the way to the opening credits! If you haven't felt uncomfortable yet, you're probably safe to play the game. Feel free to dance along with the opening number in celebratory fashion.
And in case you stopped somewhere before the credits and scrolled down to the closing comments, don't worry. I came very close to being right there with you on a couple of occasions. But I powered through, and now can enjoy the mildly addictive hack-and-slash gameplay of Senran Kagura: Estival Versus in nearly complete comfort.
Definitely not playing this online though.