Review: Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit!

Release Date
PlayStation Vita (Digital Only)
Publisher / Developer
Marvelous Europe / Meteorise
Rhythm, Cooking

The original Senran Kagura game was only released in 2011, but has already spawned sequels, spin-offs, an anime adaptation, multiple manga adaptations and a mobile social game. Not a bad thing to achieve in such a short space of time. Not to mention the games thus far have had engaging storylines and interesting characterization hidden behind their big, bouncing, boobies. The latter of which the series loves to shove in your face at every given opportunity.

Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit brings back your favourite sweater puppies characters from Burst and Shinovi Versus , but this time you won’t be smashing your opponents into the ground while stripping them, oh no, this time you’ll be competing against them in a Shinobi bake off. Don’t worry; their clothes still rip to pieces when they lose, some things will never change. After hearing that the legendary Shinobi and master chef, Hanzo, will be hosting a cook-off, the prize being a wish granting Secret Ninja Art Scroll, all of the girls decide to enter for very different and often hilarious reasons. It should be noted that there were two versions of the game released in Japan, Marvelous Europe have decided to release one over here and have the content of the other available through DLC packs, which will be out a few weeks after Bon Appétit s release. Without the DLC there are 10 playable characters, each with their own song and short story. When you purchase the Gessen x Hebijo DLC pack, that will then unlock all the characters from the second game, as well as a bonus soundtrack app.

While your Shinobi of choice is cooking, you have to hit either the D-Pad, square, triangle, x or circle as they reach the Ninja Star on the screen. By successfully hitting icons you’ll fill up your Ninja Art gauge, once activate it’ll give you bonus points, however if you miss an icon it’ll deactivate and you’ll need to fill the gauge again. It’s a very simple system, that works well. Each song is divided into three parts, one part for each of your dishes. After each section you are scored by Hanzo, do well during the first two sections and you’ll fill up the heart symbol, giving you the treat of seeing the loser’s curves while they cook. Do badly and it’ll be you showing off your voluptuous chesticles. If you lose the first two rounds but manage to win the final round, you’ll still clear the song, resulting in your character jumping around happily and your opponent half naked on the floor. If you manage to win all three rounds and fill up the heart symbol, then there is a special reward of, let’s just say, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, fruit and suggestive poses awaiting you. Yep. This title takes niche to a whole new level.

The rhythm and cooking elements go together well, as you chain together combos, the size of your dishes will grow, resulting in crazy and exaggerated scenes playing-out, after all it just wouldn’t be a true Senran Kagura title without nudity, gravity-defying melons and wacky visuals. Although the game works in many ways, one of the biggest draws of a rhythm game is for players to hit notes while listening to a catchy song, which this game rather disappointingly lacks. Each character has their own track, which plays as you battle against them. Sadly these are usually instrumental and instantly forgettable. Some do have vocals, but it would’ve been nice to have more of them available.

From the menu you can access Story Mode, where you’ll be able to beat through your chosen Shinobi’s pun-filled, unique and rather witty stories. You won’t find the deep character development found in previous entries, but it’s a fun, albeit short ride. Arcade Mode gives you multiple battles back to back and Free Mode let’s do what you want. The game also brings back the Dressing Room, which offers the usual fantastic customization options. Players are able to dress characters in a number of ways and give them accessories, which is a great distraction from the main game.

The graphics are clear and look great. As usual Senran Kagura’s character designs are not only wonderful, they’re also memorable. The Japanese voices are as good as ever, matching each character perfectly and helping to bring out their individual personalities and unique charm, though it should be noted that there is no English audio available.

Bon Appétit doesn't bring the deep character development the series usually offers, but there is plenty of humour and silliness to keep you entertained. The rhythm aspect of the game works well, but the lack of memorable music is disappointing. It's a rather short ride, but as it costs less than £15, that's not too much of an issue. This is another solid entry to the Senran Kagura franchise. Marvelous Europe please give us more!