The Senran Kagura series only started in 2011 and has already spawned three games, an anime and two manga adaptations. Senran Kagura Burst is actually the second game in the series, however, it contains the original story, Skirting Shadows, which follows the newbie shinobi students of Hanzō Academy as they battle against the evil shinobi of Hebijo Clandestine Girls’ Academy. The new addition to the game is the Crimson Girls story mode which follows the Hebijo girls through their everyday lives and battles.
The characters, as well designed as they may be, are built from the seemingly limited stash of character archetypes that we see in many ecchi, slice of life, or action anime series. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it would be nice to see a character that is firm and as developed as their breasts. Of course, the cast do have their own personal battles to deal with, involving family issues, first love, and how to fit in when you have small breasts in a world of impossibly inflated, voluptuous chesticles. It would be offensive, but it’s so ridiculous that it’s hard to take seriously.
So let’s stop staring at cleavage and get down to the gameplay; you can choose which character to play as and explore the shinobi’s hideout. During this time you can talk to other characters, access play records, character costumes, movies, pictures and embark on missions.
Once you’ve selected a mission, the side-scrolling action begins. You run along a totally linear course, taking down every enemy that appears on the screen, using a weak or strong attack to chain very simple, but immensely satisfying combos, which help you level up your character and raise their stats. The average enemy can be defeated easily and, although the copy-and-paste designs of your foes are quite plain, it is fun to annihilate them. If you give or take a certain amount of damage, a short cut-scene will play showing a character’s clothes disintegrating. Repeat this and they’ll be down to their underwear. Not exactly what you want a nosy commuter to witness.
With each character playing differently, more is added to the game. Whether it’s the Gothic Lolita Mirai with her umbrella-gun and her special attack (she pulls a phallus-cannon from under her dress and blows everything away) or the fast-moving Homura who dashes around the screen using her 6 swords to slash all the enemies into the air, allowing you to follow and finish them off with an Aerial Rave attack. They all feel unique. With so much happening, there are some frame rate issues which make battles really frustrating at times, but for the most part, it’s fine.
Unfortunately, the game offers very little in the way of difficulty, so to make it a little more challenging you have a chance to press L and R in order to enter frantic mode; making your character wear only a swimsuit, it has poor defence, but at least your speed, power and eye-candy increases. Missions are separated by a sincere and surprisingly deep story told through a visual novel. These lengthy, yet entertaining sections allow the player to understand each character’s fears and woes, as well as their goals, finally allowing you to see beyond their physical assets.
Senran Kagura Burst is not a solid brawler and the frame rate jiggles about as much as the character's chests, but it's still a satisfying experience, with a simple and fun combat system, accompanied by music I found myself humming along to as I beat back hordes of enemies. Although best played in short bursts, the game takes little seriously and doesn't care who it offends by being as over-the-top as it wants. If you're a fan of anime girls or brawlers then this game is definitely one for you.