It’s been two years since Senran Kagura Burst was released on the Nintendo 3DS. There’s been a couple of spin-offs released for the Playstation Vita, yet it was nice to see the series return to where it started. Deep Crimson doesn’t necessarily change much, but instead delivers over the top fanservice, fun character interaction and the fast-paced action you’d expect to find from a Senran Kagura game.
Story mode begins with a stretched out version of the end arc from the first 3DS game. Some people could see this as being a bit cheap, but it does build on the character development that felt a little bit rushed, together with doing a quick job of introducing new players to what’s actually going on with the plot at the moment, along with a little bit of background to each character from the first game. There’s more story to experience once you have finished the first bit, but it’s mainly the character interaction that delivers. Plot hasn’t always been the shining part of these games, but you don’t mind when the character interaction here is as good as it’ll ever be. There’s plenty of laughs to be had as you make progress through the visual novel scenes, and, thankfully, there’s not as much of them this time around. There’s more character interaction going on, which is a step I always wanted this series to make.
The core gameplay is a 3D hack-and-slash/beat ‘em up. There’s still elements of the classic side scrolling action games of past generations, but more exploration in regards to moving around the 3D environments. You can see that Shinovi Versus, the Vita Senran Kagura release had a lot of influence in the making of the second 3DS game. Also added into the mix is being able to control two characters during a stage. The computer controls the second character until you decide to take control of the other. It’s a really nice feature, but the camera controls do let this down a little bit. This can happen especially during boss battles, when it becomes a pain trying to keep your eyes on the constant moving around of the enemy. It’s something you will get used to over time, but I can understand it if annoys players at first.
Difficulty is all over the place. It likes to spike at random, just to keep you on your toes. This can be sorted out by playing on the easy setting and simply leveling up your character enough before tackling medium and hard, but it all depends on how you’d prefer to play these games. Boss fights especially are where you’ll find yourself having a bit of trouble. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, because in some ways it mirrors past side scrolling beat ‘em ups from the Megadrive/Super Nintendo era, which isn’t a bad thing in my books.
A few more modes have been added to spice things up a little. There’s special missions that have you defeating a set amount of enemies under certain conditions. Yoma’s Nest is another which is, personally, my favourite. You have to do a series of missions arranged in a 14 floor pyramid, while gaining experience from each level but with no healing. If you lose, that means all the experience you gained upto that point will be lost. The selling point of this mode is being able to unlock new weapons for the girls, with 75 in total to collect. It gives players plenty of reason to carry on playing the game once the story mode has been complete, expanding the game’s lifespan.
It’s difficult to write a review for a Senran Kagura game and not end up mentioning the fanservice. If you’ve played any of the previous titles, then you’ll know it’s totally in your face most of the time, be it during battle or cutscenes. The series isn’t afraid to push the boundaries, especially when the characters themselves are talking about each others’ assets. It’s definitely a personal preference if you like it or not, and that factor alone could easily turn someone away from buying this game. Gameplay does deliver some of the best action you can find on the 3DS, so it’s best checking out some gameplay footage before you spend money on this title. The last thing you want to do is find out what this series is known for after spending money, and being totally turned off by it.
If you’ve enjoyed past Senran Kagura games and wouldn’t mind a little bit more, Deep Crimson is something you’ll love. There’s enough additional content from previous games to make the experience feel a little bit fresh, but still ends up delivering what you want from the series. If you are a new player, make sure this is a title you won’t be easily offended by. Senran Kagura isn’t for everyone, so make sure you know what you are in for.