Developer: Tamsoft
Publisher: Marvellous
Release Date: 26/09/2017
Format(s): Playstation 4

Oh, Senran Kagura; how I admire your creative ways in which you bring titillating content to handheld devices and consoles. Whether it be through brawlers, musou-style hack and slashing, or having busty female ninjas serve up a treat in the kitchen, it’s never afraid to show off a bit of flesh to appeal to its audience.

The latest entry in the series – Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash – does more of the same, but this time by pitting all of the female characters in battles throughout a beach and waterpark. With water guns. In their bikinis.

It’s exactly what you’d expect from the franchise really, BUT with one twist: it’s actually a hell of a lot of fun to play.

Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash

If you’ve played any of the previous Senran Kagura games you’ll have a basic idea of what’s going on in Peach Beach Splash. Basically, everyone’s favourite shinobi girls have found themselves invited to the ‘Peach Beach Splash’ tournament, where the winner gets the prize of whatever they desire. They can ask for anything – all they’ve got to do is prove that they’ve got the best water gun skills.

It’s a simple set up and one that certainly shares some similarities with mostly every other game in the franchise. It’s not the only thing the game shares as far as the narrative is concerned though, with the same silliness, rude puns, and perverse encounters ever-present. It’s all a bit of fun really and will certainly pull a few laughs out of you here and there, but don’t go in expecting some narrative masterpiece.

Whilst a lot of the narrative elements remain the same though, Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash offers one big difference from its predecessors; rather than fighting with close-range melee weapons, you’re instead shooting each other with extravagant water guns. That’s right – the ‘Peach Beach Splash’ tournament is a super soaker battling bonanza.

This means running around in third-person action as you shoot at your opponents, slide all over the place, and use the environment to try and keep yourself protected. You’re also armed with a water-powered jetpack that essentially lets you fly around and take your opponent out from all angles. It’s mightily absurd, yet a whole lot of fun.

Naturally, there’s a bit of variety on offer with your water-blasting arsenal, with the player able to use the likes of both water bazookas and water grenade launchers when in battle – there’s certainly a lot of creative ways to use H20 to take out your foes in the game. Obviously, you don’t need ammo, with an almost endless supply of water on offer for you to beat down enemies. You do have to pump it into your weapons though, which adds an almost strategic element to the game where you’ve got to make sure that you don’t pump whilst in a vulnerable position but also that you’re always loaded and ready when confronting your foes.

The shooting itself feels natural and as you’d expect it to from a third-person shooter, though Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash also has an optional auto-aim function in place for those who aren’t so skilled with the genre. Realistically, it’s not something shooting purists should be using too much as it takes way some of the challenge from the game, but I’m sure its addition will be useful to some.

When you’ve grounded an opponent in the game, you can unleash your… ‘special move’ upon them. Now Senran Kagura is naturally known for being perverse, and it’s in these moments that it’s probably at its most obvious; you have to shoot water at your helpless victim in, uh-hum, ‘special places’ to get a reaction out of them and also blast their clothing away. Yep, it’s sleazy alright, but it wouldn’t be a Senran Kagura game without something like this. At the end of the day though, you know what you’re getting with the game – baring that in mind, I guess it’s a pretty neat move to pull off…

Outside of the water gun battling, there’s also a card system in place which allows your character to unleash a series of offensive and defensive abilities during each showdown. This might be something as simple as giving you a new gun to use, buffing your skills up defensively, or even summoning a pet into battle to give you a helping hand. You take a selection of cards into each battle with you and then get to use them when you want to get yourself out of a tricky situation, or alternatively when you’ve got your opponent in a tight spot.

I actually really liked the card system and found that it added a surprising amount of strategic depth to battles. Not only are you constantly unlocking new cards but can upgrade your old ones too, meaning you can keep enhancing your set-up the further you progress through the game. It’s an intricate system, but one that I also found incredibly addictive to play around with.

Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash has a fairly lengthy story mode to play through that’s also made up of side missions, individual episodes, and additional challenges to complete. They’re all generally fun to play through, though they could start to feel a little samey at times. Whilst there’s a wealth of single player content there, the arena-based shooting gameplay means that they never vary up too much from a gameplay perspective. It’s not that the game isn’t entertaining nor are the mechanics boring, but rather that there’s not a lot to it outside of simply taking down waves of enemies.

At least the online mode adds some variety though, which allows you to play with or against other players around the world. You’ve got your standard modes in place: you know, ‘Co-op Survival’, ‘Team Battles’, and ‘Capture the Fla-‘ I mean, ‘Capture the Bra’. It’s in multiplayer that the game shines and adds a bit more variety – it’s not a cheap tacked-on feature either, with the bonkers gameplay itself proving an entertaining way to battle with your friends.

As always, you can customise characters in the game with a plethora of different outfits available for you to unlock (and ogle over in the Dressing Room if that’s what floats your boat). Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash is easily the best looking entry in the series so far, and that’s something that’s clearly evident when you’re checking out the character models whilst customising them.

Conclusion

I’ve been left pleasantly surprised by Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash; whilst previous games in the series haven’t been bad by any means, I wasn’t expecting this one to be so much fun to play. There’s a surprising amount of intricacy to the shooting, whilst the card system adds a lot of depth and strategy to combat. It’s just an entertaining and quirky experience.

Let’s face it, it’s not going to cause shockwaves in the third-person shooter genre thanks to the fact that it gets a little repetitive over time and is full to the brim with bikini clad anime babes, but it still shouldn’t be ignored. Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash isn’t only the best game in the franchise so far, but also a very enjoyable one in its own right.

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