So the Senran Kagura series has experimented into quite a few different genres over the years. It has been a beat ‘em up, a fighter, a third-person shooter, a cooking sim… it has certainly spread its wings as far as diversifying its gameplay experience is concerned. Now though, with Senran Kagura Peach Ball, it has become one of my favourite types of video games: a pinball one. Yes, the titillating action has headed to the pinball table, with players putting their pinball wizard-like skills to the test in order to restore the humanity of some busty shinobi babes. Wow, this series is weird…
I won’t dive into Senran Kagura Peach Ball’s narrative too much, mainly because it’s so peculiar. Basically, a selection of the lovely ladies of the Senran Kagura world end up turning into animal-hybrids after messing with a peculiar concoction known as Beastall. The only way to turn them back into their human form is by activating the curative mist found in the strange ‘Peach Ball’, and what better way to do that than by blasting it around on a pinball table that has the girls straddled upon it? Thus, you’ll head through five different scenarios with each of the girls, all whilst seeing little tid-bits of the story unveiled and their personalities blossom with each interaction.
I’m sure fans of Senran Kagura will appreciate the little tale that accommodates the game’s pinball action, and even I as a newbie to the series found myself chuckling at times. Sure, the game never steers away from the perverse (in fact it exploits it as often as it can), but there’s no denying that it still manages to provide a fair bit of entertainment.
The bulk of Senran Kagura Peach Ball’s gameplay takes place on the pinball table, with the setup feeling conventional in that you’ll be hitting flippers to blast a ball around a table to earn a high score, all whilst completing the mini-missions that pop up as you go along. I’m sure just about everyone has found themselves sitting bored at a PC and playing ‘Space Pinball’ at some point of their life, so you’ll get the gist of how this game works from there.
Of course, this is a pinball game based upon Senran Kagura, so there was always going to be some interesting twists to the main gameplay setup. For one, you have a HUD displayed on the side of the screen that gives you special ‘Peach Missions’, with certain objectives in place that’ll increase your ‘Peach Meter’ – it’s basic stuff like hitting certain targets and what not, but the fact they encourage you to play in a specific way certainly makes the whole experience more interesting. Once you start to fill up the Peach Meter, you’re tasked with hitting whatever lady you’ve got waiting for you at the top of the table. This will activate a mini-game which, when completed, will move you closer to turning her back into a human.
It’s silly, sexualised stuff, but it actually makes for a really fun pinball experience. Senran Kagura Peach Ball makes it very clear what objectives are in place for you and it really adds to the variety of the experience by constantly putting new ones your way – the fact you’ll sometimes transport to completely different areas changes things up too, even if those sections are pretty short. Either way, it all comes together to make for a good time for both fans of the series and of pinball.
The only real downside to the action is that there are only two tables on offer, which is pretty lacking compared to other pinball games that are available right now. If the game was available for a lower price it’d be something, but it’s £35.99 in the UK – for that price you can get Pinball FX on the Switch and a good selection of tables for it. It’s a shame, especially since the quality of the tables that are available and the action that takes place on them is of a high standard.
At least there are some additional extras to get involved in, though your interest in them may vary. For one, you can unlock different costume parts for each girl in the game. You can play dress up if you like and then check the girls out from different views as they pose for you… hey, whatever floats your boat. Then there’s the ‘Intimacy’ option which allows you to interact with the girls in a variety of ways, including grabbing at their… uh… ‘body parts’ as they slowly encourage you with their moans. It wasn’t really for me, but hey, it’s something that’s been done in the series before – ‘different strokes for different folks’, and all that.
I played Senran Kagura Peach Ball as a fan of pinball as opposed to a fan of the series itself, and I enjoyed my time with it. Sure, the action is very titillating and there’s a lot of sexualised things to be found (both on and off the pinball machine), but the tables themselves are well-designed and the missions that came with them were addictive and fun. It’s good stuff.
It’s just a shame that there are just the two tables to play on, which is a bit disappointing given it is essentially a full-price release. Things like the story, dressing up the girls, unlocking illustrations and the ‘Intimacy’ mode do make the package a bit bigger, but fans who are here solely for the pinball experience will be left wishing there was a bit more on display.
Developer: Honey Parade Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch