Review: Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson (3DS)

All jiggle, no sizzle.

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 10/02/2015 09:00 1 Comment     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Solid presentation; Tons of narrative content; Controls are tight; Girls will satisfy the game's core audience
Poison Mushroom for...
Repetitive bland gameplay; Won't win over anyone who isn't a fan of this sort of niche title; Difficulty spikes are unfair; Some cheap enemy attacks

Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson is my first rodeo with the naughty schoolgirl brawler series, and I walked away from it with mixed feelings. This is a game that embraces the niche audience it aims for with total abandon, bringing its jiggle physics and shredded clothing to the forefront straight out of the gates. People can say what they want about the ogling aspect of the game (I’ll get to that topic myself in a moment), but it’s a thing that resonates with some players, and in that regard Senran Kagura 2 largely (okay, that wasn’t a pun, stop it) succeeds. The gameplay itself, however, is merely pedestrian, striving to emulate the feel of similar hack-and-slash greats like Ninja Gaiden, but falling far short. Though combat is serviceable, I ultimately found it too bland to keep the entire experience afloat.

Let’s cut to the main subject of controversy regarding Senran Kagura 2, which is its highly overt sexual content. The game revolves around the escapades of two warring factions of otherworldly schoolgirls, and Senran Kagura 2 is as much about elaborate sword fights as it is getting the girls out of their clothing. There’s no outright nudity in the game, but there might as well be, as characters and enemies are regularly reduced down to nothing but their underwear as they take damage during battle. That would be eye candy enough for a lot of people, but Senran Kagura 2 takes it a step further, with lavishly rendered character models and copious amounts of bouncing boobs. The development team put a lot of effort into the presentation, which I have to give them credit for, as everything (ahem) does look really great on 3DS, save for the samey, sterile backgrounds that every stage takes place on.

The problem, of course, is that some people will take offense to such a blatant and shameless use of sex appeal to lure in players. I’m going to be pretty honest here: I’m not going to come out and condemn Senran Kagura 2 for pandering to its audience. I personally don’t gravitate to this part of the nerd-fetish spectrum, but I know there are a lot of players out there who do, and it is what it is. Some find it creepy (which is why I’m not a fan of this sort of content), but in a world where women are reading Fifty Shades of Grey while sitting on the BART train, and the sexual hijinks of TV shows like Game of Thrones are completely glazed over, it’s hard to firmly declare Senran Kagura 2 as being completely out of hand. Granted, I’ve been outspoken about the role of women and their representation in the gaming industry, but this is a very particular sub-genre that has as much right to exist as films like Magic Mike do in movie theaters. I have my own opinions on all this stuff, but to put it simply: everyone has their thoughts on sex, and I can’t condemn Senran Kagura 2 just because I or someone else might not approve of its content. For those who are into it, the fan service of Senran Kagura 2 will undoubtedly be some of the best they’ll have yet seen on a handheld.

The girls are obviously a huge focus of the game as a result, but beyond their meticulously animated and rendered bodies, each one also has her own unique personality and appearance. Developer Tamsoft has crammed a lot of narrative into Senran Kagura 2, and along with its generous cinema scenes and pretty impressive boss characters to fight, the result is a game that has an admirably realized world to fool around in. There’s even local and online co-op to partake in, which can be of great help when trying to get through some of Senran Kagura 2‘s more difficult enemy encounters. I died fairly often in my playthrough, which wouldn’t normally be the worst thing in a challenging game, but as I mentioned up top, the combat isn’t engaging enough to keep Senran Kagura 2 aloft. As much as the title tries to evoke the potent feel of Ryu Hyabusa as he mows down waves of enemies, I grew more and more weary of seeing packs of foes as I progressed. A lot of the minor skirmishes could become woefully redundant, with the same girls appearing over and over, bombarding me with cheap hits that seemed virtually unavoidable at times. Boss battles, too, could be frustratingly cheap, and in the end I was far too frustrated by the imbalance between the game’s presentation and its half-baked fighting.

Somewhere along the way in development, Tamsoft became too focused on making its battery of schoolgirls ooze sex appeal and dropped the ball on its fight mechanics. Though the controls are responsive, and some of the combos are pleasing to execute, the relentlessly “samey” corridors, bland, cheap encounters, and unfair difficulty spikes left me scratching my head. Considering steamier imagery is an Internet connection away for most players, even Senran Kagura 2‘s biggest selling point isn’t going to be enough to keep them aboard for the long haul. Anyone who is on the fence about this sort of game, and especially those who don’t find it appealing at all, isn’t going to be swayed by Senran Kagura 2. It’s okay in bursts, but overall its gameplay doesn’t have the entertainment value to distract from its overreliance on sexiness to ensnare players. The ogling ends up being little more than spackling to cover the title’s abundance of cracks.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

One Response to “Review: Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson (3DS)”

  • 207 points
    Jon Stevens says...

    I love the excerpt for this :)

    While I probably would never have given this a shot, it’s still a shame that the gameplay itself isn’t up to scratch. Series’ like Bayonetta have shown that you can still have a provocative/attractive lead, while actually having the gameplay to back it up!

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