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August 2018

Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Marvelous Interactive
Release Date: Sept. 26, 2017


PS4 Review - 'Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash'

by Cody Medellin on Nov. 2, 2017 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

The ninja girls of Senran Kagura return for a new installment in the busty brawler series.

Buy Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash

Those who are familiar with the Senran Kagura series expect silly stories but character arcs that make the journey worthwhile. The gameplay is surprisingly solid, as long as players are fine with a ludicrous amount of fan service that pushes the boundaries of what is permissible on a major platform. Although they're niche titles, the quality level has remained consistent — until now. Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash marks the end of that streak; it's a decent enough game, but it can't be saved if no one is there to play it.

As in previous titles, the story can be ignored without consequence. The premise is that every so often, during an unusual hot streak, the Peach Beach Splash is held. Meant as a tournament to quell the heat of the mountains, the event brings together all sorts of shinobi to participate in a competition where the winners get a wish fulfilled. The catch is that no weapons or shinobi arts can be used, as the shinobi must fight with a variety of water-based weaponry.

The fan service has increased in Peach Beach Splash. It doesn't take long before the game gets raunchy via speech alone. There are tons of lewd jokes and innuendo being thrown around before the tutorial is over, and by the time you think that it'll stop, it keeps getting amplified. Those who are more prudish need not apply here.

The level of fan service extends to the non-gameplay modes as well. The gallery of images you can collect almost always features two of the girls in poses that are more than a little risqué. You have the option to place the girls in dioramas in suggestive poses. You can also grope the girls, which can cross the line for some. Interestingly, since the girls are already in bikinis, the store is a reversal of fortune since the outfits that are available for purchase covers more skin.

The gameplay is standard third-person shooter fare, but with water-based weapons replacing the arsenal usually seen in this genre. Water pistols and machine guns are standard, as are water hoses, rifles, and water balloon launchers. The shinobi are also given a water-powered jetpack that propels them into the air and gives them the ability to perform a dash followed by a slide. Both the jetpack and the guns are powered by the same water reservoir, and refilling it means standing still or moving very slowly.

Water tanks are depleted rather easily. Even if you're using a regular water machine gun, your tank seems to deplete after a few shots. This start-and-stop pace of the shooting might be reminiscent of Splatoon, but it's more uneven since you move faster while firing but much slower while you reload. It takes a while to get used to, but it's fine once you nail the cadence.

Aside from water guns, your arsenal includes cards that can be activated after a cooldown period. The cards generally act as boosts or pets that can accompany you during a fight for more firepower or protection. Cards can only be obtained by finishing events or by buying them, but they can only be purchased with in-game currency. The cards come in booster packs, so there's a high chance of duplicates. The game is very good about automatically taking those dupes and using them to power up your existing collection, so that's one less thing to manage.

There's a bit of depth to the game aside from the use of cards. Get hit often enough, and you'll get a strength increase, so you become rather formidable before losing a life. In a way, it encourages recklessness at first and then some caution once you get that boost. The mechanic also has the side effect of letting your teammates douse you with their own guns, and while you lose no health in the process, you still fill up the meter, so it's a good idea to get in their crossfire.

As in past games, Peach Beach Splash introduces a mechanic designed to push the limits of what the game can get away with. Drain any shinobi of their life, and you enter a minigame where you can douse them with water in a short amount of time. Aiming for the bikini causes it to disappear, and light pasties serve as the only boundary before the game goes into AO territory. One has to be fine with the girls being in these humiliating positions in order to enjoy this distraction.

Beyond the basic training mode, the game features three single-player modes. The campaign mode goes through the story arcs of each of the four shinobi clans, giving them 10 missions apiece. Paradise Episodes consists of side stories with several missions associated with each, and Tournament mode simulates 5v5 multiplayer.

The single-player content is quite plentiful. Even without the card collection, there's enough content to keep players busy for an entire weekend. It also helps that your teammates are rather adept so you can let them take care of most of the matches instead of having to save them from danger.

At the same time, their intelligence can be attributed to the fact that the enemies are rather brain-dead. Most of the time, you face nameless hordes that rush you but are easy to eliminate. The only way to make the game challenging is to bump up the difficulty, but that only increases enemy resilience and numbers, pushing the game into unfair territory instead of difficult.

While Peach Beach Splash has plenty of single-player content, its very design is focused on multiplayer, and the game provides some rather basic modes. Player and ranked matches have the option of 3v3 or 5v5 battles. For those who aren't into PvP, there is a cooperative mode where you must protect your bases for as long as possible while surviving countless enemy waves. No matter which mode is chosen, you'll get some cash and the possibility of a booster pack if you win the match.

As alluded to in the beginning of this review, the big knock against this mode is that no one is playing it. Whether it was a PvP or a cooperative match, we waited for quite a while for anyone to appear, and one or two people showed up, but it was never enough for a full-on match. You could substitute bots in player matches, but their lack of intelligence makes for boring matches, and playing co-op alone isn't fun since enemies are tuned for multiple people.

As far as the audio goes, it checks off the marks you'd expect from this series. The voice acting is well done, so long as you don't mind it being in Japanese. The effects are fine, even though they can be lewd most of the time, and the music is appropriately bouncy. With serious moments few and far between, the game constantly presents a jovial mood.

Graphically, the game is possibly the best in the series thus far. The clean anime look persists but with some anti-aliasing for a more polished look. The camera can get squirrelly when you disable the automatic lock-on camera, the movement remains fast. The stable and fast frame rate is probably the best feature, as it shows no signs of slowdown even with a multitude of enemies on-screen to go along with water splashing everywhere.

Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash works as a third-person shooter, and the card system adds some variety. It has a variety of single-player modes that could be fun if the enemy AI were any good. However, the lack of an online audience kills much of the potential, and the title can only be recommended to die-hard series fans or those who have friends who have purchased the game and can meet up for online matches.

Score: 6.0/10

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