Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Review #316: Senran Kagura - Estival VS

 It's actually better this time around.
 So, I'm not the biggest fan of Fanservice, as a matter of fact, I downright despise it, but, y'know, duty calls sometimes. This time it did twice. I played Shinovi Vs last year, and it was alright. But, y'know, it's my sworn duty to see if the sequel is any better. And it kinda is.

 The four groups of girls get transported into a beach of sorts, there's five new girls(Two of them are a bit older though), and they have to fight because of the Bon Dance thing, and the road to Kagura and nobody gives a damn about the plot. To be fair, it's slightly better this time around, I remember skipping the story due to how stupid it was in Shinovi VS, but I actually read it this time around. It was stupid, and while it did earn a few honest laughs, most of the time I was laughing at how dumb it was. In conclusion, it doesn't mean much, but the story is a tiny bit better than the previous time around. It's still just silly excuses to have the girls have each other, but still. The story is told a bit differently this time, instead of each group having their own story, there's a single 59-mission story thread that has you playing as the different girls. And each of the 27 girls get their own 5-missions sub stories, for almost 200 missions in all. You could easily clock over 20 hours on this game.
 The best way to describe the game is as a mini-Dynasty Warriors clone gone full Japan. You've got weak square attacks that can be chained into Triangle attacks, there's also energy-gauge-consuming, wide-area clearing super attacks and a relatively high amount of weak enemy to fodder to plow through. There's a bit more nuance to the game, the girls have three different modes: The one they start with, Yang, which has them remove their clothes for increased attack power and Yin, which has them switching clothes and getting various buffs. Each of the three forms also have their own different attack strings or attacks with different properties, although once you switch forms you can't go back until you play another mission. There's also air-raids, following a pop-up attack with a dash to follow the enemy up into the air. New to this game are allied CPUs, with which you can actually use 'fusion air raids' for added damage. You will also come across bombs, which I felt were a bit unwieldy, and even rideable mechs. And while the combat system is still a bit shallow, everything feels slightly tighter. Specials now come out immediately instead of separate cut-in scenes, which makes combat faster. Attack strings have been changed for almost, if not all, returning characters, some more than others. I remember feeling like Haruka was a chore to play as, but now she has entirely new, better combos, and Homura comboes her attacks much better as well, having a much less erratic slashing area in Yin mode, so while it's not completely different, it definitely feels tighter, more polished all around. That said, the framerate, on the Vita version, is not the smoothest. It's not unplayable by any means, but it can get a bit choppy.

 That said, the game recycles a few stages from the previous game, and while there's quite a few new ones, it's not long before stages start repeating. Sure, enemies might vary, and even the route you have to take, but it's the same 12 or so stages, spread throughout over 150 missions. That said, stages now feature more enemies than the previous game, which is something I liked, specially seeing how the combat feels much better. However, bosses are a chore to fight. Not only do they have super-armor, meaning that staggering them is hard, they can just interrupt your combos with their supers. And sometimes it feels as if they get infinite supers, and they spam them over and over again. It's not even hard to avoid, just boring. Hit, hit, dodge, wait until they execute their super, get in again, hit, hit, dodge, wait, close in again, etc. It can get very, very annoying. Another thing I wasn't particularly fond of is that the individual storylines must be unlocked by destroying the 80 'festive platforms'. They aren't hard to find at all, and the game tells you how many of them are per stage, but they just felt like needless busywork to pad out the game.
 If you like Fanservice, oh boy, you are gonna have a field trip with Estival VS. For starters, the game looks much, much crisper now. Not only that, the common enemies' clothes can be shredded as well, and breaking the bosses' clothes is much easier, and the graphical effect of the torn clothes looks much better as well. Each stage also packs a few 'Creative finishers', defeating an enemy close to certain objects will trigger them, and they are... they are Japan at their purest. For instance, defeating a boss near a volleyball net will send the girl flying, naked, through the net and getting tangled on it. Or defeating a girl near a jar on the beach will make an octopus come out and fondle her. I am not making this up. The customization has been expanded, you can customize a girl look's before and after transformation, down to them having different hairstyles or underwear on each form. There's a ton of new clothes, with 5 color variations each, new lingerie, new hairstyles, new accessories and even more accessory slots. And if you are into that, you can kiss the girls as well. Weirdo.

 Also worth mentioning is the relatively high amount of DLC. There's about 3 DLC characters, even more if you own the Japanese Version(Due to licensing issues they didn't make it westward). I don't particularly care about the DLC characters, but putting them, grayed out, on the character select screen is just tacky. And mind you, I think the 25 characters(27 with the free patch) roster is perfectly fine, with characters having entirely different movesets and what not, but having all the DLC characters on display on the character select screen feels as if they are trying to pry the money out of your wallet, which is something I just can't ignore.
 Senran Kagura Estival Vs has more characters, more stages, more customization, better combat and more content than Shinovi Vs. So much so, that I'd say this game make Shinovi VS obsolete. And y'know what, the focus is clearly on Fanservice, so if you are into that, the game delivers. But even then, the game is relatively decent as a mindless beat'em up.
 6.0 out of 10

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