AM I A SENRAN KAGURA FAN??
I recommend reading the Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal post at least, as I will likely be comparing this game to it a lot.
And so I revisit the strange world of Senran Kagura, to find a lot of time has passed and there are a whole lot of unfamiliar faces. Fair warning; this will be NSFW…
Senran Kagura Estival Versus Review
I started on this platinum as soon as I was done with Burst Re:Newal. I got quite far and then got caught up for a while working on our Top 50 Playstation Soundtracks video and only just finished the game this morning.
It’s pretty much the same gameplay as Burst Re:Newal just with a few improvements/differences;
The best change, in my opinion, is that after reaching level 12 with a character you can use + to execute a very powerful secret ninja art which (usually) devastates everyone around you, but it uses five ninja scrolls.
For those that didn’t read my Burst review, you get a scroll every time the yellow bar fills up and you can use + to trigger a secret ninja art attack for 1 scroll, or + to use 2 scrolls for a stronger attack. The + attacks are new. Or they’re not, and I didn’t even realise they existed in the last one and could have had much more fun with it.
Another big change they made to the combat is that you can go into Frantic mode by pressing + (ripping your clothes off for access to ninja arts, increased speed, and attack strength – but decreased defence) at any time during a fight unless you’ve activated shinobi transformation by pressing , which gives you better combos and access to your ninja arts attacks.
This gives you a little more time to gauge your enemy and decide how you’d like to approach the combat before committing to frantic mode’s defence reduction. Typically I go with Frantic mode because the increased attack and speed make you so lethal that most fights will end in less than 5 minutes. Battles wherein I forgot to go frantic and accidentally activated a shinobi transformation tended to last much longer.
Standard mode, Frantic mode and shinobi transformation mode all give you different combo sets which vary even further from character to character, so it’s useful to know there are multiple ways to approach each fight depending on the activated mode and character.
Shiki, for example – my favourite character to fight as – has really fun mid-range attacks based around her spinning double-sided scythe weapon but in Frantic mode her combos are based around red aura attacks and small swarms of bats which she can summon – nowhere near as fun or effective, despite the increased damage.
I found that the best approach to most battles once you are over level 12 was to enter Frantic mode and trigger your + attack as soon as possible. These attacks typically deal a lot of hits to a lot of enemies, more often than not it’s enough to level your character up again which gives you full health and ninja scrolls.
Using this method you can spam your strongest attack throughout an entire stage. Depending on your level, character, and the number of available enemies, of course.
This method proved very useful for the Shinobi Girl’s Heart missions, allowing me to get through them pretty quickly in most cases.
Speaking of missions; the story is much better this time around. The huge walls of text are kept to a minimum in the main campaign and so I actually bothered to stick with it. I watched all the little semi-animated cutscenes and read all the dialogue and – once again – while the characters just amount to a collection of anime tropes, they’re all pretty lovable and sometimes the overtly Japanese jokes actually land, summoning a chuckle from the depths of my broken soul.
There was this one truly bizarre portion of the game which I just have to tell you about because it is so weird;
The characters all have Japanese voice-overs, which is great because anyone who has watched more than 5 minutes of anime will know that English dubs are too cringe-worthy to bear.
Obviously, due to this, the subtitles are in English. But during one part of the game, one of the characters begins speaking English for one reason or another, which was strange to hear in itself as it was fairly broken and a little stereotypical, but the frickin’ subtitles turned french!
The illusion of the characters speaking Japanese is not broken by the subtitles being in English. It would have been perfectly fine to have the subtitles stay in English when the voice-overs are in English too, it would still make sense, we’d still get the idea from context and nobody is under the impression that they’re not speaking Japanese, it’s a heckin’ anime game about booby ninjas, for crying out loud!
I just found this so hilariously bizarre in the moment because it was so unnecessary. And why French? I’m pretty sure the localisation team were American and not English so why wouldn’t they choose Spanish? A much more useful and common language in the states.
On top of this – in the story she needs to learn English so that she can spread the word of Buddha across the world, an idea which makes sense since English is one of the most commonly spoken languages worldwide, but… French?
Nobody wants to speak French, my dude, not even French people. The word of Buddha will not be getting far.
Anyway, I got a little side-tracked there, I just wanted to mention it. That’s the kind of bizarre thing you can expect to experience in the story, if it’s not Katsuragi trying to molest the other girls or Haruka trying to rub slave oil on everyone, it’s generally just real bizarro stuff.
The main story ends very strangely too. I don’t really want to give anything away but prepare to be all like “What?… haha… ha… What!?“, when you reach the end.
Here’s a spoiler for those who don’t care though:
The entire final chapter is about one of the characters dying, she’s using an ability that shortens her lifespan, coughing blood up in every scene, but she perseveres anyway and carries the story all the way to the endpoint where we’re finally about to find out what the festival is all about and all the girls get to go back home and shit but… Nothing happens? They just kind of decide “Nah, let’s keep the festival going and just hang out here instead” and the person who was dying is all “Nah, I’m fine now, I drank plenty of energy drinks”.
It’s like they ran out of budget before finishing the story and just threw in one last cutscene to make everything wrap up. It was kind of disappointing but at the same time, it’s hard to be that invested in the story for what amounts to a game full of bouncing breasts, perverted lesbians and exploding clothes.
Aside from the improved story-telling, there is a cast of characters over twice the size of the last cast. There are the Hanzo school girls – Asuka and crew from Burst Re:Newal – accompanied by their old rivals from the Hebijo Clandestine school who are no longer in uniform, they’re just struggling to get by on scraps because I guess they retired as shinobi after the events of Burst?
As well as these familiar faces we have the Gessen school (5 characters), the new Hebijo Clandestine Academy girls (5 more characters), the festival sisters (3 characters) and Sayuri who is Asuka’s grandmother (Sayuri keeps apologising for her husband being creepy with all the girls, which is just… whatever). The two secret additional characters from Burst are also additional characters in Estival Versus and there are (I think) 5 more characters you can buy as DLC.
So that’s a lot of stories to tell.
Instead of playing the same mediocre story twice as we did in Burst, we get one single story with 8 main chapters consisting of 8 episodes each. This story follows all of the girls and you will play as each of them a minimum of 2 or 3 times throughout the campaign.
As well as that, there are the Shinobi Girl’s Heart chapters. There are no cutscenes for these. The walls of text make a return here which is an instant skip from me, but luckily the story is also told through small dialogue exchanges sprinkled within the combat so I do actually get the gist of what’s going on in most cases.
These storylines are nothing exciting, just extra game to play but since the combat is the best thing about the game there’s nothing really to complain about either. It took me about 20 minutes per 5-episode character arc. This varied a little bit depending on the character and whether I accidentally used Shinobi Transformation instead of going Frantic, though.
Once again, you can customise the girls and pose them in the dressing room for all your… observational needs? This time though, all clothing, hair, and accessories must be bought from the store, which may have been the case in Burst but MrZhangetsu wasted money on the complete edition like he always does, so we had a lot of extra content and probably early unlocks.
Just like with Burst, the story was okay, the graphics are nice and clean (but not clean clean… Like, graphically it’s clean, but it’s still heavily NSFW) and the gameplay is really fun! Strategizing the best way to beat the enemies in front of you is even more fun this time around because of the improved combat system and there is a lot more variety given the vast range of surprisingly lovable characters. Also, for whatever reason, the music in these games is genuinely really good! Go listen to Shiki’s theme, for example.
My Senran Kagura Estival Versus Platinum Trophy Experience
My process couldn’t have been simpler, I just started with the main campaign and did my best to get all of the festival platforms as I played through.
Annoyingly, the only way to track the platforms you’ve missed is from the Mission select menu, so I couldn’t just go straight into the next level after a stage, I had to back out to the menu, open the mission select, check how many platforms I need for the next level, and then load it up.
You could just go in blind and be extra-vigilant but some levels don’t have platforms at all so there’s potential there to waste a lot of time looking for something which never existed in the first place.
Now, something I didn’t do in this stage which I should have and you should too, was trying to get “Creative Finishers”. A creative finish occurs near a sign with a “!” on it, if you defeat a mainline character (not some random grunt running circles around you in a furry costume) near one of these signs it will trigger a specifically lewd animation of the girl fully nude (no, you don’t see any of the goods, stop asking) getting trapped in a cage, thrown onto a banana boat or any number of other creative things the drooling devs could think of.
The reason I bring these up is that there’s a trophy which requires you to purchase every item you can in the store, some of these are just replayable videos of the creative finishers happening to your favourite character… for science…
To be able to purchase these they have to happen in-game and then they will appear in the store. So look out for these “!” signs and try to get the finishers whenever you can. There’s a guide for these in our Senran Kagura Estival Versus Trophy Guide, though, so refer to that if you get stuck.
Every trophy other than the store trophy unlocked naturally for me as I played through the story campaign and Shinobi Girl’s Heart missions. So once I was done with those, all that was left was to buy everything I unlocked and go back through various stages trying to unlock all of the creative finishers so I could buy them from the store.
One other extremely important thing to note for this trophy is that you do not need to do the Millenium lottery BS.
The Millenium lottery allows you to pay in an amount of money determined by you (more money = higher luck) and based on your luck, RNGsus will bestow upon you some new lingerie for your characters. There 120 pieces of lingerie to collect and since it is RNG-based I was extremely worried I’d need to get all of these for the trophy, so I put any spare cash I had into the lottery whenever I could.
This is not necessary – thank the lord – and you don’t need to play the lottery at all (unless you want some new lingerie for the girls) so you can just save your money and use it on items in the main store.
I recommend saving your money because I actually had to farm a little extra cash at the end to be able to buy everything since I spent most of it on the lottery. If you do save your money I’m confident you will have just enough from simply playing every mission once to be able to buy everything you need for the trophy.
And so, once I was done collecting the creative finishers this morning I finally got that platinum trophy. I’ll be moving on to Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash for the final leg of the pervert saga, so if you enjoy these weirdly candid reviews of adult videogames then be sure to check back in for that in the next couple of weeks (or maybe a little longer, it’s turning out to be a bit more grindy than these last 2 games).
Senran Kagura Estival Versus Platinum Trophy Guide
Our first ever guide was for Senran Kagura Burst Re:newal and now our second is for Estival Versus.
The game is fairly easy to platinum due to the majority of trophies which just require you to complete the story, but I put together a guide anyway, which includes helpful guides for the collectables; Festival Platforms and Creative Finishers!