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Ah here we are again. That magical time of year it starts getting cold so everyone hides inside to enjoy the insane amount of new games coming out. To help me kick off this wonderful season, my editor sent me a text around 2am after I’d been playing Alien Isolation (review coming soon) for a solid 4 hours. Of course being the embodiment of manliness that I am, I of course jumped ten feet in the air and screamed like an actual xenomorph crawled out of my phone and asked to borrow my chest cavity for her new baby. After collecting what was left of my sanity, I responded to find he wanted me to review Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus. We apparently got a few upcoming games for free and I lucked into this one.
Ok, so there’s something we need to get out of the way…like now. I’m sure a fair amount of you know of the game and franchise so far, however for those of you that don’t (like I didn’t) I need to warn you of a couple things no one warned me about. The first being the difficulty curve, HOLY SHIT?!?! I was seriously like two missions in and getting my ass kicked left and right. Do not go into this thinking you can just sort of walk through half paying attention and beat it in a night. As for the second thing…how do I put this delicately…boobs. Like…everywhere.
Ok, now with that out of the way, let’s move onto the actual review shall we? Right off the bat the art was amazing. The game looked extremely polished and if you told me I was watching an anime on my vita’s Netflix, I would’ve believed you. The movement, attacking, and transformations looked outstanding, but I’ve long held the belief that without good control and good story behind it, the graphic quality is a little pointless. Nice to look at, but that’s what screenshots are for.
As far as story is concerned, as I mentioned previously this is a series and I’ve only played this one, but from what i gather, it’s about several girls at a school. There are several schools and several different characters at each school to choose from, so I picked a few and ran through as much of the story as the difficulty would let me before I got depressed at how bad I am at this game. As horribly as the opponents beat me, I still had a lot of fun. The game plays a bit like Dynasty Warriors or God of War. You CAN get through just mashing buttons and hoping for the best, but the more finesse you add and the more combos you figure out the better off you are in the long run.
While we’re on the topic of game play, the controls were incredibly easy to figure out and intuitive. As I mentioned above each character has a transformation that puts them in a new outfit, but changes how all their combos work. It also restores you to full health. More often than not, you’ll be about to finish off the boss and she’ll just dash to the side and transform and go back to full health and essentially restart the match. I enjoyed the transform mechanic because it meant I had figure out when was the best time to transform, and learn a whole new set of moves at the same time. Now this is still a game with rampant boobies and lady bottoms that defy the laws of gravity, so instead of cuts and bruises to display that you or you’re enemy have taken damage, your clothes get torn and ripped off. I’m serious. There’s never any full nudity (that I found at least). Even when you beat the opponent and knock her lingerie off, the naughty bits are always covered by a slash of light or they’re posed so that you can’t see anything too scandalous.
In all seriousness though, I genuinely enjoyed this game. It’s one that I may not have looked into if it wasn’t given to me, but after playing it, I definitely recommend it. It’s not something I’m going to sink the majority of my play time into, but it’s been a nice way to unwind. Just turn on the game and take out all the frustration I’ve been feeling from the other games out on whoever is unlucky enough to fight me in the story. Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus comes to the States on October 14, 2014 and I recommend you at least look into it. If it ends up not being your type of game, there’s still the lingerie lottery!
Ar Nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star is a prequel to the popular Ar Tonelico series. The game takes place after humans and spiritual beings, called Genoms, could no longer co-exist happily on a singular planet. The humans decided to leave and take their journey to space to find a different habitable planet. While traveling through space, the humans run into another problem when a group of creatures called the Sharl find their ship and begin attacking them. The humans are now split into two factions: people who have sided with the Sharl, and the humans rebelling against them.
I have no previous experience with this series, unfortunately, so there won’t be any comparisons in this review to other games in the series. Let’s start with the things I have enjoyed up to this point. The sheer amount of content and detail to story and fleshing out characters is astounding. After coming off of the sterile story of Destiny, this is quite the refreshing little tale. There are two main characters, Cass and Delta. Cass is a Genom, meaning she has the ability to use song magic in battle. Genoms are usually paired with a fighter. The fighter counterpart can Dive into the Genoms heart essentially and unlock more powerful song magic by forging a more intimate relationship. This actually creates a very sweet relationship between Cass and Delta.
The combat system is something I also enjoy. It combines elements of turned-based combat with button mashing, reactionary combat. This allows the player to perform combinations and raise their Harmo Level. When the Harmo level reaches its max, Cass, or whatever Genom you have, can use a special song magic attack that pretty much decimates all of the enemies left that you have to fight. I am a fan of “reactionary combat”. When I hit a button on the controller, I want to see it correspond with the action on the screen.
Now to the things that are lacking. The game released on PS3 only, so I wasn’t expecting the graphics to be amazing, but it’s severely lacking. It has sort of a Borderlands-ish feel with the dark outlines surrounding the color in the characters. To be honest, and maybe it’s just because I have been playing the PS4 a lot lately, the graphics here feel very PS2-like. The game isn’t fully voiced either. Most sections of it are, and honestly, the voice actors do a pretty good job. Usually, in JRPGs, there is at least once character that is annoying as all hell, but here, I have yet to encounter one.
Overall, I think the game is fun if your into JRPGs. I don’t think it’s at the level of the leading players of the genre (Final Fantasy), but I don’t think it’s a bad game. It has a lot to like about it. It just feels a little dated. That being said, I’ve had a lot of fun with it so far, and the touching, human moments between characters are what is going to make me want to go back. I’m a softy and the relationship between Cass and Delta at this point is very intriguing.