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Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash (PC) review

 
Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash logo
Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash logo
Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash logo

 
At a Glance...
 

Formats: PC (reviewed); PlayStation 4
 
Genre:
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer:
 
Final Score
7.0
7/ 10


User Rating
no ratings yet

 

We liked?


  • Bright, colourful, happy - yes, the game is shamelessly about women in swimsuits, but the atmosphere is a positive one. Mostly.
  • Fast paced, third person shooter, with opportunities to adjust your loadout and upgrade your abilities. Not entirely in-depth, but enough to add some longer term interest.
  • A story mode that does add personalities to the roster of characters - they may only be intended to look pretty, but it's nice that they're portrayed as individuals.

Not so much?


  • Ultimately, it's a game built around lots of improbably proportioned women in swimsuits. It's better than most games built around showing off skin, but this is the foundation of it you'll need to make peace with.
  • ... seriously, the diorama seemed like a weird idea, right until seeing the "intimacy" minigame - which goes beyond creepy. Where the main game is light and happy, these modes are dark in a way that sucks pleasure from the overall product.


0
Posted March 7, 2018 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings...
 
 

Regardless of the rest of this review, I expect you’ll decide how much you like Peach Beach Splash largely based on the following sentence: “Teams of young ninja women, with breasts as large as their heads and about enough material for a single swimsuit between them, engage in water fights around beach arenas.” There is a game attached to this though, honestly.

It’s a third person shooter, as the teams of excessively buxom kunoichi fire water-gun equivalents of assault rifles, shotguns and the like, aiming to soak rather than kill. Oh, and to perform the equivalent of execution moves that remove their opponents’ swimwear, if possible. Basically, imagine if Gears of War had been developed by Russ Meyer.
Senran Kagura PBS screen
Even as fanservice, the setup is more shallow than the arena floors after a water fight – the various schools of the Senran Kagura franchise are invited to the Peach Beach Splash tournament, told they cannot use their established combat skills, and are offered, enigmatically, their greatest desire as the prize for winning. Thankfully, the characters are sceptical enough to query this premise themselves, but not enough to avoid playing.

The fact that all of the characters are young women with much attention paid to the wobble of their breasts is mostly lost in moment-to-moment gameplay however. It may be a third person shooter, but there isn’t the same focus on stopping in cover as there is in Gears or Mass Effect, leaving you dodging, dashing and double-jumping instead for a far more frantic pace. Add to that how weapons can be pumped to reload them anywhere and the intention seems clearer for a game that is about constantly moving.

Senran Kagura PBS screen

Character customisation; cards can be swapped out for others, and levelled for efficiency.

You also carry into battle a deck of cards which can be played with cooldowns that give each character various abilities – for example healing yourself, or calling in a pet to attack the opposition, or reducing the damage your opponents can deal for a few seconds; these, along with the characters and weapons, can also be upgraded to improve their effectiveness. Packs of cards are received after games, and any duplicates can be spent as XP to improve any of the other cards you hold. Like the assault rifle? Then power it up – it doesn’t matter which cards were duplicates, simply that higher rarity ones are worth more.

And… it’s actually quite fun. It’s bright, it’s colourful, it’s happy, and while the characters may be a collection of stereotypes, they are still identifiable as individuals. Yes, they’re in bikinis and swimsuits, and I expect a lot could be said of the fact that before long this becomes so normal as to not be noticed, either in game or the narrative cutscenes. If it was meant to be titillating, it fails and becomes fairless sexless.

Ok, it is impossible to ignore completely though. When the characters are knocked down, their postures are clearly chosen to emphasise their bodies; the mid-round “execution” type moves take this further, blasting water onto your opponent to knock off their swimwear – though there is no explicit nudity, with nipples and genitals concealed behind censoring. It’s clearly aimed at adults – maybe not mature adults, perhaps – but doesn’t fall foul of platforms like Steam by showing enough to actually be an adult game. And even with this as a factor… the gameplay itself is still fun.

Senran Kagura PBS screen

“Why must the game be played in swimsuits?” Yumi asks. “Fanservice” is probably the most honest answer.

So, does it get a recommendation? Well… saying the game is fun is one thing, but before it all falls into place it then hits you in the face with how much the women are objects rather than characters. The first place this stands out is with the dioramas, where you can set up the teams, pose them as you want and… just look at them. The in-game tooltip suggests putting the women in intimate poses with each other, which poses a question of “why bother?” It’s a question born out of genuine confusion rather than any sense of prudishness – why spend so long defining who the characters are in the story mode (and the conversations run longer than the actual in-game gameplay), to then just turn the characters into objects to pose and be stared at? It’s not like there aren’t other opportunities to look at more dedicated – and real – people with a bent for exhibitionism online. But this is still the better of the two side-game elements for this.

There is a minigame where you can choose to grope a chosen character until they’re aroused enough to let you kiss them. I really wish I had just made that up.

Given how the character stands there passively, occasionally making comments of embarrassment, disappointment or – yes, sometimes – enjoyment, this feels creepy on a level that intrudes on the rest of the game, more akin to a sexual assault. It’s like the message is “here’s that character you’ve come to know; now you can take advantage of her!”. Where there is room for the premise of women in swimwear being sexy, this is the counterpoint and it’s hard to work out why anyone thought it would be appealing. But it’s there, and once you see it’s there it’s impossible to ignore its presence, a dark corner which throws shadows so strong they suck some of the light out of the overall bright, happy product.

I really wish they’d left it at the waterfights.

Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash is available from today via Steam. A previously released PS4 version is also available.


Peter

 
Peter can be described as an old, hairy gamer, a survivor of the console wars of the 1990s, and a part-time MMO addict. He has an especial fondness for retro gaming and observing the progressions in long running gaming series. When scandalously not caught gaming, he can also be found reading comics and fantasy fiction, or practising terrible photography.