Review: Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash (PlayStation 4)
- Release Date (NA): September 26, 2017
- Release Date (EU): September 26, 2017
- Release Date (JP): March 16, 2017
- Publisher: Tamsoft, Honey ∞ Parade Games
- Developer: Marvelous
- Genres: Third-Person Shooter
- ESRB Rating: Mature
- PEGI Rating: Sixteen years and older
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
An Ancient, Mystical Tradition?
Since ancient times, the various shinobi clans have battled together in a mysterious and sacred water gun battle known as the Peach Beach Splash... or at least that's what the game would have you believe. With two instructors in disguise hosting the event, which is broadcast live on NewTube, and every school has been invited! The grand prize? Whatever you want!
There is a recurring theme in the Senran Kagura series that if you manage to beat the other schools in Competition X you will receive a scroll that can grant any wish, and this game is no exception. The storyline is brazenly outlandish, if not downright absurd, but luckily the franchise doesn't take itself too seriously. There are loads of amusing characters and personalities with downright comedic commitment to their stereotypes. It works out fairly well that they push their tropes so hard, and it actually makes them more appealing without actually having to round-out the characters.
Despite having a butt-load of scenarios, visual novel style sections, and a couple of boss fights, every match plays out the same. You drop into very nicely designed arenas and must blast your way to victory with your teammates. In most cases, your A.I. controlled partners are useless and require you to revive them constantly. I found myself mostly ignoring them and just gunning my way to victory alone, which worked out just fine 90% of the time. If you've ever played Super Mario Sunshine, the movement abilities will be very familiar to you. You can power-slide any direction with a gush of water, great for evading enemies, and propel yourself high into the sky with an aqua powered fanny-pack. Your ammunition and movement abilities all come from your water tank, once you run out, you must "pump" your weapon to refill it. This can be done at any time, even while airborn, giving you great control in being able to make a sky high jump to escape a bad situation, then reload while coming back down so you can open fire and turn the tide of battle.
The weapons have dual function modes, pistols can switch between semi and fully automatic, rocket launchers can be toggled to fire homing missiles, etc. There are a good amount of weapons to acquire, and each one has it's own unique play style. The problem starts to break down, however, once you realize that the rocket launcher is absolutely broken. By pumping all your exp into it, the game becomes trivial, and none of your secondary ability cards matter because they only take time away from reloading and firing your weapon.
When you knock a girl to half health, she gains a shield that makes her invulnerable for an annoyingly long amount of time, which stops you from gunning through missions at insane speeds, I imagine. Once they reach zero health, they go into a cutscene that is gratuitous, to say the least. At this point, you can switch to a mode that lets you spray them in the face, chest, and butt, to try and knock off articles of clothing and extend the animation sequence. The process becomes a chore, and there is no way to disable the falling animations, which really takes you out of the action just to show you something you will have seen 100 times before. You can partially shorten the animation once it begins, but it quickly becomes apparent you can abuse the animations to run the clock out on a deathmatch, especially if you are only ahead by 1 kill and the match is about to end-- Any other time and it just makes you wish you were playing a real shooter.
Playing With Your Deck
All of your equipment, skills, and experience points are managed with cards. You get card packs for completing missions or buying them from the store with currency, which is also acquired through missions. There are a ton of cards, all with varying rarity levels, but in most cases the only thing that changes on them are the images. Many are duplicates of the same skills so towards the end it all comes down to which waifus you want down in the corner of your screen.
One major flaw presents itself here: experience points are only gained when you acquire duplicate cards. The game isn't hard by any means, but if you have a streak of "bad" luck early on and keep getting new unique cards, you won't be able to level up anything for quite a while. You can spend a ton of time reading through abilities, organizing, and leveling them up, but it really all boils down to your character card (hit points) and weapon card (damage). I rarely ever needed or wanted to use my ability cards, mostly because they were clunky in execution and wouldn't always fire in the right direction or actually hit anything. It seems like the game would have benefited more from a standard level up system with skills and weapons unlocked via side missions or as part of the main storyline rather than being given at random.
You get the main weapons quite often, but the lower rank cards give measly amounts of experience to spend on levelling up, making the early game a long and tedious grind. As stated before, however, you should just dump all your points into the rocket launcher and leave everything else at level 1, since you don't ever really want to get close enough to be able to use the skills, and the rockets will take out groups of "minions" with a single shot. Once the rocket launcher is close to max, you can swap it out for any girl you are required to use as their main weapon and just mow through the game.
Overall, the game is fun and very polished, but there are a lot of little things that grow on you until you eventually just want to put it down and never touch it again after finishing the main story. There are a few extra fiddly things you can do like a "rubbing" area, collectible costume pieces, BGM player, and other little things to buy with in-game currency, but most of the game revolves around the same old battle system without much variation.
Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash Launch Trailer
+ Polished Experience
+ Lots of Extra Scenarios
+ Boing~ !
- No Option to Disable Knock-Down Animations
- Repetitive Gameplay
- Card System
A very polished experience from the menus to the equipment and customizations; Visually it looks great, but the graphics only serve as a fresh coat of paint over a stale experience.
Good controls coupled with frustrating mechanics and un-skippable cutscenes that run the clock down don't make for a particularly fun time for anybody.
After the main campaign, you can go on to finish your card decks and complete extra story scenarios featuring the different schools of ninja teams-- but it just feels like more of the same, especially once you level up the rocket launcher.
out of 10
(not an average)
Peach Beach Splash may be good for a rental, but it's hard to justify a full price tag considering how shallow the game is in terms of content and how quickly you can breeze through it.