September 26, 2022

SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal

SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal – PS4 Review

a remake of the 3DS release, ditching the side scrolling combat from earlier in the franchise for high octane 3D beat 'em up action game stylised like a traditional anime with extreme visuals, bright colours and an incredible amount of fan service.
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Review by Kieran Sutton

Being completely new to the series I began with a complete blank slate eager to see what SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal would offer, this iteration is developed by Tamsoft / Honey Parade and published by Marvellous. It’s a remake of the 3DS release, ditching the side scrolling combat from earlier in the franchise for high octane 3D beat ’em up action game stylised like a traditional anime with extreme visuals, bright colours and an incredible amount of fan service. I had hoped to not put too much emphasis into the latter, but the good folks over at Honey Parade have worked hard to make it such a dominating feature of the series it would almost be doing them a disservice to not reference the enormous breasts they’ve tirelessly animated into almost every menu screen, cutscene and combo.

Story/Characters

What I’ll reluctantly accept as the story begins with our heroes at the Ninja Academy training to all become powerful shinobi ninjas. Through exposition delivered in a few pieces of dialogue from one or two characters each mission or sprawling pages of written text over a background image that will inevitably be skipped, the characters seemed to be enjoying their training until the obviously troublesome and helpfully named Evil Shinobi show up unironically clad purely in black and yielding an absurd array of weapons kick-starting a desperate race for the secret Shinobi Ninja Art scrolls … But not before the cliché anime intro complete with a happy montage of all the characters having a series of wonderful times to the tune of a painfully catchy theme song.

The characters range all the way from the loud, brash one to the mature, confident leader type and even a young and awkward one desperately trying to prove herself. There’s also a male character who seems to be the only one with a sense of modesty in this universe. The characters I believe can be summed up by the weapon they carry which vary from a katana, big shoes, multiple swords held in a sort of wolverine style, and a floating death robot that should totally not be battling the unarmed character. Aside from a brief story arc later on the story sort of drifts through training and rivalries uneventfully with no sense of urgency or interesting developments for the vast majority of the game until the complete cataclysm of almost everything I had come to expect from this game right at the end. The pacing is interesting if nothing else.

SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal

Audio/Visual

Having briefly touched on how elements of this game presents itself to the player in the introduction I’ll attempt to justify some of the surprisingly great aspects of SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal; the weapon swings, impacts and effects do make combat a visually impressive portrait of sword flurries and signature special moves giving a real burst of energy to the combat. Here we definitely have a good balance of action animation, explosive attacks and projected enemy blows without taking up the whole screen or overloading your eyes to the point of confusion.

Though majority of the user interface is simple to navigate and easy to read I was incredibly let down by the visual novel delivery of narrative mentioned above which just couldn’t hold my interest. The soundtrack wasn’t particularly noteworthy but did occasionally blast out that repetitive nearly metal music in the background to keep you mindlessly hacking away at the swathes of reskinned “lesser shinobi” enemies, almost triggering a flashback to my Dynasty Warriors days.

The only “cutscenes” in SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal are the ones displayed each time you begin your Shinobi transformation to use your special abilities that pause the action to display a slightly censored nude version of your character, before re-outfitting them into their new form which is often a more scantily clad version. The other brief cinematic snippets splash onto the screen when you’ve taken or delivered enough damage to destroy a character’s clothing. Apparently, those scenes were more important to animate than literally any events in the story.

SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal

Gameplay

The controls in SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal are easy to grasp and simple to master. Each character has a unique weapon, style and a series of special moves and there’s no small difference to how each character works. The swift duel sword wielding Asuka seems to thrive when surrounded while the terrible Hibari yields only a magical bunny and smacks short-range, low damage, unarmed attacks for the bulk of her move set to contrast the gun-brella wielding magic type casting balls of energy in a general direction. While all the characters have a definitive move set and theme it was, for me at least, swiftly side swept into finding that characters best combo of mashing square and dashing around my enemies until I could use my shinobi attack. You can speed up the combat with a curious use of the PS4 touchpad; by entering Frantic mode and using the touchpad to rip off your clothes in a display of confidence to deal more but receive additional damage.

Missions seem to split into two categories; the uninteresting hack and slash through waves of enemies or the way more testing duels between shinobi. The duels quickly became my favourite part of the game to the point I’d blast the dialogue, spam square through minions until I could finally have a battle with an enemy capable of doing the same combos and spectacular special moves that I could. Some of the battles in SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal were challenging and explosive enough to keep me pushing through to the end game. Each mission awards you a grade of your performance, some XP which will pump of those combat stats that you’ll not need to look at, and piles of money which can be exchanged for useful weapons, armour and additional characters, cosmetic bunny ears, outfits and pictures for the gallery!

SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal

Summary

A lot of what could have been good about SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal is overshadowed by the persistent reminder that the target audience is male and adolescent. The combat almost gets interesting for chunks of the game but the overall pace of combat and balance of challenging encounters with the woefully easily enemies make for a strange progression through the newest iteration of Senran Kagura. The combat is swift and stylish with potential for a fun experience which I may revisit from time-to-time but won’t be putting any time aside to play. I’d have loved to see a local multiplayer, the removal of Hibari because she’s awful and more missions like the last; if that were the case, I’d probably buy the next one.

Overall Score – 3/10