By Benny Carrillo / April 22nd, 2015
Part 2 - Senran Kagura is Senran Kagura.
Last time, I answered the question as to whether or not Senran Kagura was either a Visual Novel or an Eroge, which was recently implied by Twitch in their original reason for banning Senran Kagura: Estival Versus from their site. However, after disproving those assertions, we were still left with the question as to what exactly Senran Kagura is. Well, allow me to answer that question now:
Senran Kagura is Senran Kagura!
Now I know this sounds like a cop-out answer, but allow me to expound upon what I mean. In gaming, there exists certain archetypes which we just know. We know a Mario game is platformer, but we also know that Mario games contain a level of polish and detail that many other platforms wish they could attain, as well as just outright being fun. We know Mega Man games are action platformers, but more so, they are action platformers that allow you to choose a stage and then collect a power-up from a boss. Also, often a Mega Man game’s narrative will focus around technology and the concept of free will and choice. My point is, mention these titles, and people instantly know what you’re talking about. They will even use these titles as comparisons for other games that emulate bits of their design and philosophy.
So, how does Senran Kagura fit into this, then? How can it define itself as something that is wholly unique unto itself? Well, let’s break the game down and find out.
The Mechanics of Senran Kagura
First off, let’s look at the mechanics. The game itself features very quick and frantic fights, so classifying it under action makes sense. In addition, the game’s combat feels very reminiscent of Koei’s Warriors franchise with how simple the button commands are. And, you are able to just tear through your basic enemies, so let’s add hack-and-slash to our list. The game also makes uses of elements from RPGs by allowing you to gain experience from fights to level up your characters and improve their stats. This allows for players who are not adept at the combat to merely outclass their opponents through raw stats. And, of course, you also gain money for winning fights which allows you to go the shop to purchase costumes and unlockables.
If we look at how the game progresses, we can see that the levels themselves are usually very short, consisting of your character defeating basic enemies until a boss appears, and then having to take on the boss. This is very reminiscent of beat’ em ups like Streets of Rage and Final Fight. In addition, between these stages, the story is told using the Visual Novel-style narrative of characters conversing with each other on screen, as well as the use of detailed CG (Computer Graphic) images that are used to highlight important events.
Finally, of course, Senran Kagura features various forms of fan service that have made the series infamous; from the ability to dress your characters in various costumes that can then be destroyed if you take too much damage (known as a Costume Break) to the fact that several of the characters seem to have feelings for each other, hinting at lesbian relationships or, at least, crushes.
So now let’s take a look at what we’ve come up with:
Senran Kagura – An action-based hack-and-slash, beat’em-up that allows character growth similar to an RPG, and uses the Visual Novel style of storytelling to drive narrative, as well as containing gratuitous fan service.
Well, that’s not exactly very flattering or unique, but it does touch upon everything the game offers mechanically.
So, then, how can Senran Kagura define itself?
That is the question, isn’t it? Well, if we’ve covered everything the game offers mechanically, then the only place left to look is its narrative. So, join me on the next page as we cover the idea of “Life and Hometown.”
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