By Benny Carrillo / June 27th, 2018
Senran Kagura has been an important part of my time here at Operation Rainfall. One of my first editorials was about how it’s not an eroge. I wrote two impressions pieces about Estival Versus. I’ve also interviewed Kenichiro Takaki about Peach Beach Splash and I’ve done a complete playthrough of that game including obtaining the Platinum for that title. Yet, despite all my experience with this franchise, I’ve still yet to finish the first game in the series that made its way to the West: Senran Kagura Burst.
Burst is a title I’ve tried several times to play. However, having started my journey along the path of Life and Hometown with Shinovi Versus I found Burst to be a bit lacking. The combat was slower and honestly felt more grindy than Shinovi. Sadly, this also means I haven’t played Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson despite owning the “Double D Edition.” Thankfully, Honey Parade Games has decided to revisit Burst and give it an upgrade with SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal.
Burst Re:Newal is a reimagining of Senran Kagura Burst, which itself is an extended remake of the original Senran Kagura which came out on the Nintendo DS. However, Burst was the first game to make the journey West. Still, Burst Re:Newal is important for a couple of reasons. First, it gives fans who have never played Burst a way to do so and experience the origins of both the Hanzō and Crimson Squad (known here as Hebijo since Homura’s crew were originally the Shinobi squad of that school). Secondly, it gives Western fans a way to own a physical copy of this story. Burst was an eShop exclusive in the West, so this part of Senran Kagura cannon was restricted to digital copies until now. That bit of history explained, let’s delve into the game.
If you’ve never played a Senran Kagura game, here’s how things basically work. The game functions as a sort of hybrid between hack-and-slash and a beat-em-up (XSEED uses the term Busty Brawler at times to describe it). Your goal in each stage is normally to fight your way through various grunts and defeat a stage boss; normally another one of the shinobi characters. To do this you’ll need to use your basic attacks as well as shinobi arts.
Combat functions exactly as it does in both Shinovi Versus and Estival Versus. You can combo your enemies with basic attacks and chase them through the air. One new addition, however, is a glowing grid that will alert you to an enemy’s attack. This is a great cue to either dodge or block/counter the attack. While these basic techniques are your bread and butter, you’ll need to transform to really tap into your chosen Shinobi’s power.
As you attack you’ll build up your Ninja Art gauge. Once you’ve got at least one scroll’s worth of power you can transform, and you’ll have access to your shinobi arts. These are basically your special moves and can either quickly clear an area of enemies or deal massive damage to bosses. Katsuragi’s Tornado Spindle is a perfect example of a Ninja Art that can do both. However, remember that the other Senran girls can do the same to you when you face them as a boss. This is where a new feature can really help, Burst mode.
Burst mode serves to enhance your character’s stats for a short period of time. While active, you’ll hit harder, can combo infinitely in the air, and your Shinobi Arts will be powered up. In fact, if you’re attempting to completely strip your opponent (clothing damage is a staple of Senran Kagura after all) you’ll need to use Burst mode to do the job. It’s a nifty addition, though one I didn’t use much. The reason as to why lies in the demo itself. It was extremely short.
The E3 demo for Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal consisted of two stages: a tutorial and a stage where you fight Homura after taking down some normal enemies. I was quite surprised by how small this demo was. The E3 demos for both Estival Versus and Peach Beach Splash felt like they had more depth to them. So, the fact that my time with Burst Re:Newal was over so quickly is a bit disappointing. Especially since this game felt like an improved version of Estival Versus. As such, it’s a bit hard to judge the demo itself, though I will say that it felt extremely polished. Before I close this out, however, XSEED let me know one thing about the story.
XSEED is using the original script for Senran Kagura Burst as the basis for Burst Re:Newal. So, if you enjoyed Burst’s localization, know that things aren’t going to dramatically change. XSEED is looking at the script though and bringing it more in line with the feel of recent entries. Which makes sense. The localization team has gotten used to working with these girls for the last five years. As such, there are things that can be improved upon from their original localization. In short, it’s more tweaking the script than rewriting it. So, what’re my final thoughts?
I’m looking forward SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal. Senran Kagura is at its best when it combines its over-the-top fanservice with its deep narrative. Yes, “Life and Hometown” may be a reference to that fanservice, but it’s also worth remembering something else about these girls. It’s the story of their daily struggle to live their lives and protect the place that’s dear to them, or their home. Just as the factions of Good and Evil Shinobi coexist, so too does the story and fanservice of Senran Kagura.
SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal is coming to the PlayStation 4 and Steam this fall.
Burst Re:NewalE3E3 2018Honey Parade GamesMarvelousOperation RainfalloprainfallPlayStation 4Senran KaguraSteamXSEED Games