The first Senko no Ronde game never came to a Sony platform, but you don’t need any prior knowledge to enjoy its sequel. Senko No Ronde 2 is a mix of bullet-hell and fighting games (similar to Touhou Genso Rondo Bullet Ballet) and its a genre that’s failing to click with me. That said, I appreciate it exists, and it’s certainly a fresh experience for me.
Earth has become inhabitable and humanity has taken to the stars to survive, but old habits die hard and so various factions are still battling for power — just this time, it’s happening in space. When a terrorist attack occurs and shakes the current balance of power up, new factions start to muscle their way in. In the game’s story mode you’ll come to learn who was behind the attack, the motives and intents behind various factions, and if humanity can come to work together as opposed to against each other. The story won’t blow you away by any means, but it’s a nice single-player addition to the game, and it plays like a visual novel with battles interspersed. It’s certainly nice to be able to play it, as this is the first time the DUO story has been made available outside of Japan.
As mentioned earlier, Senko no Ronde 2 isn’t quite the game for me, but that’s not to say I couldn’t find enjoyment in it. Battles take place on an isometric field, and you’re able to freely move around as you make use of your mech’s abilities to take down your opponent. Being a mixture of shoot ’em up and fighting, most of your attacks are projectiles but if you get close enough to an opponent, you can lay a flurry of melee attacks to deal a fair amount of damage.
Otherwise, you’ll be firing normal bullets mixed in with your unique ability, but the latter will drain your energy gauge. When this is fully drained, you can’t guard or use your special ability. You can go into B.O.S.S. mode where your mech transforms into a massive machine which you can’t be harmed in, and the other player isn’t able to use their own B.O.S.S. mode until yours is over. You can dash around too, and you’ll be severely punished if you don’t pay attention.
Senko No Ronde 2 is a fast-paced game which relies on your ability to react and strategise on the fly, even if it only looks like mayhem on-screen. There are a bunch of modes to sink your teeth into including story, arcade, score attack and versus, and there’s an online component too — don’t expect online to be flush with life, though.
There’s a nice art style present here and I like many of the character designs, but visually the game isn’t all that amazing. The 2D portraits used in battle are lovely, but many of the portraits in story mode aren’t nearly as appealing and have weird proportions — clearly, these have been drawn by different artists. There’s a lot of flair and colour thanks to the anime designs and vast array of abilities constantly on-screen, and it’s a bit like a fireworks show when in motion. The 3D models are solid but you don’t really get a good look of them during battle, but I appreciate how each one vastly differs from pilot to pilot. The electronic soundtrack is decent, although forgettable, and a solid Japanese voice-over compliments the game well.
I enjoy fighting games greatly and I like to dabble in shoot ’em ups, but I don’t find that they gel together very well. I’m sure Senko No Ronde 2 will find a niche and dedicated fanbase, but its online multiplayer is never going to be incredibly active, and chances are you’re going to get beaten by someone who’s been playing it for a long time in Japan — it’s not very welcoming to newcomers online, sadly. Thankfully there’s a fair bit to do solo, but at £32.99 it’s hard to recommend unless you’ve played a similar game before and vastly enjoyed it. There is a demo though, so feel free to give it a whirl!