It might be the tail-end of Summer but Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash is here to see the hottest season out in style! Yes, a massive water fight with the promise of any single wish being granted for the winner sees all of the shinobi girls becoming thirsty for victory!
Let’s get one thing out of the way – this is clearly Senran Kagura‘s answer to seeing the success of Nintendo’s Splatoon. It manages to feel like its own thing although it isn’t quite as polished and engaging, and I worry that the online community for this game will never be very active, but it provides plenty of fan-service-fuelled fun which fans of the series will love. That said, it falls into the same trap that all Senran Kagura games do — it becomes repetitive fairly quickly in both gameplay and visuals.
Senran Kagura is on a journey to tackle every genre it seems having previously released a cooking/rhythm game, and with a pinball and dating-like game in the works, so what’s the story to bring all of these girls together this time? It takes place in the main storyline and so it’s a must-have if you’re looking to get all of the canon Senran Kagura story down, and revolves around the Peach Beach Splash tournament which has been around for centuries.
Contestants, which consist of various shinobi clans, aren’t allowed to use their special abilities in this tournament, and have to rely on water guns instead. The story is fine and seems to be trying to get on track with the original 3DS games again, and it’s surprisingly better than Estival Versus‘ weak offering, so despite it’s silly premise it does set the series up to finally feel as if it’s going forward. The story for these games feel like a vehicle to keep the fan-service going forward though, and isn’t anything to write home about.
Each character comes armed with a specific water gun but you can mix and match however you like! I favoured the water pistols and assault rifles, but there’s a bunch of weapons including grenade launchers and snipers too. Setting up your character for battle doesn’t only include which weapon they use though, but which pets and cards they can use also. Pets are little creatures who help your characters in battle, whilst cards can be used for attacks, defence or other things — you can have six of these equipped, with each card having its own unique ability, design and rarity. Yes, it’s pretty fun when you open a new pack of cards and find something rare!
Marvelous have made Peach Beach Splash, a shooter, easily accessible to fans of the main series which are hack and slash titles by giving players the option of a lock-on or playing without it. If you play on the easy difficulty then you should be able to breeze through without issue, even if you’re not too fond of shooters, whilst those itching for a challenge will certainly find it on harder modes — tackling these modes yield more money and better card packs, too.
You play with four other characters, who are AI when playing single player modes, and you’re able to revive allies who’ve fallen. If you knock an opponent down, you can sometimes activate a mini-game where you spray the character in first-person and can soak them or knock an article of clothing off. There’s no nudity, of course! The game does quickly become repetitive though, and the constant waves of AI stop being entertaining very quickly.
Peach Beach Splash is the best looking game in the series so far, although it can still come across as pretty flat when it comes to expressions. It’s bright and colourful, and the water effects are splendid. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and this shows in its visuals, and more so in its abundant fan-service which is simply pretty awkward to have it on the big screen — the CG images might have fantastic art, but they make me wince when they pop up. It might have replaced its blades for water guns here, but this is a pure Senran Kagura experience through and through. Whether or not that is a good thing is up to you. It’s Japanese voice-acting is stellar as always, and its soundtrack is upbeat to match the atmosphere of the game.
Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash is a fun game but I’m not sure how long it’ll be active online for, and repetition settles in quickly thanks to the constant AI waves and various story routes which re-tread similar ground. I’m sure fans will find much to enjoy here, but the novelty wore off pretty quickly for me. It relies a lot on fan-service (once upon a time, Senran Kagura had a solid story to tell but that’s mostly disappeared into the fan-service abyss) and doesn’t have the same depth and creativity that Splatoon has, but at least it’s not another Estival Versus.