VIDEO GAME: SENRAN KAGURA Burst

Life and Hometown.
By December 13, 2013

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Since the release of the Nintendo 3DS back in 2011, gamers have lamented Nintendo’s decision to implement a region lock on the system. Due to region-locking, games imported from overseas can’t be played on domestic systems. Amazingly, games that were likely never to have been released stateside actually did get released outside of Japan such as Project X Zone and the upcoming Yumi’s Odd Odyssey. And with digital distribution being a key factor in localizing riskier titles for the North American market, XSEED has opted to localize one of the riskiest games from the Japanese 3DS library—SENRAN KAGURA Burst.

SENRAN KAGURA Burst is a 2.5D arcade-style beat 'em up similar to games like Streets of Rage and Final Fight where you beat up hordes of enemies for the sake of advancing the story. Not one playable character in Burst is male: the game stars an all-female cast of buxom schoolgirls who moonlight as kunoichi (female ninja) in rival schools. One of these schools, Clandestine Hebijo Girls’ Academy, is composed of evil ninja who are assassins for hire, while the other school, Hanzo National Academy, is composed of good ninja used for national defense. But are the Hebijo ninja really “evil”? And will the Hanzo ninja protect their school and become the top of their class? There’s much to find out because SENRAN KAGURA Burst is actually TWO games in one! The original release of SENRAN KAGURA contains only the Hanzo scenario and Burst is a re-release of the original game with a whole new scenario added, this time focusing on the Hebijo ninja.

The core gameplay, as mentioned earlier, is a side-scrolling beat 'em up and most stages of the game focus on fighting mobs of enemies and chaining three to four digit combos in the process. It’s fast-paced and each ninja has a variety of moves and can perform their own brand of ninjutsu after transforming into their ninja battle outfits. While that sounds typical for a beat ‘em up, there are other changes that distinguish Burst from other beat 'em ups. Aside from having life and ninjutsu meters, there’s also a defense meter that depletes whenever you’re hit. After enough hits, your ninja’s outfit will tear up and you’ll take in more damage. Take more hits and you’ll be down to your skivvies and totally defenseless. If you’re feeling daring, there’s also “Frantic” mode, where you’ll enter the fray with increased strength and speed, but at the cost of no defense (and no clothes). Complete a stage while in Frantic mode and you’ll be rewarded with a star instead of a letter rank. Yes, it’s an extremely lewd game, especially since the ninja transformations and armor breaks are done in slow motion with crazy camera angles like something straight out of a magical girl anime.

With that said, there are some issues with this game. First off, the framerate drops during transformations, armor breaks, victory animations as well as the hub where you spend your time between missions, but it thankfully hasn’t affected the core game. The visual novel portions of the game just aren’t fun. They’re skippable, but I kept on reading to not miss out on information that may be relevant to the story. While the combat in Burst has a healthy variety, fighting the same types of enemies over and over does get repetitive, but that’s a given considering its genre. Last and definitely not least, SENRAN KAGURA Burst contains a ludicrous amount of fanservice, to the point where the game itself was designed for 3D girl-on-girl fanservice. There is no doubt that some folks will be bugged out by Burst, but the fact that Burst is unashamedly built around fanservice should give gamers a clear idea whether or not they want to play this game. And personally, I think it’s a shame since Burst is a fun game that some folks will miss out on because of the subject matter. 

SENRAN KAGURA Burst is currently available on the Nintendo 3DS eShop and is rated T for Teen.

Hint: If you’re feeling extra daring, move the camera up and down while in the dressing room.

by Ray n.