Bursting onto the scene with a 3DS game back more than three years ago, the Senran Kagura series spread itself quickly across multiple mediums, including a few different mangas and even an anime series. Since that time, the ninja based franchise has had a few more games released, mostly following the same action hack ‘n’ slash routine. However, Marvelous Entertainment has decided to take a much different path in the latest entry with a spinoff that maintains the humor and fan service of the original, while completely changing up the ingredients that make up the gameplay.
Mixing up the formula in a spinoff is always a good idea for any developer to set itself apart from the previous entries, but Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit! definitely took that to another level by switching up the gameplay to a rhythm game focused around cooking. Even with some of the playable characters having connections with certain kinds of food in past games, this was a bit of a surprise. However, somehow the over the top nature works well enough together with the rhythm genre to cook up a tasty meal.
Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit! does not exactly offer anything groundbreaking for the rhythm game genre, but that is not exactly a bad thing. By keeping it simple, players can easily pick this one up and play without the need of a tutorial of any sort. This is helped with a pretty limited array of buttons at the player’s disposal. Outside of the basic pressing of one or two buttons at a time, the only other ways the gameplay will be switched up are the rapid pressing of a button or the long holding of a button during a battle. These two are mixed in well enough to prevent the game from getting stale, while at the same time keeping the game fairly simple as well.
In the easy and normal difficulties, the player will only be concerned with three of the face buttons and three directional buttons, with the fourth of each being added on hard. There is a good separation amongst the three difficulties, with hard truly proving a challenge for most anyone on both Story and Arcade modes.
For the most part, both Story and Arcade modes are the same at their core. Story modes adds story interactions between the girls before and after each battle, including a much longer story segment at the beginning and end of the playthrough. Arcade is basically one battle after the other, which is a great option to have that lets players get straight to the action. Free Mode is also an option for a player that wants to choose exactly who they face with no distractions.
In these rhythm battles across all of the different modes, each one is split into three parts, with the last always being the longest. The player is individually graded in each from the taste tester, with the loser of each round being stripped of some of their clothing in typical Senran Kagura fashion. However, even if one is completely obliterated across the first two rounds, the player can comeback and win the third and take the match, as each part starts anew. As a result, the first two parts almost feel worthless, as the only real perk of dominating them is to further strip down the opponent, rather than affecting the actual outcome.
After the defeat of each opponent in Story Mode, a variety of different clothing and accessories will be unlocked. Similar to the Dead or Alive Xtreme series, the player has the ability to dress up each girl in the way he or she chooses. These outfit options range from a simple t-shirt to a maid costume or just an apron. Building from there, there are lingerie options and even accessories like cat ears, a rabbit tail, or even a pacifier. This collectable aspect of the game is one that can become very addicting and can easily have players coming back for more, extending the level of replayability exponentially.
This collectable aspect of the game is one that can easily have players coming back for more
While the gameplay makes a dramatic shift from hack ‘n’ slash to rhythm, the heart of the Senran Kagura franchise still remains with both its insane level of fan service and over the top humor. As mentioned above, when one of the girls loses a round in battle, she will lose part of her clothing. While the game never approaches full nudity, instead maintaining the series’ ecchi roots, the game does utilize some very convenient methods of covering up the girls, including with food at some points.
The humor is ever present in Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit!, with many of the character traits of the girls being carried over from other entries. Between a character that wants to be “Queen of the Hooters Harem” and one that just wants all of the sweets, the desires of the bunch can really make one laugh. As always, there are innuendos everywhere throughout the story of most every character, which can truly be funny most of the time.
Unlike the other entries in the series that come at the price of a full game, Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit! takes a different approach by offering a lesser amount of the previously mentioned characters at a cheaper price. This was a wise decision by Marvelous AQL and Meteorise here, as it allows an entry cost of only $14.99, with the ability to expand the character and in turn dish and song choices at either an expansion price of $14.99 or à la carte style. The base game provides a solid portable experience for the price, though it is annoying that the player only has access to less than half of the available characters in the game, with none being unlockable without paying.
Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit! is a nice change of pace in the series, by switching up the ingredients from the usual action style to rhythm gameplay instead. The cooking battles across both Story and Arcade modes are a lot of fun, though the repetition can leave a sour taste after awhile. However, the simplistic gameplay and portable nature of the game allows players to pick this fast food up in the future to avoid any form of boredom in one sitting. With the insane level of fan service and top notch innuendo based humor found throughout, the developer proves that it knows its audience and certainly does not disappoint. At only $14.99, this new recipe is certainly one for fans of the Senran Kagura series or rhythm fans in general to check out for the Vita, though the ecchi content may be a little overcooked for some.
Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit
- Available On: PS Vita
- Published By: Marvelous AQL
- Developed By: Meteorise
- Genre: Rhythm
- US Release Date: November 11th, 2014
- Reviewed On: PS Vita
- Quote: "Switching up from the usual hack 'n' slash gameplay, Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit! serves up a rather repetitive but appetizing rhythm game that maintains the humor and fan service that defines the franchise, while also feeling fresh out the oven."