Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus Review
Let’s get this out of the way early: Shinovi Versus is filled to the very brim with fanservice geared towards the attributes of female anatomy, and the game doesn’t shy away from it at the slightest. In fact, it embraces it by seeking out all the different ways it can get you to understand the type of the game it is. It even goes so far over-the-top in its presentation that you can’t help but laugh at some of the ridiculous things shown here.
As you beat a girl up in combat, layers of their clothing get destroyed in the process. There are even “helpful tips” during the loading screen that encourages you to move characters around in the Dressing Room to get a good angle. It's capitalizing on the horny Japanese subculture, I guess.
Anyway, trying to discuss this interpretation has absolutely no bearing on my opinion of the game as I understand what I'm getting into by reviewing this game, and it's up to you as a player to determine whether this game is for you or not. Moving on!
Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is a third-person action game similar to the Dynasty Warriors’ “Musou” design where its a lone individual against waves of enemies with a heavier emphasis on the RPG elements.
Where the game differs is its understanding of the platform that it finds itself on - skirmishes rarely last longer than about five minutes and the load times are short as well (the longest being about 10 seconds between battles), letting you quickly get a couple fights in while waiting for the bus or on a short break. The sense of scale is also a lot smaller, where you face a few dozen enemies at most in any given battle.
The game is visually impressive on the small screen, with plenty of detail given to character expressions and fluidity to their movements thanks to the high framerate. Combat is just as frenetic but tries to control it by putting a focus on strategy: it’s important to know when to block and when to counter.
After a successful combo string you can launch the enemy into the air juggle them with more attacks before they hit the ground. By leveling your character up (which can happen even in the midst of battle), these combos can become more dynamic and flashy in presentation.
Each character can also perform “Shinobi Transform” that allows them to turn into their ninja form, granting them special bonuses and other effects, including access to bigger combos and other new skills. One of those skills are super moves called “Ninpo” can also be used to knock off chunks of an enemy’s life bar or defeat a group of swarming henchmen (henchwomen?) that is triggered by a very simple button combination.
One of the of the best parts of Shinovi Versus is how straightforward it is to pick up and play. Everything in the combat system is simple to understand and easy to put into practice, making it very accessible to newcomers of the genre. All in all, it’s a very fun structure that becomes even better later on after leveling up characters and unlocking new moves, while also offering plenty of challenge for those that seek it out while fighting important characters.
What this game does best is its sheer amount of customization offered to players. Each fight can obtain several new uniforms, outfits, hair styles, accessories, and lingerie that can all be changed inside the Dressing Room. New skills and combos can also be unlocked letting players get the upper hand as things get more difficult the further into the story you go.
Using the in-game currency of zeni at the Store, you can purchase the aforementioned clothing and accessories, along with Pictures and Music to use in the Library which also holds anything seen over the course of the story. There is even a Lingerie Lottery where you can bet using either money or Lottery Tickets to unlock new underwear to adorn the ladies with, ranging from the simple and innocent to the I-don’t-even-know-how-one-would-put-this-on design.
There are over 100 different articles of underwear to unlock, and considering the large amount of DLC this game has had in Japan and how likely XSEED will localize it, there should be a lot more for players to collect soon. Suffice to say, if you’re looking to earn the Platinum Trophy, this one may take you a while.
The game offers plenty in terms of story content as well. Each school has their own overarching story broken up into chapters where you’ll switching between the different shinobi students making up a respective faction.
Each shinobi also has their respective “character missions” side stories that lets you get to know more about themselves with subjects ranging from a shut-in looking to gain her sister's respect to a girl who is fed up with being treated like a boy. Sure, a lot of it is rather light in terms of emotional impact other than the occasional vows for revenge, but they also provide plenty of entertainment moments. It's the actual existence of these character arcs that helps make these girls three-dimensional, and will have you looking for your favorite character to play as (Miyabi is mine).
Once you have had your fill with the story, Shinovi Versus a multiplayer mode available through ad-hoc and wi-fi for up to four players simultaneously and fought either individually or on a team. One of the modes, Deathmatch, is based on points that you earn by attacking and defeating other players, and are lost if you’re the victim.
“Strip Battle” has you attempting to be the one who can rip the clothes off another girl more times than the other players. Another is called “Understorm” where pairs of underwear fall from the sky and you have to gather them before the other player does, or attack each other steal what they have collected.
These matches can be customized by win condition, level, play time, and recommended level. There’s even Leaderboards so you can see how your skills stack up with other players and with your
There’s nothing inherently remarkable about Shinovi Versus, but as someone who is a fan of the series and enjoys the type of genre that the game flirts with, I had a very enjoyable time with it. The deep combat system moves at a breakneck speed, the visuals are nice, and the writing itself is entertaining with each character having their own fleshed out personalities.
Sure, there’s a lot of fanservice to be had within, but I wouldn’t say it’s offensive in any fashion unless the female body makes you uncomfortable. For those looking for a fun brawler with a huge amount of content to unlock and plenty of methods of progression, Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is your game.