Senran Kagura: Estival Versus Review – NSFW (PS4 Import)

April 16, 2015 Written by Heath Hindman

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Senran Kagura: Estival Versus is the sequel franchise fans have been wanting.

I played Shinovi Versus on the Vita and have gone PS4 for Estival Versus, so that might affect how I view the graphics leap, so hey, that info is out there. That said, it’s not a stretch to imagine I’m seeing clearly when I say Estival Versus is definitely a better-looking game. The scenery, the characters, and effects all look a step or two above any previous entry in the series.

Gameplay is smooth throughout, even with several named characters and a dozen cronies on screen simultaneously.

Combat felt like it was slower at first, but the difference feels instead like greater differences between characters. Movement speed and jump height seem to vary from fighter to fighter more so in Estival Versus than Shinovi Versus. Heavy weapons actually feel heavy, which is a nice change. It does take a little bit of the snap out of the delivery of certain combos, but it makes sense for such a power tradeoff, and this is overall a change for the better.

Running up walls to escape or for wall-bounce attacks adds strategy when up against the edge of an area, on top of being awesome as shit.

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Bosses and other high-profile enemies seem more common here than in other games, but noticeably weaker to balance it out. Masochists can still ramp things up to higher difficulty with the touch of a button. I recommend doing so at least occasionally. You’ll basically learn to parry and counter or you’ll be annihilated. Though, in Senran Kagura, that tends to mean you see your favorite character get naked so, hey, you win some and lose some.

Oh, speaking of which, important note: there’s no actual nudity here. It happens, but there are giant yellow censor bars over it, which actually cover more skin than some of the outfits. Moving on….

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You can pick whatever way to play. In addition to difficulty that’s adjustable any time, any character can play any mission, after first clearing it with the story-mandated character.

Up against the walls was the only place I ran into any camera trouble, as it was usually just fine. It was also the place where I had the biggest problems with target lock. It was likely to freak out any old place, but for some reason, in my play, against walls, I was way better off not trying to lock onto anything.

Some characters additionally feel a bit broken. For all the excellence of Renka, there are counter examples such as Hanabi who stick out as utterly horrible picks. Hanabi, in particular, feels like she was plucked from a different game and just slapped into Estival Versus without a lot of updating for the game style.

Swimsuit Issue

The Senran Kagura girls find themselves mysteriously transported to a tropical beach. Oh no!

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Estival Versus runs full force with a summer vacation theme. Most story scene music sounds appropriately tropical, and countless small touches like backgrounds, attire, and one-off story moments bring in reminders of summer fun in the sun. The sand, the sea, swimsuits and fruit smoothies are all over the place. It’s an ideal setting and theme that make everything else a little bit better.

*Girlish Giggle*

Estival Versus delivers an even wackier, more hilarious story than Shinovi did. These characters are funny enough to begin with, but their dialogue is particularly funny and some of the finer plot points are absurd…ly amazing.

Instead of playing rival schools separately, general progress is moved along through one straight story mode that combines all schools. You can focus on one more than others if you want to, but the way it’s laid out was already perfect.

*Girlish Jiggle*

There’s an elephant in the room when discussion Senran Kagura. Or rather, there are two big bouncy elephants. Also, the elephants are breasts.

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No getting around it, this game features animated girls, some of whom are drawn to look ambiguously young, and all of whom are undeniably sexualized. They are. If this bothers you, go nowhere near Senran Kagura as a series. If you’re into that, Senran Kagura is probably the best “oppai-ge” series out there, so you can find quality gameplay to justify indulging your other tastes in arguments with your friends.

The Booby Prize

What’s worth note about these, um, features in Estival Versus, is that the lewdness is taken to a higher level than ever before. I didn’t really have much problem with Shinovi Versus, but Estival took me aback a few times. I’m not sure how they can quite top this in an eventual sequel.

What I don’t like is this entry’s focus on tears. That makes the whole experience go from fun to a little more creepy. Sure, hey, if animated girls have clothes exploding off of them in gravity-defying ninja fights, so be it, but the camera was all too eager to zoom in on the red cheeks and watering eyes of defeated naked girls. That takes things from wacky to uncomfortable; from a fun match of ninja strip poker to eerie allusions to abuse that feel way less fun than the game usually does.

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On Demand

Customization runs high in Estival Versus. Right from the start, there’s a treasure trove of custom outfits with fewer “This outfit is only for _____” limitations than before. Every menu has another menu waiting to pop up, which is a nightmare for some, but glorious for people who want to control their electronic waifus as if they were physical dolls in a dollhouse, with a shload of costumes to mix and match.

And if you don’t want to do any of that at all, great, the fights and story are completely independent of all that stuff. Nothing within the main game will seem off if you’re not into picking out custom outfits or trying out the change room.

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I didn’t realize how much room there was for improvement with general game flow in Shinovi Versus, but Estival made it clear right away by eliminating any need to walk around the school. It seemed like a nice diversion at first, but swapping that out for a menu turned out to move the game along at a much nicer clip. Get in, do what you need to do, and get out without any silly running around a fairly small space that never changes. Good riddance to that.

Lingerie Lottery draws, on the other hand, slow, frustrating, and dumb. It feels completely out of place with everything else.

Senran Kagura: Estival Versus comes with a basketful of small flaws that don’t too greatly hold it back. Anyone who has liked previous games, I’d guess would like this one as well. While some characters seem in need of balancing patches, SK:EV‘s fights add more control to the chaos of previous titles. Reused assets slightly annoy, but they’ve been given visual upgrades and expansions. The story is more hilarious than ever, characters just as zany, and game flows better than its predecessors.

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Senran Kagura Estival Versus review copy provided by Play-Asia.com. Game available on PS4 and Vita. PS4 version reviewed.

For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.

(Post-review notes for importers. Read the PSLS guide to importing here.)
Many people have imported and enjoyed Senran Kagura games in the past, including Estival Versus, even without understanding a lick of Japanese. Core gameplay is fairly straightforward and can be understood and figured out without knowing the language.

You will, however, be missing a lot of the humor in the conversations. If you can neither speak nor read, you’ll be left in the dark as to why a lot of things are funny. The story, wacky as it is, is actually not half bad, but you won’t quite get it without some at least intermediate level Japanese. If that doesn’t matter to you, I say import away.

If it does, then you might want to either search for translation guides or walkthroughs before making that decision.

7.0Bronze Trohpy
  • Crazy & hilarious story
  • The new characters
  • Improved graphics
  • Summer vacation theme
  • Renka
  • Improved game flow
  • Life and Hometown
  • Pretty much exactly what most series fans want
  • Needs some balancing patches
  • Awkward lock
  • Reused stages and assets
  • Weird thing with the crying
  • The lingerie lottery menu
  • Different enemies, usually the same approach
  • No adjustable boob physics