Hello, everyone. I am happy to begin a series of articles describing a number of incredibly entertaining video game series. This is something that I have wanted to do for quite some time now and will begin by introducing you to one of my favorite new franchises, Senran Kagura, which has quickly become a breakthrough hit in Japan and garnered a strong cult following in the West.
Senran Kagura, published by Marvelous Entertainment and created by Kenichiro Takaki, first debuted in Japan on the 3DS in 2011 with a side-scrolling beat-’em-up not unlike ’80s and ’90s classics such as Final Fight, Double Dragon, and Streets of Rage, but with a more tongue-in-cheek, cheesecake-y tone. The game told a story of five shinobi students, Asuka, Ikaruga, Katsuragi, Yagyu, and Hibari, as they battled against a rival school and began to discover the gray areas between good and evil, while also battling their own insecurities and anxieties. The game featured fast-paced combat, clothing damage, and numerous outfits for the characters to wear.
The game was followed in 2012 by an enhanced remake titled Senran Kagura Burst, which featured a new storyline from the perspectives of the protagonists’ rivals, Homura, Yomi, Hikage, Mirai, and Haruka. This group was initially presented as a team of evil shinobi, but eventually grew to be every bit as heroic as their rivals, further emphasizing a major theme of gray areas between good and evil. Senran Kagura Burst would later become the first game in the series to receive a western release when Xseed Games released an English version as a digital download on the 3DS eShop in 2013.
In later installments, the story elaborates further on the true nature of shinobi, revealing that both good and evil shinobi are meant to serve the same purpose of saving the world from calamity by slaying monsters known as Yoma, who are born from conflict and drawn out by the blood that is spilled in battles between shinobi. Those who are able to defeat Yoma are known as Kagura.
Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus, released for the PlayStation Vita in 2013 in Japan and 2014 in the US, served as a side-story and sequel to the first game, and introduced a competitive multiplayer component to the franchise, as well as ten new characters, Yumi, Murakumo, Yozakura, Shiki, Minori, Miyabi, Murasaki, Imu, Ryobi, and Ryona, and a revamped gameplay system allowing for greater freedom of movement.
In 2014, a direct sequel to the first game, Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson, was released for the 3DS. This installment features the addition of a system where two characters fight alongside one another, and the player can switch between controlling either of these characters on the fly. The story, set between the first game and Shinovi Versus, sees both Asuka and Homura’s groups working together to battle a force of Yoma. The game has been announced for a Western release in the Summer of 2015 by Xseed Games.
The most recent release in the series is Senran Kagura Estival Versus for the PlayStation 4 and Vita, released in Japan only two months ago, this game expands on the Shinovi Versus gameplay, adding elements from Deep Crimson, as well as enhanced Multiplayer options and the addition of cinematic, stage-based finishing moves. Estival Versus has not yet been announced for a Western release as of this writing, but I remain optimistic due to the strong success the series continues to enjoy internationally.
To conclude this article, I will state that underneath the suggestive, cheesecake-y presentation, Senran Kagura has a lot to offer, with frantic combat, lovable characters, and a fantastic storyline that are sure to leave you looking forward to more.
Later on, I will introduce you to the characters.
See you later,
-Dan Bordelon, Jr.