Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus (PC) Review

By Shawn Collier on August 22, 2016, 8:16PM EDT

Back in 2014, XSEED Games released Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus on the PlayStation Vita. We gave it a 7/10, noting that it was a noticeable improvement over the Nintendo 3DS Burst iteration's mechanics even if it had its own issues. So now that the game has been ported over to the PC, how goes it fair?

The gameplay mechanics are built on what existed in Burst, although there's some minor issues with how some of the new features were added. Instead of the side-scrolling like camera view of the original, Shinovi Versus features a fully-3D third-person beat-em'-up arena to fight in similar to that of Tecmo Koei's Dynasty Warriors franchise. Generally you're up against another shinobi with a group of fodder enemies tagging alongside them. The same light/heavy attack combo system returns again alongside the Flash/Yin/Yang system from Burst.

Flash is the default state when entering a battle, where you have a balanced amount of power to attack with. By tapping the L button, one enters Yang mode which includes a borderline erotic magical girl-inspired (which can be skipped if one wishes). The advantage of this mode is that you fully regain your health and increase your attack damage, output and defenses. This mode also gives you access to your special shinobi ninja art which have their own flash animation. The system lends itself well to experimentation, as there's benefits for both waiting till you are low on heath to activate the mode or triggering it early to end the battle quicker.

The last mode, Yin, has the character strip down to their underwear which leaves them more open to attacks but gains a sizable boost in attack and speed alongside the shinobi ninja arts mentioned earlier. This tends to be a mode made more for veterans of the battle system as it lets you end battles much quicker if you know what you're doing. The game also rewards players for experimenting with these systems as each gains EXP when used, which opens up more combos and other bonuses the more they're used.

Instead of a traditional health bar, like Burst the game has the girls' clothing "magically" fall apart once they've taken enough damage, complete with a zoomed-in animation sequence similar to the Yang transformation.

While all these systems work well, the brawling mechanics do have some issues of their own to contend with. You can have the camera focus on a particular opponent, but the game tends to get confused if multiple opponents can be targeted and even when there's one if you end up in a bad corner of the map, the camera can get a bit unfocused, requiring manual control to fix things using the right analog stick. I also ran into quite a few bosses which fired off a 30+ attack hit combo when this happened, and due to the stun effect many of their attacks have, I essentially was a sitting duck unless I got lucky evading out of the combo early enough. There is a perfect guard mechanic that is supposed to help, but many of the bosses can and will use a guard-breaking attack which negates its usefulness. At least one good thing about Shinovi Versus is that it fixes the slowdown issues that were a major issue in Burst.

As far as the graphical improvements over the Vita version are concerned, it's much improved seeing the graphics in a clean and crisp HD format compared to the somewhat jagged format the Vita had (especially if you ever viewed it on the PlayStation TV). The models still appear to be the same, so it isn't a complete rework, but it works well enough to not make it seem like a straight port of a Vita game. I occasionally noticed a few textures and other minor graphical glitches, but these were rare and very infrequent at best. Thankfully there weren't any major glitches either that I encountered due to the porting process.

And one other important piece to note is that all of the DLC that was previous paid DLC in the Vita version of the game is included free-of-charge to PC buyers, which is a welcome bonus.

So like our original review for the Vita version stated, Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is most assuredly a lewd game that isn't ashamed of that fact, but has a surprisingly deep story and gameplay system hidden underneath that you might not otherwise expect. The gameplay isn't perfect by any means, but it's incredibly fun once you get the hang of it. So for the segment of players who this type of game appeals to, the PC version should be right up their alley.

Score: 7/10

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