Developed by Tamsoft, Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson is a direct sequel to Senran Kagura Burst, a 3D side-scrolling action game with some rather risqué content. After diving into the latter and its Playstation Vita counterparts, it was very easy for me to fall in love with the ridiculous character personalities, flashy combat, and inane sense of humor that permeates throughout the series. However, between the game consoles of choice, the Playstation Vita has always seemed to be the more optimal and accommodating system when came to controls, visuals, and performance of what Burst should and could have been. So does Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson manage to provide a much better experience when it comes to these voluptuous brawling vixens? It goes without saying that it does, but never excepted to see the improvement it puts on display.
Title: Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson
Genre: Side-scrolling action
Developer: Tamsoft (Published by XSEED Games/Marvelous AQL)
Length: 20-30 hrs+
Being a direct sequel to Burst, Deep Crimson carries on its successors storyline with Hanzo National Academy and their former rivals now known as the Homura Crimson Squad forced to team up to stop Dogen, a benefactor of Hebijo from summoning Youma and plunging the world into absolute chaos. Still keeping the same style of storytelling and presentation found in Burst, the mood is on more the dire side, yet never too far away from the usual lighthearted and silly disposition that brings back all the characters you know and love. Of course, with the returning cast, two new players do make their debut: Kagura and her guardian Naraku that add to the madness and roster of faces you can except to see. The game is divided into 5 main chapters and the story on the whole should take around 2-4 hours to complete with the rest of that time filled with other miscellaneous offerings.
From the opening cinematic that shows off the fluidity and stability of the visuals and camera to opening levels giving the player the rundown of the controls and side-scrolling portions, Deep Crimson does seem like a sequel that is making the best possible use of the 3DS hardware and then some, as it does feel like a brand new title all together. Despite the game stuck in the same paradigm of how missions are handled, they are more bearable this time around and come off as genuinely enjoyable once you get pass the baked in repetition. With many stages being rendered in full 3D compared to the 2.5D perspective found in Burst, the scale of areas are very spacious allowing for swift attacks and ninja arts to send opponents flying in any direction. It is so open that it does present a small problem with enemies able to attack you from behind with little time to react, since the camera only focuses itself relative to your position on the map, but an issue that happens very rarely with areas providing a great deal of room to maneuver. It does sometimes make targeting foes difficult, but works out in giving yourself time to regroup. That point withstanding, the controls do appear to be more accommodating, too with the X and Y buttons allowing for easy to string together attacks to develop into combos. Arguably, while the changes to the combo and special moves have been for the better and offer balance, it does seem more apt to rely on the latter more opposed to the previous title due to bosses being able to take far more abuse and regular combos not providing sufficient damage until you top off in levels. Other commands such as aerial attacks, dashes, and evading have also undergone a significant change, but pale in comparison to the actual usefulness they provided in Burst.
With all the small improvements, one of the prominent and key features that makes missions and combat shine comes from the Co-op system that makes use of two characters in battle instead of going solo. Pairing up any of the possible combinations, the player controls one character with the computer making use of the other. While the computer does actually makes itself useful, the player still has more autonomy such telling the computer when to combo attack a targeted enemy to even switching control of the characters on command. Bringing a great deal of variety to combat, this can make some missions more manageable than others, but also allows the use of characters the player would otherwise be willing to use. Plus, there are some humorous exchanges that happen with characters paired together before and after battle such as Katsuragi trying to cop a feel on Hikage only be rebuffed or Mirai and Yagyu arguing about who will slack off in battle first.
In addition to the main missions, Deep Crimson also brings along a few other options that are both helpful as well as enjoyable. One of those options is Special Missions that come with specific rules to clear, but upon doing so will be awarded Shinobi Stones, power enhancing equips that range in different abilities. You can equip up to three at a time and can very beneficial especially turning weaker characters into moderately powerful ones, even if you aren’t the best with them. Another option is called Yoma’s Nest that will allow players to take on a series of missions in a 14 floor layout that will progress in difficultly depending on the paths you take. Whether you choose to go it solo or using the partner system, the same rule of no healing applies and if you get through it awarded a great deal of EXP, but fail and the amount will be cut in half. This makes for a great way to train up weaker characters without having to replay missions as well as again, use different characters you might not regularly use with some storyline missions requiring it. You do also have the chance to get new weapons for the characters depending on the floors cleared, but serve no applicable purpose than slightly changing up their play style and are gag ideas. The last option most players will be happy for is multiplayer – allowing for local or across the world play to tackle missions based on the parameters set. I can’t comment a great deal on the feature since I haven’t tried it during my short time with game, but probably will be where players focus the lion’s share of time after the main game is completed, but can be done before that. Sadly, trying to search for players to team up with can confusing with the search criteria being really specific.
As alluded to before, the visuals for Deep Crimson easily surpass that of Burst and does appear to be pressing the 3DS and its capabilities to the limit. Still being a farcry from its Playstation Vita counterpart, gameplay is at least stable with regards to the framerate and looks as great as it performs. There are still a few oddities that occur with the 3D in a technical sense such as enemy attacks sometimes “sliding” the player back when stunned or the camera doing weird things like getting enemies stuck behind background entities making it impossible to finish stages, but these occurrences have been very rare. Jiggle physics and the infamous clothes break mechanic is the only thing that seems to really benefit, yet for those familiar with the series, you know what you are getting yourself into. When it comes the soundtrack, it also comes out nicely, but is a big divergence from the types of tracks in Burst. Everything from heavy metal guitar riffs to traditional eastern music make an appearance and just really a mish mash of everything. Whether it goes well together is up to you. With the language track still being Japanese only, XSEED does lovingly handle the script as they did with Burst with many liberties taken when the chance presents itself.
In the midst of a few rough additions and amendments, Deep Crimson does ultimately get the most out of it and makes for a way better experience than its progenitor. Feeling more at ease this time around with the content offered and what I received from it, I am very pleased for the most part and would recommend it as much as I do the Vita titles. If you were someone who was confounded by the repetitive nature and performance of Burst, I do highly push for trying Crimson. It doesn’t make too many great strides or necessarily successful in improving on some of the aspects Burst had trouble with, but believe what you find might surprise you as I was giving it the chance. As for everyone else, it is just about more of the same just done slightly better.
Pros: Co-op system makes for some interesting missions, Yoma’s Nest is nice alternative to level up characters, multiplayer feature, steady and stable performance, use of full 3D for some side-scrolling stages, gag weapons are fun to play around with.
Cons: Still a fair amount of repetition in the gameplay, some of the changes in regards to attacks and specials are inferior to that found in Burst, a few bosses can be problematic, camera is difficult to control in certain stages.
Disclaimer: In no way, shape, or form was I compensated for the composition or publication of this review. This by my own volition. A review copy of the game was kindly provided by XSEED Games. All images and rights to them belong Tamsoft and for review purposes only