Senran Kagura Estival Versus releases today on PS4 and PS Vita, and while I didn’t quite (nearly) get enough time to finish it in time for release, I have beaten the Japanese release and have some strong opinions on the game.
So I thought I would present an interim “what I think/what to know” review in progress before I finish up the real ordeal, for anyone looking to decide day one. Instead of worrying about a nice format I decided to just lay out all the relevant its and bits for anyone on the edge of making a buying decision.
You can also check out my my Import Review for Estival Versus for my impressions of the Japanese release.
A digital review copy of this game was provided by the publisher for PS4.
- The PS4 version looks and performs fantastically. Almost none of the low-res textures from Shinovi, and a very solid 60FPS framerate (with some brief, expected Musou-esque dips when tons of enemies spawn in)
- The game could use some extra anti-aliasing (what couldn’t!) and the Depth of Field isn’t amazing, but the 1080p resolution helps a ton over Shinovi Versus on Vita.
- I didn’t (yet?) get the PS Vita version to test, but I know it’s Vita resolution + 30 FPS tops, making it a significant drop from PS4. I strongly recommend the PS4 version if available, but if I get a Vita review copy I’ll post in my review the differences you can expect.
- The game is considerably longer than Shinovi Versus due to extra free missions to tie into the OVA and even more Shinobi Girls Heart sidestories for the new characters
- The main menu is now a diorama sort of thing instead of the 15 FPS shinobi school thing. It looks and performs way better.
- Loading on PS4 is near-instant. 1 second tops usually.
- You can load 5 characters into the dressing room and changing is very quick, unlike prior games.
- I couldn’t find online games during the review period so I can’t comment on online performance.
- Almost every one of my complaints about Shinovi Versus was fixed.
- Flow of combat is greatly improved, super moves no longer pause time, instead a dramatic camera pan is (sometimes) shown in realtime as the attack executes instead of the weird pause-and-cutscene approach Shinovi took
- Clothing damage is only a cutscene if damaged through a normal combo not a super, and both top and bottom take clothing damage at once. Overall a lot less time is wasted in those animations.
- Playing on Normal difficulty or higher is recommended
- Hard difficulty feels better, with trash mobs being MUCH more aggressive providing a proper challenge.
- Camera work for special attacks (and the pervy finishers) is masterful. Smooth, precise pans give a great amount of flair to attacks.
- Tag teams are technically in, but they’re extremely basic compared to Senran Kagura 2. They’re barely a feature TBH.
- Characters feel a lot more unique; some characters are now slower but punchier. For instance Yomi is pretty slow but does good damage and most of her attacks can be charged.
- All of the new characters are really fun to play. No one feels unnecessary, which is pretty amazing in a game with over 25 characters.
- More clothing options, though the underwear lottery’s selection actually seems worse. There’s swimsuits now too, which basically act as underwear and can’t be damaged in battle (except from a KO full strip)
- The Western release comes with version 1.17, the latest version from Japan, including Rin and Daidouji (review copy was digital so I’m not sure if it’s on disk or an update).
- The patch notes for all versions is maintained, so you can see what each patch did. They fixed and added a LOT over the course of the Japanese game!
- Online play for up to 4 characters on Vita or 10 on PS4, including some sort of cooperative defense game type I haven’t gotten to play yet.
- The Dressing Room is improved, and colors can now be selected per item instead of palette swaps being separate items
- Underwear from the panty lottery however is still a huge pain in the ass to select, too much content most of it palette swaps.
- Not being able to select separate tops and bottoms limits what you can do
- More creative players can do a lot with the accessories however, due to being able to fully control the size/rotation/position of everything.
- I tend to idle a lot, so don’t take my word for it, but I played 51 hours of Shinovi Versus (quitting at platinum) and 91 hours of Estival Versus (Japanese) and didn’t get the platinum yet
- The platinum has no grinding trophies this time, though ALL side stories must be complete, and I spent lots of hours not chasing down the platinum
- The localization is solid, haven’t noticed spelling errors/etc, what little Japanese I know easily lines up with the text, though words are chosen well to express character’s personalities rather than a dry direct translation.
- Likely a response to people not taking the series seriously (not that it takes itself seriously),
- Dialog is pretty damn funny as always, with characters showing their dorky selves very quickly.
- Should be reasonably friendly to first-timers as most characters have a sort-of intro to their major personality traits early on.
- Good readable fonts are chosen throughout the game, nothing is really obviously crammed in awkwardly (unlike the vertical text in Bon Appetit)
- Extra subtitles were added to the game to account for battle cries/etc that had no accompanying text, to allow english speakers to understand
- For whatever reason, many localization shops don’t go this far, so this is appreciated
- Instead of spreading 80% of the same story across four schools like Shinovi Versus, there’s a single continuous narrative in this game. Much, much better.
- I haven’t beaten the story in english, but day one (of eight) was a bit weak with the prologue being great and day two picking up already. I know for a fact that there are more emotional scenes towards the end as well.
- The localization is pretty solid, often even getting fonts that stylistically evoke the original Japanese fonts.
- When translating Japanese script with particular flair, like the big glyphs for character names the Japanese characters are kept with English superimposed to give sort of the best of both worlds.
- The game is not “censored” in the west, though of course the game is full of creative censorship both to keep it’s Cero D/M rating and as part of the fun. I haven’t noticed anything removed from the JP release (nor have I ever seen it happen in this series so far)
- Three DLC crossover characters apparently aren’t available (removed from the UI) in the west due to licensing issues
- Save data from the JP release doesn’t carry over (I don’t believe it ever does), but trophies do.
Huh, that’s the SHORT review, huh? Damnit.
Anyway, the game is highly recommended. It’s an all around major improvement from the prior game, which is no surprise. Every Senran Kagura game really steps it up, and this is the easiest recommendation yet, even to someone not entirely into the stripping aspect.
Estival Versus is a fun game, a funny game, and a game much deeper than many think when they hear “clothing damage and crazy jiggle physics”. I can’t deny those are in there (and, for me, they add to the humor), but there’s a lot to enjoy here despite them, especially if you have a good sense of humor. Estival Versus is more about having fun than just raw perversion. There’s even some pretty dark story beats.
The only real major downside is probably the most obvious one; yeah, it’s a pervy game. And while you can turn off clothing damage, Puru Puru Finishes (which generally result in Conveniently Censored nudity) can’t be disabled and are rather easy to perform on accident. So while you can enjoy the game despite not enjoying the perverse features, you can’t enjoy the game without ever seeing them.
If you’re interested you can pick up the game on Amazon (affiliate link) for a “deluxe” physical edition with some physical goodies or buy the game $10 cheaper on PSN.