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Senran Kagura Estival Versus
Score: 70%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Marvelous Inc.
Media: Download/1
Players: 1; 2 (Online)
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:
Whenever we think "ninja," we think of some elusive, bad-ass guy cloaked in black, moving stealthily through the night, right? That usually makes for some pretty gruesome games. As for me, I think of a very loud-mouthed guy who wears orange. Well, that might not be very ninja-like, would it? Today, we値l check out a different type of ninja, some very pretty girls from different schools that each have their own motive in Senran Kagura Estival Versus!

Most players will probably be drawn to this game for the graphics, not particularly the environment's graphics, though. Sorry, I had to make the fan service joke. Anyway, the game does look pretty incredible and the detail on the landscapes is well done, but I'm just a fan of the style used for the graphics. It makes the game feel silly so players can have more fun in the world of the game, which is nice in my opinion. I also didn't notice any performance issues either and character models are well done also, for both player characters and the enemies. The game isn't gruesome though, so players expecting that may not much care for the graphics, unfortunately. I think the silliness in the game more than makes up for it, though.

To synergize with the graphics, Estival Versus uses rather silly tracks for the music and they work wonders with the graphics and flow of the game. The soundtrack isn't all silly, however. There are plenty of more serious and upbeat tones for battles and the like, but I absolutely love the way tracks are used for comedic situations. The music, along with the Japanese voice acting, really makes Estival Versus feel like a fun, playable comedy anime. Sorry to any English voice acting fans by the way: All voice acting is done in Japanese, but there's subtitles for players to keep up with. It isn't much of an issue, but some people might not like it. To each their own, really.

Senran Kagura Estival Versus is a brawler game featuring your favorite ninja girls from the Senran Kagura universe. Players take control of the girls in their journey to figure out exactly what's going on in the world. Can you fight your way through hordes of enemies and figure out what's really going on, or will you be taken down and sent back to the ninja academy?

Progressing through the story is done by completing the missions the game throws at you with whichever girl the game makes you use for a mission. Some missions allow you to select your own character as well. Players will be given the parameters of the mission and are expected to accomplish the mission objective. Hordes of enemy ninjas will try to stop you, so you'll have to get through them. To the bottom left, players will see their Health bar and Ninja Art bar. The top blue bar is your Health and the bottom yellow bar is your Ninja Art bar. You move your character with the Left Analog Stick, while the Right Stick controls the camera. (Square) and (Triangle) serve as your attack buttons. By using them in conjunction, players can use combos to tear through their enemies and players can check the Tech List to understand each character's combos. Players are able to block with the (R1) button and perform a quick dash using the (Circle) button. Holding (Circle) allows the player to run and the (X) button allows you to jump. In addition, if you time your guard right as the enemy attacks, you値l parry their attack and can follow up with more attacks. You're packing quite a bit of firepower, so taking down the mindless masses should be simple, right?

Estival Versus wouldn't be a Senran Kagura game without the costumes breaking. As characters take damage in fights, their costume steadily loses durability until they eventually break. Players will get a small cutscene of the areas of the costume breaking until eventually, the girls are left in their underwear. On the bright side, the girls will do more damage the less clothes they have left, but they also take more damage, so be careful how you manage your costume. You can also completely tear off the costume at any time by holding (R1) and pressing (Triangle).

If you're a fashion enthusiast, you'll have a blast in the Dressing Room. Players are able to customize any girl's costume using this mode. You can also change which character you use. The clothes customization is pretty in depth, so players will have a good chance to show off the girls in their cutest outfits. You can change their normal outfit, their hairstyle, and even add various accessories to their outfits. You can also change the lingerie they're wearing, but some girls don't seem too happy about that based on their reactions. Once you change their outfits to you're liking, you can set the girls in various poses showing off their new outfits. It's pretty fun being a modeling agent, sometimes.

It's nice to hone your skills against the computer, but there's nothing sweeter than inflicting the agony of defeat on another player. Estival Versus allows you to do just that with its Shinobi Dojo Mode. This allows you to take the battle worldwide and battle other players online. You can create your own battle session or join another session and test your skills against your rivals. Train hard and show everyone you're the best shinobi around, or else you might end up embarrassed on your butt.

Some people love a challenge and some people would prefer not to lose their minds trying to complete a game. That's why everyone loves adjusting the difficulty level. In Senran Kagura Estival Versus, players are able to adjust the difficulty setting for missions. You値l notice at the top right of the mission select screen is the difficulty. By pressing the (Square) button, you can cycle through the difficulty settings. A good way to judge what difficulty you want to play on is the Difficulty rating towards the bottom right where the mission parameters are. The stars in the gauge represent how difficult a mission will be and you can increase the amount of stars by increasing the difficulty. Players are able to switch between Easy, Medium, and Hard difficulty settings. If you fancy a challenge, you値l probably go for the Hard Mode on every mission. Players who are more interested in the story will probably go for Easy and those looking for a balance will probably stick to Medium. Whatever you decide, the important thing is to remember to have fun and not break things.

Game Mechanics:
Every ninja has some special tricks up their sleeve that allow them to gain the upper hand in battle and the girls of Senran Kagura Estival Versus are no different. Each girl has the ability to use a Shinobi Transformation by pressing the (L1) button. This changes their clothes and gives them access to some new techniques. The transformation also restores their Health, so it's good to use if you're in a pinch. After transforming, you can use three new abilities called Secret Ninja Arts. By pressing (R1) and either (Square), (Triangle), or (Circle), you'll be able to unleash a girl's Secret Ninja Arts attacks and deal some heavy damage to nearby targets. You can only use Secret Ninja Arts if you have a scroll stack saved. You get scrolls by collecting them from slain enemies or filling the Ninja Art gauge. Each attack costs a different amount of scrolls, so make sure you understand the cost before trying to unleash attacks in every direction. You might find yourself in a bad spot.

Ninjas coordinating together sounds like a really scary thing. In Estival Versus, it is a scary thing. Sometimes, you'll have a partner accompanying you in battle that will move independently of your character. They'll usually do their own thing and try to help you clear out enemies, but they can also help you in a different way. After knocking an opponent or group of opponents up into the air, you can chase after them by pressing the (Circle) button. This allows you to perform an Aerial Rave and follow up with some extra damage. With a partner, you can perform a Fusion Aerial Rave by pressing the Touchpad while in the air and allow both girls to unleash some chaos on the enemies. These do a lot of damage and you can even use it if your partner knocks someone upward. Enemy characters can even use Fusion Aerial Raves on you or your partner, but you can cancel them with the Touchpad. Who said teamwork never got anything done?

Senran Kagura Estival Versus is a pretty interesting game, to say the least. There's action, lots of characters, and plenty of fan service. I think most fans of the Senran Kagura franchise will definitely enjoy this new installment and sink a lot of hours into the game. People who may not be familiar with the franchise may not enjoy the game as much, along with people who aren't interested in fan service, but let's be honest. Who doesn't love a day at the beach with pretty girls?

-SS-54, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ren Plummer

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