Ninjas Revisit their Origins in Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal

While spellchecker might despise the series, it’s hard not to appreciate the pure, over the top stupidity of Senran Kagura. It’s not shy about adding in heaping doses of fan service that should be utterly embarrassing for all involved. Somehow, it’s not. All of the characters feel like they’re in on the joke, so it feels more like laughing with them rather than at them when they end up on the wrong end of their clothes falling apart. Plus, each of the ladies are badass ninjas that could give Ryu Hayabusa a run for his money. In fact, if we were to pit any one of the cast of Senran Kagura against the protagonist of Ninja Gaiden, I would bet on Ryu losing. He’s still beholden to gravity while the ladies can just keep a combo going in midair for as long as there is something to hit up there. Also, he can die. Ninjas of the different schools in Marvelous’ series just get starkers and crumple in sadness.

Of course, there are plenty of people who are already familiar with the series. Shinovi Versus and Estival Versus did surprisingly well, though most players don’t want to admit to owning it. Even last year’s watergun based offshoot, Peach Beach Splash still has populated servers in the multiplayer rooms, much to my surprise when I went to check recently. Marvelous wants to keep the train rolling on the series, and have decided to treat fans to a full on remake of Senran Kagura Burst done by Honey Parade Games. With Re:Newal, the series start is retold in with gameplay on par with the quality of the more recent entries, and that is fantastic news.

This is a personal opinion, but the original 3DS version of Burst was okay as a novelty, but not fun for long term play. The side scrolling combat was extremely simple and kind of dull. Once the player understood how to stun lock an enemy in midair, the entire game became doing nothing but that. It wasn’t until Shinovi Versus when the series got its feet underneath it. As such, plenty of players missed out on the origin stories of the Hanzo and Hebijo academies of ninjary. (“Ninjary” is a word now. I called it.) Re:Newal goes back to the beginning, retelling the prequel.

What this means is a metric crapton of 3D brawling and high flying, sword swinging action. The easiest way to describe the combat style is “Dynasty Warriors by way of an over-caffeinated Daffy Duck.” Players will face off against hoards of enemies, needing to cut them all down. Using combos, air dashes, and the famous air chases and juggles, it’s impossible to feel swamped. During our demo time with this one, the controls were incredibly responsive. Split second timing for dodges and counters felt completely natural, and nothing could stand in our way. I cannot say this for sure, as I had just guzzled a large coffee about fifteen minutes prior to seeing this game, but the controls actually felt more on point here than they have before. As this title is certainly using the engine from the previous titles, this could be an illusion.

What isn’t an illusion is just how fast and fluid the game looks. Every attack looks practiced, every fall looks painful, and every rip in the clothes looks… well, not realistic. Let’s say it’s “cartoon realistic.” The locked in frame rate gives the game a sense of incredible speed. Each battle feels like the climax of a war in an anime, and the facial expressions on the character models sell it really well.

Most people reading this are going to want to know if Senran Kargura Burst Re:Newal will be worth picking up if they already have the original. The short answer is yes. The long answer is still yes, but preceded with a bunch of synonyms for “absolutely.” The charming, charismatic anime ladies of Senran Kagura didn’t really get a chance to tell their beginnings properly. This full remake will finally give them their chance and look great while doing it. It feels good, looks good and is still as silly as ever. People who get the humor will realize that its dumb fun condensed and injected into the veins. It’s harmless fun with empowered characters that makes the series tick as well as it does. Expect it to hit PlayStation 4 on October 9.