Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus: Fight for your life

October 14, 2014


It’s always been a bit crazy how Japan has managed to remain so different when it comes to video games. Senran Kagura is probably one of the biggest examples of this: a game based on Japanese myth, mixed with more modern themes, but not one that simply takes game mechanics from something already popular. While Shinovi Versus continues where Burst left off, the series really doesn’t feel like any game before it. Shinovi Versus builds on the earlier games, but adds quite a bit to it thanks in part to the increased power and control available on Vita.

Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus continues the story from the previous release, expanding upon the original with the addition of new ninjitsu schools along with ten more girls which are all playable, bringing the total roster to 20. Those who have played Burst will see that the rival Hanzo school makes a return, while the girls from the Hebijo school exist as a separate faction. Hebijo is of course still around, and has a set of new students in training. The Gessen school adds a fourth faction to Shinovi Versus, which rivals both the Hanzo and Hebijo schools, claiming that its ninjitsu skill is superior to both.


The combat is very similar to Burst, though feels much easier to control thanks to the Vita’s dual-analog setup. The camera is no longer locked to a side view, as the second stick allows for a full 3D camera. The game is pretty good about sticking to the best view with minimal adjustment; as a brawler, it’s still not sending you into cramped quarters where geometry gets in the way, though aerial attacks are sometimes a little clunky as you can’t see the ground in many cases. Like the previous game, the difficulty is also fairly spot-on, though new players may be overwhelmed if they ignore side quests (or if the game suddenly throws a specific character in that you haven’t been leveling). Ultimately, skill will beat stats, though, so it isn’t often a case where you have to level up different girls to get ahead so much as you need to spend time learning their attacks.

Probably the series’ most well-known aspect is its reliance on fanservice. Senran Kagura unabashedly uses this to sell units, but it doesn’t feel nearly as exploitative as many other games. Despite the style and the gradually diminishing clothing to signify your character’s health, the writing behind each character doesn’t suffer for it. Behind the character design is a game that has grown a lot and has an interesting story to tell. Having different playable factions makes for an interesting plot that can be seen from all sides; while some characters are obviously aligned with good or evil, the game manages to get the player interested in events from the villain’s point of view.


How you feel about Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus really boils down to how much you can tolerate fanservice, which is true of the series in general. Unlike so many of its type, Shinovi Versus manages to layer a great story with a lot of character development on top of the infamous art style. Some may be justifiably unable to see past the visuals, though, which is a shame, as it’s a fun brawler with interesting themes.

Pros: Engaging combat, lots of content
Cons: Lots of fanservice, sometimes the camera is awkward in the air

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.