E3 2014: Senran Kagura’s Kenichiro Takaki Talks Oculus Rift, Breast Physics and Water Guns

Senran Kagura is a series that’s been getting a fair amount of attention lately.  Admittedly, a lot of it has to do with the overstated boob physics, but there’s a decent fighting engine chugging away underneath, giving at least a little justification to the gratuitous pandering.  XSEED has two new entries in the series coming over to the Vita, and they offered Hardcore Gamer an opportunity to chat with series director Kenichiro Takaki.  He demonstrated both the brawler Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus as well as the music/rhythm/cooking game Senran Kagura Bon Apetit, and we learned a lot about the jiggle-tastic series’ upcoming releases:

[Takaki (via translator)]  So there’s a total of twenty characters in the game, and what we’re playing here is just one of the single character stories.  The twenty characters are divided up amongst four different schools, five characters each, and then there are individual stories for each character as well.  This is one of the individual charater’s stories.  It’s a 3D action game where you run around in this 3D space.  The previous game on the 3DS, Senran Kagura Burst, was a 2D side-scrolling beat ’em up kind of game, so with this game we take it to three dimensions.

The controls are very simple.  You use primarily the square and triangle buttons, and different combinations of those buttons allow you to pull off various moves and combos.  The girl characters, they’re all ninjas according to the story, so they have a lot of very fast movements and a lot of special attacks they can pull off.  As you’re fighting you’re building up your power gauge, and when it fills up you can do a shinobi transformation.  This is her special ninja mode where she gets a new outfit and new attacks and combinations that you can pull off.

All the characters have large breasts.

[Hardcore Gamer]  That much I picked up on. (laughter all around)

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*Takaki plays a bit more and gets to the level’s final encounter.*

So basically in the stages you defeat all the minor enemies and then you get a boss encounter.  This is another one of the ninja characters from one of the other schools, again with the well-endowed breasts.

This is one of the special moves you get when you’re in this shinobi mode.

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Now this shinobi mode, how long does it last?  I don’t see a meter decreasing or anything like that.  Do you have to keep the combo going to maintain it?

There’s no limit on it.  Once you transform you’re in this mode until the end of the stage.  When you build up your gauge again, that’s when you can pull off the really special moves.

The infamous feature- as you take damage, your clothing rips and you get more and more undressed, and the same goes for the boss characters.

On the one hand, I want to say something negative about the breast movement, because I know what breasts move like and that’s kind of not it.  On the other hand, I’m having a hard time complaining.

(laughs) It’s definitely, instead of realism, we went for “What would you imagine the ideal breast might look like?”

If you defeat a boss character with one of your special ninja moves, you get a new feature for this entry in the series which is complete clothing destruction, which means she ends up naked at the end.

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I’m guessing appropriate coverings are in place?

Let’s see, here we go.  *performs special move*  Yes, we do censor the obvious bits.  You can only see the top half of her body in that scene but she is completely naked.  At the end you can tilt the Vita to move the camera around.

So the main modes are the Story Mode, which have one story for each of the four schools, and then there’s a separate mode that has individual character stories, and then there is also online and wifi multiplayer mode.

Co-op?  Competitive?

Competitive.  There’s a couple different settings for the multiplayer.  It’s up to four players at once and you can play battle royale style where it’s every person for themselves, or there’s two-on-two team battles.

Now, the combo system relies on two buttons.  How many moves per character does there tend to be?

It’s a good number of moves; it might be a little different per character.  There is a chart when you pause the game during a mission, you can see a list of all your moves.

The circle button is a dash button, it also can be used to cancel moves so you can be doing a combo, cancel your move, and take it off in a different direction.  So there’s a lot of variety for branching.

So basically it’s all about the movement and the positioning with the dash and cancel combined with the attack.

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This is the dressing room where you can customize your character’s look.  This was especially important because we have the multiplayer and we want players to be able to choose their own look and customize on a very deep level.  You can choose different uniforms, you can customize your underwear, you can add these accessories to different parts of your character.

*pokes Vita screen, girl squeals a bit due to the nature of the touching*

And this is also the mode where you have the interaction, you can touch the screen.  There are fun things that you can do in here.

*Goes back to accessories.  Adds a flower to her hair and makes it ridiculously large*

So there’s a deep level of adjustments, you’ve got all these axis where you can move, you can rotate, change the size.  It takes a little twiddling with it but if you work at it you can get it just exactly the way you want it.   There’s a lot of freedom to make the character exactly the way you want.

So that’s like a free-roaming ninja classroom that’s kind of like the hub world of the game?

Yeah, this is their classroom and each one of these doors leads to a different game mode.

(At this point Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus seems pretty well covered and we move on to Senran Kagura Bon Apetit)

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So yes, it’s a rhythm game.  Story-wise it’s kind of a separate branch to the Shinovi Versus story, but it’s a chance to take it in a much sillier direction and have even more fun with the characters.

Yeah, the cooking theme was an interesting direction.

*Takaki fires up the game and pauses on the character select screen, which has two vertical rows of ten characters each*

This has twenty characters as well.  Actually there’s the main game and then there is a DLC pack for it.  The main game has the ten that are on the left there and then when you download the DLC you get the next ten on the right.

How do you go from “beat ’em up brawler” to “music/rhythm cooking”?  How does that transition actually happen?

With the Senran Kagura series, the concept is we wanted to make an action game and we also wanted to feature pretty girls in it, so we were thinking “What’s another thing we can do that features pretty girls?” We thought, “Well, there’s a lot about cooking and food that will provide more opportunities to show off these characters, such as when they’re cooking or when they’re eating.” and that’s where it came from.  We just wanted to do something really different and radical.

But adding music/rhythm to the whole cooking theme seems like a bit… You know, that’s like two separate giant leaps in theme change there.

*laughs*

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So it’s like a cooking battle between two different characters, and there will be three points during the song where their cooking is judged, and then whichever one is judged to have the better food at the end is the winner.  It’s very simple controls, you just press either the button or direction key as they scroll by.

So you’re judged on the deliciousness and the size of what you’ve cooked, and when the guy eats the food steam comes out of his mouth when he eats the more delicious of the two, and that steam is what strikes the losing girl and makes her clothing tear.

(There are two lines of icons on the screen, moving horizontally at equal speed.)

Now are are you playing both girls with both lines there, or… how does that work?  What are the two lines for?

You’re just controlling the one girl, and the two lines are just there to make it challenging.  You’ve got to keep paying attention to both the them, and sometimes you have both lines hitting at the same time, so you have to hit both icons at the same time.

If you do really well, a heart will come down the line, and if you hit the line you get sexy imagery.  This adds to the challenge because it distracts you from looking at the icons.

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*Takaki finishes the song and the ending animation begins*

This is the taste test, and he judges all the food and decides who wins, and if you do really well you get something like this which really shows off how delicious your food was in a very exaggerated manner.

(“this” being an epic overreaction fantasy sequence.)

Reminds me of an anime called Yakitate Japan.

Yes.

So this has a level that’s even past…  If you do really well and you tear all there clothes off, that’s as far as it went in Shinovi Versus.  In this you get this special… you see it right here.  You get to see the naked girl draped with food over her body.

Good god.

And this is inspired by the Japanese concept of nyotaimori, which is like eating food off the body of a naked woman.

(The girl being a human table is wearing a mask)

She isn’t always wearing the mask.  She does have a pretty face underneath it.

Does she get personalized using the same kind of personalization options from the fighting game?

[Takaki’s translator]  I think in this one particular character the mask is part of her regular costume design.

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*Takaki heads into the character menu*

As you can see we can do the same sort of customization that we had in Shinovi Versus, as well.  Of the two games, this one was developed later, so it has even more realistic animation for things like the ribbons on the clothing and the way the hair moves.  It’s a little bit improved over Shinovi Versus.  You can check out all the cooking animations on this one as well.

So each character has her own theme song, which are the different songs that you hear when you’re playing the game.  There’s as many songs as there are characters in the game, and then there’s also the special presentations of the girls covered in food, which is a particular selling point for this one.

*Takaki starts playing with the character model via the touch screen.  It’s very… responsive.*

So that’s a fully fleshed-out feature, is what you’re saying.  (Note- that wasn’t supposed to be a lame pun.  It just kind of happened.)

So that’s Bon Apetit!

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At the moment you’re showing for Vita.  Are there any plans to bring this to any of the consoles, like the current generation or the new generation?

It’s certainly something we’re thinking about.  Obviously, this kind of visual will look very nice on a big tv screen.

God help me, I think the system that would make that work best would be the Wii U with the touch screen.  That’s definitely a diverse selection of genres.  Do you have any other genres you’re thinking of bringing Senran Kagura to?

Lots of ideas, just off the top of my head-  pinball or dodgeball, or doing a shooter with water guns.

So basically this is not the last we’ve seen of Senran Kagura.

You can look forward to whatever crazy ideas we come up with next.  Take it into virtual reality:  Oculus Rift Senran Kagura.

Thank you for showing me that.  That was a lot of fun.

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