E3 2015: Senran Kagura 2 and Estival Versus – Two Fanservice Fighters for Fans

The Senran Kagura series is one which has seen an impressive amount of acceptance in North America, but only by a certain section of the gaming audience. Another side looks at these titles with total disdain, completely trashing them without even playing them. In their mind, games with such an impressive focus on female fanservice simply can’t offer worthwhile gameplay. Although I never subscribed to that side’s viewpoint, my personal history with the Senran Kagura series barely exists at all. I acknowledge each release but, up until now, have never actually played one. At E3, I was able to play both Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson on 3DS and Senran Kagura Estival Versus on PS4 (though it’s also set for a Vita launch).

To my surprise, both titles are completely competent third person beat ‘em ups. Existing fans will probably laugh at this comment, but it bears repeating for anyone who has otherwise avoided the series up until now. Those who are at least okay with the rampant fanservice throughout should definitely give either upcoming release a try. But enough of stating the obvious, let’s get into the main features and differences between Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson and Senran Kagura Estival Versus. First off, as the name implies, Senran Kagura 2 is a direct sequel to Senran Kagura Burst on 3DS. It also features co-op modes, which is new for the series. On the other hand, Senran Kagura Estival Versus is basically a spin-off, and features its own unique narrative.

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As far as Senran Kagura 2 is concerned, it seems tailor fit to existing portable fans of the series. You’ve still got a variety of moves based on how high your meter is, there’s still destructible clothing, and the ladies remain as buxom as ever. The differentiation comes primarily with Senran Kagura Estival Versus between its PS4 and Vita release. Both feature multiplayer, but because of technical restrictions on the handheld, the Vita is only capable of up to 4 player online matches. The power of the PS4 allows for a total of 10 online combatants, which is a pretty darn substantial increase all told.

The other obvious change from mobile release to home console is better graphics. Senran Kagura Estival Versus is in fact the first time the game has come to home platforms ever and as such really needs to impress players to make a strong debut. It does feel like this is the best move for the game as far as playability is concerned. Although always a competent beat ‘em up/hack n’ slash franchise, the PS4 release feels far roomier, with enough space to accommodate even more women. Unfortunately, there are also a few current iffy bits with the upcoming release, including a camera which isn’t awesome at keeping poised toward enemies closing in. But heck, it sure does seem good at capturing upskirt shots. It’s hard to say for sure whether the release is better from a gameplay perspective given these issues, but it’s something worth noting.

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Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson doesn’t appear to be as massive an evolution, but it obviously doesn’t need to be. People already adore the series and want more of the same along with new storylines, weapons, outfits, and such. The co-op addition, though, may excite long-time fans. This “joint” system has players pairing two girls together for battles, meaning both engage in the fight. Players can swap back and forth between them at any time and eventually pull of super powerful special moves when both have full meters. As characters continue to pair up, their affection meter will rise as well. Some chapters are based off the joint play while others are solo-focused.

Those who aren’t sure which game to get may do better with Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson as it likely feels the most familiar to existing players. Anyone looking to engage in huge online battles, however, will probably want to nab Senran Kagura Estival Versus instead. Both offer engaging battles, copious fanservice and a surprising amount of content. Heck, if you can’t choose, there’s always room in a gaming library for both.