The rivalries between Hanzō National and Hebijo Clandestine Girls academies reignite in Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson, as Marvelous send forth their shinobi warriors to once again do battle.
Picking up where Senran Kagura Burst left off, Tamsoft has taken time to learn from and address the criticism that the Nintendo 3DS predecessor drew. That results in a more accomplished sequel, that rids their fast-paced beat ’em up from the inconsistent frame rate that plagued Burst. But, the developer has worked hard beyond that to deliver an experience that carries this successor beyond expectation.
Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson still heavily relies on Senran Kagura’s reputation for frequently bordering on the risqué, and it won’t take long before you raise an eyebrow into the stratosphere. That’s readily seen in the returning clothes-ripping mechanic, where damage received will slowly disrobe Tamsoft’s cast of alluring femme fatale. Let an enemy hack away at you too much and overtly gratified animation will see your character’s clothes be completely torn off, leaving them to fend for their survival in a bikini.
That perversion has long become a staple of the Senran Kagura series, and, not to mention the indulgent breast physics, often borders on the uncomfortable. The loyal fanbase wouldn’t have it any other way, but such embarrassing pornification is an inevitable shame considering the successes that Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson otherwise scores across the board in the beat ’em up genre that it occupies.
The story continues to contrast Hanzō and Hebijo’s rivalry with how every light casts a shadow, and how one cannot exist without the other. But while good and evil shinobi are destined to repeatedly crash, everyone’s heart has the capacity to hold both good and evil. But, when Master Dōgen reveals his plan to resurrect Orochi by sacrificing the blood of ten shinobi, Hanzō and Hebijo must set aside their differences to prevent his destructive plans.
Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson opens with character-specific missions that will help introduce newcomers to each character and their combat styles, after which they take on their respective Hanzō and Hebijo rival. When they later team up that introduces Pair Battles, where rivals fight together to unleash more devastating attacks in Stacked Secret Ninja Arts. Players can switch between characters, or rely on issuing orders to their AI-controlled partner.
Combat remains relatively simple, with players deploying weak and strong attacks. A lock on mechanic means that these can always be directed at advancing foes, whereas successive attacks build your gauge and can reward you with Shinobi Transformation and Secret Ninja Arts that will strengthen your heroine’s strikes.
It’s relatively easy to rack up a combo chain, but Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson‘s combat system regularly threatens to border on repetition. Variance largely comes on relying players to periodically switch their character, sticking to the same shinobi rewarding you by levelling them up but never sufficiently enough. New equipment and Shinobi Stones can similarly be gathered, but the weapons themselves only offer cosmetic changes and have no influence on gameplay.
On an audial level, Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson blends an energetic soundtrack with original Japanese voiceovers. Whereas, while presentation sees improvement in animations and framerate, the narrative sequences between all the action still remain sub-par. Text slowly overlays artwork, but the positioning isn’t particularly well considered in always appearing in the corners of the screen rather than making use of its entire expanse.
Between missions, you can run around the Ninja Room which acts as an interactive menu in some ways. This is where you can find the Dressing Room where shinobi can be dressed in a steady stream of unlockable clothing, with a new Photoshoot Mode allowing players to take screenshots of their favourite characters striking different poses – with an AR Shoot option also available. The Library also allows you to take another look at unlocked movies, music and illustrations, but a more significant addition awaits.
For the first time on Nintendo 3DS, Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson allows two players to work co-operatively across either story or special missions. This is available through either a Local Play connection (requiring two copies) or online over the Nintendo Network, which presents a welcome chance to team up with a friend – even if you may be retracing content that you’ve previously tackled.
Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson packs plenty of content, and makes notable strides to expand upon what came before. But, perversions aside, niggling repetition in combat and uninspired mission design still hold it back from delivering what could have easily become a more commendable experience.