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Review

Review: Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit!

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The Sen­ran Kagu­ra series has never been one to take its­elf too serious­ly. Sure, the­re are serious moments here and the­re, but for the most part the focus is always on the various ways each cha­rac­ter can get into per­vy situa­ti­ons. Unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly, with Bon Appé­tit it seems like this is taken to the next level, as the sto­ry and game­play taking a com­ple­te back-seat to young girls being strip­ped for no par­ti­cu­lar rea­son.

Unli­ke the main Sen­ran Kagu­ra games (XTga­mer review of Esti­val Ver­sus), Bon Appé­tit fea­tures batt­les of the coo­king varie­ty rather than to the death. The litt­le sto­ry the­re is cent­red around a coo­king com­pe­ti­ti­on hosted by legen­da­ry shi­no­bi (and mas­si­ve per­vert) Han­zō, offe­ring par­ti­ci­pants a scroll that can grant a sin­gle wish. Howe­ver, bey­ond a few sce­nes at the start the­re is litt­le actu­al sto­ry. Again, the series isn’t a par­ti­cu­lar­ly serious one to begin with, but Bon Appé­tit honest­ly doesn’t add anything to the series and its cha­rac­ters. Cha­rac­ters are all one-dimen­sio­nal, lacking any of their more inte­res­ting traits from the main games.

This wouldn’t be as big of a deal if the game­play was at least up to scratch. The Per­so­na 4 spin-offs have shown that gre­at game­play can car­ry an other­wi­se weak nar­ra­ti­ve. Bon Appé­tit can­not fall back on this though. Ins­tead of using inte­res­ting game­play mecha­nics to rep­re­sent the coo­king taking place, each batt­le is done by hit­ting but­tons in time with the selec­ted character’s the­me song. Like other games of the gen­re, the­re are a few extra note types that requi­re hol­ding but­tons or repeated pres­ses which are not­hing new.

The aim of each coo­king batt­le is to hit as many notes as pos­si­ble to gain an advan­ta­ge over your oppo­nent. At three points in each song you’re jud­ged how well you have done, with the losing girl having some of her clot­hing remo­ved. Simi­lar­ly to the strip­ping sce­nes in the other Sen­ran Kagu­ra games, the­se sce­nes do litt­le more than annoyin­gly inter­rupt game­play and throw off your rhythm. For me per­so­nal­ly, the repe­ti­ti­ve and unskipp­a­ble strip­ping sce­nes have always stop­ped me from enjoy­ing the series more, sin­ce they aren’t even that enjoy­a­ble to watch the first time they hap­pen, let alo­ne the 100th.

An even big­ger sti­cking point is the selec­tion of songs on offer. The track­list is fair­ly light over­all, and the­re are even less songs that I would con­si­der fun to play. Fur­ther­mo­re, the majo­ri­ty of songs are lacking in dif­fi­cul­ty or any inte­res­ting note pat­terns. Sin­ce the notes stream along from right to left wit­hout anything visual­ly inte­res­ting taking place, it’s incredi­b­ly easy to hit most notes on your first try on all but a coup­le of songs taking away most of the pos­si­ble replaya­bi­li­ty with Bon Appé­tit.

Speaking of visu­als, Bon Appé­tit is fair­ly lacking, though this is gene­ral­ly to be expec­ted with a Vita port. Cha­rac­ter models are decent for the most part, though a lot of the clot­hing opti­ons suf­fer from low reso­lu­ti­on tex­tures. The back­grounds are also qui­te lacking , alt­hough you most­ly won’t noti­ce as you focus on the notes while play­ing. This extends to the UI, which real­ly could have done with a com­ple­te hig­her reso­lu­ti­on repla­ce­ment. It’s ser­vice­ab­le, but much more could have been done for this game’s release on PC ins­tead of just por­ting ever­ything as is.

One plus side to this PC release is the inclu­si­on of all DLC released for the Vita ver­si­on. This inclu­des cha­rac­ters, songs and clothing/accessories. The base game on Vita was severely lacking on con­tent wit­hout the extra cha­rac­ters, but even with them the­re is still a noti­ce­ab­le lack of songs com­pa­red to other rhythm games.

Conclusion

Sen­ran Kagu­ra: Bon Appé­tit is an over­all under­whel­ming packa­ge. With a meag­re selec­tion of songs, and no important sto­ry ele­ments, the­re isn’t much rea­son to purcha­se this over other bet­ter games. Even die-hard Sen­ran Kagu­ra fans should give this a miss, as litt­le is done with the series’ exis­ting cha­rac­ters and set­ting. With Peach Beach Splash com­ing later this year, hope­ful­ly the mista­kes of Bon Appé­tit won’t be repeated again.

Sen­ran Kagu­ra: Bon Appé­tit
Gen­re: Rhythm Game
Sys­tems: PC (“Full Cour­se”; review­ed), Play­Sta­ti­on Vita
Pri­ce: ca. 30 Euro (Steam / PSN)
Deve­lo­per: Meteo­ri­se (Ciel Nosur­ge, Val­ky­rie Dri­ve: Bhikkhuni)
Publisher: XSEED Games / Mar­ve­lous USA

This game was pro­vi­ded by the publisher for review pur­po­ses, check our review poli­cy for details.

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