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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.
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.