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If you’ve read my previous Senran Kagura reviews, my frustration with the series should be obvious by this point. Any potential the series had is gone, replaced with low effort spinoffs designed to make as much money as possible. Peach Beach Splash does little to change this trend, offering poor gameplay and a sorry excuse for a plot.
Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash takes place after the events of Estival Versus, where the various shinobi are invited to a new event taking place: the titular Peach Beach Splash. This tournament is fought without shinobi abilities, instead forcing participants to use water guns for… reasons.
One of my biggest complaints with Estival Versus, along rhythm game spin-off Bon Appétit!, was that the plot was completely pointless, and PBS is even worse in that regard. The entirety of the story is completely worthless, featuring little character development or interesting events. It honestly just feels like a waste of time going though the story mode, since you know that next to nothing will actually happen by the end. At the very least, PBS is far shorter than Estival Versus meaning that you don’t have to suffer through quite as much inane dialogue.
If the game was at least fun to play I could ignore problems with the story but PBS is, quite frankly, terrible. Replacing the brawler gameplay of the mainline games, PBS is closer to a third person shooter. In a team of up to 5 characters, you fight against other teams of shinobi or waves of regular enemies depending on the level. Aiming is typical of a TPS, though you have access to a lock-on that trivialises any of the single player content since enemies are extremely stupid and usually run directly at you.
Movement is what I’d consider the best part about gameplay. You have a water pack that can be used to jet around on the ground or up into the air. This makes getting around each map easy, but dashing can feel a little clunky with how slowly you turn and the generally awful camera.
Weapons in PBS are not very fun to use, mainly due to all of them sharing the same water effects. Once a few people start firing, it’s hard to tell what’s going on or even if you’re being hit. Adding to this is the game’s poor framerate, which tanks the moments more that a few people start shooting. These problems lead to each match being a choppy and confusing mess. The worst part about the overall poor performance is that PBS doesn’t even look that great. Environments are fairly bland and character models lack detail, making FPS issues even more inexcusable.
Along side your main weapons like machine guns and rocket launchers, you also have access to cards that have various abilities. Card packs are gained from finishing matches or can be bought from the game’s store. Each card has a rarity that defines how strong that card is, so the higher the rarity the better. The card system is one of the biggest flaws in PBS, offering little actual depth since the majority of cards aren’t actually worth using.
The cards are also tied to another flawed mechanic: the levelling system. You see, characters, weapons and cards can all be levelled up to maximum of level 10. A character at max level has three times as much health than they start with. Weapons and cards are also far more powerful as you level them. This wouldn’t be too much of an issue, if it wasn’t for the fact that these level bonuses carry over into multiplayer.
The fact that you must grind to stand a chance online, combined with the Senran Kagura series being pretty niche, has lead to the multiplayer portion of the game becoming a ghost town within a few days of release. Trying to find a competitive match is near impossible and even the cooperative modes only have a few players online at any given time. In our attempts to play with others, we only ran into three other players.
Multiplayer Footage (Francesco’s Point of View)
Multiplayer Footage (Patrick’s Point of View)
PBS’s dead multiplayer, combined with an overall lack of single player content, means that there really is little reason to purchase it. The Senran Kagura series has been on a the decline for a long time now, and it seems like this latest entry is just further proof of that.