Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal Review
Sony PlayStation 4Also available on PC
Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal is a game about “balloons”...or melons...or coconuts...or whatever euphemism strikes your fancy. I’ll get back to this. A 3D remake of the 3DS title Senran Kagura Burst, it attempts to add some gameplay depth through 3D action combat akin to that found in the Dynasty Warriors series to a game that ends up being a visual novel with unimaginative lore and tired anime tropes. While the game does have some saving graces, none of them are enough to make Burst Re:Newal anything more than a game about ninja girls and their massive...talents.
Burst Re:Newal’s story follows the ninja war between two schools, the Hanzo National Academy and the Hebijo Clandestine Girls’ Academy. Both schools are regular high schools but beneath the surface, each of them houses a secret ninja class. The Hebijo school are after the Super Ninja Scroll and are considered to be “dark” ninja by those of Hanzo. The story’s main protagonist is Asuka who comes from a long line of successful ninjas and wants to be just as strong. Despite having a main character, the game gives members of both ninja squads some development. The story is told through two campaigns, one for each school, with 40 missions to complete. Missions follow a formula of character interactions and then hack-n-slash action where the player will typically dispatch grunt NPCs and then a boss. This formula feels reasonably entertaining until it all gets interrupted by long tedious text crawls over bland backgrounds. They feel more like info dumps which is a shame considering a lot of the characters’ backstory and development are presented in this manner which is a shame considering some of them have rich multilayered stories. The worst part is that the backgrounds are the exact same images from the 3DS version, low resolution and all.
One of Burst Re:Newal’s aforementioned saving graces is its combat. The game is at its best when it allows you to dispatch hordes of enemies in the same way as the Dynasty Warriors series. Despite grunts being nothing more than barely moving targets, attacking and performing combos and Aerial Raves feels fun and satisfying. Making use of the game’s parry mechanic makes it even better as it allows you to make repeated use of your character’s special and super attacks. It would have been better if the combat moments weren’t so short. Dodging doesn’t have much use against the cannon fodder but will be required during some of the game’s one-on-one boss battles against other ninja girls. It’s in these battles where the combat feels like it was made for fighting large waves of enemies rather than a single target. Often times, bosses drop out of specials and supers the player has chained into which wastes resources and leaves them open to attack. To make things more challenging, the game offers an optional Frantic mode before each mission begins which upon activation makes the girls tear off their clothes down to their underwear, greatly reducing their defense and skyrocketing their offense. The activation itself felt oddly satisfying on the PlayStation 4 as the player must do a parting motion with their thumbs on the touchpad, simulating the ripping of clothes. It’s lewd yet incredibly fun. Beyond the campaign, the game has very little to offer for replayability. Players can choose to repeat missions in order to gain more currency so that they can play dress up with their squad. The game has plenty of options for customization including the girls’ underwear. It’s a fun little distraction that may net a few additional hours of play.
Burst Re:Newal has no qualms about its adult themes as the characters are all, save for one, quite “rich” in their physiques. There’s nothing wrong with that in itself but the game doesn’t do much to make the player see beyond that aspect. The story doesn’t feel engaging because of the way it’s presented and there’s a palatable imbalance of time spent between doing missions and watching tedious text crawls and contrived character interaction sequences. By virtue (or vice) of this, Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal isn’t about fighting hordes of enemies or enjoying a story with deep lore. It’s about its characters and all that they can offer at a skin-deep level.