Games with suggestive content, games that outright sell the fanservice, they tap into a market that enjoys a little eye candy with their gameplay. Sometimes a game is good enough on its own merits and speaking up for those qualities can be a little hard because of the racy material. Sometimes the game is simply garbage that coasts on knowing randy young men will play them and quality be damned. Let’s talk about three games which are upfront about their fanservice heavy nature.
Senran Kagura: Shinobi Versus (3DS/Vita)
Tried Senran Kagura Burst for the 3DS and thought the simple beauty of a beat ‘em up was subverted by the need to level up and the large cast of characters. Two changes and this time around we have something resembling a playable game: A block/parry system, and experience points gained in a mission are not lost when you fail.
Senran Kagura is about conflicts between schools of ninjas with entirely female students. Considering the simple reason the game exists, the plot is generally well thought out and the extra effort was made to explain the motivations and inner workings of the characters. There’s even a series of special missions unique to each character which expand a little on each girl and an opportunity to level up. At first each girl feels a little different from the others and sometimes you may have to adjust how you play, but after you sufficiently level up every girl more or less plays the same as you wade through small armies of generic enemies who get no story of their own.
Of course a major game mechanic includes the clothes of the girls getting ripped to shreds as they do battle. Shinobi Versus shifts from the 2.5D side scrolling beat ‘em up to something more akin to Dynasty Warriors with the 3D chase camera. Combat tends to get repetitive, but players might find unlocking new costumes and accessories incentive enough to soldier on. As one gets closer to the finish line, it’s tempting to try to game the system in order to wipe out bosses quickly. That also makes the lengthy story a little irksome, reading through a lot of text a few lines at a time gets ridiculous when it builds up to a battle that lasts under a minute because you know the game that well. However, after completing all the school arcs a final battle between two rivals unlocks and victory requires skill in addition to good stats. Gold star in that instance, rare as it is.
There’s also multiplayer matches, but given the imbalanced nature of the game it’s not really that fun unless you’re playing with friends who are in the same room and cracking jokes. And there’s a dickish attempt at microtransactions with the lingerie lottery where you can give in game money to win a random article of underwear or spend real money to ensure you always get a new random article of underwear. Luckily, just playing through the regular game makes building a stockpile of money easy and even with bad luck the player should be able to get upwards of 90% of the lingerie while playing it stingy.
Overall, the game might be a little overlong given the simplistic nature of the title. Still, if wading through lots of enemies and wracking up combos into the thousands sounds like fun, then Senran Kagura: Shinobi Versus is worth a play.
BONUS: Senran Kagura Bon Appetite (Vita)
So in addition to the regular game there was also a rhythm game under the premise of a cooking battle, a battle where the girls lose their clothes as they are defeated. The controls are pretty straightforward though even normal mode can kick your ass pretty hard with certain songs. The story mode is the real draw given how quickly repetitive the game gets. It’s mostly all played for laughs, though it was funny to see a few stories expand the side stories first introduced in Shinobi Versus. Honestly, the main reason I picked this game up was as some kind of practice for the Persona dancing game and it was cheaper than the Hatsune Miku games at the time. Also, still very disturbed one of the gameplay mechanics has your rival looking like she’s about the cry as she’s twerking. It’s like one of those cautionary tales which scare straight the good kids and give the bad kids a charge.
Criminal Girls: Invite Only (Vita)
In general, video games have not ending up in Hell as one of the unstated goals in succeeding. This time around the player character is already in Hell, but not as one of the damned. Rather, you play a man on a mission to lead a team of condemned souls (who may or may not embody the seven deadly sins) through a tower full of monsters on a path to reform their sinful ways and be reborn brand new. And you’ll also give the condemned full on bondage treatment.
That was not a joke. Combat and some treasure chests give you CM, the acronym I don’t think was ever explained, and these points are used in sessions where you give a party member the 50 Shades treatment. Presumably, you are helping them work out their damage through some kind of kink, but to unlock every girl’s abilities you have to use every tool available on all of them. Otherwise they will be lazy and unmotivated to enact their full potential and thus lots of Game Over screens.
Considering this was originally a PSP title, it makes sense the dungeons would be boring and linear. Sometimes you get some kind of unique challenge to make each dungeon special from the others, but it’s really all the same. Combat is very simplistic as you don’t really sift through and pick commands, but instead choose from one of the commands suggested by the girls in your party. This is why the motivations are essential since they wouldn’t think to use certain skills otherwise. However, the algorithm which determines which moves they suggest can be an ass sometimes. It’s aggravating when it takes forever for a party member to suggest a good skill to use that would make battle go by much quicker. On the other hand, Ran is pretty good about suggesting everybody guard when the enemy charges up for a big, nasty attack.
The bondage takes advantage of the touch screen features and in general they are pretty easy to do effectively, except one game can be annoying given the moving targets. In addition to unlocking new moves, after clearing levels of skills with party members they make requests of the main character which consist of traveling to a previously beaten location and either finding an item or beating a monster. As a reward your party members can use skills at a lower cost to MP or the CM needed to engage in sessions with the girls is reduced.
To complete the final leg of the normal game, the player picks one of the girls for some special treatment which unlocks unique ultimate skills and sets the flag for one of the normal endings. After you beat the normal game, save after the credits, load that save file and after beating the boss again the player has the option to open up the Vita exclusive content. Now, you can have any of the girls at their full potential to open up that new path, but you really have two choices: Ran or the wrong choice. Her skillset is absolutely essential in surviving the next couple of bosses. Aside from that one oversight, the Vita exclusive content isn’t bad as it adds a couple girls to the party and gives new insights on the world and characters.
However, the censorship in the North American version is a point which really gets my goat. In the motivational sessions with the girls there’s normally a pinkish haze which obscures the screen and clears up more as you unlock higher levels, but for lower half in specific cases there is a permanent cloud which will not go away and the voices in those sessions were removed entirely (even though the game had an option which removed those voices, or you could have just played the game on low volume while watching TV like I did). First, there’s the principle of censorship which irritates me. Second, fanservice is why the game exists and what they are covering up is rather tame when you get down to it. Thirdly, it affected two of the non-loli girls and the one I was partial to (so full disclosure there).
Overall, still an enjoyable game for the character stuff, and it’s a welcome change of pace to find a JRPG which can be finished completely without plugging in over one hundred hours. Not a bad pick if you’re looking for something on the Vita with quirky JRPG sensibilities which is not a port of a Disgaea game.
Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed (PS3/Vita/PS4/PC)
The original Akiba’s Trip was a shooter I think, set in the famed Akihabara district and the player had to fight off vampires. In terms of premise, the sequel seems more like a fine tuning of the earlier ideas rather than a continuation of the plot. One of the big selling points is a detailed recreation of the area, and in this game you defeat your enemies by tearing off their clothes.
Maybe we should take a step back to put it in context. The player takes the reigns of a nondescript otaku who wakes up from what was supposed to be a job interview only to find out he’s been turned into an abomination who must drain the lifeforce from other humans both to sustain himself and to satiate those who turned him into a thing of evil. However, the player is less than cooperative for whatever reasons you decide, but before getting murdered a mysterious young woman busts into the lab and they help each other escape. She also makes a pact with the Main Character and so enlists him in her battle with these artificial vampires and her hunt for the one responsible.
Synthisters, as these lifeforce suckers are called, are vulnerable to direct sunlight and thus one must remove their clothing in order to defeat them. Getting one’s own clothes completely removed will be the end of the player as well. When fighting normal humans, taking off all their clothes will cause them to run away because they’re in their undies in public. As the player continues to tear away at the clothes of enemies, they gain experience and become proficient enough to take away enemy clothes intact for one’s own use. However, it’s a little screwy with its categories as some clothes are considered rare and are ubiquitous while certain clothes are specific to NPCs which almost never spawn.
With your newfound stripping powers, the player patrols the streets of Akiba to find predators or people with nice stuff to steal, advance the plot, or to fulfill sidequests. Doing sidequests is highly recommended in that it offers more opportunities to gain experience, items, and money. And if you just do the main story the game will finish rather quickly. The one negative is that the main game finishes a little too fast, but given the number of endings that might be for the best. Also, when one takes on the harder levels of difficulty the wheels start falling off and the deficiencies of the combat system become more glaring.
While short, the game does tell an amusing enough tale of various stock characters in unusual circumstances and their quest to save the people and the freewheeling nature of their home. The main character’s sister is definitely one of the highlights and her subplot is a must (and it won’t conflict with any of the main endings so you aught to try it at least once, be a good brother). Which reminds me of the crafting system.
The little sister is talented in the craft of making costumes and with money and materials she will upgrade equipment. The only restriction is that only weapons can be used to upgrade weapons and only clothes can be used to upgrade clothes, but aside from that the player is free to sacrifice equipment to upgrade gear at their discretion. However, using the same type of equipment gives a bonus and higher quality items sacrificed yield better results, and the cost of upgrading is per material and so the same regardless of how much of a boost you get. Managing your inventory selling weaker stuff to pay for the good stuff is easy enough, though from the standpoint of a collector it can be frustrating. Also, a minor quibble is that while you can upgrade the stuff your character has from the menu, you have to go through the process of swapping out the equipment of partners in order to upgrade their items and it’s pointlessly tedious.
Still, the game deserves credit for the things unlocked through regular play. For example, after your first completion of the game you get to toggle an option to see which dialogue options are in line with specific paths. For a while the player does get free range in their options and screw the Paragon, Neutral, Renegade this Mass Effect and its imitators are doing… Sassy Slacker and All-around Dingus is the way to go. It’s refreshing to get dialogue options that are too funny to not select. Anyway, you can also play around with different character models unlocked as you play the game and doing side stuff can access neat customization options. For example, the main character can develop rudimentary psychic powers to take off the clothes of his enemies.
Yes, you read that correctly.
The PS4 port acquired some additional content like more options to play with, but I can’t say what it’s like. The PC port which I read about a while back sounds rather exciting to me for the imagination of the mod community. Akiba’s Trip is definitely a worthwhile title for a player who just wants to try something weird that still plays well.