Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson – Review
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Publisher: XSEED Games
Release Date: September 15, 2015
A review copy was provided by XSEED Games
Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson is the 7th entry in the Senran Kagura franchise (4th if you only count localized releases) and is a direct sequel to, Senran Kagura: Burst and is a technical prequel to the side story, Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus. The franchise is known for their all women cast with their big bouncing breasts as well as its fair beat’em up gameplay.
The story presented in Deep Crimson is that the Hanzo squad is presented with a task that goes against their own personal beliefs – capture a girl that has done nothing wrong. As such, the game asks the question if it’s right to blindly accept a task given to you even though you know it isn’t right. Hebijo squad made that choice in the last game, as such they serve as a guide in helping the girls with theirs.
The setting in this case takes place mostly in Kyoto with the beginning parts of the game in Hebijo academy. Expect roof top battles, battles near shrines, on pathways and forests, and some on city streets. Most battles will feature a deep crimson tint to them as it’s a sign that the Yoma (demons summoned by blood from shinobi) are approaching.
Gameplay-wise this is still Senran Kagura to it’s core, a decent beat’em up. You can button mash if you want, but if you want a more fulfilling experience then unlock combos by leveling up. There have been some changes to the battles though. This game is slower paced than the other two game as now some characters actually have some weight to them. For instance, Yomi is the slowest attacker, but every attack provides hit-stun, meanwhile most others need to almost complete their combo for the hit-stun to come in, so it’s pretty important if you want to just mash away or not. You just might end up dead and not realize what happened. Ninja arts now come in two levels unlike the three from the previous games. This game also marries the level designs of Burst and Shinovi Versus. Burst was more of a side scrolling beat’em up with Shinovi Versus being more of a pure action game. In Deep Crimson, it’s sort of a combination of both. It’s still a side-scroller, but, at the same time, it feels much bigger than Burst and boss battles actually feature arenas like how Shinovi Versus does. Sadly, I did encounter a really strange bug quite often. When I stun an opponent or when I’m stunned I would, in a way, teleport to a different side of the current area. It’s nothing game breaking, but more of an annoyance.
Mechanically, this is easily the best Senran Kagura yet. The new co-op system is well done. That’s right, now you can actually use two people on a mission together if you wish to do so (this includes online!). The AI isn’t too bad either. They will fight on their own pretty decently, but if you want them to target the same opponent you are, hold the A button and they’ll unleash a combo on them. However, they will not transform nor will they use their ninja arts. If your partner goes down, go up to them and press the A button and they will be revived. You can even preform ninja arts together as well for massive damage. On top of that, there is an affection gauge you can raise between two characters to make that damage even higher.
Frantic Mode has received an even bigger boost compared to the other games, although it’s now at a bigger cost. In Burst you could just go into Frantic Mode before the mission began or at the press of a button at any time in during the mission in Shinovi Versus at the cost massive defense drop but increased attack and increased speed. However, now you need to have all of your ninja scrolls (ninja scrolls allow you to use your ninja arts) available while transformed already. This gives you the usual attack and speed boost with a lowered defense, but now your HP is constantly being drained. When you hit an opponent, a purple orb will fly out for you to recover your HP but if you take too long your HP will too low forcing Frantic Mode to disappear. Frantic Mode also automatically goes away when you’ve defeated all of your opponents. Just be careful when Frantic mode goes away because you lose all of your ninja scrolls, so you’ll have to build the meter to get them back up again.
This game also features a targeting system which wasn’t available in Burst, and didn’t function well in Shinovi Versus. In this case, you just press left or right on the D-Pad to target an opponent and up on the D-Pad to make the reticle go away. The problem with this however is that the targeting isn’t the best. If you want, you can press the A button (when not doing co-op) or pressing R (when not moving) to use the ninja chain which would bring you towards the enemy. Although, that doesn’t really fix the targeting problem, from personal experience, it’s still very easy to miss a ninja art. When using Mirai you’d still have to aim manually when using her gun, although you’d be in the general direction already due to targeting.
Mission wise, the game’s story is pretty short and mostly has the same structure, “beat X”. This is made up by the fact that there are two different modes, “Yoma’s Nest”, and “Special Missions”. Yoma’s Nest is a survival mode in which you have to survive as long as possible. As a reward, for the first time in Senran Kagura, you get an alternative equip-able weapon. These weapons come in different shapes. Granted it’s there only aesthetically, it’s kinda cool. As for Special Missions, this is where all of the mission variety is. It ranges from such things as: “don’t touch the ground for 60 seconds”, to, “only defeat enemies with aerial attacks”. In terms of rewards, you get runes that also affect your stats that could be akin to “Ground Attack Up”, this is another first in the series. It would be great to see if weapons and runes stay as a part of the franchise as it provides a lot more customization to the series that isn’t purely cosmetic such as the typical costumes you get in the dressing room
I don’t know what kind of magic the developer, Tamsoft put into this title, but it’s leagues better than Burst in every way. The character models look much, much better, and the levels are bigger. The best part of all this is that even in all of the chaos the game rarely, if ever, drop frames. It’s only really noticeable when using Mirai’s grenade launcher at times and even then it doesn’t dip that hard, or when there are quite a few enemies on screen and you have the 3D on . Even when using Crimson Homura the 3DS handles it well, something Burst absolutely struggled to do. Tamsoft has really out done themselves with this.
All in all, this was a fine entry in the franchise. It looks better and plays better than the previous main entry in every way possible. The gameplay changes felt weird at first, but, overall, it quickly grew to be one of the better Senran Kagura games out there. Sure, sometimes the gameplay mechanics are a little messed up, but it’s still a pretty big leap from Burst. Hopefully, whenever the 3rd mainline title comes out, it’ll be even better. But, as for now, just the thought of going through every level solo, then online co-op, and then maxing out every affection level combination means this game will be played for a very, very long time.
+TONS of replay-ability
+ Levels are short, but very sweet and fulfilling
-Overall gameplay isn’t as good as the mechanical ideas the game provides
-Battles between main characters are unbalanced