SENRAN KAGURA Bon Appétit! - Full Course is part of a rather interesting world that usually features fighting games, but this spin-off of the series is a rhythm based title. I honestly had no idea what to expect here, as variant games like this can be incredibly hit and miss, but I'm happy to say that my time spent with this one was enjoyable more often than not.
Let's be honest, SENRAN KAGURA Bon Appétit! - Full Course is not one of those games most people are going to be chatting with their friends about, at least not without a bit of a grin. The fanservice is pretty much off of the charts here as the basic premise is one that will likely not sit well with those who are easily offended by games of this nature - but the same could be said for much of the SENRAN KAGURA series. If you are familiar with the ladies of the series, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect here. If you are not, take a look at a few of the pictures, read this review and hopefully this will help you to determine if this is a game that piques your interest.
In Shinovi Versus (another game in the series), you had an interesting story that mixed elements of visual novels (tons of text) with plenty of action. There is actually a pretty nuanced story to be had there and that is to the series' overall credit. SENRAN KAGURA Bon Appétit! - Full Course? Not so much as the somewhat thin tale is focused on a cooking contest with our scantily clad female ninjas. Why? Because the pot of gold at the end of this particular rainbow is a secret scroll that will grant the winner's greatest desires.
With a trio of different modes (Story, Free and Arcade), the basics remain the same even if the rules around it change a little. Story mode sees you through a specific progression that is broken up into a series of short stories or chapters, whereas Arcade is all about getting the best score you can to post it to a leaderboard and Free mode is really just the option to pit whomever you want against one another. At the core of each mode is a rhythm game where the better you do, the more your opponent's clothing is discarded. It's like strip poker I suppose, but with more music.
Of course whether the whole thing is even worth playing comes down to the core gameplay itself. I haven't played a rhythm game since Persona's Up All Night, which was a lot of fun due to some challenging gameplay mechanics mixed with a good (if somewhat lacking in overall unique tunes) song variety. Here the concept is that the better your timing is in matching notes to the song impacts how good your meal turns out. Like a lot of rhythm games you have a gauge on the screen that can bet triggered to add score bonuses to the overall performance. These matches are broken up into three rounds - like a three course meal. Each round sees the loser wind up with less clothing until the loser is basically left with nothing but undergarments. If you take this stuff too seriously, you are bound to be offended - but SENRAN KAGURA Bon Appétit! - Full Course tries to inject a lot of humor into the game along the way. Difficulty comes in three levels, with the easiest one generally consisting of single note strikes while the medium difficulty starts to use some combination notes with more notes per tune. Naturally the hardest of these settings is going to throw the most at you and provide the greatest challenge as you play. Since the game offers keyboard and controller support, you can use whatever method you prefer, but I found controller to be far more agreeable.
So mechanically SENRAN KAGURA Bon Appétit! - Full Course is fine as a rhythm game. It doesn't really do anything new or exciting, but it gets the job done. The music selection is all over the place, and this is always the most challenging thing for the developers to nail. It is almost impossible to assemble a soundtrack that is going to appeal to everyone, and here it was a pretty mixed bag for me with about twenty different songs. In terms of overall content, as the name 'Full Course' alludes to, this is a fully DLC-ed version of the previously released Vita game. The extra content is greatly appreciated as the story itself is pretty thin and doesn't really add much to the Senran Kagura universe for series fans.
SENRAN KAGURA Bon Appétit! - Full Course is not going to appeal to everyone. The fanservice here is not going to be everyone's cup of tea, the somewhat lightweight story is going to appeal to fans of the universe without really offering anything of substance for them to chew on and rhythm games are already a niche genre. However, if you are a fan of the series and also like this style of game, the mechanics are solid, the visuals are enjoyable and the music is generally pretty good as well.
Marvelous USA, Inc.
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Article by Chris H.