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SENRAN KAGURA Bon Appétit! – Full Course Review

Senran Kagura Bon Appetit skews the trend of action games and switches into rhythm, filled with all the fanservice that fans of the games would expect.

SENRAN KAGURA Bon Appétit! – Full Course Review

Context

Senran Kagura Bon Appetit is the latest title in the Senran Kagura series developed by various studios but usually published by XSEED or Marvelous!, but instead of focusing on being a third-person fighter, it’s a rhythm game based around hitting notes to the beat to cook food. The goal is to go through each track and outperform the A.I. opponent in both combo length and in quality of hits to create a “heavenly super dish” that blows out the opposition.

Senran Kagura can be purchased on Steam for $29.99

Two combatants get ready to cook off against each other

Gameplay

The gameplay is basic, which is to be expected from a rhythm focused game, similar to something like Project Mirai DX on 3DS. Notes scroll across two bars at the bottom of the screen, and hitting them will give score depending on how close to the center of the end of the bar it was at the time, with some bar notes that require holding the button down. In addition, there’s also a “Ninja Art” mode that can be activated after hitting around ten notes in a row with no misses that increases the score given for each note hit. After each round, performance is gauged against the A.I., the first two rounds serve as influences while the third decides the victor, and winning a full victory of every round also puts the opponent into a dessert plate.

There’s a couple different modes included, a story mode that follows each girl’s attempt to win the “Ninja Art Scroll” that will grant any one wish, as well as a free play mode for choosing which girl the player and opponent are, as well as an arcade mode that simply strings songs back to back after picking your character in an effort to get the highest scores possible in a variety of tracks. Beyond that, there’s not much more to the gameplay, as all that’s left is the gallery for looking through pictures earned from playing the story mode and the dressing room, where the girls can be customised with the absurd number of clothing combinations included and unlocked over time.

Some wishes are stranger than others, Asuka wishes for big, thick, long rolls of course

Story

The story is nothing to write home about. The character chosen at the start of a Story mode run determines who the player follows for four to five songs, with a bit of dialogue before and after fights with the opponent, and ending with a couple different clashing bits of story. In some, the scroll to grant any wish didn't exist, in others the winner gets the scroll and changes the world to their will, and in others the scroll is destroyed for being too powerful. The writing sets up the scenario quickly with each opponent which is good, as there's not exactly a whole lot of depth to any particular character. It rides on being a fan-service game with rhythm gameplay. Not that there's any issue with that as this is the kind of thing the Senran Kagura series is known for, so any fans of the series know what to expect going in. To put it bluntly, there's no reason to play this for the story, the gameplay is the draw here, among other things.

Presentation

In terms of graphical fidelity, there’s also not much here, but being a port from the PS Vita that’s to be expected. The models and textures are passable for the most part, some exceptions to seams being visible in the character models depending on the situation, which is difficult to excuse. Effects are as flashy as one would expect, and at the very least it runs at 1080p/60 fps without any issues there, no framerate issues or nonsensically locked resolutions were encountered in our time with the title. Just don’t go in expecting something on the same level of graphics quality as say, the newer Hyperdimension Neptunia titles.

The music is important for rhythm games, as variety is key for any game that expects a serious amount of playtime, and Bon Appetit seems to have only a basic understanding of how this works. While the tracks that are in the game are fun to play and enjoyable for what they were in context, there’s not a whole lot of them. In the story sequences we got to play throughout our time with the title, there were many instances of repeat tracks that wouldn’t be so much of an issue in other rhythm games due to drawing from such a larger, more varied set of tracks. It’s not a deal breaker, but it’s a blemish on what could’ve been a better experience.

Since there’s very little else to cover, it’s worth going over the fan-service in the game. It covers a various different forms, from being able to play with character models in the dressing room, to getting a spectacle of a view by winning the first two of three rounds, then hitting a specific note in the track. Funnily enough, that actually serves as a detriment, as the view is distracting from the notes for anyone who dares to take a look. What’s much easier to see is after each round’s victory, the loser gets hit by a blast that shreds clothing to various extents, and getting hit every round means the clothes are destroyed entirely and replaced with small censor faces/light streaks to keep the theme of teasing upheld. No actual nudity going on here, although the endings for a perfect victory putting the opponent into some kind of dessert plate is deliciously close.

A small sample of the kind of writing to be expected from the Story mode

DLC

Regarding DLC and general content, this is actually a consumer friendly offering for those who may have been interested in Senran Kagura but never had a Vita, as this game was released in two separate parts with multiple pieces of DLC on that platform, however the Steam release includes both titles rolled into one with all of the content to be expected, as well as having all of the DLC included in the base purchase. So for users concerned about the value proposition, at the very least having better value than the Vita release is something to look forward to, especially on sale.

Katsuragi wished for a harem, and so it was

conclusion

Overall, Senran Kagura Bon Appetit is going to be exactly what was expected for fans of Senran Kagura titles. It’s a decently fun game that may or may not last depending on how into rhythm games the buyer is, with the heavy fan-service that makes Senran Kagura the lewd but not nude series it’s built itself on. Not complex, but it doesn’t really need to be, anyone who was looking forward to this title already had their eyes on it, and for those people, the Steam release offers the definitive way to play the game, at full resolution with any controller that has at least ten or so buttons. Fun but fleeting.

PROS
CONS
 + Varied cast helps with the repetition  – Limited number of music tracks
 + Includes a wealth of content with all the DLC  – Story is fairly straightforward, nothing interesting
 + Some variety in game modes help shake it up  – Doesn't offer much to compete with other rhythm games
6
Fair

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