As one of God's chosen 'beautiful people', this writer knows the pain of being judged on looks alone. Analysis of the latest Mario game falls on deaf ears because power is being diverted to the eyes. Senran Kagura Burst is similarly cursed. So busy are gamers ogling/getting angry about the heroines' inflated proportions that they don't notice the attached arms and legs doing painful things to waves of incoming ninjas.
Strip away the surface - and trust us, the game does - and you'll find a brawler in the vein of Streets Of Rage. Blandly linear corridors flood with goons for you to hurt until a little arrow permits you to move onto the next huddle. The deadly rivals of Hanzo and Hajibo Academy (the game offers two parallel story modes) pack slightly more nuanced movesets than Sega's thugs, however. Attack chains are the order of the day, with emphasis on batting opponents into the air where 'aerial raves' regularly push combos into the triple figures.
It's not particularly deep. The short movelist and overpowered nature of aerial raves tends to give every fight the same up/down rhythm. That's okay, though, because, like Dynasty Warriors, there's something soothingly hypnotic about mindlessly mashing a combo meter into the thousands. And like the Warriors games, there's enough to differentiate the handful of fighters to ward off repetition. It's just a shame that, like Samurai Warriors on 3DS, the game is also blighted by some wicked framerate stutters.
For all they're paraded as busty dress-up dolls - an extensive costume gallery unlocks over time - the girls manage to resist their seedy roles with strong action personalities. Ikaruga's katana, for example, gives her the range to sweep five or six goons skywards, but she's quite sluggish with it. Switch to martial artist, Katsuragi, and fingers instantly feel the burst of speed, as she paffs ninjas into the air with a fervour that would give Asterix goosebumps. With no fewer than 12 characters across the two six-hour campaigns there's a surprising range of styles to enjoy.If the roster is well balanced, the same cannot be said of its stars, each burdened with carrying two bowling balls in their front pockets. For all the hoo-ha around the subject, these 'assets' are rarely exploited. Yes, clothes shred as damage is accumulated. Tee hee hee. And you can opt to strip your heroine to her pants to take on a level doing twice the damage and having half the health. Snigger snigger. But the slightly boring truth is, the camera is too distant, and character models too rough, to see any cheeky bits.
If the director, as he claims, set out to make a game dedicated to 3D anatomy, he's failed. All his busty bluster disguises a bit of a softy, one that dishes out a saccharine tale of friendship and social acceptance, told in visual novel extracts. Some rather risqué images are involved, but only if you look around the twee writing up front. The notion of sad horndogs picking up the game for some titillation and having to trawl through off-cuts from a bad Judy Blume novel to get there is pretty hilarious.
Senran Kagura Burst's beauty isn't skin deep. If anything, it's skin buried: there's potential for an action gem in here, drowning in digital flesh.