This Week in Games - Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash

by Dustin Bailey,
You may have heard that homebrew developers—hackers, if you're feeling nasty—found a fully emulated version of NES Golf on board every shipping Nintendo Switch. After seemingly endless mystery surrounding why the ROM was there, they eventually discovered how to activate it. On July 11th, you have to grab your Joy-Cons, hold them at your sides, then lift them directly in front of you.

So what's the significance of that process? Well, July 11th was the date on which Satoru Iwata passed away two years ago. Iwata was a programmer on Golf. And with that knowledge, the hand motion might look a little more familiar to you.

It's a lovely tribute to Nintendo's former figurehead. But don't expect to change your system clock and see it for yourself. The check to launch the game goes by the internet time of your console even if you've switched to manual date management, so if you've ever connected then you'll have to actually wait until July 11th to see it for yourself.

First Impressions - Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash

On one hand, there's something admirable about the sheer brazenness of Senran Kagura, where nobody's pretending it's anything more than a thin excuse to watch anime body parts jiggle. Peach Beach Splash is the proverbial beach episode of something that's already at least 85% fanservice, dressing up all these shinobi girls in bikinis and arming them with water guns, and revelling in the the results as they blast each others' swimsuits off. Somebody's top falls off within the first 30 seconds of the introductory cutscene. The first stage is actually titled—for real, not making this up—”Grip Softly to Squirt.”

But Peach Beach Splash, for all its colorful characters and goofball sexytimes, is a drag to play. It's a water gun shooter, where you've got a variety of wet weapons with which to douse your opponents, but there's little nuance to any of those weapons. You automatically lock on to nearby enemies and just kinda spray into the chaos, looking for little more than the glint of a red damage number to confirm you're making an enemy girl wet. There's manual aiming, sure, but that would mean dealing with the whims of the squirrely aiming and agonizing over precision when everything around you is madness. The one fun bit is how you move, with a water filled jetpack that can zoom you around the battlefield. It drains the same water reserves as your gun, and you gotta keep pumping to keep your water reserves filled, like a Super Mario Sunshine filled with phallic metaphors.

Enemies come in swarms, whether that be of little robots or generic fodder girls or named bosses drawn from the Senran Kagura cast, and making sense of their attacks is nearly impossible. Instead, your best bet is to keep running and shooting, holding down the lock-on and fire buttons hoping you're hitting things while focusing on the minimap to make sure there are no red dots behind you.

You've got more abilities than just your water guns, but they all follow the same principle of “uh, I dunno, just hit buttons and stuff will happen.” You go into battle with a deck of cards that offer special abilities, from summoning helper pets to giving temporary shields or area of effect attacks. These appear three at a time in the bottom left of the screen without any indication as to what they do or when they're effective. Each card is just an image of one of the cast members, and unless you're determined to memorize which set of boobs correspond to which attack you'll never have a hope of understanding which is which. Instead, you're mashing buttons and deploying attacks willy-nilly.

Oh, and when you knock out a named baddie, they hit a “down but not out” state, Gears of War-style. But instead of inflicting some horrifically violent fate on them, you get to humiliate them with a—wait for it—”Squirmy Finish.” This means grabbing a rubber duck, getting up close, and then spraying their bikini until it blasts right off. I'd offer some pretense of shock or offence here, but nah, this is the best part of Peach Beach Splash, because it's the part where the game embraces its lewdness and stops being much more than that.

Senran Kagura is still Senran Kagura, and that means you can still hit the dressing rooms to clothe your favorite shinobi girl in whatever suits your fetishes, then grope, poke, prod, and squirt at her. But otherwise, the game feels far less robust in its content than Estival Versus. All those ability cards you collect feed into a collection system where you can turn duplicates into experience points to power up your favorites, but given how nonsensical those abilities end up being in battle that feels wildly unnecessary.

The story offers a set of campaigns centered on different shinobi schools, which all offer ten missions that each last just a couple of minutes. There are side stories that offer basically the same types of battles but with less voice acting in between, and a straight battle mode that lets you just squirt until you've beaten it or gotten beaten. There are also 3v3 and 5v5 online battles, but given that the game's not out yet I wasn't able to try them, and I imagine the niche status of SK would limit its online community.

The very best I can say about Peach Beach Splash is that it's utterly mindless, and that's kinda by design. It is, as always, a thin excuse to mash some buttons and watch some busty girls' clothes explode. It's somehow both unassailable and indefensible. But it's also not much fun to play.

NEWS

I WANNA BE LEFT ALIVE

They're making a new Front Mission—kinda, sorta, if you really expand your mind in regards to what Front Mission can or should be. Left Alive a survival-focused action game directed by Armored Core vet Toshifumi Nabeshima and with character designs by Metal Gear's Yoji Shinkawa, which explains the familiarity of the art.

Square Enix revealed some more details after the initial teaser with a Famitsu feature. Three protagonists will be stuck in a war-torn Russian city, and you'll have to deal with enemies using guns and traps to work your way out. It's apparently not an open world game, and Wanzer mechs take a slightly lessened role in the story, showing up mostly as enemies that you can occasionally capture.

So there's a reason Left Alive has no mention of Front Mission in the title, since it's definitely not that, and even more of a departure than Evolved was. Utterly divorced from that context it sounds neat, but it's not as if I was a big fan of the old series in the first place. A survival game set in mech-torn city is just my kinda jam, so I'm looking forward to more.

FINAL FANTASY IX FOR PS4 WAS LEAKED, ANNOUNCED, AND RELEASED

Sometimes, the high stakes world of video game news moves fast. Like this week, when a remastered Final Fantasy IX was leaked, announced, and released within a span of days. Much like with the PS4 FF7 from a couple years ago it's a pretty barebones update featuring a modicum of visual enhancements, trophy support, and some options to reduce the grind of grinding.

But hey, it's fan-favorite FF playable on a current console. It also costs $21, which is even steeper than FF7's already sketchy $16, especially given that the PS1 editions are on PSN for less than ten bucks a piece. You can buy an actual, original copy of the game for less than that on eBay. I mean, the enhancements are nice, but they're not that nice.

MONSTER HUNTER WORLD IS OUT, LIKE, DISTRESSINGLY SOON

I feel kinda like a sucker, an utter sheep, but I gotta admit that CAPCOM's attempt to rework Monster Hunter for a wider audience is looking more and more like the thing to finally get me into the series. The latest trailer looks great, and it has the weirdo bits of quirk that give the series its personality. Plus, all the hands-on reports have been super positive. I'm optimistic.

A release date came alongside that trailer, and the game will be out worldwide on January 28th. That's very soon! So soon that I'm starting to get anxiety about finishing up all the great games of 2017 before more major stuff comes out. Oh, God, I'm never gonna actually finish Persona 5, am I?

And honestly, I just want CAPCOM to string together a couple more victories. The latest Resident Evil reboot was a success, but it's not like we're that far removed from Umbrella Corps. Their fighting games have been losing steam even as people seem to keep enjoying them, and Dead Rising has just been hung out to dry. It'd be nice if we could put this whole “Monster Hunter should be a worldwide success!” thing to bed.

UPCOMING RELEASES

ARCADE ARCHIVES MARIO BROS.
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Switch
Release Date: September 27
MSRP: $7.99

I wouldn't normally mention a downloadable rerelease of an ancient arcade game, but I did forget to talk about Nintendo's new Arcade Archives program following last week's direct, which is significant. Yes, it's not the Virtual Console service you were probably wanting, but that's exactly why it's cool. Nintendo has historically done a terrible job of keeping its arcade titles around, with even classics like Donkey Kong typically remembered only for their mediocre NES adaptations. I'm really happy to see them correct that, even if it does mean we'll have to suffer another release of Urban Champion. But hey, Mario Bros. is a great game.

BLUE REFLECTION
Developer: Gust
Publisher: KOEI Tecmo
Platform: PlayStation 4 / PC
Release Date: September 26
MSRP: $59.99

Hey, Gust finally gets a third RPG series to stand up with Atelier and Nights of Azure! This time, you play as a highschool girl who has to survive classes by day and delve into a magic, monster filled other world at night. If it seems you've heard that before, uh, yeah. This'll be the fourth game this year that's basically just Persona—including an actual new Persona—and I still don't understand why you'd want to invite those comparisons. Blue Reflection does at least feature a unique main hook with an injured ballet dancer as a protagonist, which is something.

DANGANRONPA V3: KILLING HARMONY
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PlayStation 4 / PlayStation Vita / PC
Release Date: September 26
MSRP: $59.99 / $39.99

The third—and presumably final—entry in the Danganronpa series, V3 is already making waves. I'm just going to point you toward Jacob's excellent review of the game in lieu of rehashing it here.

POKKEN TOURNAMENT DX
Developer: Bandai Namco
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: 3DS
Release Date: September 22
MSRP: $59.99

Nintendo continues the trend of rereleasing Wii U games on the Switch, and I still can't blame 'em. Pokkén Tournament is a solid game that not enough people got a chance to play. The DX brings in all the extra fighters from the arcade edition, including Scizor, who is still one of the coolest Pokémon. There's a Pokkén currently available on the Switch eShop if you're inclined to try before buying.

SENRAN KAGURA: PEACH BEACH SPLASH
Developer: Tamsoft
Publisher: Marvelous / Xseed Games
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: September 26
MSRP: $59.99

*heavy sigh*

STEAMWORLD DIG 2
Developer: Image & Form
Publisher: Image & Form
Platform: Switch / PC
Release Date: September 21
MSRP: $19.99

All the SteamWorld games have been solid, stylistically accomplished entries in their respective genres, but it was always the mining platformer Dig that stuck out to me, with its vaguely Metroidvania-inspired expanding array of abilities. SteamWorld Dig 2 takes the “vague” part out of that description, offering a tremendously expanded adventure in nonlinear underground mines.

SUMMON NIGHT 6: LOST BORDERS
Developer: Media Vision
Publisher: Gaijinworks
Platform: PlayStation 4 / PlayStation Vita
Release Date: September 27
MSRP: $59.99 / $44.99

This is at least the third time I've attempted to report on the continually inexplicably delayed release of Summon Night 6, so I will simply copy and paste what I had to say the last time. I never really realized that “visual novel-meets-strategy RPG” was a genre, but between Utawarerumono and Summon Night I guess it certainly is. (And given the proclivities of recent Fire Emblem titles, I shouldn't be surprised.) Summon Night 6 is only the second game in the main series to receive an official English release. The last game was fairly well-received, so this is a promising addition to a niche SRPG library. Also, I hope it's actually out this week.

ALSO AVAILABLE:
Pokémon Gold and Silver are hitting the 3DS eShop, complete with wireless play and compatibility with the Pokémon Bank, letting you transfer creatures caught to modern iterations of the series.

A Switch edition of Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 will let you go Saiyan at home or on the go, Project Cars 2 is here to satisfy your sim racing needs, and the very presumptuously-named Fallout 4: Game of the Year Edition will collect the apocalyptic RPG and all its DLC in one package.


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