The Girls Are Back In Town
Reviewed by Christopher Bowman and Pat Dovale for Nintendo Switch
Senran Kagura Peach Ball features the cast of Senran Kagura starring in an all-new pinball-centric spinoff. The main series of games is an action-adventure hack and slash romps well known for its anime girls with large breasts and deteriorating clothing. Over the years the series has been controversial, mostly due to the dressing room and massage mini-games that are typically included. These games aren't for everyone but overall I find it to be all in good fun. We've seen the girls compete in cooking contests in “Bon Appetit”, and in the 3rd Person online shooter, “Peach Beach Blast”, which features water guns and wet t-shirts as opposed to machine guns and blood. Due to Sony’s recent censorship policies regarding sexual content (usually affecting Japanese anime titles the most), the series has been increasingly more difficult to develop for the PlayStation. Nintendo has taken a polar opposite stance from Sony and has agreed not to prevent any games with an ESRB rating from being released.
The story centers around Yumi, Asuka, Murasaki, Ryona, Yomi, and Haruka. Haruka has created a “beastall” formula that apparently changes people into animals. One of the characters mistakingly uses it and it spreads to the other girls. This causes all but Haruka to develop animal qualities. The only cure is PINBALL! Peach Ball as it's known here. There are two ways to play Peach Ball. You can play story mode which allows you to select one girl to follow and help transform everyone else back to their human forms, or you can simply play Free mode which is more of a traditional pinball mode.
Haruka has created a “beastall” formula that apparently changes people into animals
The pinball boards have a variety of different themes and levels. The camera can be changed to a variety of different angles. The angles are changed with the d-pad and seamlessly change the view easily during game-play. Unfortunately, for you flip grip owners out there, there does not seem to be a way to change to a complete vertical view mode. The way the game plays does not seem like it would lend itself well to an only vertical view. Changing camera angles allows the player to get a better view of different parts of the board to aim better at certain goals.
The pinball boards have a variety of different themes and levels
The right side of the screen will show multiple missions that you can complete. This ranges from hitting a bumper a right amount of times or maybe bopping the girl a particular amount of times. Completing these mission will net you higher scores and higher scores mean your sexy challenge meter increases. Once you score enough points, you can trigger a sexy challenge. The player and the girl are taken to a separate screen. From here, players are met with a randomized mini-game. These mini-games range from hitting ducks that spray water, frogs with cymbals, an ice cream, and more. You are given a rank depending on how many times you successfully strike the goal of the challenge and depending on the rank you will get an animation of the girl being sprayed or hit by whatever the targets were and typically resulting in some of her clothing being destroyed. This is fanservice at its finest people. The object of the game is to successfully complete multiple challenges that will eventually lead to the final sexy challenge. This is the final challenge which will help transform the girl back into a human. The player will bounce peach balls onto the girl's chest or rear-end (Did I really just type that?). Finally, once the final sexy challenge is completed the girl will shed her animalistic exterior and turn back into a naked human.
Once you score enough points, you can trigger a sexy challenge
As far as pinball goes, this game is balls to the wall nonstop insanity, however, the physics are somewhat lacking and result in a very easy feeling game. If you're looking for a challenging video pinball game this probably isn't for you. Another major problem with the game for me is lack of boards. There are only two here so far, I imagine more will be added with DLC later on but I'm judging the retail product here, and for $40 I think there should be another board or two at least. All that being said, the game is a blast and I had a ton of fun playing it. Outside of the pinball modes, there's the intimacy mode (which was cut from the PS4’s version of Burst Re:Newal). This involves.....rubbing, caressing, and grabbing the girl of your choice, complete with HD Rumble. They've also included Diorama mode which allows you to pose different characters in different costumes and positions. The game has loads of unlockable costumes, accessories, lingerie, etc. DLC content is available to add more costumes, music, and peach balls. These are all purely cosmetic and do not affect the base game.
The player will bounce peach balls onto the girl's chest or rear-end (Did I really just type that?)
Overall I loved this game and plan to keep coming back to it for a very long time. If fan service is not your thing....this may not be the game for you. The difficulty was very forgiving but I could see competing for high scores as being rewarding and fun. At certain points, it also felt like the game was too generous with the ranks I would score on mini-games. The content was also a problem, and I really felt like there should have been more tables and characters to choose from. Still, combine the ridiculous fan-service, the numerous amounts of mini-games that it has, the absolute wacky tone and theme, and a pretty fun pinball experience and you're left with a really fun entertaining game. At $40 entrance fee, I was a little worried about recommending it to most people at first but after digging into it I had so much damn fun with it that I really have no problem doing so. There are most definitely better pinball games out there for cheaper, but if you're a fan of the series, this game is a great addition to your Switch collection. Senran Kagura Peach Ball is available July 9th for Nintendo Switch.