I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this, but my great-great-grandfather, Cornelius Galliher, was actually a famous archaeologist! This is a man who knew his way around a tomb, believe me. It’s great that the spirit of adventure runs in my family and all that, but his adventures are also the cause of a curse that has plagued the clan for generations now. See, while exploring one of the great pyramids, great-great-grandad accidentally aroused the wrath of a mummy. We were doomed to review anime fanservice games until the end of time.
Naturally, those didn’t exist at the time…or a few generations afterward…so I guess the only member of the family who has to deal with the mummy’s wrath is me. I’m going to be playing these things until the end of time.
Today’s offering is Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit, the latest in the ever-popular Senran Kagura series of adventure games starring a bunch of plucky suffragettes in the early 20th century – yeah, okay, fine, it’s another boob ninja game. Remember Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus? It’s another of those. They just keep making them. There will be boob ninja games until the heat death of the Sun. There are three constants in life: death, taxes and boob ninja games. Anyway, the usual disclaimer applies: if you’ve even heard of this game you know what you’re getting and you can probably tell me if you want it or not.
Or can you?! Maybe not, because Bon Appetit is actually a drastic departure for this revered franchise! While we’ve previously seen brawlers (about stripping), what we’ve got here is a rhythm game (about stripping) featuring cooking (and stripping.) Master Hanzo’s got a magic scroll that will grant a single wish, blah blah blah, basically you pick a girl, they pick a girl, you cook the shit out of something, whoever does it better gets another step closer to getting the scroll. And stays clothed. Naturally.
So basically, you’re going to pick one of the many Story Modes, the Arcade Mode or the Free Mode and get cookin’. Each meal you’ll cook is divided into three courses, each with a unifying theme like bean sprouts. You’ll cook by doing well at a simple rhythm game – if you’ve played Guitar Hero you’ve got the idea. Success means you’ve cooked something tasty and your opponent’s losing some clothing for some reason. Failure means you’ve made a bunch of crap and you’re losing some clothing for some reason. The notes and time line are segregated to a small part of the bottom of the screen so you can see everything that’s going on. Of course. The song you play and meal you create appear to be chosen based on your opponent, which restricts things a bit.
There’s a couple more quirks to the gameplay. For instance, a string of successful notes allows you to use a Ninja Art, which boosts your score for as long as you continue to hit notes. It’s basically the same as Guitar Hero’s Star Power. Also, doing particularly well in the first two courses will produce a heart note and…uh, it changes the camera angle during the third course and, erm. I don’t think I’ll ever feel clean again. Doing well throughout the whole meal leads to a cutscene where Master Hanzo is, for example, teleported to the Elemental Plane of Bean Sprouts by the astral flavor of your mind-bogglingly amazing food. Also more stripping. That’s really all there is to it. The game never gets very intense in terms of difficulty if you’re playing on Normal difficulty, though Hard does spice things up quite a bit if you’re after a challenge.
This is a Senran Kagura game, so naturally there’s a massive number of unlocks and customization options available. I am disappointed to report that the much-loved Lingerie Lottery didn’t make it back from Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus. I’m not sure how our society will go on but I think somehow we’ll manage. Still, there’s a bunch of unlockable characters, everyone can wear everyone else’s outfits, there’s other outfits to unlock as well, you cna collect accessories and so on, basically you’re not going to be hurting for stuff to unlock if that’s what you’re after. And again, you’d be the better judge regarding whether that’s the case or not.
Regarding aesthetics: the graphics are exactly what you expect them to be and the music, which is kind of a big deal for a rhythm game, appears to consist entirely of original tracks. It’s mostly upbeat Japanese fare as in the other games in the series. While I’m sure it’s possible that it’s familiar to some players, it wasn’t to me, and I found it started to grind after awhile; Shinovi Versus certainly felt better as a “game” as a result. The cutscenes when Master Hanzo is transported to various food dimensions are pretty great, but if you’re playing this, that’s probably not why. Clearly it’s for the fascinating plot and deep, involving characters! Right? Right.
So to conclude: my great-great-grandad has earned my wrath forevermore for laying this curse on me, if/when another boob ninja game comes out I’m probably going to review it, and yet again the sheer mass of content available here combined with the fact that it’s technically a playable game that works well means I’m giving it a Yay. Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. It’s a rhythm cooking stripping game. If that’s what you want to play, well…I can’t imagine there’s many other options.