Review: Senran Kagura Burst

If you were shown the cover art of Senran Kagura Burst without knowing anything about it beforehand, never would you have thought that this is a game that has actually been released outside Japan.

At a time when Internet forums furiously debate whether the video games industry is sexist towards women, this brawler from Tamsoft definitely gives plenty to fuel the fire. Filled with high-school dramas and teenage girls in scantily clad outfits, Senran Kagura Burst takes the boobs-in-your-face attitude of the likes of Dead or Alive and pushes your face into them even more.

At a basic level, Senran Kagura Burst is a side-scrolling beat-em-up in the vein of Streets of Rage. Defeat waves upon waves of enemies until an arrow appears telling you to progress forward towards your goal. The plot follows the rivalry between two secret all-female ninja academies - The Hanzō National Academy and The Hebijo Clandestine Girls' Academy. Like any standard two-sided game plot, the first represents good, and the second evil.

Senran Kagura BurstThe game has a story mode for each academy, with the story presented in animated cutscenes between missions, with heavier story parts unveiled in the form of a visual novel. For something that appears so shallow on the surface, the game is actually very plot-heavy. However, whether the plot will keep you gripped to the game depends on your acceptance of stereotypical anime tropes and enjoyment of mild lesbian innuendo – I was rolling my eyes at one novel section which spent pages upon pages on one character whining that her breasts were not big enough to be a shinobi.

While most of this will put most gamers off, get through it and the gameplay can actually be quite fun. Each of the twelve playable characters (six from each academy) has a significantly different move set, and as you’d expect, some favour speed and others favour heavy attacks. Each character has a heavy and light attack and can dash/dodge to string together attacks. Pressing L after building up a power meter allows you to transform into a shinobi costume, giving you a burst of health and access to a special “secret ninja art” attack.

Unfortunately, there is not much in the way of combos, other than a semi-automatic attack that will fling an enemy up into the air when a green circle appears around them on screen, allowing you to string together an “aerial rave.” While it is mildly enjoyable to build up a massive score and finish off with a special attack - I’d like to highlight one that consists of a machine gun placed suggestively between the legs – it gets very repetitive. All of the enemies provide the same challenge, which is very little, whether you’re fighting a sumo wrestler or another schoolgirl. The action is fast, but unfortunately suffers from the framerate dropping occasionally.

Senran Kagura Burst

Completing missions will allow your fighters to level up and unlock new costumes, which you can view at all angles with plenty of jiggle, in the dressing room mode. Once you have chosen your favourite costume, you can then proceed to see it destroyed when you take on a mission. Yes, when you take damage, the already skimpy costume gets ripped even more, with the action taking a break to show skirts getting shorter and boobs popping out. Eventually, your character will be left in just their swimsuit before being defeated.

The costume degradation does actually play a pretty big part in the gameplay. Do you let your costume get destroyed before transforming – giving you the maximum health to complete the level, or do you switch to shinobi mode as soon as possible to gain access to the special attacks?

How the costumes affect gameplay is probably the most controversial aspect of Senran Kagura Burst – it is actually encouraging you to be voyeuristic. In addition to the degradation mechanics, at the start of each level you are presented with the opportunity to “go frantic” – sacrifice all of your clothes right from the start for more speed and power, but you’ll take more damage if hit. It just feels like a step too far, and there’s little logic behind it other than titillation. Sure, make clothes fall off as they are slashed, but make someone more powerful because they’re showing more skin? It’s a shame, as the plot is actually very female-orientated, but very few girls would enjoy this kind of objectification.

Senran Kagura BurstThere is plenty of content on offer, with two storylines consisting of over seventy missions, which can be replayed with each character to unlock more costumes, art and music. The short nature of each mission makes it a real pick up and play brawler, although you may want to skip the overly long cut scenes if you have any hope of getting to one quickly.

Unfortunately, the lack of variety between the missions is this game’s real downfall, which is a shame as it has solid core mechanics that are not capitalised on. Once you have played a few missions, you have basically played them all. Despite some deep levelling systems and wide variety of characters and unlockables, it’s not worth it if the levels are not worth playing.

It is as shame that game director Kenichiro Takaki has forgotten to make the game interesting to play, instead focusing on story and presentation – which how much you enjoy depends if suggestive teenage anime and dressing up busty dolls is your thing. If it is not, Senran Kagura Burst won’t hold your attention for long.


N-Europe Final Verdict

Strip away the gender politics and misogyny and Senran Kagura Blast is a fun, but average fighter that prioritizes cheap thrills over gripping gameplay.

  • Gameplay2
  • Playability3
  • Visuals3
  • Audio4
  • Lifespan4
Final Score



Surprisingly deep plot
Fun basic gameplay, if a bit repetitive
Lots of customisation options


Boring missions
Inconsistent framerate
Pretty creepy portrayal of women

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