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  I have set this under an "Over 18s" banner because I don't have a similar banner for over 15s. Sensible discretion is required.

SENRAN KAGURA is finally on the PC via the Steam media. The game has been adapted for the PC but it still shows the keys for the console version so the first thing that is a good idea to configure the keyboard to the keys usually found on the pad, X A B and Y, leaving the firing/action to LMB and RMB. If you have a joypad that works with your PC you may be able to use this, but although I have a Thrustmaster F1 wired hand-pad for some reason, either the game or (most likely) my PC I couldn't get it to work with this game.

SENRAN KAGURA is published, produced, designed by Marvelous!, Xseed, Tamsoft, CriWare and Bishamon and is a full on fighting game set in the wonderful world of Animé (cunningly close to Hentai) with big eyed, large breasted (what is it with Japanese, Animé and ginormous breasts - my poor eyeballs ached from all the onscreen boob-bouncing), highly flexible young "schoolgirls" displaying athleticism above and beyond that of an Olympic athlete and sword skills that Zorro or any Samurai, Ronin, Sith or Jedi would be proud of. This is a story of Light (good) versus Shadow (evil), Yin v Yang, Beauty and Death brought to the screen through three Girl's Martial Arts Academies: - Hanzo, Gessen and Hebijo. The girls are all archetypal animé beauties with large assets and even larger weapons. For Hanzo there is: Asuka, Ikaruga, Katsuragi, Yagyu and Hibari. For Hebijo there are: Miyabi, Murasaki, Imu, Ryobi and Ryona, and the Gessen Girls are Yumi, Minori, Shiuki, Yozakura and Murakomo.

I decided for no other reason than they were in the centre of the screen (and of course Gessen Girls initials are GG as in Games Gazette) to go with the Gessen School and so my game started with Yumi leading her friends on the way to Grandfather's house to deliver him a freshly made selection of Strawberry daifuku (rice cakes). On the way they are accosted by the leader of the Hanzo house who proceeds to squeeze and grope the girls and then steal and eat their daifuku. When the girls get upset and annoyed with him he threatens to have the girls from his school come along and make mincemeat of the poor ickle Gessen Girls.

The girls return to their school and discover that there is to be a Battle Royale where the schools compete against each other and the losing school gets their school burned to the ground (this is in the story section of the game). The Gessen Girls are told they will fight the girls from Hebijo School which is acknowledged as a place where the students learn the Evil Arts, but instead they decide to take on Hanzo Academy to get revenge on Hanzo for his "wandering hands" routine, plus Grandad is now starving because he got no rice cakes. 

There are Story Missions and there are Sub Missions. The Story Missions are part of the long, ongoing tale that will keep you interested until the end of the game, whereas the Sub Missions have each of the girls fighting for something specific or special to them, such as Righteousness or a Stole Mask. These can be rushed into but first it is best to take some training, though in this game it isn't in the usual tutorial format. You are given a target of attack styles or damage types to succeed at and then you move onto the next action, basically learning how to play. Unfortunately to begin with, I was playing on the PC and hadn't looked at the Options Menu before starting so I had absolutely no idea what keys did what, though of course I guessed WASD and LMB, RMB. As it turned out these worked but were never good enough to get me past the horrendously skillful opposition set against me. There is no easing the player into this game, it is hard and fast from the start.

There are three fighting schools, Flash (wearing the school uniform), Yang (the Shinobi transformation clothing - usually quite daring) and Yin (frantically violent). There are also three stages of defeat and in each stage your characters clothes are ripped and torn from her body until she is nude (well nearly - it is animé so you should expect it to be near the line if not a little over it). I suppose it is possible for some people to find scantily dressed, large breasted, slim, big-eyed schoolgirl animated drawings sexual, but if you spend any time gawking at the screen your character will be beaten and defeated in the blink of an eye. No! I don't believe it is an X Rated game or for over 18s, but the display of aggravated violence (without blood and/or gore I should add) added to the lack of moral clothing does rather set it as not really suitable for under 15s at the least. 

There is a store run by Ayame where the girls can buy upgrades of sorts. Items are available but the most intriguing possibility is the LINGERIE LOTTERY where you pay ZENI (money) to spin the numbers to see what you can win for your girls; crazy!!! You may have heard that Japanese girls are adept with using fans as weapons, well this game will show just how good they are in a fight.

SENRAN KAGURA is a big step up from the days of Mortal Kombat and its like. The action is well rounded, in more ways than one, and is totally 3D animation not back and forth 2D. Some of the scenery is interactive, such as the crates that contain boosts of some type or other (extra health etc). The characters all have signature or special moves that they can perform as you get better at handling them, plus each girl has her own favourite costume - these costumes can be given to other girls as well. It has taken a fair while for SENRAN KAGURA to reach the PC and my opinion is that although it has been worth the wait it would have been that much better had the time been taken to match the onscreen Letter commands. For example when the instructions are to Press X you don't Press the X key but instead press the LMB or the O key .. Confucious say "change the keys before playing and save yourself a headache".

If you like fast action with a lot of variety in weapons and opposition then this is right up your alley. The following screenshots are all taken from my games and are not stock shots you will find in every magazine and online review. These will show you the type of action and graphics you can expect. But don't take my word for it, go play it yourself. Here is an official trailer for the console based game (please note that I found this on YouTube and all credit goes to the producers and whoever put it out there)  TRAILER 

















© Chris Baylis 2011-2015