Prepare to get wet!
Senran Kagura is the very face of fan service, in fact, it may be its strongest quality. From torn clothes during intense Ninja Arts, or through various beach activities, Senran Kagura is a series of cleavage shots and upskirt moments and there is no denying it. While there is minimal fighting in Peach Beach Splash, the swap to a more Splatoon style of gameplay for the series still positions its bare feet firmly placed in the warm sand of what has come before it, making Peach Beach Splash far too familiar and can give it the appearance of a somewhat lazy sequel, because it sort of is.
Pacing its gameplay between visual novel inspired moments has been the bread and butter to the entire Senran Kagura series. You'll be treated to short scenes between several of the girls, usually those within the same faction, and then swap to the actual gameplay moments that the specific title is built for, and in this case, it is for some water gun shenanigans.
Turns out that while the girls are trapped upon a paradise island, they must take part in a water gun ritual of combat to keep a demonic force sealed away. Yes, I just typed those words, and other words that I'll be typing here are boobs, butts, and wet t-shirts, so get used to it. This is Senran Kagura, after all.
The bikini-clad cast of Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash consists of 30+ characters from various installments of the series as well as a host of additional characters from other similar properties like Dead or Alive and Super Sonico, with those two still just as Japan-only DLC for the time being. The vast majority of the girls have your standard anime chest size, which is to say they mostly all have rather large breasts, with only a small sampling of the girls having a flat chest body type.
As I've mentioned, fan service is the main attraction to Senran Kagura and it is one aspect of the game that the developers have zero-fear with regards to its North American port, as games like this are somewhat commonplace in Japan. The game features all the adult natured-charm that every other game in the series has contained, even from the cooking spin-off, Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit. which amazingly has a level in-game based around it. The main difference between this and something similar in the genre is that Senran Kagura never takes itself seriously and even plays into the typical tropes that something like this would contain.
The different factions each have their own campaign and this involves the girls battling for views on a YouTube-like video service, planted evidence that threatens to break the bonds between siblings, training to be more perverted, and how self doubt can fracture your future. Each faction of girls has their own story-line that is told through ten chapters and subsequent bonus chapters that are unlocked while you play through each of the different factions. Once each faction has been completed, a final 14 mission campaign is unlocked that tends to drag on a bit too much for what content is there.
I've played through each and every one of the Senran Kagura games released so far in North America and frankly, everything here is told in almost the exact same way. Sure, there are different story-lines between this and each of the other games, but the way in which it is told, the types of conversations that take place, and the pairings of specific girls are pretty much the exact same thing here and what we have seen before. Had this been a gameplay-copy of the previous title, it would have felt like a simple DLC addon, but thankfully, Peach Beach Splash offers new forms of gameplay to keep this title at least something of a fresh experience.
While the girls themselves are trapped on this paradise island, they are not alone as they are greeted by Miss R, and Mr. K, who are actually Rin and Kiriya in disguise. These two act as hosts to the whole event, much in the same way that Splatoon itself has two outlandish hosts as well. Each of the different factions story-lines do have these two intersect at various points in the story and it is made clear that there is something fairly big going on in the background as each of the factions start to learn more and more about the water guns being used as some sort of sealing ritual.
The water gun play is probably Peach Beach Splash's best asset as it is quite fun when the focus is on taking on the other girls. There are small floating robots and various fire-dousing challenges that look to break up the action, but they tend to lessen the appeal of what this whole game is about; shooting mass amounts of water at your competition and shooting off their bikini's. Yes, you can douse them with water so hard that their clothes actually burst off. There is even a boss battle during one of the faction's campaigns where you'll need to shoot off the soapy suds off a giant naked member of that faction, which is probably the most fun boss encounter in the entire game.
While the game itself doesn't feature any actual nudity, it does get very close as the more intimate bits are always bathed in a blinding light and this has been the general way that Senran Kagura has handled their overall censorship. Despite this form of covering up the girls, there isn't much left to the imagination during these splash-down moments.
Peach Beach Splash is based around a card system that dictates the types of weapons you'll wield, the special attacks you can unleash, the buffs you can grant your team, and the side-kick characters that can assist you in taking down the opposing team. Cards are acquired through packs you can buy with in-game currency, real-world dollars, or from completing certain missions and multiplayer modes. There are essentially three different types of cards; Skill Cards, Weapon Cards, and Companion Cards.
Skill Cards have various abilities such as unleashing a tornado attack in front of you that can cause major damage to those caught in it, or simply restore your team's HP. You can equip six cards in a deck and change and alter that deck before a match. Weapon Cards grant you access to each of the ten weapons that you'll bring into battle with you. Companion Cards allow you to summon some form of creature that will hover around you and dish out a small amount of damage to your nearby foes.
Each pack of cards contains 10 randomly assorted cards to add to your deck, with over 800 cards as part of the whole game. While Cards have ranging rarities, they can also be upgraded and leveled up, making their effects far more potent in battle. You can also level up your character to grant them more health in combat. While the campaign at the base difficulty isn't terribly taxing on the default health given, the harder difficulties can burn through that in no time, making leveling up your favorite girl an absolute must.
There are 10 different types of water guns to use in Peach Beach Splash. These consist of Assault Rifles, Sniper Rifles, Shotguns, Pistols, Grenade Launchers, and more. Each gun fires differently and spreads the cast of water in very different ways, with each gun having drastically different reload speeds. Despite starting with a certain water gun, no character is permanently bound to any specific one as you simply just need to apply the proper weapon card to their deck. Some guns have various skins as well, such as food, fish, or bamboo aesthetics, but so far I've only seen them appear as DLC and not as a card drop, yet.
The core gameplay loop to Peach Beach Splash is running and gunning down the opposing enemy force. While you are equipped with your cards and water guns, there is some fun momentum of movement that you'll have at your disposal. You can use water jets that are placed just above the rear of each girl, as to not get in the way of the view, that is, that will boost your buxom beauty into the air or grant you a jet-powered sprint. Each of these allows you to get around the level fairly quickly but at the cost of the water you have access to for your water gun. It's a trade-off that you'll need to find balance and it's also worth noting, considering the lewdness this title can offer, but many of the reload animations can almost look to simulate a particular sexual act.
While there is quite a bit to do as a solo player, there are a few multiplayer modes to dabble in that while sounding like fun, I rarely was able to find any players to even try out these modes. You can bring CPU bots with you via the co-op survival mode, but as for real players? I only ever found three or four players once in the week and some I tried looking. The multiplayer modes that are available, should you be able to find anyone to join up with are mostly control point modes, standard deathmatch, or a mode where you attempt to collect as many bras as possible. While that last mode may sound rather odd, it is pretty much at home with what this entire series is based around.
Peach Beach Splash is a very colorful and vibrant game that tends to borrow a bit too much of its look from the previous title, Estival Versus, and doesn't really change up much of the visual look the series has had for years. The game isn't bad in any real way, but I am hoping that the upcoming "Senran Kagura 7even" at least features a brand new engine and higher quality models as the ones here almost share the same low-polygon frames from the Vita and 3DS versions. There are numerous low-resolution textures and this is very noticeable when zoomed in on tattoos or certain swimwear.
The game features a fully voiced Japanese cast as the series hasn't been known for its use of an English dub. With so many girls, it can be hard to keep track of who is talking sometimes, and with the dressing up and cosmetic changes that you can make to each of the girls, it tends to add to the confusion. Considering how simple the dialogue and story is, you are not really missing too much because of it.
Peach Beach Splash continues the ability to swap costumes, change hair color and style and add a variety of items like puppy ears, cat tails, and other trinkets to the girls. You can pretty much create whatever you want as the system, while simplistic, offers quite a few options, some of which needs to be bought from the in-game shop with your collective winnings or behind a pay-wall of DLC, but it is fairly minimal as to what is available from the PSN store. There is quite the selection of swimwear with your typical one piece or two piece outfits, to skirts and shorts for the girls to wear. There are also full outfits to dress them up in should you want to cover them up a bit and present them in their more traditional costumes.
The dressing room for this customization system also comes with a fairly bizarre mechanic; Intimacy. This mode allows you to squirt colored water, grope their chest, or slap the chest or bottom of each girl. Should you raise the heart meter of a girl by groping their chest, it then unlocks a kissing mini-game to take part in. Despite Senran Kagura being a series about boobs and panty shots, this mode is by far the most outrageous and distasteful mechanic to ever be included in the game and one that serves zero purpose here.
Apart from plenty of repetitive conversations, and similarities among the campaign narratives, there isn't too much terribly wrong with Peach Beach Splash. I do wish there were more custom animations for certain events or conversations as most of the girls tend to emulate maybe a dozen different poses in total. I also wish that during the splash-down attacks that when you are shooting water to blast off their outfits that it didn't place the girls in their default bikini's and completely disregard the outfits that you already have them in.
Senran Kagura is a fun and often goofy series that has zero shame in the situations and clothing shenanigans that it places its cast of buxom beauties in. This is a series about half-naked girls usually beating the crap out of each other and this side-trip to a more Splatoon focused adventure is a worthwhile one to take if you are a fan of the series or looking for something a bit out there to enjoy. The series, despite the occasional spin-off, was created solely for fan-service and Peach Beach Splash is a continuation of that very concept. Plain and simple, this is a game about water guns, boobs, and water on said boobs.