Senran Kagura 2 is possibly one of the most-inappropriately-titled sequels of recent memory, being at least the fourth – and possibly fifth, depending on how you count the Japanese releases – game in the series. I’m given to understand that the 3DS games are considered the main storyline, which makes the numbering make more sense, but it’s difficult to reconcile this when the main antagonists for THIS game were actually introduced in the theoretically non-canon Vita game.
It’s all kind of a mess really, and I’m probably putting too much thought into it.
SK2 was MY fourth game in the series, and the one I have the most mixed opinion of. On the upside, I really enjoyed the story and the interactions between the characters; I have spent a lot of time virtually hanging out with the Hanzo and Hebijo crews and watching them in this feels very much like spending time with old friends. The new tag-team mechanic, complete with team attacks, is a great addition and I loved the way that the story missions kept mix-and-matching combinations of friends and rivals.
It also has some of the best use of 3D I’ve seen on the 3DS, and that’s from a guy who has an older system without the new super-stable 3D. The combat arenas have a great feeling of depth to them.
On the other hand, the actual levels were pretty dull. Most of them consisted of fighting a bare handful of opponents – barely enough to fill a single ninja art scroll – and then tackling a boss, who was usually VERY aggressive and much better than I was. I died several times on the very second level, and limited opponents meant very little opportunity to grind up levels to get tougher.
The camera is also not good. SK2 is, like Shinovi Vs, a full 3D game. Unlike the Vita, however, the 3DS doesn’t have a second analog stick, so tracking enemies is a pain. There’s a lock-on feature but it doesn’t rotate the camera to your opponent, so I spent a good deal of time attacking things I couldn’t SEE. This might be less of a pain on the New 3DS, with its analog nub, but I don’t own one of those and I’m not likely to drop a couple hundred bucks on a sidegrade system.
The thing that got me past the terrible camera and difficulty level was discovering that the AI simply could not handle the jump-and-slam-to-the-ground move. It would almost always send the target flying and could be used again before they had a chance to stand up, and simply hitting it over and over again was enough to get me through to the end credits without failing a single mission after the second.
So that’s 60+ levels of hitting B, holding down, and hitting X. It worked…
There are a couple of challenge modes – I dipped into one of them long enough to unlock some character buffs – and online and local multiplayer, which I didn’t try. To be honest, I’m more relieved to have finished it and to be able to move on to Estival Versus than I am particularly enthused about beating it.
So short version: very good looking, great use of 3D, fun dialogue and story, not so great the game. On to the sequel!