Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit is a rhythm game featuring all of the characters from the series in head-to-head cooking battles.
With the digital-only release of Senran Kagura: BURST on the 3DS, the niche series outdid expectations and found an avid audience outside of Japan. Because of this popularity, XSeed Games decided to release this fan-oriented title as well via the PlayStation Network.
Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit! begins with Master Hanzo proclaiming that he has a special Ninja Art Scroll that can grant any wish the user desires and it’s free to whomever can win his cooking competition. All of the female characters join the competition for different reasons and each one has a story unique to them.
Unfortunately for players new to the series, Bon Appetit! is intended for fans, so very little about each character is explained, making this a potentially mystifying experience. The saving grace for newcomers may be that the story is really just fluff; there certainly aren’t major plot revelations that will come into play for future games. However, it might be extremely difficult to enjoy something that assumes you already know the world and the characters within when you don’t, so take this under advisement.
For fans of the series, this game really does showcase what each character is about in the short amount of story present. An example being that Yagyu is still in love with Hibari and wants to win the competition so she can wish to be together with her; nothing huge comes of this scenario but it’s a fun little aside with the characters.
The gameplay itself is fairly simple: There are two lines stacked on top of each other on the bottom of the screen and button icons will move across these lines that need to be pressed at the right time. This does become more difficult than it appears at first with both lines coming into play (alternating or dual presses) and the game also has no qualms about using all of the buttons available. While it does go fairly easy on you in easy mode, anything higher will really test your abilities. There is also a special ability that can be activated when it is charged up and will add loads to your score as long as you can keep a combo going; this effect is immediately lost when you make a mistake.
During the rhythm sections you will see the girls working on their dishes in the background and at various intervals the game will stop to let Hanzo taste your appetizers. Whomever loses this mini-battle will have their clothes ripped up just like what happens in the other Senran Kagura games and will lose points on the tug-of-war style meter on the top of the screen. Whoever has the least amount of that meter will lose the match and all of their clothing will disappear. They are then goofily covered up by comped portraits of their own faces and the story continues onward.
If you’re the winner in the game, you will get a purely fanservice scene where your opponent is covered in whipped cream and lying in a sundae. You can pan around and look at her but that’s about it; certainly designed just to get your jollies but it was an amusing feature. It is also entirely skippable so those who aren’t into it can jump right past it.
Another feature of the game is the ability to change hairstyles and clothing, much like the main games in the series. All of these items are unlocked as you play through the game as each character and can be changed between matches. There are all sorts of items available here, such as the other characters’ outfits, items like fox ears and even lingerie. This feature added a lot of replay value to the game and it certainly added to the overall enjoyment.
The graphics are about on par with Senran Kagura: Shinovi versus, featuring some animated sequences and anime-styled 3D Models. It’s not the most graphically advanced game available on the PlayStation Vita but it is well suited to this style of game and quite attractive to look at. The only issue is that it takes a bit of time to get used to playing a rhythm game while so much happens on the screen; it is very much like Hatsune Miku: Project Diva in that sense.
The music in Bon Appetit! ranges from Traditional Japanese music with a twist all the way to peppy Jpop songs and are pleasing to listen to. However, the music wasn’t nearly as good as games like Project Diva F or Theatrhythm and this definitely hurts its replayability and its reach to an audience outside of Senran Kagura fans.
Finally Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit! has an expansion called Gessen x Hebijo that adds a whole new rosters of characters, all new songs and new items as well. The addition of this expansion makes the game feel a lot bigger and more complete so it is worth a purchase if you’re into the base game.
Overall Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit! is potentially a worthy purchase for fans of the series but the lack of really stellar music makes it a little difficult to recommend, particularly for non-fans.
(Note: The author received a review copy of the base game and purchased the expansion herself. The base game and the expansion are available for purchase on the PlayStation Network.)
A fun rhythm game that lacks really stellar music and includes some erotic content, making it difficult to recommend for any but huge fans of the series.