Old school beat-em-ups have fallen to the wayside ever since the rise of 3D gaming. The audience has become more and more niche, despite titles like Castle Crashers and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Every game needs a hook now rather than throwing the player at some thugs and expecting magic to happen. When the 3DS was announced, I thought games would use it as a way to illustrate depth, not breasts. With such a fan-service oriented gimmick, Sengan Kagura Burst seemed like it would be nothing more than an exhaustively long boob joke. Imagine my surprise when despite the obvious pandering this game manages to be a competent, fun side-scroller.

Difficulty is balanced for both new players an veterans. Like with Frantic Mode, an optional handicap of sorts that ups your attack and speed but drastically lowers your defense. This would be a great way to change things up if the frame rate didn’t drop drastically during this frantic fighting. I only wish the battle system had more depth, but the amount already there is hard to complain about. Aerial raves were my favorite way to cut down the hordes of enemies, but that was far from the only nuance. Super combos were more varied as you trained, and each character had their own unique power play. I was even surprised that the clothes ripping off played into the mechanics, though it would have been just as effective if it was armor falling off instead of a wardrobe malfunction.

There’s quite a bit of content in this big breasted brawler. Two different story campaigns give you both sides, which was refreshing if not corny. Both good and evil have 6 characters to choose from, though you have to unlock two of them by beating their respective alinement’s story mode. Now if only they didn’t start as a bunch of anime archetypes they might have been more interesting. Eventually the characters do face some mild hardship, but the writing felt like it was struggling with appealing to provide both low-brow entertainment and a compelling story. Besides that you can give these characters some personality with outfits and accessories that are unlocked either from leveling-up or after finishing a chapter. While almost every piece felt kinda pervy, they also changed things up a bit, making the characters look different almost every chapter.

One of my weaknesses is a good side-scroller. It’s the genre that defined filled arcades and brought about many lovable characters. While Sengan Kagura Burst feels extremely voyeuristic, it also captures the simple yet addictive gameplay that made people want to put in just one more quarter back in the days where arcades reigned supreme. While the fan-service never outright ruined the game for me, it certainly wouldn’t be missed if it was gone. Until then this is a great game that you won’t want your friends to know you play.

Senran Kagura Burst Trailer