Do I really need to say anything? Anyone who knows me or hears me in the Nintendo Entertainment Podcast knows that I’m a bit bias to all things Fan Service and off the wall humor. Nintendo earlier released Senran Kagura: Reflexions as a little experiment using the Joy Controllers. Selling on the aspect that you can interact and simulate touch to five of Senran Kagura’s ladies. While some argue whether or not it was a game, you can’t argue that it was a unique experience, to say the least.
Now we have Senran Kagura Peach Ball. One of the last Senran Kagura games involving the man of Life and Hometown, Kenichiro Takaki. Is it filled with Fan Service? You know it. Does it have an off the wall story and dialogue that it’s known for? In spades. Will it awaken a side that you never knew off? Probably. If there is a way to best describe this pinball game, it would be this: Sensory Overload With Service. If you want a sexy pinball game on a Nintendo console, look no further.
Animal Girls Ahoy!
We begin at a local arcade called Games Honey in which Haruka, Hebijo Alumni and current Homura Crimson Squad member, part-time at the store. She is currently overseeing a game tournament that involves the other girls of the game. Asuka of Hanzo Academy, Ryōna and Murasaki of Hebijo, Yumi of Gessen, and Yomi of Homura’s Crimson Squad. Yes, it’s the same cast as in Reflexions. While I wish they had more characters like Miyabi, Homura and such, I understand it would take more to implement. Still, it’s a bit odd playing a Senran Kagura title and having Homura absent.
While Haruka was overseeing the tournament, Ryōna had to use the bathroom and used what she thought was soap. Except it wasn’t! What she actually used was one of Haruka’s weird concoction that turns people into animals… Yikes! This ends up turning her into a bitch, yes that’s the correct term and gets into contact with the other four girls. As pictured and shown off in trailers, they also turn into animal girls. Bunny for Asuka, Bear for Murasaki, Cat for Yumi and Tanuki for Yomi.
Course with this mayhem, Haruka has a way to revert them back to normal. She introduces the peach ball. Once there are enough vibrations in the ball, it will release a mist that will turn them back to normal. How to increase the vibrations in a ball? With a pinball machine! Here, Haruka looks to you, the player, to help in getting the girls back to normal.
While SENRAN KAGURA Reflexions had you interacting directly with a story, SENRAN KAGURA Peach Ball puts you in the role of the person who’s actually playing the game. So if you think about it, it’s pretty meta. You’re playing a game with a character who’s playing another game. Once you begin and choose your first girl, it’s time to hit the pinball table.
When playing, I can say that the story and off the wall script is still present as it always been in the series. Some parts in which I was laughing out loud, while other times I just cringe at how silly the script is. Some may describe it as schlock, but it is at the point of “So bad, its good” levels of comedy. Like Street Fighter the Movie levels of comedy.
There are also moments in the story that has some surprisingly deep subjects if you are aware of the girl’s backgrounds or played the other games. If you enjoy the off the wall story in previous games of the series, you are going to love the script here.
Balls of Fuzz
The gameplay and pinball aspect where you will get the most for your money. Asides from the story mode, there is a free play mode if you want to rack up the high scores. Once you get in with choosing one of the girls, you then choose the table you wish to play in. This is one point of criticism to point out. In the game, there are only two tables you can select. There are time variants of the two, like a night or day time, but I feel they could’ve added one more table to vary it up. One which is a theme park with a Ferris wheel and teacup rides. This one has the most detail of the two. While the other is a smaller but a focused Japanese garden with Youkais about. The gimmick in this table is to collect coins to open up one of three mini-games to knock down your choice heroine. Personally prefer the Japanese table as I was to get fever time, super fever time and Multi-ball much easier.
At the time of writing, Marvelous unveiled their future DLC plans and it only consists of BGM and cossmetic add-ons for the game. No word on whether new tables will be coming in the future.
I can’t help be reminded of my early childhood memories of Pokemon Pinball for the Gameboy. It also had only two tables to choose from, which may be disappointing for fans of pinball games. Pokemon Pinball had Pokemon to help add to the game in terms of getting different Pokemon from different red and blue version tables. Here in Peach Ball, there is not much that adds to the game aside from the gimmicks of the themes. So the issue of repetition will arise and may deter players from playing courses for a long period of time.
In correlation to the story mode, you play through five levels for each of the five girls. The cycle is you choose one of the girls, you’re presented with a cutscene that involves the other four girls, play the pinball table to free the girl, then you’ll see another cutscene. This gets repeated for the duration of the game. That said, the game is definitely a bit on the short side. However, for completionists, there are three extra objectives to complete that extends this, like hit the girl 50 times, drop the ball less than X amount of times and so forth. This can be managed easily once you get the Fever/Super Fever Time.
Even with these criticisms, I still enjoyed the sensory overload that was with these tables and gameplay. From the fever times that rigger and once the multi-ball is released, it gets absolutely crazy. Performance & frames rate is consistent and I rarely had any slowdowns. Button response to the flippers is slightly delayed, but you will quickly adapt. Tilting is functional and works as it would on an actual pinball machine when trying to lead your ball. Plus the shop returns with all the accessories, costumes and CGs you can buy with the coins amassed from your Pinball games, giving more value to the experience.
That is what I left feeling, of wanting more. One more table would’ve felt like a fuller product, and having more girls like in previous games would add to this story. If they ever decided to release another table or another girl as DLC, then I feel that it would be worth justifying the purchase. Even adding an online leader board would be a nice addition to give the feel of your local arcades. I feel that they can add a lot more to this game.
Life And Hometown
Naturally, you do not have to worry if you are seeking the Fan Service. Peach Ball knows what the fans want and it delivers. As like in previous games, Senran Kagura is exceptional with its CG art. Just looking at them is just really impactful and has the moe factor down.
Prior I mentioned that during the pinball sections in story mode you have to free the girls from their states by using the Peach Ball Haruka mentioned. Once you amassed a certain amount of points, you are given the opportunity to enter a Sexy Challenge. Once you do it twice, the third time is the final Super Sexy Challenge. The Sexy Challenge is when you have to hit certain objects that reflect the table you currently playing on. Once completed, you get to see quite a spectacle of how the objects (daruma, youkai, Ice Cream, etc) involved in the challenge acts and compromises the women into interesting poses.
However, the Super Sexy Challenge is where it cranks the lewd factor to eleven. Basically, use your balls to hit the girls either at their life or hometown. After that and using your flippers to hit said Life and Hometown in a rhythmic fashion, it strips them naked to revert back to their human states.
So make sure no one is around you right now…
Are you good? Ok…
There are a lot more risque moments and shots in the game, but I’ll let you discover it on your own. That and I can feel my Boss’ and Todd’s burning gaze threatening me.
Last to mention is that the returning features of intimacy mode and diorama mode. Intimacy mode, if you don’t know the series prior, is where you can basically touch the girls wherever you want. With a pair of hands, you can grab any part of the girl while filling an affection meter like in prior titles. Once filled, you grab the hand of your chosen heroine and you can give her a smooch, while they saying sweet words of affection to you like in romance visual novel.
Diorama mode is as you expect it to be. You can dress, place, pose the ladies in whatever setting you want and take some snapshots. All that limits you is your imagination.
For the Love Of the Plot
Peach Ball is a great pinball game in of itself. Add the flavor of Senran Kagura and the Fan Service it provides, you got yourself a unique offering on the Nintendo Switch. The story is off the wall bonkers and perhaps you’ll discover more about yourself. Gameplay wise is a solid performance, but the limit of only two tables holds it back from its potential. Plus it would’ve been better with a few more girls from the series to add to the story. While in some parts it could’ve benefited from a few more additions, Peach Ball is the solid title for the Nintendo Switch and all things Life and Hometown. While the future is uncertain for Seran Kagura, with the absence of Kenichiro Takaki from Marvelous and the current gaming state all things Fan Service, you can rest assured that the passion and love for this niche genre is present and alive.
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Sexy Pinball Senran Kagura Style
Senran Kagura Peach Ball
Peach Ball knows that you are here for the Fan Service and it respects it. With the casts from Senran Kagura Reflexions making another appearance on Switch, you are in for a crazy, sexy, and unique ride. Pinball gameplay is solid and stellar, but unfortunately limits itself with only two tables to play on. More girls from the rest of the Senran Kagura series would’ve added more to the experience and please more of the fans. If you are looking to satisfy that focused Fan Service itch on Nintendo Switch, look no further than the series of Life and Hometown.
- Fan Service In Spades
- Sensory Overload In Gameplay and Visually In the Best Way
- Story Remains Off The Wall and Hilarious
- Solid Pinball Experience
- Great Performance In Regards Framerate
- Only Two Tables To Play,No Word In Regards To Additional Tables
- Repetition Can Be An Issue For Casual Players
- Needs More Girls (Homura, Katsuragi, etc)
- Leaves You Wanting More, Slightly Short In Terms of Length
- Story Bonus Objectives Can Be A Bit Troubling To Complete