Preview: Teaming up in Senran Kagura 2

Do you have any enemies? Actually, enemy may be too drastic a term. Rather, is there someone you don’t get along with? Imagine you had to work with that person to save the world. That’s what the students (and former students) of the Hanzo and Hebijo Academies have to deal with in Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson.

There are two kinds of ninja in the Senran Kagura world. Good ninja go to Hanzo National Academy, which is sponsored by the Japanese government. They have strong morals, don’t kill and fight evil ninja. Bad ninja head to Hebijo Clandestine Girls’ Academy, a school owned by a business tycoon. Except the “bad” girls aren’t always so bad, and often end up there because no one else would take them.

senran kagura 2 3Which is why girls like Homura, Yomi, Hikage, Mirai and Haruka ended up leaving to form the Crimson Squad between Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus and Senran Kagura 2. The girls aren’t exactly on bad terms with Asuka, Ikaruga, Katsuragi, Yagyu and Hibari, the Hanzo girls. They’ve grown to respect one another after the first game and Homura and her squad have seen Hebijo’s true colors, but there’s still some adjusting to do now that everyone has to work together to stop Hebijo from inflicting a demon army on the world.

Fortunately, that’s only reflected in Senran Kagura 2‘s story segments. When I played through three missions at E3 2015, the ninja were working perfectly together. In one, Katsuragi and Hikage were working together in an urban area and taking out enemies that kept appearing out of nowhere. Combat was smooth, and it felt easier to chain combos together than it did in Senran Kagura Burst.

This was most evident when I was able to have the two women perform joint attacks together. By chaining attacks and continuing a heavy assault, Katsuragi and Hikage were eventually able to perform a special attack. An animated segment showed Katsuragi performing some sort of tornado kick, with Hikage jumping onto her leg and using the force to propel her, blades first, into a foe. Naturally, the enemy I used that against didn’t stand a chance. I may be dating myself here, but does anyone remember the Fastball Special from X-Men? Where Wolverine and Colossus would team up, with the latter propelling the former into unsuspecting foes? This is the Senran Kagura equivalent of the Fastball Special.

senran kagura 2 2I also found the pairing system helped highlight characters’ specialties. When I played through another mission, my characters were Ikaruga and Yomi. Both were sword users, but had very different styles. Ikaruga moved faster with her nodachi, utilizing swift attacks. Yomi’s is a huge, heavy sword that resembles an oversized claymore. Each have their strengths, and I found myself using Ikaruga to take out enemy ninjas flying in on kites, while Yomi was good for clearing ground-based hordes at once.

There was one final thing that impressed me at E3. In one of the missions, my characters were running along rooftops. This would normally seem like a rather basic and trite level, but Tamsoft, the developer, did something interesting. Every once in a while, the perspective would shift when Asuka was running around a corner. Instead of a 2.5, side-scrolling look, she’d start running toward the screen. It resulted in a nice visual effect that really popped with the 3D on.

Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson will be coming to the 3DS on September 15. You can order the $49.99 “Double D” edition, which includes a two disc soundtrack, on Amazon.

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