Senran Kagura is a very versatile series. We’ve had a couple side-scrollers, a few hack-and-slashers, a rhythm game, a card game, and even a simulation game. And now we have Peach Ball, a Senran Kagura pinball game. Of course, the game comes with all that makes the series tick, but it also has some major problems worth noting.
Solid pinball gameplay. If there is anything Peach Ball does well gameplay-wise, it’s at least got the pinball mechanics down. The gimmicks on the table are interesting, the physics actually feel believable, and the game even lets you “shake” the table to maneuver the ball (and knock over whoever is on the table). Of course, this is all done with a Senran Kagura twist, so on top of the base pinball gameplay, you’ll also be completing a variety of lewd minigames, all with the goal of saving the girls from a condition forcing them to act like animals. It’s a ridiculous setup, but that’s pretty much par for the course given the series and it does at least offer a decent twist on the pinball formula.
In-depth customization. Given that this is a Senran Kagura game, it should come as no surprise that the customization is one of the more fleshed-out features. In fact, I would argue that it is the most in-depth feature in the game, more so than the actual gameplay (more on that later). It covers everything from outfits, to hairstyles, and of course, the accessories. You’re able to fine-tune these accessories just like in the last couple games, adjusting their size, rotation, and position to line it up just the way you want it. And of course, you’re able to bring this customization into the actual game, although it is worth noting that it may not look entirely right if you don’t configure certain accessories properly.
On top of that, the dressing room also offers the diorama and intimacy modes that were also present in the last couple games. The diorama mode allows you to position and pose characters, add objects, and take screenshots of your creations. It’s definitely a nice addition given how in-depth the customization is. Then there’s the intimacy mode, a mode that is often a source of controversy for the series. In fact, the last Senran Kagura game, Burst Re:Newal, had to have this mode removed from the PS4 version before it could release on the platform. This time around, they didn’t even bother with a PS4 version, so we don’t have to worry about any sort of censorship. In this mode you basically get your “grabbers” out and can mess around with the girls however you wish. It doesn’t really add much to the game, but at least the option is there.
Lack of substance. Coming from someone that generally enjoys Senran Kagura games, I was a bit disappointed with how little actual substance there is here in Peach Ball. Throughout the entire game, you will only play on two different pinball tables, that’s it. And even then, the two are very similar in their design and make use of a lot of the same gimmicks, so it honestly doesn’t even feel like there’s two distinct tables. I had gone into the game expecting maybe one per character, but nope, you’re given the same set of two for every character’s story. On top of that, there are only five characters total, so there really isn’t that much variety there either.
Really, it’s honestly surprising how little content the game is shipping with. Sure, the table designs themselves are good and the minigames are at least decent, but outside of that and the customization, there really isn’t all that much to the game. It’s sorely lacking in substance and really is only fun for maybe a few hours.
Minor technical issues. Although XSEED generally does good PC ports, I did notice a couple technical issue during my time with the game: one being that some animations sometimes play at different framerates than what the game is actually being displayed at. The game would be running at a smooth 60 frames per second, only for some random animation (whether that be on the ball, a character, or somewhere else) to play at a much lower framerate than what’s around it. Given that everything else is still running at full speed, it just looks off-putting whenever it happens.
The other issue I ran into was a slight stuttering during transformation scenes. It barely lasts for a second at most, but it is noticeable and does interrupt the flow of said animations. I don’t know if these problems were with the PC port or if it occurred in the base game, but I’m leaning more towards the former, so hopefully it is something we can see patched up.
As a fan of the Senran Kagura series, I have to say that Peach Ball is rather disappointing. Sure, the pinball mechanics and customization are fine, but there’s just very little actual substance to the game, so little that I honestly cannot recommend the game even to fans. It’s fun for maybe a few hours, but beyond that it really just loses its appeal.
You can buy SENRAN KAGURA Peach Ball on Steam here.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.