I felt a quiet shame knowing my Nintendo Switch friends list could see me playing Senran Kagura: Peach Ball. In an age where images and videos of actual nude people are freely accessible to anyone, a game in which you can see a bit of buttock if you hit a woman with a pinball enough times is singularly lonely. But while Peach Ball is undoubtedly laser-focused on titillation, there’s still a pinball game buried beneath all of it. And that’s what I’m here to review, I reassure myself, as a woman dressed as a dog tells me to spank her with my flippers.
Pinball isn’t the most likely of pastimes for the Senran Kagura girls, who have previously balanced their time between water gun fights in Peach Beach Splash, cooking in Bon Appétit!, and being ninjas in Senran Kagura Burst. The series largely revolves around getting its all-female cast into as few clothes as possible, so applying this to pinball would seemingly be a difficult task. However, developer Honey Parade Games is experienced in finding excuses to take off its characters’ clothes, so Peach Ball centers around a concoction that has transformed the women into scantily clad “Animal Girls.” The player is tasked with returning the women to their normal state which, of course, is achievable by smacking them repeatedly with magical pinballs.
Senran Kagura: Peach Ball Review | A lot to say, little to do
Considering its plot is a hasty excuse to get the Senran Kagura women to take their clothes off, it’s curious how much time Peach Ball spends on its cutscenes. Its story mode is a slog through uninteresting interactions between its characters, typically centered around them recounting their memories with one another. You’ll hear all about how Murasaki had a panic attack in a shopping mall and Yumi comforted her; Ryona will debate the cuteness of her friend’s “baby talk” vs. her “puppy talk.” Perhaps more hard-boiled Senran fans than I will appreciate these extensive discussions, but before long Peach Ball‘s endless cutscenes placed me in a state of catatonia.
Fortunately, the actual pinball is more enjoyable. Peach Ball places one of its characters atop a pinball table, with the player having to bounce the ball around to complete Peach Missions. These missions range from bopping the girl with the ball through to hitting certain points of the table, and once enough missions have been completed, a Sexy Challenge can be triggered. These Sexy Challenges revolve around hitting different moving targets, and after completing two a final third Super Sexy Challenge can be activated. This has you hitting the ball at the girl’s breasts or backside, resulting in her being stripped of her animal clothes and her human memories returning to her. There was arguably a way to show half-naked women without involving animal possession, but Honey Parade didn’t think of it and we should respect that.
Hitting certain targets around each table can trigger mini-games or timed events, such as ‘Fever Time’ in which the Senran girl collapses and you receive more points for hitting her with the ball in certain areas. Though the goal of each story mode stage isn’t to get the top score you can still climb the leaderboards by pinging a ball off a breast to bag some extra points. I’m growing increasingly concerned that repeating Peach Balls‘ objectives will place me on some kind of government list, but it’s not my fault that this game is the way that it is.
Senran Kagura: Peach Ball Review | Same tables, same women
Peach Ball throws all of this information at you from the outset, and though it’s initially overwhelming, the presence of just two different pinball tables means it doesn’t take long to get the hang of things. Both tables have different themes, though basically share the same features. One has an extra underground mini-game zone, but it’s not radically different enough to significantly spruce up the action.
This lack of variety is also present in its cast. For a game centered around removing clothing to see half-naked women, it’s curious that Senran Kagura‘s protagonists possess more-or-less exactly the same body type. You can equip them with different costumes in the dressing room, but regardless of which clothes they are (or aren’t) wearing, they’re all basically the same woman.
There’s a level of replayability when it comes to achieving high scores in its free play mode, but there aren’t even online leaderboards. This leaves you to compete with your own high scores, or the scores of those you’ve let play on your Switch (and whom you trust with the knowledge that you’re a Senran fan). It all adds up to create a paltry offering that offers little for those who aren’t diehard fans of this series.
Senran Kagura: Peach Ball is briefly enjoyable, but is bogged down by a lack of things to do aside from skipping through tedious dialogue. Senran fans may find themselves content with the ways you can, ahem, interact with its cast, but for the rest of us this is a passably decent pinball game and little else.
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