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October 2, 2017 | by  | in Games |
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Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash

Developer: Tamsoft

Publisher: Marvelous

Platform: PS4

Review copy supplied by publisher

 

CW: Misogyny

 

“Anime is trash, and so am I.”Garnt “Gigguk” Maneetapho, anime critic

Video games can make people feel a full range of emotions. Whether it’s the pure joy of exploring a massive world, the relief after a particularly difficult boss battle, or the sadness following a dramatic story moment, games wield tremendous power to bring these feelings out of us, just as much as (if not more than) more traditional artforms.

But never in my life have I felt downright embarrassed to play a game. This game broke that duck, but not before it broke me.

Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash is little more than softcore porn masquerading as a video game, embodying the worst aspects of otaku culture by indulging in voyeurism and the sexual exploitation of its characters. Everything about this game is designed to appeal to the notion that watching girls get humiliated is not only okay, but a turn-on, with any actual gameplay only being a veneer to trick you into accepting that.

The Senran Kagura series is ostensibly about a group of female ninjas-in-training and their adventures battling demons and each other, but it’s just a way to shove jiggly anime boobs and booty in your face. This instalment has our heroines competing in a water gun tournament, complete with all the obvious jokes about girls getting wet. The story quickly establishes that the characters were not there by choice, instantly killing any chance it had of me being invested in it.

Actual gameplay is that of a mediocre third-person shooter, with none of the weapons feeling even remotely satisfying to use; the water gun aspect clearly holds it back. Special abilities are integrated with trading card mechanics, with card packs available as rewards for completing missions or multiplayer matches, but all they do is turn your efforts into a mess of particle effects that, barring framerate drops, do fuck all. The single-player missions are repetitive, the AI is braindead, and I barely got to play any multiplayer matches because I was playing a pre-release copy!

But that doesn’t compare to this bullshit: When you take down an enemy, or are taken down yourself, the camera lingers on each character’s body, absorbing their humiliation in the creepiest way possible. If you approach a fallen enemy and press Square, you activate a Squirmy Finish, where you shoot from first-person at the character’s breasts and/or buttocks to remove their bikinis. I was honestly sickened when I did this for the first time, but it gets worse. The game has a “locker room” feature, where not only can you dress the characters up in various costumes, but squirt them with water and grope them.

Maybe you’d think I’m okay with all of this because I’m a nerdy straight guy, but I’m not okay with any of it. I kind of knew what I was getting into, but I had absolutely no idea that it was this bad. It doesn’t matter that it’s fictional, or that the art style is anime-esque, because humiliating a person for sexual gratification is only okay if it is safe, sane, and consensual — there is no hint of consent to be found anywhere here.

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