Pinball sims these days seem to be pretty spot on, mainly because you’ve got a couple of companies out there that are setting a great standard for them. On one hand, Zen Studios does great work with its Pinball FX3 releases, both arcade-based (with its deal with Williams/Bally) and original (Star Wars and Jurassic World, among others). On the other, you’ve got The Pinball Arcade from Farsight Studios, with some of the best arcade-to-home tables around from Stern Pinball and a few others.
Still, that isn’t stopping a team like XSEED and Honey Parade Games from offering something completely off the wall with their super-sexy Senran Kagura series. They’ve taken the concept of pinball and added some anime babes in animal costumes, and the end result is the somewhat provocative – and definitively weird – Peach Ball. Is it going to be to everyone’s tastes? Definitely not. But for those with a penchant for pinball – or at least something of the sexy variety – it just might be your thing.
So the story…well, I’m trying to figure out what the story is about. A few of your anime-themed friends have been turned into weird animal-style creatures and you’ve been called upon to transform them back. But instead of simply slapping them back to reality, you have to play on pinball tables and knock them back through a series of mini-games and high scoring contests before they transform back into naked humans. It’s weird, sure, but Senran Kagura isn’t exactly known for making sense. Heck, one game a while back, Peach Beach Splash for the PlayStation 4, was all about shooting enemies in bikinis in a Splatoon style. It was totally fan service, but addictive for players that were into that sort of thing.
The game features a number of characters, and, yes, they’re fully bosomed and have raunchy dialogue that are sure to make fans feel right at home. But there’s not nearly enough of them to go around within the game, with only a handful of them to, ahem, “free” up. What’s more, the table designs are limited considering the game’s high price, with only two Peach Ball tables in all. That said, they are well done, and offer a variety of targets to shoot at. And the bonus tables are cool, with randomized targets to help you boost up your score – including, yes, girls’ butts, if you’re into that sort of thing. (And some of you are… Moody.)
As you play and keep each ball from being knocked out, you’ll be able to utilize a number of power-ups, such as score multipliers, bonus balls (giggle) and Peach Points to help achieve a higher score. The more it goes up, the more you can unlock, including accessories for the girls you’re able to, ahem, convert. It’s a decent array of unlockables, including some cool animal goodies for those that are into this sort of thing, but some extra tables would’ve been nice instead. Maybe some DLC down the road would’ve been a better way to go. Soon, perhaps.
Peach Ball does benefit from a pretty good control set-up. You can play with the traditional Pro Controller if you prefer, or with the handheld setting. But a game like this was built for JoyCons because of the, erm, unique interaction. It just feels proper (improper?) to jar a table and use flippers with a JoyCon controller in each hand. Again, the option is yours, but it’s nice for the developers to give us a choice should we feel the need for it. And the JoyCon set-up does allow for a bit more accuracy. And the bonus mini-games are cool, with more opening up as they’re unlocked. (As for the girls on the table, some have interesting interactions when you, um, “bop” them.)
The gameplay does entertain to a certain extent, and some of the content can be fun for fans, but how much you accept it really depends on how much you’re into Senran Kagura. If you’re a newcomer, you might be a little bit overwhelmed by all the anime babe action. The graphics are well done for a game of this nature, and, yes, some of the game’s, ahem, suggestive action is a little over the top, but also the speed for the fans. But it’s also a very acquired taste, and definitely not recommended for the kids. At least fans will be in for a treat.
The audio’s not bad either. Most of the language is in Japanese, but the text is translated, so you can make out the pervy dialogue without breaking much of a sweat. (Though you’re likely to be confused at times with some of the double meanings – we’re doing what now?) The music’s not bad, though it tends to get repetitive.
How much you get out of Peach Ball really depends on how much you want to get out of it. If you’re a newcomer and merely going in for the pinball approach, chances are you’re not going to have fun for very long. In that regard, the content is extremely light, with only a couple of tables and a few girls to, erm, enjoy. 3.5/5 Butt Bops.