The Senran Kagura franchise has always been known for its fan-service laden imagery, paired with hack-and-slash gameplay. So when you want to make a spin-off, what do you do? Why, make a cooking rhythm game with the same level of fan-service, of course!
Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit has a story to explain its madness. Well, actually, it doesn't. Right from the get-go it gets on with its premise: because it felt like it. With the introduction out of the way, you can play a straight arcade game version without story bits, or play as a chosen character and learn why they have participated in this cooking battle. You can also do free mode, to practice and get better at the songs you will be tapping those directional and face buttons to. While the game has three different difficulty settings, the difficulty varies wildly for every song encountered, which makes for an uneven sense of balance. It's recommended to play on Easy at first, as that mode provides a much more gradual scaling of difficulty.
The way it play out is that each round has three sets, and you need to at least win the third round to win the match. Sometimes you will be tasked with holding a button down, press other buttons at the same time, or you will mash a button a bunch. Other times, you need to simultaneously press two buttons at once, which was hard with the Vita's small buttons. Steam's version allows for GamePad play, so it's a bit easier to hit those keys. If you do well enough, you can activate a mode which boosts your score more, ending at the moment you screw up. This is essential in later rounds, as the opponents get tougher, and you'll need those points.
Getting a perfect on the other two rounds will also inexplicably make your opponents' clothes explode off their bodies in true Senran Kagura fashion. (This is where the fan-service kicks in.) An opponent's total defeat will grant the player with a special 'dessert' humiliation scene, where they are practically naked and dressed up like a banana split or something. Of course, bare chests are censored like they were Japanese version, with no additional censorship. It is a console game, after all. There are a few tiny story bits that take place every so many matches, but they can barely be called a story. It's more of an excuse to make some suggestive innuendo or other cheesy jokes.
There are a number of different costumes and accessories to make your characters look different, even with players being able to change the girls' panties. Not that you see them in gameplay, of course, unless it was either the opponent or you want to fail on purpose. While the rhythm game is fun, the music selection is somewhat lacking. It's nothing special, but it manages to get the job done. Voice acting is in Japanese audio only, so once again those waiting for a dub will be disappointed. Character choices, along with the music selection, is also small.
Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit was only 15 bucks, but it had a lot of DLC which inflated the price quite a bit. This new Steam version has all of the DLC, which is why it's called "Full Course." However, as a result, the game is more expensive. It is cheaper than getting all the DLC in the vanilla version, though. The game is also a bit easier to play on the PC since the game is running at 60 frames, letting players more easily telegraph when the icons are to be hit. Visuals have been improved thanks to the number of resolution options. Despite it's silly premise and cheesecake, it's worth a try for Senran Kagura fans who obviously don't mind the lewd fan-service.
The Good: The gameplay is pretty fun, despite the lewd fan-service.
The Bad: Screwing up royally is easy.
The Ugly: Difficulty spikes quickly.
SUMMARY: Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit is a fun, if absurd, rhythm game that will likely be more for gamers that are already fans of the series.
Promotional consideration provided by Cody Martin of ONE PR Studio and XSEED Games