- Format: Vita
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: Marvelous Europe/Xseed Games
- Developer: Meteorise
- Players: 1
- Site: www.marvelousgames.com/product/bon-appetit/
Imagine if the MasterChef final came down to a face-off between a pair of 16-year-old school girls. They’ve chosen to forgo traditional apron and oven glove attire, instead choosing to don the skimpiest clothes possible that makes their fleshiest bits bulge. Despite a bewildered audience, Lloyd Grossman chooses to forgive the flagrant disregard of the dress code and asks them to begin. It’s a lightning fast flurry of food preparation overseen by cameramen determined to get high angle cleavage shots that probably breach the BBC watershed rules. When all’s said and done, the food is laid down for a taste test that reveals a clear winner. Turning to the loser, Grossman flips into a perverted rage. He runs over to the lesser cook and strips her down to her lingerie, tearing the clothes from her back with very little regard for buttons, zips and other fastenings before leaving her nearly naked for all to gawp at.
Replace Lloyd Grossman for a white-bearded sensei and give everything an anime makeover and you’ve pretty much got Senran Kagura Bon Appetit. It’s almost exactly like Shinovi Versus in every way apart from the gameplay. Beating your opponent still results in stripping them down to their underwear, with exceptional performances that lead to a complete (but still censored) clothes-off display. Almost every character is overly sexualised beyond belief, with breasts the size of beach balls and outfits that make Ivy’s SoulCalibur 3 costume look like appropriate office wear. So, what does Bon Appetit do that we haven’t seen before?
Think of Guitar Hero or Dance Dance Revolution without the fun peripherals and you’ll get the idea. The main game screen is a pair of lines that feature PS Vita button prompts scrolling along them towards a sweet spot, challenging you to hit the mark and press the corresponding buttons in time with the music. As this happens a distracting display of jiggly cooking featuring the aforementioned scantily clad ladies plays in the background. The more buttons you match the higher your score and the better pleased you make the judge. There are three levels of difficulty, with each one introducing additional buttons to press as well as upping the tempo slightly.
Gameplay is incredibly simple and gets repetitive very quickly, especially when it lacks peripheral gimmicks that made other rhythm action games so successful before the genre’s demise. Each girl has her own storyline, although it’s all nonsensical and too weird to sustain interest. For example, Katsuragi’s story is all about her obsession to make the world full of boobs for her to grope wherever she goes. Whether you view it as juvenile fun or a little sex crime-y, it makes for a really odd and unengaging storyline to play through. And it is completely unengaging. These barmy stories aren’t even illustrated, relying on you to have the patience to read the text against uninspiring backgrounds or with two characters jiggling on the screen.
There are a few cinematics, but they’re incredibly strange. When you match icons well enough during the cook-off, you end up creating a super dish that sends the judge on a euphoric journey through a visual metaphor. These are visually distinct and are quite trippy in nature, probably offering the most visual diversity in the entire game. It’s just a shame that they’re just nonsense shorts that don’t really go anywhere.
After you’ve completed two or three girls’ stories, you probably won’t feel the compulsion to read through the other seven or so. It’s all a little bit weird to be honest, and we’re not entirely clear on the target audience. On one hand the simplicity of the game itself makes it sit well with younger players, whereas the content is definitely targeted at an older (we hesitate to use the word mature) audience.
If you perform well enough and achieve a near perfect score across three rounds, you’re treated to a scene where your cooking opponent is mounted on a dessert completely naked in a very sexual pose, with cream and chocolate keeping her really rude bits hidden. The player even has control over the camera here, being able to zoom in and out and rotate. It just feels a little bit creepy to be honest, with the lifeless girls just posed sprawled out in a dessert. It’s like a staged murder scene from the movie Seven, you know, if it were an anime film and Kevin Spacey decided to wrap up lust and gluttony in one killing.
The dessert show may be the top tier of reward for doing well, but almost everything you do ends with a titillating pat on the back. Beat your opponent in a round and she loses a layer of clothing. Lose to an opponent and your equally erotic avatar loses her clothes. Keep up a combo to trigger a special heart icon that makes the camera pan around your opponent’s stripped body as you play. If this is your thing, then you’ll probably get some enjoyment from Senran Kagura Bon Appetit, although the Internet is far more accessible and offers a vaster choice if you’re after sexy rewards for very little effort.
At its core, Senran Kagura Bon Appetit is a rhythm action game with no distinguishing gimmicks or creative sparks that make the gameplay stand out at all. It could probably occupy your fingers for five minutes on the bus or train, but you can say that about hundreds of other Vita titles. Also, with all the boobs and jiggling involved, it’s probably not recommended for playing on crowded public transport. The unique selling point of the game, that we can distinguish, is softcore anime and repetitive innuendo that’s about as subtle as a centaur stampeding through a wind chime shop. If you’re a fan, you might like to know that there are twelve more, most likely booberific, characters locked behind DLC. But for non-Senran Kagura fans, there really isn’t much here to hold your attention