Due to the subject matter today, some items may be NSFW. Barring some terrible graphics, we’re sorta aiming for PG-13 screenshots here, but, given everyone has a different threshold, anything potentially offensive will be behind the “Read More” links du jour. Just so you are aware…
Welcome back to Wankery Week!
It’s been since the Fall of 2018 when I last tagged a game for Wankery Week, and the last official Wankery Week entry was in the bygone era of that previous February, so let’s restate what Wankery Week is all about. Wankery Week is not just about looking at games that are overtly horny. Wankery Week is about looking at horny games, and seeing what they bring to the horny discourse (or, as it is colloquially known, the hornyverse). All too often, horny videogames are written off as “it’s just a horny game”, or “it’s offensive to over half of the population”, or even “titty soft, haha, moving on”. And, while such statements are useful for distinguishing between games that are “horny” or “just incidentally skeevy”, it’s not informative to people that are interested in playing a horny games. There are literally thousands of games on Steam that are all based on “you might see a boob”, so maybe we should take a deeper look at whether or not a game with such a premise is actually any good.
Or, put another way, we continually judge JRPGs by their overarching stories, fighting games by how complicated they made their inputs, and platformers by how well their specific jumping physics handle. Why do we just right off every horny game as “it’s horny”? That’s not helping anybody!
And there’s also this whole thing about sexuality, fetishes, and how we all interpret desire differently. But the important thing is whether or not you should play a certain videogame, right?
So, with that in mind, today’s game is Peach Ball: Senran Kagura. It’s the Senran Kagura franchise again, but this time it’s a pinball game. And it, incidentally, goes against everything the franchise stands for.
Okay, if you think the Senran Kagura franchise is just about busty young ladies (but certainly not underage girls, everyone is clearly over 18) having their clothes torn off, then, hooray, Peach Ball has got you covered. Or… uh… uncovered as is frequently the case. The story of Peach Ball is one of those lovely excuse plots that only seem to pop up in pornos and JRPG sidequests: Haruka, one of the more dubiously villainous Senran Kagura protagonists, is currently working part time at an arcade. One day, five of the other Senran Kagura gals show up for a fighting game tournament, and… Wait. Let me savor this for a moment. Did you expect a fight to break out? Or maybe some eldritch evil from another dimension interrupts the tournament, and everyone has to band together with their ninja skills to… No, I won’t hold you in suspense any longer. Haruka has apparently been working on magical potions, Ryona accidentally gets into ‘em and is turned into a dog-lady, and, as dogs are want to do, Ryona licks the potion all over the rest of the gang, so now everyone is half human, half animal (and all mostly naked). Haruka managed to avoid a furry fate, and, due to reasons that are tenuous at best, the antidote for this condition can only be delivered via pinball game. So it’s up to you to play pinball. Or…. Uh… something?
And, to be clear, this whole excuse of a plot isn’t a betrayal of the franchise in any way. In “main” Senran Kagura games, the heroines and villainesses often team up to stop interdimensional monsters and big bads that literally eat babies (it happened, it can’t unhappen). But in Senran Kagura side story titles, there are cooking contests that grant world-changing wishes, super soaker wars, and I’m pretty sure there was at least one title in there where massaging with “HD Rumble” decided the fate of the universe. The dream team getting transformed into various fetish-tastic animal women is pretty much par for the course in this franchise. And, while Senran Kagura still refuses to go full furry (these “animal women” are more wearing fuzzy bikinis than full on lizard people with compound eyes and fantastic tongues or whatever), “the girls get into hijinks, and now they have to be half-naked” is, again, pretty much the raison d’etre of the franchise. In general, this is all very Senran Kagura at its Senran Kaguraest.
So what’s the problem? You. You’re the problem.
In nearly all Senran Kagura titles, from the beat ‘em ups to the cooking games, there is a competition between the protagonists. Sometimes they are in direct opposition because they are on opposite sides of some moral battle. Sometimes it’s just a matter of a friendly struggle to see who can be the best (at using a water gun). But, one way or another, it is the women engaging each other. This is important, because nearly every single action that can be performed in the Senran Kagura universe leads to clothing exploding. Damndest thing! If someone throws a knife at someone else? Clothes ripped to shreds. How about someone cooks a really impressive meal? Skirts obliterated. Get too wet? You know that’s gonna mean that school uniform has to go. This is an immutable law of the Senran Kagura world, and it’s been arguably the most consistent feature in the franchise from the beginning. And in every previous game in the franchise, this ripping and tearing was the result of the women confronting each other. In Peach Ball, as evidenced by the narrative that kicks off the whole adventure, “you” are controlling the action. You, not some random digital avatar, are the main character. And, importantly, this means you are the one tearing a young girl’s clothes off.
That… puts a touch of a different spin on the proceedings.
And, to be clear, it’s not just about being responsible for the forcible disrobing of the ladies. Technically, all the Senran Kagura titles (that are not about heavy petting) involve your usual videogame’s bucketful o’ super violence. Every time a super move is utilized, a ninja is belted with enough punishment to make a real human being pass out from immeasurable pain. Have you ever been repeatedly slapped in the face by a squid? That happens to a ninja student approximately every seven seconds in some Senran Kagura titles, and that would leave behind heavy cranial damage in any “real” situation. But we just gloss over it because, hey, videogames, amiright? Yet, somehow the more minor violence of Peach Ball seems keener when you’re wholly responsible. In every level, you are asked to wallop the featured gal with a pinball repeatedly and as often as possible. This often leads to the woman falling into a generally flummoxed state, and then you can earn even more points because their breasts are exposed on the “ground” of the pinball board. Yes, you get extra points for nailing increasingly more sensitive areas. And, all the while, the animal-women moan and plead for you to stop. Because what is point of violence against women if women aren’t confirming you’re a big, unstoppable man?
Granted, other Senran Kagura titles are not completely innocent in this regard. Practically every clothesplosion cutaway across the franchise features a woman that is blushing at her impending nudity. Give or take characters that are known masochists (you know, I rarely have to use that sentence when reviewing Final Fantasy games) this is universal across the cast, because it doesn’t matter if you’re a badass shinobi, you’re still going to be embarrassed when your booty starts hanging out. But, to be clear, this kind of thing only really significantly happens once or twice a battle, and maybe at the finale of a level. It is not every other second, it is not exclusively so you can earn points, and it is always happening because of the actions of another woman. In Peach Ball, you are wholly responsible for every aggravating ball-bonk, the outcome of every “super sexy challenge”, and every last shred of dignity that is left on the floor when a lead is left exposed and quivering on the results screen. She’s completely naked. You happy, hero?
So, yes, if you want a game where women’s clothes spontaneously combust on a frequent basis, the Senran Kagura franchise is made for you, and Peach Ball is no exception. However, if you want a Senran Kagura game where the main premise is women constantly, noticeably, verbally in distress, then stick to Peach Ball. The other SK titles may be masturbation bait, but they are bate bait that reveres its cast at least the tiniest bit. Peach Ball pays its protagonists no respect, and is a drastic departure from the rest of the franchise.
Peach Ball: Senran Kagura might be wank material, but that doesn’t mean it can’t respect the reason you’re wanking.
WW #11 Peach Ball: Senran Kagura
- System: Nintendo Switch. Hey, guess where all the budget perv titles went when the Sony Vita went under.
- Number of players: This is truly a singular experience.
- Maybe actually talk about the game for a second: Oh, right, gameplay. It’s a pinball game with a whole two boards. Now each of the boards have about a zillion things to do in each little area and bonus stage… but it’s still just two boards. And there’s a seriously confused camera being employed, so having full control of the board at all times is next to impossible. In short, it’s a pretty mediocre pinball experience on top of everything else.
- Could you play this with someone else in the room? Absolutely not. Even if you had this in portable mode, all the vibrating and moaning coming from your system might tip off the local authorities.
- Hey, what if your kink is watching digital women suffer, and this game offers an easy outlet that doesn’t hurt anybody? If Peach Ball is your thing, I really can’t argue with that. You want to see a Bunny-Girl get hit with a pinball, be my guest, I’m not going to judge. I just want to be clear that this game offers a very different feeling than other Senran Kagura titles. Basically, you’re not laughing with them, you’re laughing at them, and fetishes are very fragile things.
- Favorite Shinobi: Just because the protagonists get stomped on continually doesn’t mean their personalities don’t still shine through. Yomi gets transformed into a coin-coveting tanuki, and her retention of human traits in her animal form is appropriate to her previous characterization and reminds me of gaming’s greatest monster, Tom Nook. Just a winner all around there.
- Did you know? Murasaki is transformed into a bear-woman presumably because she is rarely seen without her stuffed bear companion. This could also tie to how her usual “berserker rage” abilities are based on Vikings that supposedly wore bear-skin garments. Or, like, bear-ears are cute, and all the other popular animals were taken. It’s probably one of those.
- Would I play again: Nah. I’m going to stick to the beat ‘em ups that include light nudity, not the pinball games.
What’s next? Random ROB is back and has chosen… Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee! It’s the other Melee game for the Nintendo Gamecube! Please look forward to it!