Now that Story of Seasons has wrapped, the other localizers and I have split off onto smaller individual projects, including SENRAN KAGURA 2 Deep Crimson. Since I’d previously worked on Shinovi Versus and Bon Appétit (incidentally, the two runner-up titles for the latter were “Cooking Mammaries” and “Bon Appétits” – and we’d almost have gone with that second one if it hadn’t been too late to change the logo), I had some idea of what to expect, but the new game still threw me for a loop in some ways.
(There be spoilers ahead…)
Deep Crimson takes place after Burst, but before Versus (so it focuses on the Hanzō and Crimson Squad girls, as the Gessen and New Hebijo girls haven’t arrived onstage yet). Technically, its story starts during Burst, as the first chapter lays out an expanded version of the first game’s climactic confrontation at Hebijo Castle. This time, you play out a full-scale battle against the demon Orochi herself, complete with apocalyptic red skies, high-flying stunts, and one of the most terrifying creature voices you’ll ever hear. And that’s just Chapter 1.
For multiple games now, the series has built up to the emergence of the hellish yōma, and Deep Crimson finally turns them loose in full force. You’ll go up against demons of all shapes and sizes, from tiny pesky skulls to impossibly huge behemoths. Some, like the spider-people and snake-people, are half-human, and some emulate human bodies from head to toe, either to copy the protagonists’ powers or to get inside their heads and pry at their weaknesses.
True to the series, each of the girls has a strong, distinct personality, and writing out their confrontations with “themselves” has been one of the highlights of the project so far. Yomi, who’s grown up dirt-poor, faces her lifetime of anger toward the rich, and questions whether letting go of that anger will mean losing a piece of herself. Squad leader Homura owns up to her past failures, as a leader and as a daughter of a noble family. Mirai, the pint-sized firecracker, confronts her lingering resentment of her childhood bullies, especially now that she has the power to hurt them back.
That’s not to say the whole game is full of hellfire and damnation. Like any good adventure story, Deep Crimson knows when to be exciting and dramatic and when to be lighthearted and funny. The game is packed with character-driven humor, as all the girls’ memorable quirks – Haruka’s haughtiness, Katsuragi’s energy, Hibari’s eagerness, Hikage’s deadpan snark and more – play off one another in scene after scene. That goes double, literally, when the characters start pairing off in combat over the course of the story – which dovetails nicely with one of the game’s chief mechanics.
Deep Crimson is the first game in the series to let the player bring two girls into battle at once. (Each story mission has a fixed team the first time out, but you can replay the mission with anyone once you’ve completed it.) You can play as either girl at any time (while the AI controls her partner), swap back and forth between the two at will, and if one girl happens to fall, the other can pick her back up. (Warning: That works for enemy duos too, so you’ll want to wear both of them down, then finish them off one right after the other.) You can also execute special tandem Secret Ninja Arts, which grow stronger as the girls’ bonds do.
Of course, no SENRAN KAGURA game would be complete without the requisite fanservice, and it’s all there, with a smooth framerate and newly enhanced physics to add a little extra bounce. My first impression was that Deep Crimson’s fanservice was a bit tamer than Versus or Bon Appétit’s in some ways, but that was before I got to…well, we’ll save that for a later blog entry.
We’ve finished the first editing pass, and the dev team in Japan is working on slotting the English text into the game. Once we get our first English build, we’ll play through the game several times to make sure all the text fits together where it should, fix any discrepancies as we find them, and go through all the little procedures to get the game packaged up and ready. In the meantime, we’ll have plenty more to say – on this and several other projects – so keep on checking back, and thanks as always for being with us.
Talk to you soon,