Since I was a child, anime has been an essential part of my life. I grew up watching Pokémon, Sailor Moon, and Dragon Ball Z on a daily basis. Throughout the years, I got into Death Note, FLCL, and more recently My Hero Academia. One anime that I enjoy is Senran Kagura. It’s a show that never used to be on my radar, but the games on PlayStation 4 have always been fun, so I gave the anime a chance. While not my favorite, the show is a good distraction from the stresses of everyday life. The games and anime are known for their sexual content and half-naked characters, but something about Senran Kagura Reflexions, the latest game in the franchise launching for Switch, seems off-putting.
With the exception of a card game and rhythm game, the Senran Kagura franchise is known for melee-based combat. Last year’s Peach Beach Splash was a shooter akin to Splatoon. If you’re unaware of the franchise, it features memorable characters, crude humor, and once again, sexual content. The reason I keep emphasizing that aspect is because the newest game in the franchise focuses specifically on that. With Senran Kagura Reflexions, players will experience a dating sim set in the anime’s world. While that seems normal, it’s the use of the Switch’s Joy-Con that makes the experience concerning. I haven’t played the game yet, (It launches in two weeks.) but the trailer and description leave me with a sense of discomfort.
I enjoy dating sims and the Senran Kagura universe. Naturally, I should love a game that meshes both things together. Unfortunately, Senran Kagura Reflexions focuses so much on the Switch’s hardware that it makes the experience feel gimmicky. According to Nintendo Life, Asuka, the main character, reacts through the HD rumble in the Joy-Con.
Asuka will give the player feedback through the HD rumble technology in each Joy-Con; the better players react to her signals, the closer they will become to her. Interacting with her in different ways will lead to branching story paths toward one of seven different situations and six unique endings…
Looking at the trailer, you can see Asuka getting close to the main character. From massages to spraying water on her shirt to brushing her body and caressing Asuka’s legs, the use of the Joy-Con gets players to act out situations that are sexual in nature. I’m not condemning sexual content. In fact, one of my favorite games of all-time, Catherine, uses sex as a plot device. My issue with Senran Kagura Reflexions is that it feels antithetical to a Nintendo console. Sure, the company has gotten more mature over the years, but for the most part, Nintendo is known for being family-friendly.
The Switch’s greatest strength is the ability to take the console on the go. I only play my Switch in handheld mode when I’m at home (docked while doing reviews or playing with friends at my house), and I utilize the kickstand when I visit friends. One of my favorite things about playing with the console is that I can use it in the car or on the bus. I love showing random people the power of the Switch. It doesn’t matter what game. When people see the Switch, it’s a conversation starter. Senran Kagura Reflexions is a game that I don’t think you can show random people, lest you be judged for playing it. Not only that, it’s a mature game that families with younger children will have to play when there aren’t people around. It’s worth noting that unless parents have the appropriate settings on their child’s Switch, it’s easy for them to gain access to explicit video games like this.
Senran Kagura Reflexions is an interesting take on the popular franchise. The studio is doing something different for this installment, and while I’m excited about it, I can’t help but think that the game is better suited to PlayStation 4 or Vita. The sexual content amplified by the use of the Switch’s peripheral makes it uncomfortable and, quite honestly, a game that feels unnecessarily dirty. XSeed Games is a talented studio, and I have no doubt that they will deliver a coherent experience; I’m just concerned that it will be remembered for the wrong reasons. The Switch is a phenomenal console that provides fantastic experiences. I know that Nintendo is trying to cater to a wide audience, but I think they dropped the ball by allowing the Joy-Con to be used in the way they are utilized in Senran Kagura Reflexions. It can only harm the family-friendly reputation that Nintendo has carved over the many decades it has been in the industry.