Siliconera sat down with Marvelous Games’ Kenichiro Takaki to chat about two new Senran Kagura titles making their way west: Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson for the Nintendo 3DS and Senran Kagura: Estival Versus for the PlayStation 4.
Who are some of the new characters in Senran Kagura: Deep Crimson. Can you talk about them and introduce them to us?
Takaki: So, in Deep Crimson we have two new main characters. One of them is Kagura. For a long time, people were asking what the Kagura part of the game’s title meant, so we finally added a character with the title name. Right now, she’s young, but moving forward, [so] she’ll probably be one of the strongest characters—she does, after all, share a name with the title! There’s also Naraku, who is sort of an assistant that takes care of Kagura.
We know that one of the characters in Estival Versus is Asuka’s grandmother. What’s it like to work with an elderly character in a hyper-sexualized game?
Takaki: Beforehand, in this sort of game or story, there’s always a male character that goes crazy over all the girls. I wasn’t really keen on that. In this game, women have so much power—and, if I may, off the topic of the game, I think that in the regular world, women rule the world—so we decided that the best fit for a character that would regulate Hanzo would be a grandmother figure. If we just put in an elderly woman, though, that naturally wouldn’t be much fun—so there are scenes where she’ll get younger and what not.
In Estival Versus, there’s a game mode where the player actually collects panties. How did this idea come to be?
Takaki: I guess in a regular game you don’t really collect panties. Since Senran Kagura isn’t a regular game, I wanted to do something different. We actually took that a step further I guess and made it so that the player can collect both panties and braziers. Though we call them Brazils and make the game a bit like Capture the Flag.
There’s a guest character, Ayane, from Dead or Alive. What’s it like working with a character from another IP, and how did you fit them into the Senran Kagura universe?
Takaki: I mean…as far as new characters go, as long as they have big breasts, I think they’ll fit. That said, working with Ayane was a piece of cake. Usually, big breasts are just about all it takes.
How big can you make breasts before they actually become a problem for the programmers?
Takaki: (laughs) I think that the characters you see on the cover of Deep Crimson are probably about as big as we can get. If they got any bigger, when the character crossed their arms, it might actually pop out over it. To have anything bigger actually work out and get them to jiggle right, I think I’d need a machine with just a bit more specs…
On that note, Senran Kagura usually alternates between systems. Where do you think the series will go next? Will it ever move away from Nintendo or Sony devices?
Takaki: As of now, we’re not really thinking about expanding to any other platforms. I’m happy continuing to develop for the platforms the series has already showed up on.
What could you do, or what have you done, to make the games more inviting to people who might be discouraged by the degree of fanservice in the game?
Takaki: There are voices I’ve heard say that while they don’t mind clothes being ripped off in battle because that makes sense in context, characters appearing fairly undressed during talking scenes or adventure mode cutscenes is too jarring. I hear what they’re saying, but that is sort of the essence of Senran Kagura in the first place. If they can overlook that, I’d be happy… but there’s also an option in Deep Crimson that allows players to view the cutscenes without costumes or practical nudity… that sort of thing.
Have you ever considered doing a crossover with a game like, say, Story of Seasons? I mean, both of the titles have the common ground of milk, right…?
Takaki: (laughs) While we’re out drinking, things like that get brought up, but! Other than that, like you mentioned earlier, we do look into things like Dead or Alive. Senran Kagura characters are also making an appearance in Nitroplus Blasterz, so we like doing stuff like that as well.
This is a bit of a character specific question. Asuka has this dreadful hatred of frogs in the game. Why did you choose frogs specifically?
Takaki: In the game, the reason she fears frogs is because of a traumatic event that happened in her childhood.
You don’t personally find frogs to be disgusting then?
Takaki: You know, I used to like them, but, nowadays, yeah, I’m sort of a little grossed out by frogs.
In Japan, Senran Kagura had a partnership with Umaibo. How did that partnership come about and where can Umaibo gain from pairing up with Senran Kagura specifically?
Takaki: So there’s an Internet café in Japan called DS Café. They actually had a public vote for what kind of collaboration people wanted to see, and they were the ones who approached both Marvelous and Umaibo with this idea. Whichever option got first place is the one that would get the collaboration project, and people voted for us! I think it worked well since Umaibo looks a lot like the scrolls in the game.
Takaki: (laughs) Scrolls! But poles makes sense too!
Where do you want to bring Senran Kagura next? Are you already thinking of where you want to take it beyond the point it’s at now?
Takaki: Of course! I have a lot of ideas I’m scouring over right now, but, it’s definitely too early to talk about. Estival Versus is actually the first time I’ve brought Senran Kagura to PlayStation 4, but I’m really impressed with what the console can do, and I think I’d like to explore that more in the future.
What’s your favorite feature from Deep Crimson and Estival Versus?
Takaki: Oh man…well, let’s start with Deep Crimson. One of the things I’m really proud of in that game is that the players can fight against giant boss monsters. For me it actually added a lot to the gameplay, and it’s something I really want to revisit in future titles. For Estival Versus, more than anything, it was the machine specifications. I could showcase the girls in cuter or more beautiful ways, and get closer to how I wanted to express them. I can show a lot more stuff at once going on on the screen. It just has a lot more power, and it comes out in the gameplay.
Deep Crimson has a new feature that makes use of the 3DS’s camera. There aren’t a lot of games that do this. What do you want to see from this feature from the community?
Takaki: Simply and honestly, I wanted to give the fans out there the chance to put their favorite character in their room, or lying on their bed, and so on. Really, I just wanted people to use the AR feature with their imagination.
Are you happy with how the Senran Kagura series has been received in the west?
Takaki: Well, this time we were able to bring over two titles—Deep Crimson and Estival Versus—but when Shinovi Versus was launched in Japan it took a bit of time to get it over here. We took that as a learning experience and are applying that our development model to bring games like Estival Versus over quickly and efficiently. One of the reasons we brought the game onto PS4 is because there were so many people asking for the game on a machine that they use, so that’s one of the challenges I wanted to tackle. As for the comments from users and non-users… Senran Kagura is a title that deals with sexuality, but once you pick it up and play through it, I think your perspective will change. I know that it’s easy to get lost in the boobs, but I would really love for people to give it a try and see it for what it is, beyond that.
Is there any feature you really wanted to add on that you couldn’t? You mention that the PS4 has some better specs that made it easier to do more, but maybe there’s something you didn’t have time to add on that you really wanted to see?
Takaki: Now that you mention it, actually, there are now upwards of 30 characters in the Senran Kagura series. What I really wanted to do was a Battle Royal mode where all thirty characters could appear on the screen at once to fight each other. I didn’t have the time to implement it, but, maybe it’s something I’ll look into for the future.
Senran Kagura: Deep Crimson is slated for release on August 11th, while Senran Kagura: Estival Versus aims to make its debut sometime this fall.