Editor’s Note: This article contains photos of an explicit nature.
Once in a blue moon, a game emerges that treats the concept of sex with respect and dignity. Its characters realistically portray their sexual experience, discussing their emotions, thoughts and feelings. Most importantly, sex is seen for the mature subject that it is. Senran Kagura Bon Appetit! is no such game.
With the thinly-veiled disguise of a cooking-themed rhythm game, Bon Appetit! is really a perverted playground where you can dress up a group of girls in an array of clothes and accessories before making these clothes rip off, revealing their sexy lingerie. Bon Appetit! unashamedly revels in this overtly sexualised presentation by forcing you to endure the very limits of uncomfortable anime perversion to the extent of almost parody.
The premise is that a Super Dish Gourmet Cook-Off is being held with the grand prize being a Secret Ninja Art Scroll which grants its owner one wish. Each playable character, or Shinobi, has a different wish they want to fulfil. Asuka wants to show the world that food which is large and thick and fills your mouth is the best, while Katsuragi wants to become queen of the world and live in a hooters harem for the rest of her life. Each Shinobi’s story is paper-thin, immature and full to the brim with uses of innuendo, double entendre and lowest common denominator humour.
Mechanically, Bon Appetit! is a fun rhythm game but derivative and uninspired. Two lines of button prompts appear and the correct arrow or face button must be pressed as it reaches the hit marker. Effectively it’s DDR for your thumbs. Each of the game’s catchy ten songs – a small number in comparison to most rhythm games – consists of three parts, with your cooking (rhythm tapping) judged after each section. The judge, Master Hanzo, eats the better dish and his mouth fires a beam of deliciousness that partly destroys the weaker cook’s clothes. Being successful in each consecutive round grants exponential rewards with a perfect victory shamefully stripping your opponent naked and presenting them as a dessert, covered in whipped cream and chocolate syrup.
The perverted nudity is not only excessive, reaching far beyond ‘fan service’, but at times creepy. A lot of the characters exhibit serious embarrassment or anger when being stripped. Some look like they’re going to cry. Even worse is that Mirai, one of the Shinobi, looks about 12. Seeing her stripped to her intentionally childish teddy-bear knickers is disgusting. This is male power fantasy at its worst.
Herein lies the game’s greatest contradiction. While intending to serve as a reward to players, its a turn-off to me. I wanted to attain a perfect score yet felt satisfaction in missing a note because it saved my virtual opponent from being disgracefully exposed.
Aside from the main game itself, there’s the Dressing Room. Here you can dress up the Shinobi in clothes unlocked from completing songs. You can choose their main piece of clothing, such as a French Maid costume, their lingerie, and any additional accessories. You can even change their hairstyle. Afterwards you can pose them in a variety of different cooking actions, rub them in different areas or virtually reach in and independently control their boobs. The Shinobi are your playthings, no different from Barbie dolls, devoid of personality or any reason to connect and care for.
Bon Appetit! does not use any of the Vita’s touch functionality, odd for a game that offers so much virtual tactile voyeurism. This really begs the question as to why the game is on the Vita at all. It certainly isn’t a game that can gleefully be pulled out in public.
In fact, I would argue that this game doesn’t need to exist at all. The stripping element of Bon Appetit! isn’t logically explained and as such literally any genre and theme could have been used. If Senran Kagura: Busty Broom Broom!, the Medieval-themed kart racer, had been made instead of Bon Appetit! had been made instead, it’s likely my criticism would be any different if the losing racers were stripped and covered in champagne froth.
Additionally, there’s a plethora of other fantastic rhythm games in the market that don’t subject the player to an inordinate amount of slimy and sleazy nudity. Go play Hatsune Miku Project Diva F or Rock Band instead.
*Senran Kagura was provided to Start Replay on PS Vita by Premier PR
- + The songs are catchy
- - Excessive sexual content
- - Lack of substance