Senran Kagura: Peach Ball is what you’d exactly expect from a title in the series, but this time, it features pinball. With spin-off titles in the franchise ranging from a rhythm game and a third-person shooter to a dating sim, it comes with little surprise that Honey Parade Games would throw their hat in the pinball ring. The big question comes down to whether or not it’s a quality game with fanservice baked in or just a hollow title with simple excuses for some T&A. Fortunately, as with most Senran Kagura games, Peach Ball falls into the former category. The developers don’t really hold back on the crazy fanservice factor as that is definitely one of the main selling points.
Peach Ball is certainly the type of game that will fall under the “come for the T&A, stay for the gameplay” category that I hadn’t encountered up until now. Admittedly, I prefer when the girls fight as shinobi rather than act as part of a pinball machine in furry outfits. Even though pinball has never really been my kind of genre, Peach Ball finds a special blend of luck, skill, and spectacle that captured my attention beyond the initial draw of the visuals. Even the story is of high quality, considering the genre, and continues the same quirky, comedic dialogue that makes for yet another wholesome Senran Kagura experience.
The story of the Senran Kagura games has always focused on the colorful, over-the-top characters with strong, often silly dialogue. The trend continues with Peach Ball as the story is essentially a side adventure that plays out differently depending on which character’s scenario is chosen. It builds upon a ridiculous premise and goes crazy with it. While working at an arcade, Haruka the puppeteer brews a strange green liquid that turns those that come into contact with it into beasts. The concoction eventually spreads to her friends who stopped by for a tournament and wacky antics ensue.
Peach Ball is a full-blown pinball game with visual novel elements spread throughout. Mechanically, the game combines the surprise factor of pinball with the staple fanservice of the series. The pinball gameplay has an addictive quality that rewards the player with the previously mentioned T&A in various forms of ridiculous cutscenes. Despite the game’s heavy introduction to the mechanics of the pinball machine, most of it was self-explanatory and the tutorial a bit excessive. The biggest issue with the story mode was that with only two pinball tables, the journey felt very repetitive.
As a PC port, Peach Ball is acceptable for the most part. With graphical options including very basic anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering, a 60 frame rate limit, and Vsync, the bare-bones PC settings are present and accounted for. Unfortunately, the lack of a simple texture quality option bottlenecks the higher-end rigs and prevents the lower-end machines from running well. Nonetheless, fortunately the game has controller support, rebindable keys and buttons, and mouse control for menu navigation.
Overall, Peach Ball is a strong entry in the Senran Kagura series. Not only does it provide an appealing avenue into pinball, it also made me want to finish past Senran Kagura titles that I’ve missed. With Senran Kagura creator, Kenichiro Takaki leaving Marvelous, the future of the franchise looks dire, but this latest title would be a fine sendoff for the fun series. Peach Ball is a pinball game that is well worth playing for longtime fans and newcomers alike. Regardless, it’s only worth recommending to those who are open to high degrees of fanservice.