Senran Kagura Burst Re:newal Review – The First Burst

I’ve had a soft spot for the Senran Kagura franchise ever since my playthrough of the rather excellent Senran Kagura: Estival Versus with its huge roster of characters, all of whom still managed to contribute to the surprisingly deep story which is easy to overlook if you’re the type to skip cutscenes just to enjoy the flashy ninja action and huge amounts of cheeky anime girl fan-service.

Even follow-up Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash continued to bring an equally moving storyline with the same variety of themes albeit with some undesirable gameplay changes. It’s been a while since then. PlayStation-only fans may be wondering where this enigmatic series came from and that’s where Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal comes in, being a fully 3D remake of the original 3DS game, or rather, the extended 2nd edition of it. Yes, it’s a remake of a remake.


Senran Kagura Burst is a hack-and-slash game developed by Tamsoft, and the very first entry in the Senran Kagura series. It was originally published in Japan as Senran Kagura: Skirting Shadows in 2011 and an expanded director’s cut version was released in 2012. Western releases of these were delayed to 2013 and 2014 respectively. The remake featured today, Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal, was released for the PlayStation 4 in 2018.

It’s still very much a fast-paced, hack-and-slash, mission-based action title, but being a predecessor to games already released on PS4 means that Burst Re:Newal is missing a lot of elements which were introduced in the later instalments, such as a single intertwining story featuring multiple rival shinobi schools and the expanded roster of playable characters which comes with them.


Kept secret from the rest of the world, selected high school girls are secretly trained in the art of ninjitsu. The ‘Skirting Shadows’ scenario revolves around the trainee shinobi of Hanzō Academy; Asuka, Ikaruga, Katsuragi, Yagyu and Hibari, as they complete missions and battle against rival ninjas, while the ‘Crimson Girls’ scenario, on the other hand, follows the students of the ‘dark’ Hebijo Clandestine Girls’ Academy; Homura, Yomi, Hikage, Mirai and Haruka.

Both schools seek to prove the legitimacy of their teachings and skill of their respective arts. Endless battle is just another day for true shinobis and only the strongest will survive long enough to achieve the rank of ‘Kagura’, the ultimate shinobi. Can a mutual respect rise from these rival schools? And does Hebijo Clandestine Girls’ Academy truly hide a secret evil?


Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal could be considered a Warriors-style musou game, and that means you pick a character and enter stages to clear certain objectives, usually revolving around running in a condensed arena and pummeling your enemies. You have a light attack, heavy attack, and meters to fill to give you a special attacks. Using the ‘Shinobi Transformation’ ability rips the clothes off your character in comical fan-service fashion to switch to another outfit, providing your enemy doesn’t rip this off you too. Each character does play differently and has their own techniques to take advantage of.

The gameplay is basic and very easy to get into, and has some fun highlights and enjoyable characters. Eventually, you’ll also upgrade other aspects such as each character’s ‘Yang Mastery’, and gaining enough funds to purchase accessories, gallery content, and clothing for the team. While the story does limit you on the characters at first, making you play as only plot-relevant characters until you clear the game’s scenario, you’ll at least be able to use this to get a feel for each character.

Burst Re:Newal features only a dozen playable characters from just two rival schools. These schools house the ‘Good’ and (not quite so) ‘Evil’ shinobi respectively. You’ll get to play as both schools in two different scenarios containing 41 missions in each which you’ll need to finish in their entirety to complete the game. The skimpy, destructible outfits make a welcome return and the combat has been overhauled to give the player more options such as a clear lock-on reticle, more homing attacks and a dash to close distances in battle, rather than simply button-mashing through fights.


Originally, Senran Kagura Burst was a 2.5D side-scrolling brawler, so this version is quite a step up from the original, replacing the setting with a 3D arena for Warriors-style gameplay utilising the engine used in Senran Kagura: Estival Versus. You have decent-looking stages with a variety of enemies and rival ninja characters to take on, but as is the usual with these sorts of games, there is a lot of repetition going on, especially when you realise just how many assets have been copy-pasted from Estival Versus.

The game does occasionally throw in visual novel-style cutscenes with text on pretty static images to detail more dramatic scene changes which work nicely and break up the more common pre-stage scenes that use the regular 3D character models.

As for the music, there are a few catchy tracks here, including a couple of high-energy stage themes which are usually connected to a particular character taking centre-stage. Ikaruga has particularly stand-out theme music which even samples a small portion of The Phantom of the Opera in its intro. Every character is fully voiced once again, but still only in Japanese, which certainly feels authentic at least.


The trophy list is pretty straightforward. You have to complete all missions and side-missions. Also, you should look for secret documents hidden in the levels during your first playthrough, but you might want to leave defeating the secret enemies until you’ve levelled up a bit because they’re much stronger than the standard enemies in the stages where they appear.

There are no missable trophies because you can replay missions at any time. Difficulty doesn’t matter, so you can complete all missions on one-star difficulty. There are some other minor bits and pieces to dabble with but, overall, it’s an entirely achievable platinum if you put those few extra hours into tying up loose ends.


Unfortunately, there are shortfalls here. The storytelling isn’t nearly so polished as what we’ve seen in chronologically later games in the series, with the two scenarios essentially running parallel to each other but with countless canon consistency issues with many events, and several missions in the ‘Evil’ scenario either jumping ahead or falling behind in the timeline and spoiling the flow.

Perhaps then, Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal’s issues could stem from unfortunate timing which shines a more privileged, critical light on the game’s shortcomings. Essentially playing through the same story twice from different perspectives is a lazy, outdated style of storytelling which drags out what is really a very short game, and renders iconic rival duels pointless since the winner is decided by which scenario you’re playing rather than the established canon.

Despite its flaws and needless repetition in its story events as you switch between schools which could be easily remedied by editing and moving the ‘Evil’ school stages to side-missions instead, it’s hard to be too critical of Burst Re:Newal as we get a deeper look at some of the characters we’ve fallen for in the other games (even without the lovely Yumi and Shiki) while thoroughly enjoying the refined yet stylish combat which makes for a fun few days of addictive gameplay, though you won’t miss it when it’s over.


  • A decent visual upgrade compared to the original version
  • Fun combat
  • Beautiful girls, bursting with fan-service


  • Messy, split-scenario story
  • More than half of the regular characters are absent
  • Quite a lot of recycled content

Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal Review

Above Average

A fun and flashy remake of the original game that retains all the bad habits used to drag out short stories with filler content and needless repetition. It's playable, but hardly essential.

Gary Green
PS4 Pro version reviewed