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Review of Senren * Banka

SubjectSenren * Banka
Senren * Banka - All Ages Edition
ByVote: 8.7sy74kya on 2021-02-25 last updated on 2021-02-27
ReviewI'd already downloaded this game's trial before even finishing Grisaia no Rakuen, but as soon as the game was out on Steam, I went right ahead and bought it.

Senren Banka was my first Yuzusoft title and it left me with good first impressions. I'd say this game isn't far behind Grisaia in terms of quality, and I speak especially for... two, maybe three specific heroine routes. But what I liked about this title was not just its plot and overall quality, but a sizable handful of other things, too.
(+) The sound effects are superb; from ambient sounds in the background of some scenes set outside (for instance outside the shrine) like birdsong, to rather impressive sci-fi sound effects, typically in scenes involving divine power or other spiritual realm-themed scenes, and on top of that the BGM is a hit, too. This game did what I wish other VNs would do and used actual traditional Japanese-themed soundtracks which set the scene really well.
(+) Another thing I want to bring up is the UI. Absolutely superb in every way possible. There are no date displays here, but the story is divided into chapters, which you'll see with Yuzusoft a lot. You also have a flowchart, which was introduced with this title, which shows you all scenes, choices and divergences. That's not only a nice touch, but it's convenient as well. Now you'll be able to select scenarios from any point in the story that you've already read without having to use the skip button.
(+) You've also got a scary number of options in the config menu, and it took me the best part of 20-30 minutes just sorting through them all. Even now I get confused as to which page a given setting is on occasionally. But that's another Yuzusoft trend, I think. Riddle Joker and Sanoba Witch would have similar menus, for instance.
(+) You can also rewind or go back one line if necessary, as well as jump from the backlog. Again, pretty useful.
(--) The only substantial thing I don't like about this title is the Super Deformed CGs, but that's mostly because I don't like SD art in general. But the ones in this game are absolutely awful, I'm sorry.

Now, as for the routes.
The common route is sufficiently good. Most of it is worth seeing any day, like the cursed spirit fights and Masaomi's interactions with Murasame (the chemistry between them is enough to make her route completely worth playing) and so on, but some parts seem a bit... meh. Certain scenes were a bit slow in comparison, but hey that's just how it is. Even Grisaia had a small number of these in its common route.

Yoshino's route is probably the weakest overall, but it's far from terrible. It seems primarily focused on the romance and kissing and sex and shoopdoowoop, and most of it just felt like filler stuff to me. But what really shines about this route is the showdown against the grudge in Chapter 5-5. The special effects as well as the grudge's voice in this scene are enough to carry this whole route, honestly.

People have said that Mako's route is quite substandard, but I don't think so myself. It wasn't exactly dull; there were many funny moments like Mako turning into a puppy, leading to some of the most embarrassing moments you can imagine, especially in Chapter 5-1 and 5-2. The final fight with the cursed spirit in Chapter 7-2 was excellent, too. Like Yoshino, Mako's route doesn't really go far beyond the romance side of things, but it's clear to me they combined the themes a hell of a lot better than what I call the "memory scene" from Tina's route in Saku Saku.

Murasame's route is ace. I genuinely liked Murasame as a character. Not because she's a lo-- um... I mean, a... you-know-what (that's the only thing I don't like about her) but because I like her personality. She uses old-fashioned language (then again she's over 500 years old) but her interactions with Masaomi are frankly hilarious most of the time. Poke her cheeks for calling you a manservant in Chapter 4-2, and she'll tug on your ear until it hurts and call it divine punishment. The ear-tugging becomes a running gag in this route. Also that HOR48 reference in Chapter 5-2 though. This route is about revitalizing Hoori now that the curse is gone, and Murasame becoming human again, ending 500 years of loneliness and sadness. If there's anything this route is NOT, it's dull, boring and lackluster. It's full of hilarious, highly quotable lines and quirks, and the plot is strong and moves forward with each chapter. It's practically perfect, only just a bit behind Makina's route in Grisaia.

Lena's route... oh, boy. Where do I begin?
In two words: Crazy! Madness!
In full: it's a spectacular route. You've got a bit of everything here. We kick off with an adrenaline rush as we fight a giant monster that's possessing Lena via the medium, and almost crushes Masaomi and Lena to death with its corpse. Following that, we have some first-rate funny moments involving us trying to teach Lena about Japanese culture and common sense before suddenly we get serious. Lena absorbing the fragments means she and Masaomi start seeing dreams from Hoori's history. And Masaomi wakes up in Lena's room of course! But look, we're suddenly a step further to breaking the curse! Things settle down a bit in 5-3 as we get to see Masaomi and the others try food from Lena's country (Scandinavia). The sweets that made everyone pass out was comic gold. Things kind of dull down a bit at this point, but not for long, of course. The final part where they enter the dream world and attempt to persuade Shirokoma is a great way to finish off, as it drives home the fact that we really have learned a lot about the curse.
Lena's route has some of the best writing in my opinion along with Murasame's route, and it's also very plot-oriented. It's a very good route, but branches off earlier than the others.

Koharu/Roka's route. Unlocked after one route is completed. The route branches off at a certain point into separate endings for Koharu and Roka. Not much to say here, just your typical service industry slice of life. The first half is good at what it does, but the ending is a bit lacking for my liking. It's all right as a bonus route, though.

Overall scores:
5th place: Yoshino - 8/10
4th place: Koharu/Roka - 8/10
3rd place: Mako - 8.5/10
2nd place: Lena - 9/10
and finally...
1st place: Murasame - 10/10

Overall, this game is definitely a strong start to my experience with Yuzusoft. I definitely found myself craving more Yuzusoft after I finished it. Next Yuzusoft title is Riddle Joker, and I'll try Sanoba Witch afterwards. Also, I couldn't help but notice but the system sound effects are actually the same across all three games. Like, seriously? Who would've thought?

Comments

#1Post deleted.
#2 by cameron997456
2021-02-27 at 09:11
< report >I think the issue with Mako was mostly due to her character seemingly doing a 180 in personality. I think most people wanted her to stay the same and not become a typical embarrassed girl from romance. Not that it was necessarily a bad route, its just I think people were disappointed since they wanted more since she is the highest rated girl other than murasame.

Also you threw shade at tina's route from saku saku thats just mean she is too adorable :D