I grew up with computer games in the ’80s and ’90s. Those who also grew up in that era know that means one thing: big box game releases!
If there’s one thing I’ve come to really miss in the last couple of console generations, it’s big box releases of games on all platforms — not just console, but PC too. In fact, PC physical releases are an endangered species full stop, but console releases have been little more than a plastic case and a disc since about halfway through the PS3/Xbox 360 era.
Thankfully, the “big box” philosophy isn’t quite dead yet… and it’s all thanks to limited edition releases that don’t break the bank. Today, we’re taking a look at the recent European “Girls of Paradise” edition of Honey Parade Games’ Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash.
Limited or collectors’ editions of games can vary enormously in quality and value, but I’ve found in particular titles from several publishers that specialise in the localisation of Japanese games offer a good balance between price and what is actually on offer. And best of all for me, their releases feel like the old big-box Atari ST and PC games I used to love thanks to the additional contents therein.
Apart from a manual. You still don’t get a manual, which makes me sad, but I can live without it if all this other cool stuff is there.
Cracking open the box, the first thing we see is this cool “Nararock Festival” disc sleeve, featuring the characters Naraku and young Kagura, last seen in Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson on Nintendo 3DS. This sleeve looks really nice because all the artwork is printed on glossy card, while the black text atop it is actually on a transparent plastic sleeve that the card fits inside.
And this is what’s inside. On the left, we have a Blu-Ray disc featuring all of the Senran Kagura opening movies from 2011-2017 in delicious high quality. The disc itself is decorated with some cool sketches similar to what’s in the art book that also comes in this set — more on that later. This is a Region 2 Blu-Ray, though most Blu-Ray players these days can play discs from multiple regions.
The other half of the “Nararock Festival” sleeve contains a soundtrack CD. A soundtrack CD is pretty much my favourite thing ever to find in a limited edition, particularly if it’s a substantial affair that includes a large number of tracks from the game. And this one certainly doesn’t disappoint.
47 tracks is pretty sweet. Okay, some of these are short stings and flourishes rather than full-on pieces of music, but it’s cool to have all these tracks available, particularly as a very strong component of the Senran Kagura series as a whole has always been its excellent music. Peach Beach Splash is absolutely no exception in that regard.
Back in the “good old days” that I keep alluding to, soundtrack CDs or cassettes were relatively rare, primarily because games often didn’t have a huge amount of music, and what music there was was often short chiptunes or MIDI loops. What we did sometimes get, however, was a cassette tape that complemented the game rather than recreated the sounds you’d hear while playing; I have particularly fond memories of the cassette that came with Rainbird’s Starglider II, a game by Argonaut Software — the team that would eventually go on to make Starfox for Nintendo.
But I digress. Under the Nararock Party disc sleeve, we have the complementary Hibarock Party art book, featuring Hibari looking pretty stylin’ in her cool hat and apparently clutching a guitar against her shoulder.
There’s a bunch of neat stuff in this book, including event artwork from the game itself — mild spoilers abound, but without the text it’s hard to discern the actual narrative context — as well as preliminary sketches, character profiles, close-up looks at the water guns featured in the game as well some other bits and pieces.
Of particular note are some sketches by series creator Kenichiro Takaki himself, apparently designing things like the cover art and some of the event images. While the distinctive look of Senran Kagura is primarily the work of Nan Yaegashi’s heavily stylised strokes and colouring, clearly Takaki-san himself is no slouch in the art department.
The water guns are just cool, and it’s nice to get these close-up looks at them. Many of them are inspired by popular Japanese foodstuffs, especially those seen in popular media a lot. This device, for example, is based on shaved ice machines, featuring the kanji for “ice on the side as well as a flag for the vendor. The note at the bottom reveals that this gun fires matcha green tea flavoured shaved ice.
Finally, underneath all that gubbins we have the game itself. This is, of course, its European box art, complete with PEGI logo.
The series maintains its tradition of making heavy use of double entendre in its back-of-box blurb — even though within the games themselves, the story and characterisation tend to be played a lot more “straight” than you might expect. Note the PEGI warnings for “bad language” and “sex”, though it’s worth noting once again that while the series as a whole has sometimes ventured into vaguely provocative territory, it’s never been out and out explicit.
And finally there’s the disc itself. No reversible case inlay this time, sadly — previous installment Estival Versus had one — but the standard artwork is nice enough, and it’s great to see Renka, a character introduced in Estival Versus, given equal billing with the leaders of the other four factions in the game Miyabi, Asuka, Yumi and Homura.
So that’s Peach Beach Splash! I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the game, but since it’s a title I want to devote a month to here on MoeGamer, it may be a little while before there’s time to put pen to paper with some detailed thoughts. I’m certainly very happy with the limited edition, however — and I shall doubtless enjoy many drives to work listening to the soundtrack CD!
More about Senran Kagura Peach Beach Splash
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