Where Do We Draw The Line On Fan Service?

Recently, I've been tasked with reviewing a strange title that seems to focus on one particular thing: breasts. Particularly the breasts of a group of teenage female ninjas. So much so that the rest of the game seems to actually suffer because of it.

The game, called Senran Kagura Burst, is a Nintendo 3DS release from Japan that made its way to Americas shores last month. A hybrid of beat-em-ups and visual novels, the title has a unique blend of gameplay that I thought I would enjoy. And at parts, yes, it is actually a lot of fun. But it's not technically sound. The frame-rate dips a lot, the graphics aren't as crisp as many other games, and the story, while adequate, can get very cliché.

And surprisingly, some of these issues are because of the breasts. According to Kotaku Australia, game designer Kenichiro Takaki said "I started to think about what I wanted to see in a game on the Nintendo 3DS and within thirty seconds, I came up with it. It was boobs."

The 3D effects are actually very well done. I'm not just talking about the well-endowed chest area of the girls, the swords and hands actually pop out of the screen at various points. But with this focus on the 3D, it seems the development team had to cut corners on the actual gameplay.

senrankaguraburstkat

SK Burst could be a much faster, more technically competent title. There could be a bigger focus on variety, story and graphics. This frustration left me burdened with the question: Is the fan service worth this? On one hand, if ancillary elements take away from the gameplay, then it is negatively affecting the game's quality. The other side, then, is that the fan service is the best part of the title. While there is an argument for this, my personal revelation is that there is a lot of unearthed potential in this franchise, being held back by its focus on fan service.

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Another notable title that brought up controversy with fan service was Dragon's Crown. One character, the Sorceress, was also well-endowed in a way that made some reviewers uncomfortable, including myself. What was different about this title is the artist said that all his characters were exaggerated, which is part of his style. And this is apparent, even with the male designs.

So I pose this question: Is there a point where fan service is too much? Or am I just being too critical? My review of SK Burst will be affected by this, but I still think the game has promise. Be sure to check it out once it's published.