The idea behind Valkyrie Drive is a rather smart one. This is a franchise made out of three different media: an anime, a mobile game and of course the PlayStation Vita game which we are reviewing today. Add a good dose of fanservice and you have got yourself a recipe for success.
Just one look at it and you know what you are in for. It takes place in a world where busty girls contract a virus and the only way to get rid of it is to battle amongst themselves. During battles they wield oversized weapons called Liberator Arms, which are actually other girls who have the power to turn into a weapon if sexually aroused.
Instead of following the cast from the 2015 anime, the story is actually unique to the game and further expands on Valkyrie Drive’s universe. In Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni, you play as a pair of sisters, Ranka and Rinka, who have arrived on the Bhikkhuni island, where they are promised to be cured from the V virus. Unlike the previous strains, this new one allows the girls to be able to both wield and change into a Liberator. They soon meet up with the rest of their class and begin their rigorous training, trying to come out on top.
Despite its heftiness, the story ultimately serves little more than a way to get girls into battle and show-off the real “plot”, as girls rip each other’s clothes in the process. There are some undertones of social hierarchy struggles and motivation to become stronger despite all odds, but that isn’t really what the game is about.
Here we come to Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni’s main selling point, its fanservice. This is present in every facet of the game. From the story, to the dressing room and even the combat, you are never safe from the judgmental prying eyes of nearby strangers while playing the game in public.
Hitting an opponent or receiving enough damage in battles will tear through their clothes like nothing, teasing the already revealing lingerie. Finishing off an enemy with a super move on the other hand, will literally leave them butt naked, hidden only by the the bright rays of the sun.
You can then revel in the fruits of your work, as all the clothing damage they receive will remain in the story segments after battle. You can even use the analog sticks to jiggle their breasts.
If the abundance of fanservice reminds you of Senran Kagura, that’s because the game was made by the same team. However, their over-fondness for gigantic melons does leave a bit to be desired when variety is concerned.
Like Senran Kagura before it, Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni offers a bunch of customization options. As you complete levels and acquire hidden collectibles scattered about, you will unlock new outfits for your girls to wear. And there is a ton to choose from including: dresses, underwear, new hairstyles and the ability to wear up to 5 different accessories at once. The game even offers a gacha mini-game which 3D prints new bikinis for your girls if the initial selection seems lacking.
Valkyrie Drive has to be one of the prettiest games on the Vita to date. Models are super detailed, with breathtaking shading. Hair and skirts flutter in the wind, boobs bounce all around, while vibrant colorful effects shower the screen. From sunny beaches to modern pagodas, there is a variety of unique locations to explore and battle on.
Don’t expect the character roaster of Senran Kagura. The game has a total of 7 characters, with an additional two, Mirei Shikishima and Mamori Tokonome from the anime, available only as paid DLC. Thankfully each of the available girls plays distinctly enough to keep things fresh through the 16-chapter campaign.
The combat is great. You have a plethora of moves and combos at your disposal, keeping combat brisk and engaging. I especially loved the dash and juggle moves, since they introduce a timing factor in battles. By holding down the jump button your girl charges a ring around her feet. Once you release the button she will do phantom dash, making a fiery sprint toward the nearest enemy. Since you are able to do this while moving and even in mid-combo, there isn’t a moment in which you won’t feel in control.
The game is far from difficult even on the hardest setting. You can get past by just mashing the square button, but it is more effective and rewarding to string together stylish combos.
As far as the whole experience goes, Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni has its fair share of issues. The game crashed on multiple occasions. There is a noticeable framerate stutter from time to time. Saving an outfit opens the default Japanese keyboard for some reason. In one instance I was forced to restart a level since an enemy who was supposed to hit me stopped responding.
However perverted Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni may be, it manages to hold out quite well as a fighting game. While the majority will be here undoubtedly for the ‘visual’ treats, which this game delivers flawlessly, it’s still good to know that the game has enough substance even after the jiggly boob novelty wears off. Valkyrie Drive may very well be a series we will hear from a lot more in the future.