Wot I Think: Saints Row 3’s Genki Bowl VII

Strap it on. Do you see? Like a sex toy. They mean a sex toy.

A mistake Saints Row: The Third didn’t make, but always seemed horribly likely to, was promise more than it could deliver. Those trailers, those terrifying spoof gameshows, the hype of such a scale of silliness and violence, was all delivered. Which is one of the many reasons why it was one of 2011’s best games. But how do you follow it up? With a weird cat-thing and his twisted competitive event, Genkibowl VII.

An underplayed feature of the main game was the Professor Genki theme. The homicidal cat-thing creature that themed so much of the content, really only played out in a series of missable shooter mini-games. You ran through a narrow interior, shooting men in mascot costumes, while trying to avoid hitting signs with pandas painted on them. It was accompanied by fun, if painfully repetitive commentary, and while there was nothing wrong with them, they didn’t really add a great deal to the game. So when the first major DLC for the game is Genkibowl VII, you have to imagine they’re going to step it up a little.

The first round of the mission chain being just a slightly re-skinned version of the previous activity is a touch disappointing. Yes, new commentary, and the promised addition of “water bears”, or sharks, which doesn’t really appear to be anything, but in the end it’s a bit of a damp squib. They’re just the same as they always were, and there’s nothing wrong with a small timed shooter. It’s just not what you’d want to lead off your first big DLC.

The second round is Super Ethical PR Opportunity, which is a fairly traditional (um, well, for Saints Row) driving game in which you help get Prof. Genki in the mood for his public appearance by murdering as many civilians as you can. He also throws out some commands along the way, such as targets to kill, or numbers of people to set on fire using the car’s six-way flamethrowers (charged up by running over the innocent). It’s perfectly enjoyable, but certainly nothing we haven’t seen in the main game before.


Thankfully, third comes Sexy Kitten Yarngasm, in which you do nothing more than roll a giant ball of string through the streets, crushing people and vehicles. And that’s automatically a lot of fun. Even better, this ball of yarn somehow possesses the ability to emit a hugely destructive shockwave, and that’s always appreciated.

And even more thankfully, arrives Sad Panda Skyblazing. By far the most fun event in the DLC, here you’re doing what at first appears to be some fairly traditional, Nintendo-esque skydiving through floating flaming hoops. But you soon realise they’re just the bits in between landing on rooftops and carving up crowds of dancing mascots with a chainsaw. You’ve got a limited time on each rooftop to bring on the slaughter, before you need to leap into a canon to take back to the skies.

Even more idiotic are the balloons. With the faces of the Ethical and Unethical characters, bouncing on them will launch you back up higher into the air, meaning you can return to rooftops you may have missed, or scoop up the remaining hoops if you’re a completist. The second round makes this a lot more difficult, and you realise you’re in for a lot of fun.

Except, well, here’s the problem with Genkibowl VII. There’s just two rounds in each event, and then it’s done.

I suppose that were I to be playing the game for the first time, having these events added to it as part of the overall experience, I’d be happy about their addition. I’m just not convinced this works as a piece of premium DLC, released long after the main game. With two of the events pretty much identical to what you already had, and a third – the yarn rolling game – hardly being enormously inspired, it fails to deliver what you’d hope of something called “Genkibowl VII”. It had the vibe of being a much bigger, multi-stage event. And this is especially annoying when you consider quite how simple it would have been to scatter through another five or so Sad Panda Skyblazing rounds. It just gets going, and then you’re watching the Genkibowl closing ceremony.

It’s £4.50, which while a relatively small amount of cash, is still more than a dozen exquisite indie games on Steam that’ll last you many hours. Here you’re getting eight new events, four of which are nothing especially interesting, and the other four just leave you hanging after a brief glimpse. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of it – in fact, it’s all made to the same fantastic standard of the main game, slick, gorgeous, and with tons of superb new recorded dialogue.

But I think, when you’ve produced something as outlandish and remarkable as SR3, you’ve really got to pull out all the stops for your first major DLC. And they definitely haven’t done that here. The big criticism of the main game’s content was the lack of anything that matched SR2’s shit spraying, for originality and sheer weirdness, and I was hopeful we’d see that added to the game by now. Instead it’s a couple of hours of very professional distractions, that bring with them a few new characters and costumes, but otherwise really fail to make a stamp on the game proper.

Incredibly well made, and certainly not dismissive, Genkibowl VII is instead a combination of too much of what we already had, and not nearly enough of what we didn’t.


  1. Dominic White says:

    As a standalone release, I don’t think this DLC is worth it, but as mentioned, buying the game direct from THQ (which was one of the cheaper sources at the time, and got you Steam keys anyway) got you this and the upcoming next two DLC packs thrown in gratis.

    • brat-sampson says:

      Yup, my story exactly. Picked up the game + season pass for like £14.99. Plus I’m still mid-campaign atm anyway, so this just serves as a nice extra addition/freebie. probably wouldn’t buy it for the asking price otherwise though.

    • Maltose says:

      Unless you preordered. :'(

    • Dominic White says:

      I *did* preorder – the preorder included the extras. And you can get them if you order now, too.

  2. woodsey says:

    If they released a mission editor (something similar to inFamous 2’s) then it sounds like someone could have made this in a day or two.

    And its £4.50. I believe the Latin phrase for such an occurrence is, “piss-take”.

  3. Kollega says:

    So basically Super Ethical PR Opportunity is Escort, and Sexy Kitten Yarngasm is Tank Mayhem? That’s just… sad. Unbelievably sad. For some reason Volition threw out the more fun activities (shit spraying, crowd control, police brutality) and dosen’t seem to be bringing them back just yet. And that saddens me.

    • Caleb367 says:

      Yup, it’s pretty much it. I’ve finished the whole DLC in less than an hour and I’m not impressed, especially after the unbelievable mind-smashing fest that regular SR3 is. Nice ending cutscene, btw.

  4. DigitalSignalX says:

    How entitled are we, when skydiving on to roof tops to chainsaw through people, then taking to the sky again, or rolling a giant cat toy down a city street causing wonton mayhem, or incinerating countless people in a flame thrower equipped Malibu is just so droll and fails to inspire.

    What? NO NAPKIN!?

  5. Teddy Leach says:

    I still want a mission replay feature.

  6. wccrawford says:

    How can you say they delivered on the hype from the commercials, and then admit that Professor Genki’s Super Ethical Reality Climax was just a shooter maze. There wasn’t even a shooter maze IN the commercials. All the craziness from the Genki commercials was completely fake.

  7. Hairball says:

    I still can’t even play the game yet, patch number 3 and plenty of messing about with no luck.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I got it on OnLive. The framerate is shocking. I’m not talking lag or anything internet related. Simply, their computers can’t run the game smoothly, and it looks like a dog.

    • kregg says:

      @DrGonzo Are you sure? W/o onlive, I got it working on my PC.

      OK, admittedly, it has a Quad Core 2.5GHz processor with 4GB ram and a 2TB hard drive as primary and 1TB as secondary, so that may be the reason…

      I must check out Saints Row the Third on Onlive. But then I tried Deus Ex Human Revolution on Onlive and it was so poor I had no other choice but to buy it off Steam in the holidays in order to experience it fully. So ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • Fierce says:


      Just a friendly reminder kregg, the size of your HDDs have absolutely nothing to do with game performance on a PC, unless they’re “Green” class drives, which would reduce the platter spin speed from the standard 7200 RPM to a penny pinching 5900 RPM; and even then would only affect load times and not produce in-game issues.

      All you need to mention when quickly listing your specs is the CPU, GPU, RAM amount, and whether your OS is 32 or 64 bit. Everything else is inconsequential. Without your GPU and OS mentioned, your comment shed little light on how “easily” you got SR3 working and thus missed its mark.

      Happy gaming.

  8. povu says:

    ‘I suppose that were I to be playing the game for the first time, having these events added to it as part of the overall experience, I’d be happy about their addition. ‘

    Good thing I somehow managed to grab Saints Row 3, the pre-order DLC and the season pack all together for 18 euros from the THQ store around christmas. To me this is just a freebie. :D

  9. kregg says:

    I completely agree with this Wot I Think. I absolutely adored Saints Row the Third, despite players saying it was inferior to Saints Row 2 (and I played and completed SR2, I just didn’t find it compelling enough and just a bit too GTA like), but I really felt let down by Genkibowl VII.

    Such a letdown. I know it is £4.99, but even still, it just feels like a colossal rip-off. I’m happy that I’ve bought the Seasonal DLC pack with the game so I get the next two along with Genkibowl for basically free, but at the same time, it just wasn’t anywhere near as fun.

    If I had to say one thing I disagree with John, it would be that I found the Sad Panda Skydiving missions to be unbelievably irritating and frustrating. But at the same time, I respect John’s opinion on this piece since it is so well written.

  10. Buemba says:

    I got the season pass for free with Saints Row 3 during THQ’s Christmas sale, so even if all the DLC ended up being disappointing I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. Thankfully I liked Sad Panda Skydiving enough to make this a worthwhile pack overall, though the PR Opportunity one was so miserable I almost gave up on it.

    It was also disappointing to see that each of the voices didn’t get its own line during the ending cinematic. Hopefully Volition will drag the 6 voice actors who played the Boss character back to record new stuff for Trouble With Clones and Gangtas in Space.

  11. Bungle says:

    I like SR3 just fine, but there is no way I’d ever buy DLC for it.