Without a doubt this is one of those games that plays to a niche’ market. One could raise the question as to whether or not there are enough fans of the series in the English-speaking markets to warrant creating this title. Zombies? Check! Scantily clad ladies covered in blood? Check! Good gameplay mechanics? Well, let’s delve into that as we review Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai slayers!
Onechanbara is without a doubt a unique title, even by Japanese standards. You follow the story of a sexy slayer and her sister as they work together to defeat a countless horde of undead enemies ranging from zombies, to other unique, larger than life monsters. The fact that they are in bikini’s could be the biggest redeeming factor in this game, and why I kept playing.
In all honesty, Onechanbara is your typical third person hack n’ slash with combinations of moves that can be performed by our scantily clad heroines to knock back hundreds of thousands of undead beings from the crypt. This can include giant mud golems, or creatures made entirely of blood that are almost impossible to destroy. The fighting in the game is simple, but that doesn’t make it bad. Perhaps the simplicity of the gameplay is what makes this game a fun waste of your time.
Like most hack and slash titles do today, Onechanbara borrows from several elements that you would see in your typical role playing game. As you progress through the levels defeating enemies you will gain experience points that allow you to level up your attack, and defense. There are also items that can be used for healing your character, along with a wide variety of other status buffs and debuffs.
The fighting mechanic is fluid, allowing you to perform combos with relative ease. As the number of zombies increase it does become much more difficult to fight. It almost feels like it is a flaw in the game, perhaps a glitch. If it is, it does not really hamper the game experience, but heightens the difficulty. You can always get past, if you can kill the zombies standing in front of you.
In the beginning of the single-player story you will be presented with three difficulty settings with strange names that end up meaning “Easy, Medium, and Hard”. To earn the achievements in the game through the different goals you must at least be playing on Medium. If you play through on Easy you will go through the entire game without earning a single achievement. This is disappointing due to the fact that if anything, a cheesy game should at least have easy achievements. To unlock a single achievement for a level there are certain challenges that you have to meet while playing on the Medium difficulty. These challenges range from getting so many points, taking only a small ammount of damage, or finishing the level in a certain ammount of time. Even though that seems simple, it honestly is not.
One of the best and worst parts of Onechanbara are the graphics. The contrast between beautiful and poor is easily distinguishable, and to a fault. Your eyes will always be centered upon absolutely gorgeous heroines. The attention to detail in the bodies of the Samurai Squad is almost perverted. The jiggle factor in the game is obvious, with the appropriate parts swaying and bouncing as you make your way through some amazing acrobatics.
The graphically enhanced slayers are surrounded by an absolutely ugly world. The backgrounds for any and all of the outdoor sections of the game just seem like someone muddled together some green for vegetation, gray for buildings and then called it a day. It’s almost like the background is one of those contemporary art pieces that no one can understand. It’s -that- ugly. The indoor sections of the game are equally as bad. The second level has you running through a hospital that seems like it came from the original Playstation era. Obviously the sexy heroines were a major selling point to the game, and that is alright considering they actually made them look good enough to oogle.
All low budget games almost always share a fatal flaw: the camera. Onechanbara is no different. As you progress through the game you’ll find yourself in tight hallways filled with zombies that not only can your character not move around in, but neither can the camera. This leads to an unbelievable amount of frustration. The camera is nowhere near making the game feel broken, but it will definitely add a decent amount of frustration.
There is no real voice acting in the game to speak of, only grunts and groans from the enemies and a few delightful shrills from the heroines. The soundtrack is loud and repetitive. It fills its role, but is nothing to really speak of at all. At times you just want to just hit the mute button and read the text box without the grunts.
The story behind the game is difficult to comprehend. It involves blood, and girls slaying zombies that spray lots and lots of blood…and …they need to absorb the blood on their skin to get “magical” blood-based powers…and…uhh….yeah. That’s about it. If you absorb too much blood it can kill you, and you have to find a spiritual statue to purify you, or have the appropriate item in your inventory. You’re not playing this game for the story. If you are a hardcore fan it’s likely you understand the deeper meaning behind it all, let us newcomers just oogle the girls.
With all the critical things to say about the game you would think that it isn’t worth picking up. That’s not really a correct assumption. As a third person hack and slash title, it ranks with the best in gameplay mechanics, but fails in everything else. At some point you are forced to make a decision as to whether or not you will invest any time in this title or not. Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad will likely become bargain bin fodder someday, but hopefully those who enjoy the series will be pleased. This game is not bad, but no one will ever really care enough about it to truly get into it.
You’ve got a split between beautiful character models for the slayers and everything else being plain ol’ ugly.
Finding the right key for the right door gets old after awhile, but the hack and slash gameplay is definitely quality.
It’s there. There is nothing special about it. It gets annoying quick.
There are a lot of challenges, difficulty levels, and costumes to unlock.
Only the fans will really be able to get into it.