Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad ReviewBy Scott Alan Marriott - Posted Feb 23, 2009
In this X-Play Review of the new game 'Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad', Adam takes a look at a game filled with scantily clad women carrying swords. Sounds like it should be good, right? Spoiler alert: It's not.
- Relentless action
- Poor camera
- Ugly visuals
- Annoying level design
- Incomplete documentation
- Repetitive play modes
Filled with enough skin and violence to give schlock film producer Roger Corman a rise from the great beyond, Onechanbara is as subtle as cutting cheese with a chainsaw. Buckets of blood slap against your television screen. The female protagonist hacks and slashes through hordes of zombies in combat gear comprised of a string bikini, straw cowboy hat, and feather boa. A skirt-wearing schoolgirl and a pistol-packing policewoman, whose uniforms appear to have lingered in the dryer a few spin cycles too long, join the mayhem. And yes, each character offers a jiggle for every wiggle.
Based on the Japanese anime, Onechanbara's orgy of Kill Bill, Resident Evil, and Devil May Cry influences could have made for a sleeper hit on Xbox 360. Instead, alarming technical problems and tedious action will just put you to sleep. Before you begin, the game warns you about scenes of grotesque imagery, and the images you'll see are truly frightening. Onechanbara's grungy, murky visuals make it seem like you're looking at the action through a dirty fish tank. A rigid camera means you are often slashing or shooting blind, unable to see most of the enemies attacking you. Something's amiss when it's more effective to fight while staring at a mini-map instead of the main screen.
The problems don't end with the visuals. The bland environments are a pain to navigate since each "new" area looks like the one you just passed through moments before. Frequent loading sequences between sections also annoy, despite incorporating a zombie mini-game to help you pass the time. While the sword-slashing moves are responsive, characters can do surprisingly little else. An acrobatic jump, swift kick, and slow-motion dodge move are basically all that's available, with the majority of the action ultimately relying on single button tapping. You can switch between two characters at any time during the stage, but the action doesn't change much from girl to girl.
You can't pick up new weapons from the zombie hordes, or use the environment to enhance your destruction. Stages are comprised of either wide-open rooms or narrow hallways. Those in the mood for some mindless action will appreciate the non-stop combat, but 19 of the game's 20 story levels are structured the same: kill a group of zombies in one room, move to the next area, and repeat. The maze-like levels frequently have locked doors, which means you'll have to backtrack through areas to find keys. No puzzles are available, as your reward for opening the doors is either the exit or a showdown with boss character.
Ladies in Red
While the combat is ultimately unsatisfying due to the limited arsenal of moves and over-reliance on a single button, Onechanbara has a few interesting additions that make it stand out from your normal half-naked-female-versus-undead-legions title. First, blood in this game is as important as the boobs. The sword-wielding sisters each have a gore meter that gradually fills up with each splatter-worthy kill. The more blood on the sword, the less effective it becomes, to the point where it will actually stick in the reanimated corpses. To avoid this, you need to constantly flick the blood off your sword -- similar to the act of reloading in a shooter.
There's also a separate splatter gauge, with kills turning the selected character's portrait red. Once maxed out, your gal turns purple and goes on a rampage, increasing her overall speed and damage. The catch is that rampage drains your health, forcing you to use collected items in your inventory or find a status-clearing statue to avoid death. Rampage can also be used strategically by switching and "storing" your anger-infused character until a climactic boss fight. In a better, deeper game, these unusual elements could have enhanced the action to a degree, but Onechanbara is neither deep nor particularly good.
It is however, extremely repetitive. The developers tried to extend the game's longevity by including three playable characters, unlockable articles of clothing, hidden areas, and an experience system to enhance each girl's skill, vitality, power, sword reach, or guns. In addition to the story mode, which spans seven to nine hours in length, the game offers survival, practice, and free play options as well as multiple difficulty settings and local co-op. The problem? You are doing the exact same thing under slightly different conditions. For a 2009 release on a platform that has already seen the likes of Devil May Cry 4, Assassin's Creed, Ninja Gaiden II, and Dynasty Warriors 6, Onechanbara is woefully inadequate. Cleavers and cleavage, sadly, aren't enough.
Article Written By: Scott Alan Marriott